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Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Wonderful Alternative to a Home-made Pastel Surface

'Magen's Bay Winter' 11x14 pastel ©Karen Margulis

Do you like the look and feel of your own home-made pastel surfaces? I love it but I don't enjoy preparing my paper and boards. I have discovered a great alternative to making my own... Townsend Pastel Paper. This paper is made by Diane Townsend's daughter and it is available at Dakota Art Pastels. Here is the description from Dakota's website:

The exquisite velvety surface of this coated sheet is produced on Rives BFK 100% cotton paper. A mixture of two grades of silica, methylcellulose, liquid adhesive, chalk, whiting and water is hand brushed on the paper. Several passes are made to achieve an incredibly smooth, even surface. The resulting surface is like very fine sandpaper. The coating is clear, with coloration coming from the BFK papers. The Townsend paper is completely archival and will handle light water base washes and also solvent base washes.
I have been playing with this paper and really enjoy the soft feel of the Rives paper with the tooth of the ground. I find I am getting an textured effect very similar to a smoothly applied home-made ground. For today's painting I did a watercolor underpainting on white paper.

watercolor underpainting with Schminke watercolors
  • The BFK Rives paper give a nice cushiony feel. I am a fan of paper rather than stiff boards.
  • The hand applied ground is very smooth and even yet has nice tooth. I got about 50 layers of soft pastel in my layer test.
  • I like the way the texture of the paper shows through and give the painting a textured look.
  • If you are a fan of smooth blended areas you will need to put down several layers before you can blend.
  • I like that the paper can accept a water or solvent based underpainting. I tried watercolor and alcohol wash with good results. There was very slight waving which 15 minutes under a heavy book flattened the paper right out.
  • The paper is available in white,cream,grey and tan. This is actually the paper color since the ground is clear.
Overall this could easily become one of my favorite papers. I love how it feels and if I am painting a subject that would benefit from texture then I would definitely use this paper as one of my top choices. You can read more about the Townsend Pastel Paper on Diane Townsend's website. I also love her pastels and will review them in another post.

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Rita said...

THANK you for posting such useful commentary on your blog, Karen! It's like having a daily painting lesson! Love hearing about new surfaces.

(I bet if you 'stretched' the paper first by dampening and taping to a board, as if for a watercolor painting, the buckling from the watermedia would flatten right out as it dries... or it might not need to be dampened first, just taped. That's what I do with Wallis if I underpaint.)

Karen said...

Thank you Rita! I really appreciate your commenting and I will definitely try dampening the paper first. Wallis too. I never thought to try that and It is one of the things I dislike about Wallis so your tip will be a great help!!
Thanks :)