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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

P is for Paper Choice for Pastels

'Raven Watch'     3.5x2.5     pastel         ©Karen Margulis
puchase here on Etsy  $15

We have so many options for pastel surfaces today.  We can choose from sanded papers, soft unsanded papers, hard boards with a sanded surface.....we can even make our own papers. How do we ever know what paper to choose?

I am a big fan of paper so I love to experiment with papers to see what results I can get with my pastels.   Through this experimentation and play I have discovered my favorite papers but more importantly I have discovered that there is no 'bad' paper....each paper fits a certain style or technique and I choose my paper based on the technique I plan to use.

 I have learned not to dislike any paper and give up on using it...but rather discover how to best use it.  Maybe it works best with harder pastels, or wet under paintings. Maybe a certain paper needs very soft pastels. The fun is in the discovery.

'Waiting'       2.5 x 3.5     pastel  sold

  • If you are new to pastels or just want to branch out and try new papers I recommend ordering a Pastel Paper Sampler from Dakota Pastels.  This will allow you to try many papers without investing in big sheets or pads.
  • Take it a step further and cut the papers into smaller pieces. I love to cut my own 2.5 x 3.5 papers to use for Artist Trading Cards. This way I can try papers out on a small scale and see how they work with various pastels and techniques.
IMPORTANT TIP:  This is from Doug Dawson....once you have found a paper that you like stick with it for awhile and don't jump around on different papers for each new painting. Give yourself the time it takes to get to know what the paper will do...become friends with it. Understand what happens with various pastels and techniques. Only when you thoroughly understand a paper should you move on and get to know another. Soon enough you will have your favorites that you can rely on!


Anonymous said...

Your art is lovely.

Cynthia (The Sock Zone)
a to z challenge

Trisha F said...

This is something I've never really thought of - experimenting with different types of paper. I tend to just use whatever is there.

Sea Dean said...

I've tried to work with pastels a few times with absolutely no success. I'm glad you are giving helpful tips, but I would say I'm pre-beginer stage so forgive the silly question.
Do you ever use oil pastels or do you just use soft pastels. I initially tried oil pastels (disaster). The sencond attempt I tried cheap, probably hard pastels (failure). In Paris I purchased very expensive Sennelier soft pastels (too scared to try). What is the best choice of paper and pastel for a freaked out beginner?

Karen said...

Thank you Cynthia, Trisha and Sea. I appreciate your comments! Sea, your questions are wonderful! I am actually working on a book geared to beginners to pastel so it helps me to know what beginners need to know!
I always advise my students to purchase the best quality supplies they can afford so don't be afraid of those Senneliers!! Any kind of pastel paper will work well with them. The key is to dive right in and start making marks to see just what they will do. Don't worry so much about making a picture right away! Just play with them! I'll be posting more on this subject so please come back!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Karen! I so adore your blog. It's the first thing I check every morning! I also have a bunch of questions for you, so I'm thrilled you're doing a book for beginners! I do have a quick question for you now (maybe a future blog topic?). Can you briefly explain why "black" and "white" should be eliminated from our choices? Thanks much!

Kristin Heslop

Karen said...

Thank you Kristin! I am so glad you found my blog! Black and white paper shouldn't necessarily be eliminated but it is helpful to understand that it will be harder to judge values on black or white paper....but I love to experiment and would recommend trying a small painting on black, white and a gray paper so you can see the difference in action!