View Full Version : Strathmore Pastel paper

07-05-2008, 03:49 PM
I just started trying pastels on Strathmore pastel paper and it seems I kkep getting mud....is it me or the paper...I am very new to pastels but the paintings I have done on just regular sketch/drawing paper have been much better.....I was thinking of trying sanded paper...would the mudding get even worse...maybe being new I should stick to the basics and worry about using better papers later..any suggestions?:(

nana b
07-05-2008, 04:05 PM
Hi Joanne, welcome to pastels! I say get some sanded paper and try it. I think you will be very much encouraged. You can still make mud but you will have a lot more time to work before that happens and you can always brush some mistakes off and get the tooth back over and over.
If you are really serious about learning pastels, don't skimp on quality paper or pastels. You didn't mention what kind of pastels you are using but I encouage you to buy some archival sanded paper and a few really good pastels and see what happens. You will be hooked, I promise!


07-05-2008, 04:14 PM
Welcome Joanne to the wonderful world of pastels. normally you get mud on any paper if you over blend. Buy what you can afford. I like the canson Mitenies paper and the fabriano Ingers paper but the better sanded papers are the colorfix and the wallis the wallis is best and the price shows it.

07-05-2008, 04:42 PM
Joanne the paper is most likely a major part of your problem - Strathmore is less expensive for a good reason...... the surface you choose will make a huge difference not only in the result you achieve, but also in the techniques you apply. Almost anything is a better choice than Stratmore, but it is a matter of personal choice. Here are a few others to try: Arches watercolor cold press, Rives BFK, Canson Mi Teintes, Fabriano Tiziano, or Somerset to name some of the more popular. If you like to blend with your fingers, you will get mud - plenty of mud - if you don't know a lot about color theory and how colors mix. That's just one reason beginners are encouraged not to use fingers at all or very sparingly at most.

As for the sanded surfaces, well they too are a matter of personal choice as to which one you find the best for your technique. Some people prefer the Wallis, others prefer the Art Spectrum, and then there is the revised verson of what was once known as "Ersta", but now goes by UART. UART comes in different grits from 400 to 800 (the higher the number the softer the grit) I suggest you go to Dakota Pastels: http://www.dakotapastels.com
Order their sample package of pastel papers. It is perhaps the best way for you to try all the various "coated" i.e. sanded papers that are on the market without having to buy large sheets of each of them. Here's what you'll get:
"Dakota makes a sample packet of 8 1/2 x 11 pieces of our coated pastel papers. The packet contains one sheet each of the following papers: Art Spectrum Colourfix, Colourfix SuperTooth, Colourfix Board, Dakota Wallis Board, *Ersta P400, La Carte, Multimedia Artboard, Sansfix, St.-Armand Sabertooth, Townsend, Velour, Velour Board, Wallis Pro, Wallis Museum and Wallis Grey." * I suspect they have not updated this list as they now carry the UART since Eresta is no longer available. You can always call them on their 800 number and ask. 888 - 345 - 0067

I hope this has helped you and not made matters worse for the choices are many! :)


07-06-2008, 09:54 AM
I agree with them (although I do use a Strathmore recycled sketching pad sometimes with good results) - my own preference is for Canson MiTientes or to make my own panels. You can also look for panels made by more companies now than ever before. Panels are nice because you don't need a drawing board to mount your paper on and sits nicely on the easel. The choices have grown alot recently so there is plenty to experiment with. Find a paper like Canson - that isn't precious - to learn on and go from there.

07-06-2008, 10:32 AM
I've never used Strathmore, but a friend of mine does and her paintings are anything but mud. The paper can make a difference in how you use the pastels, but if your problem is "mud", it might be a good idea to just play with colors on various surfaces: some pigments when mixed or blended make mud quite readily, while others blend or complement beautifully. Also, the pigments in some cheaper brands of pastels may not perform as expected.

When I first started using pastels, I made a color chart, trying different colors together to see what happened with different techniques. Doing different shapes and styles of shading can teach a lot too.

Peggy's suggestion to get a mixed paper pack to try things out on is a good way to find out what paper works best for you-- or for a particular painting. You might also want to get one of their trial packs of pastel sticks to try out. It is so much fun to see the difference and how different strokes can produce different results!

Experiment-- and most of all, have fun!

Dayle Ann

07-06-2008, 04:33 PM
One other consideration about surfaces that I didn't mention before is whether or not the paper is "archival". For some people that doesn't seem to make any difference, but to others who care what the work will look like in a year or so it is very important. Many paper surfaces - i.e. Strathmore and Canson - are not archival. The colors will fade over time, and some fade much more quickly than others. Contrary to what some people may think, it is impossible to completely cover every inch of the paper with pastel so the color of paper underneith won't fade. You can do your own experiment to prove this by placing a painting on say Strathmore in bright sunlight. Cover one half of the work so it isn't exposed, and leave it there for 3 to 6 months to see what happens. If you are painting only for your own enjoyment, this might not matter to you, but if you are selling the work it does become important. It is easy to say one is "just a beginner", but what happens when you come to prefer a particular non-archival product, and then people begin to want to buy your work? The same is true of using "student grade" pastels once you know pastels are a medium you will use for a long time.

Here is a personal story regarding Strathmore paper. I bought a lovely pastel painting on Strathmore many years ago from a local artist. Much of the paper was left uncovered with pastel. After about a year I decided to reframe the piece, and low and behold when I took off the mat the paper under the mat was a lot more colorful than the rest of the work! I had not hung it where sun reaches it. Needless to say it now has UV protective glass on it, and it hangs in a guest room that rarely gets any light at all!