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Thursday, January 05, 2012

Canson...Love it or Hate it? My Review of Canson Mi-Teintes Paper

'A Winter Walk' 5x7 pastel on Canson ©Karen Margulis
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Like many artists new to pastels I started out using Canson Mi-Teintes paper, some NuPastels and some Rembrandts. And like many I struggled with this combination. I couldn't get the rich colors that I admired in pastel paintings. Mine were muddy. Once I discovered sanded paper and softer pastels I stopped using Canson. This past year,inspired by some artists who do wonderful work on Canson including, Lorenzo Chavez and Desmond O'Hagan, I decided to give it another try and I am so glad I did! Now I love it. What I discovered is that I had better luck when I developed a lighter touch and when I used softer pastels. If you are like me and don't enjoy Canson, let me share what I like about it and perhaps I can convince you to give it another try!
  • It is inexpensive and readily available even in local craft & hobby stores.
  • It comes in many colors so no need to tone your paper
  • It is versatile with a bumpy and smooth side. Use the bumpy side if you want texture. I prefer the smooth side.
  • It has a wonderful soft feel which is so nice to work on.
  • It is easy to blend areas if you like blending. I like to blend in my first layer to give me a 'ghost' image underpainting. It is harder to blend on sanded paper since it grabs the pastel.
  • It is a great teacher...it teaches you to have a lighter touch and to make each stroke count.

Yes it is true that Canson holds less layers of pastel than sanded papers but you may be surprised at how much it can hold. I did a layer test and got 11 layers of soft pastels vs. only 7 layers of NuPastels (harder). Some artists sand their Canson to raise the nap but 11 layers is enough for me! Yes it is true that you can't do wet underpaintings on Canson but I can do a soft, blended dreamy underpainting which is wonderful. It may not be as forgiving as sanded papers in that you can't wash off a painting but you can brush out areas and use workable fixative if you want to make corrections. I do love the choice of colors but my favorite color is Moonstone which is a warm medium gray. It works for everything. I will certainly use sanded paper when I want to do wet underpaintings but no longer will I hesitate using Canson. In fact I just ordered some more!

In case you were wondering how to pronounce Mi-Teintes and what it means. I looked it up and it means 'Mid Tones' in French and it is pronounced 'Me Taunts'

Click on the photo below for a look at some of my paintings done on Canson

Pastel Paintings on Canson

13 comments:

Edgeworth Johnstone said...

Excellent painting. Love the brown/dark red in the trees.

Erica Keener said...

I struggled with Canson for a while too since I also like to lay down my pastels very thickly. But then early last year I got a used set of 96 NuPastels at the same time the local arts center started have Life Drawing sessions. When I started sketching with the NuPastels on the Canson paper, a light bulb went off - lighter touch is better! I often use it now for finished pieces, brushing off and pulling off the excess with a kneaded eraser when I start to make mud. Sometimes I use the textured side, but usually not - my husband says the texture is "distracting", LOL.

Karen said...

Thank you Edgeworth. I appreciate the comment!

Karen said...

Thanks Erica. I love the idea of using a kneaded eraser to pull off the excess. Thanks for the tip!

Paula Campbell said...

Great review, Karen, thanks for the info.

Donna Thomas said...

Love this, Karen!!1

Karen said...

Thanks Paula!

Karen said...

Thank you Donna!

Anonymous said...

loved your post, have you also tried the pastel ground on watercolour paper? could not find a sheet of pastel paper big enough so tried this and it works great,

Annie v.

Karen said...

Thanks Annie,
Yes I love to experiment and have made my own supports. I will be doing a post at the end of the month on making your own grounds so I hope you will keep reading! Next week I will be reviewing the new sanded Canson paper.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this about Canson! I will try it again, Sue Deutscher from DPWorks

Karen said...

Thanks Sue! Let me know how you like it after giving it another try!

Anonymous said...

Canson now has sanded pastel sheets and boards available in 22 x 30 sheets and 20 x 30 boards. Nice fine texture and you can use oil Pastels, pastels, colored pencil, and even washes and acrylics. Very versitile and comes in the top 14 selling Mi-Teint colors! Look for it at your local art retailer!