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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Which is Better White or Belgian Mist Wallis Pastel Paper?

'Good Bye to the Day'               9x12            pastel  on white Wallis     ©Karen Margulis
purchase painting on Etsy $150
I have lots of pastel papers.  All kinds. My favorites and some not so favorites. I never get rid of any paper because I just never know what I will be in the mood for. What is a favorite one month may be put on the bottom shelf the next.  My usual 'go to' paper is Uart but I decided to take out some white Wallis sanded paper for today's painting.  Why white?  Why not the Belgian Mist color?

The color of your paper does have an effect on your painting. And I have a story about choosing which color Wallis I use.

'Sunset Beach Walk'       5x7      pastel  on Belgian Mist Wallis   $45 click here

For starters, Wallis sanded paper is a wonderful paper from Kitty Wallis. It takes a lot of pastel and abuse. It is one of my favorite papers. It comes in white and a medium gray called Belgian Mist. It also comes in both a Professional and Museum grade.

When I was new to pastel I started using the Belgian Mist paper. I had been painting for about a year when I attended a workshop with Albert Handell. In the workshop I was using the Belgian Mist Wallis and one of the things Albert told me was to try using the white paper instead. They gray paper was making my colors dull he said. The white would help them be more luminous.  So I stopped using gray. I used white paper exclusively for a few years.

Then I took a workshop with Stan Sperlak. He was using the Belgian Mist at the time. And his paintings were gorgeous. So from that point on I didn't hesitate to use the Belgian Mist....or any other color for that matter.

I realized that I could use any color paper I wanted but I just needed to understand how the color would impact my painting. And it took many paintings on many different colors to start to understand.

Color Swatches Samples...all Terry Ludwig pastels
I discovered that the medium gray color of the Belgian Mist tends to make my colors look a bit darker. So if I want a really bright and luminous picture I will choose white or a lighter color. Also, under paintings such as watercolor look duller and darker on the Belgian Mist.  I love the Belgian Mist for studies and for plein air. I like how the warm gray of the paper peeks through and helps unify a painting. (white peeking through can be a distraction) Look at the two paintings and the swatches to see what you think. Conclusion: I love both white and Belgian Mist! It is just know when I want to use them.

My advice:  Take anyone's suggestions for what paper you should use as a suggestion only. Don't use it because they tell you you should! Understand why and don't be afraid to try other papers. This way you will learn what type/color of paper works best for YOU.


Vanessa Turner said...

That's always the most important part... "understanding why" because then you can tweak other people's techniques and make them your own.

I haven't used white paper in years for pastel but I can now see where they may come in handy after reading your post. Will definitely give it more thought now.

Hope you had a great weekend!

Karen said...

Hi Vanessa! Yes it seems I am hooked on white paper this week. But I am learning why I like it which will help me decide when to use it.
Thanks for commenting!