Thank you for starting this thread! With only 5 pastel paintings under my belt, I am definitely a newbie. Thank you to the others who have already posted great tips and to any additonal posters!
The questions I haven't been able to find answers to are:
1. Should I mount my paper to the final mounting board before I start my painting? I have been attaching my paper to a drawing board with clips, but I want to know if I should do the actual mounting to a mounting board or foamcore before I start. (I'm referring to hinge mounting or something like it, not dry mounting).
2. Do I have to use foamcore or Gatorboard to mount my painting or can I use mounting board or matboard?
3. Does the hardness or softness of a pastel really matter if I can manage to not fill the tooth of the paper too quickly? In other words, do I have to to start with harder pastels and end with softer pastels?
4. How can you tell if a work of art is good or not? (not just whether or not you like it).
Even though I'm a newbie and for the most part, don't know exactly what I'm doing, in the interest of giving back for all of the wonderful knowledge I've gained from this forum, here are a few of my own tips:
1. Don't start with Canson paper. The first pastel I ever tried was on the rough side of Canson and I thought how awful I must be at this, until I found out that it wasn't me so much, as it was the paper (it was partly me though).
2. Get the paper sampler pack from Dakota Pastels. I still haven't tried them all yet, but this is how I was able to try Wallis without spending too much money.
3. Learn how to make art first, or at least at the same time as trying to learn the medium. This is where I struggle the most. I question my composition, how to choose and use color, my value patterns, whether or not I'm communicating what I want, all more than how to use the medium, or at least in conjunction with it.
Like I said, I'm a newbie, so take my tips with that in mind.