View Full Version : What paper do you recommend?

10-01-2008, 07:33 PM
What's the best paper for pastel? Should it be 100% cotton? Can you use high quality watercolor paper?

I plan to do some pictures that are pure pastel, and some that are pastel on top of a watercolor wash. I don't mind getting different types of paper for each purpose.

water girl
10-01-2008, 11:21 PM
I know everyone has their preferences and there are many choices. If you are new to pastel and want to practice, I'd suggest Canson because of price. If you have some experience, you may like Art Spectrum, Kitty Wallis or La Carte for sanded papers. Each has a little different texture. Kitty Wallis can handle a wash.
I have not used watercolor paper, but I'm sure some of the others will be able to give you some advice in that area. Good luck!

10-01-2008, 11:37 PM
I often use watercolor paper coated with Colourfix gesso. That way I can cut the paper into whatever size I want. The Colourfix (made by Art Spectrum) is an easy way to get the tooth you need to grab the pastel. If you prefer, you can get the Colourfix paper already made, which can easily take watercolor and pastel together. The Wallis is fabulous, but you might want to wait a bit until you get more of a feel for using pastel as Wallis is expensive, and if you don't have a light touch as most beginners don't, you will chew up your pastels. I vote against using Canson because I think that it is very difficult to get the kind of effects that pastels can give you without having much of a tooth. On the other hand, some folks who post here do some lovely work on Canson. As other will undoubtedly advise, you may want to order the paper sampler from Dakota Pastels and try different kinds before you commit to any one brand.

Please be sure and post your work in the gallery, whatever paper you select. Happy pastelling!


10-02-2008, 07:25 AM
I recommend UART which is a sandpaper. You can do a wash on it and it comes in different grades of smoothness - from 400 (coarse) to 800 (fine). I always get compliments about how rich the colors look when using UART. I purchase it online at Dakota Pastels or Fineartstore.com.

10-02-2008, 10:00 AM
I recently tryed wallis paper and have to say it is the best I have tryed so far. but normally use canson MI or fabriano ingres

Deborah Secor
10-02-2008, 10:03 AM
Alex, you have some good answers here already, buthave you visited the lengthy thread here with tons of information called "How to get started in soft pastels" for our newbies' (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=392571)? I suspect you might find a lot of great ideas and advice there, plus you can always search a forum with specific questions. One thing to keep in mind when searching is that we have two places you can look, here in Pastel Talk, and over in the Soft Pastel Studio. Sometimes the studio has more information specific to materials and techniques, sometimes Pastel Talk is better, so it's good to search both.


10-02-2008, 10:06 AM
You *can* use watercolour paper, but it is not the best choice, IMHO. It is difficult to cover the paper, because of the texture. What works best is a fine but 'sharp' grain.

For mixed media, it works well to apply pastels on top of a wc. If you use clear Colourfix pastel primer, you can apply it over an wc underpainting, that's neat!

A plain paper like Canson Mi-Teintes, or an Ingres, or Tiziano (by Fabriano), will let you make a fairly sheer/light pastel painting, with few (2-5) layers, depending on the brand of pastel.

For a richer, more impasto look, the sandpapers are indispensable, as they take thicker applications or numerous layers.

And yes, on this forum we always recommend the Dakota sampler pack. Preferences are so individual, so trying several possibilities is a very good idea.


10-02-2008, 10:38 AM
You've gotten great advice here, but I'd like to add one thing. If you try the LaCarte (my personal favorite), make sure that you don't use water on it. The paper will be ruined. You can use solvent, but absolutely no water, don't even sneeze on it.

10-02-2008, 01:30 PM
Cansons for "simple" more sketching kinda work, no real layers.
Colourfix primer to coat just about any surface, this holds many layers
LaCarte (my current favorite) holds a ton of layers, but water phobic

all in all depends on what you wanta do, Id play with the colourfix primer a bit, its a fantastic product to prime and make almost anything into a pastel surface.....

10-02-2008, 10:52 PM
If I were to do a watercolor wash on watercolor paper, then coat it with clear Colourfix primer, could I then add pastel?

WC Lee
10-03-2008, 12:56 AM
yep, you can do that .. or you can prime it with colourfix, do a watercolor wash then add pastel on top.

10-03-2008, 01:14 AM
The best paper for pastel is the one you like the best that is also archival if that's a concern for you and your clients. Canson is not archival. The others mentioned here are.

As others have said, the choice of paper is very personal so experiment with several and decide what you like the best for the techniques you use.


10-04-2008, 02:03 AM
Thanks for that point about Canson not being archival. When I was doing cheap street portraits I worked entirely on Canson and thought it was. Charlie is right that it's good for doing light sketchy pastels with only two to five layers, which is pretty much how I worked when I was doing those. I still like it for that but I'd like to know if there's anything archival that has its color range.

I've tried Colorfix and it's great. I'm just getting used to being able to go on and on with it instead of working fast and getting it right in just two or three layers. I'm planning on trying the Wallis and LaCarte ones too, just to know what my hand really likes best when doing deep heavy impastolike pastels. And also getting a jug of the clear Colourfix primer so that I can make my own at home and watercolor under it or over it, since I really stocked up on good watercolor paper already.

What do the rest of you think of Pastelbord? I got a sample pack of four 5 x 7" ones but haven't decided what to do on them yet, they're very cool but small and only one of each color. I may have to get a second assorted pack just to let myself use one.

WC Lee
10-04-2008, 03:02 AM
ROFL .. Robert .. that sounds just like me ... purchase a lot of extras just to bring myself to use one :D And I did the same as you, got the 4 pack pastelbord sampler a while ago but still have not even used one yet.

10-04-2008, 02:42 PM
I am sorry but I am an ArtSpectrum Colourfix primer and paper girl all the way. It is a nice soft ground sanded paper, assorted colours. I tried wallis and it took apart my hands and everything..

The colourfix primer is great, I prime canson, strathmore, canvases, canvas board, pretty much everything with it. Every person is different and everyone likes something different.


10-04-2008, 03:00 PM
If I were to do a watercolor wash on watercolor paper, then coat it with clear Colourfix primer, could I then add pastel?
Absolutely yes, you can do this. Just be sure to use the Clear Colourfix Primer (http://www.dakotapastels.com/pages/pastelaccessories-primersgrounds.aspx). Not the white or the different colors.

If you want a real densely colored ground, you can also mush a bunch of pastel color on, then coat with the clear primer (which liquifies the pigments), let it all dry, then add more pastel layers.

You can also pour some pastel dust on the rough watercolor paper, spread it around with your hand, but not pressing too hard, tap off the excess well, then coat with the clear primer. You get a nifty lightly mottled appearance.

You can do all kinds of neat stuff with that clear primer. The Golden Acrylic Ground for Pastels (http://www.dickblick.com/zz006/27a/) works similarly, since it's also clear.

And don't forget that you can also increase its tooth by adding pumice powder, or marble dust, or carborundum. It isn't entirely clear after some of these additives, but it's close.

Endless possibilities, my friend! Enjoy!!!