View Full Version : Advice on painting surfaces

Elena in Exeter
05-08-2010, 10:54 AM
Hi, I am still learning the art of soft pastels and so far have only used Winsor and Newton pastel paper. It has enough grip but I use the least textured side as I work in photographic detail and don't like the bumps on textured papers. I am trying a meduim that you paint on to give a sanded paper effect but don't like the brush marks! Please tell me what your favourite surface is and why you like to use it. All advice gratefully received!

05-08-2010, 11:54 AM
Hi Elena welcome to the Pastel Forum.

As for your question I have not used the papers you mention, yes you can used either side of the papers, most people use the smooth sides. If you are having trouble with brush strokes showing up try using those gray foam brushes that you can find at your local hardware store. You can get quite a big package of them for a small amount of money, usually.

If you are using colorfix primer which I use, wet the foam brush with water and squeeze it out, then coat the paper with the primer.

The paper most people talk about is Wallis, which can come mounted on a rigid support. Alot of the teachers and pro's suggest beginners use that, as well as those who are more expirenced, as it can easily be washed off in the sink, dried and used again many times.

I use a smooth watercolor paper as I have a ream of it, and coat it with colorfix primer. I also when going outside prime with colorfix archival matboard. the matboard primed with pastel primer makes it easier to pack along, no need to deal with mounting it to another support to paint on.

I started off using canson pastel paper, that has the bumps you speak off as well as a smooth side. When using the smooth side you have to take in consideration the amount of layers that it can take (which is less) and plan alittle more your initial layers so that they are closer to a finished area than with a sanded paper. I still use canson as a sketching paper, to plan out bigger works or just to get a daily painting done as practice to get better at my drawing skills.

In the pastel talk forum there is a Pastel Sketch thread that tries to get us to get some type of sketching done. I don't post as much there but still do daily sketches.

Have fun and don't wait too long to post, everyone here is very helpful and we all started out in the same spot.... learning to use pastels and learning the basics of painting and drawing. :)

05-08-2010, 01:18 PM
Hi Elena, welcome to WetCanvas and pastels!

Have you tried the Fisher 400? It is very smooth once you've filled the grain, but it does 'eat' pastel. On the other hand, it holds it so well you don't really need any fixative.

A nearly perfectly flat and smooth surface that reall grabs hold of the dust is PastelMat by Clairefontaine. They sometimes have issues with the making of them, and what looks like brush-marks can be seen, but a normal healthy pice of that paper is extremely smooth and flat, and perfect for detailed work with no texture. (Jackson's have it, maybe SAA too.)

I think the SAA has the Uart sanded paper too, and it comes in 800 grade, extremely fine.

Good luck with finding the right surface to work on!


05-08-2010, 01:32 PM
I am new to this forum but have been doing pastel for 20 years. I noticed your thread and thought I would give my .02 ... hope the regs don't mind.

I too love photo realism when painting in any medium. In '95 an illustrator friend of mine introduced me to using suede mat board. Now it is the only thing I use. It grabs the pastel, blending is flawless and you use less pastel. It is a little more exspense but well worth it. My local framing wholesale store sells a full sheet for 28.00 ... maybe you can find something like that in your area. The suede is really fun to play with for special techniques as well.

I also use very small amount of distilled water added to a little pastel dust and fine line brushes to get my finer details, rubber ended brushes as well as sable brushes for blending and all of these little tricks have worked very well for me.

It's a little different. Hope it helps.

05-08-2010, 03:33 PM
Hi Glenda, welcome to Pastel forum. Great advice! The getting fine detail by a wet fine brush is magical, can't wait to try it.


05-08-2010, 05:11 PM
Thanks Charlie, it's nice to be here. You'll love the brush technique, I use an eyedropper for the water ... dip the brush in the drop, dab it and dip it in the pastel dust, it takes some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it you will use it all the time. Glad to give you something new to play with ... it's always fun. Nice to meet you.

Elena in Exeter
05-09-2010, 12:47 PM
Thank you all for your warm welcome!

All the advice is brilliant and I shall have to make a list of different surfaces to try. Using a sponge to apply the colourfix - so simple, I wish I'd thought of that sooner. Using a brush with wetted pastel dust sounds interesting too. All the other suggestions - I will do some research and see what's available in the Uk. Lots to get on with. Thank you so much.


05-09-2010, 01:44 PM
would you care to show some pics/images here? - to follow your thoughts.
:} Ed

Elena in Exeter
05-09-2010, 06:03 PM
Yes Ed - just as soon as I have worked out how to!