View Full Version : PastelMat - How Much Abuse Can It Take?

08-11-2010, 09:32 PM
I've been using PastelMat quite a lot over the last few weeks. I really love it and have virtually standardized on it. I have noticed, however, a few anomalies and I'm wondering what experiences others have had.
When I work wet on the surface (with either alcohol or water), if I continue to vigorously rework a section the surface can start to disintegrate. Luckily it seems I can paint over these surface impairments without difficulty and they have never been a problem in a finished piece
I've found some sheets to have white marks after they have been transported for some time in my portfolio. I think these are rub marks. For the most part I seem to be able to paint over them, but I can't quite identify what is causing them.
I've had some pieces with crumpled corners and I've happily found that I can paint over these defects without much trouble.In short it feels like the surface is more easily damaged that what I'm used to (homemade pumice board, wallis and uart), but the good news is that I generally can work over the damaged sections without issue.

Are others having similar experiences?

This is a picture of a piece I did on a damaged sheet that had a vertical white stripe right down the right side:

For the most part I was able to work over it, but there is still a faint remnant that maybe you can see here:

08-11-2010, 09:34 PM
Sorry - images aren't loading correctly for me. They seem to work as attachments, so I'll try attaching them to this post ...

Deborah Secor
08-11-2010, 09:44 PM
Nice piece, Timon. The strong angular shapes are very pleasing, and the light is excellent. I guess I can kind of see the stripe in there since you boxed it, but doubt I'd have picked it out.

I've noticed that the surface of P-mat can be scratched or abraded, but like you I've found I could cover it. I keep the piece of glassine intact over each piece now, whenever I can.

I've painted on it with gouache and never found any overworked spots like you describe. In my experience it's been pretty hearty! I never cease to be amazed, considering the feel of the surface. It seems so wimpy, but it takes a licking.

08-11-2010, 10:30 PM
Deborah - I find that if I decide to make some alterations in the underpainting and I go in hard with a bristle brush into a area that has remained wet for some time (15 minutes?) that there is a chance the surface will start to fall apart. Again - I catch it and back off and it's never ruined a painting, but it has made me wonder if others have pushed other limits of the surface and if we all could learn from the combined wisdom of wc.

The abrasion mark in the example I attached really isn't too bad, but it did take intentional effort to cover it over and I can still see remnants (not enough to ruin the painting but enough to prompt this post).

Thanks for the feedback on the painting too. As you observe an angular theme developed on its own in this painting and I went with it. This was one of a series of studies all done on pastelmat - those who are interested can see more here:

08-11-2010, 11:38 PM
Timon, I find that Pastelmat will take a lot of hard use. I have never tried going in with a stiff brush and any liquid, but have found that if something is not working, a single edge razor blade makes short work of restoring the tooth, a stiff dry brush will remove most of the pastel for corrections and if all else fails, a good rinse under the shower will remove all but the merest trace of the pastel. Hang the piece by the very corners, with a small clip on each bottom corner and the paper dries flat, ready to re-use. Pastelmat has become my paper of choice. Also have found that small creases can be worked over, since one lot of paper that I purchased at a huge discount had slight corner damage and some of my handling and transporting the paper for plein air work occasionally causes a small wrinkle in the paper.



08-12-2010, 02:34 AM
I got some damaged Pastelmat sheets that had been crumpled in the package. The online seller replaced them, so I had plenty of good Pastelmat but have been experimenting with the ruined sheets - and so far I've had good luck covering up the imperfections anytime I do. I love the stuff. It's pretty darn tough. Not many papers can be bent and then flattened by bending back and still cover up the bend mark.

08-12-2010, 04:53 AM
I once ruined the tooth of an area by vigorously brushing off with a stencilling brush. Until then I thought it was pretty indestructible! It hasn't happened again yet but I'll try the razor blade trick if it does.
The latest 2 pads I bought had some imperfections in the covering, not white spots like you can get on colourfix but small areas to which the pastel would not adhere properly. These showed up more the more I put on. The only way round this was to very lightly dot a similar colour of soft pastel over the area and leave it, no blending, no blotting just a little hill of pastel!

08-12-2010, 06:02 AM
I'm smitten with Pastelmat, it is what brought me back to using pastels, and is quite perfect in my estimation :thumbsup: . I've covered up a couple of creases no problem, and I actually dented a sheet by forgetting to take off my watch and leaning on it whilst ruling up my paper size. The pastel covered the dent well. As per my recent post, I also washed off pastel following John's advice, and it dried nice and flat.

I just lovethe way the pastel goes on, the finish, and I don;t have sore fingers like with sanded surfaces! :D


08-12-2010, 06:34 PM
I've experienced a fair amount of curling with a few pieces. I can't put my finger on why some pieces more than others seem to have this problem. Given what I've seen I'm surprised others have had good experiences with completely drenching it to clean it off without drying it under a weighted board (I've always dried it pressed flat).

Are others experiencing curling?

Deborah Secor
08-12-2010, 10:38 PM
I've not had any trouble with curling. I don't weight it down, I just tape it to my board and stretch it a bit as it dries. But I have to say that I've also wet it and left it on my bench and when it dried it was flat. Of course, it's VERY dry where I live, so perhaps the quick evaporation contributes to that. Have you tried using a hair dryer?

08-12-2010, 11:13 PM
Here are some quick pictures of my studio with the pastelmat pieces identified. They are all curling more than the other supports I've used. Is this level of curling more or less that what others are experiencing, or am I just being too picky?



It's quite dry where I live, but some of these were painted in wet locations. I also do wet underpaintings and I've noticed that pastelmat needs to be restretched when the surface is wet so it must be that some moisture is being absorbed. For those experiencing no curl, are you doing wet underpaintings?