View Full Version : Paper Colour Choices

03-11-2003, 02:49 PM
I am about ready to inve$t the dollars for coloured paper. How do you select the colour paper for a particular painting? I know someone mentioned they like to do portraits on blue, others have recommended a mid tone grey or taupe for general use, and bolder tones in complimentary colours to make the pastel layers zing.

What are some good rules of thumb for a beginner?

03-11-2003, 03:27 PM
Hi Nori
When I am unsure of subject I usually reach for a mid toned gray
When I am more confident it rarely matters which colour

03-11-2003, 06:06 PM
Im about the same as Df, If im unsure I use a grayish slate color! I started out with the color so it seems to be a comfort zone for me.
When I work portraits, I always use blue, just seems to compliment my skin tones, and much easier to see verses the white shades.
When I work wildlife..I tend to use the darker shades!
It really depends on your comfort zone and what you work best with!

03-11-2003, 06:11 PM
What effect does the paper colour have on the finished piece, beside little specks showing through be design or demise?

03-11-2003, 06:13 PM
that is ...by design or demise...

03-11-2003, 06:48 PM
Actually...depending on how you paint, the effect of a background color isn't always negligible (well, maybe the little specks are.) I'm not very confident in pastel, but, in my experience, the color of paper you use pretty much sets the tone for the entire piece. If you're going to cover the paper *entirely*, paper color won't matter as much. But paper color can be a big shortcut to making a background, i.e., if you're going to paint a seascape, using blue paper means using less blue pastel (and, possibly, spending less money on pastels. :-D) If you're going to use the blank paper as a background, or just to add to the tone of your background, picking the right color can *really* add some punch to your art.

I like to use black paper for light subjects, light-colored paper for dark ones, and mid-toned paper for mid-toned subjects. Dark colored papers work well for light subjects too, I just think black has a great sort of sparkle to light tones...Also, using complementary colors (green paper for a reddish picture) works well. If you're completely unsure, make a small color study and take it to your local framers' and have them recommend a mat color--they usually have good color sense! As for buying, gray's a classic standby, and some stores sell variety packs so you can experiment. Hope this helps.

03-11-2003, 06:54 PM
MadHatter covered it well!
Other then easier on the eyes its all a matter of how you want to utilize the paper! I personally prefer not to work on white for anything in pastels.
The texture of the paper really factors into what you plan on doing too.

03-11-2003, 08:18 PM
Thanks DF, Redsy and Madhatter. I am gradually upgrading my materials. Since I am a beginner I draw every night, toss a few save a few, I usually use cream charcoal paper but I'd like to buy a few sheets of nice paper. I think I will go for some mid tone grey to start with.

03-11-2003, 08:27 PM
Hi Nori,
I've been instructed and find that I continue to follow the pattern of buying mid-tone value paper. I find the neutral colors and values help me from fighting with the colors when I paint a portrait. Though I typically put in a background color, when I choose neutral, I can go without color and find that works out pretty well for a background.

Experiment and have fun!


03-12-2003, 11:53 AM
Thanks for the comments Barb. I especially like your thoughts about the background issue. I love to draw people, especially from street scenes but often the backgrounds are uninteresting or distracting and I am left to figure out how to deal with the background. Using cream I have more often than not put in too heavy a background that overpowers the picture. A lot of that is my inexperience, but I see now that working on a mid tone I will freer to be less heavy handed.

03-12-2003, 12:21 PM
Best of luck with it.

Nori, I need to PM you about the Sacramento fine arts center pastel show this month. I'll do it later. - promise.


03-12-2003, 12:22 PM
Thanks Barb. I will be looking for the PM.