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Friday, March 07, 2014

How to Have Success with Canson Paper

'Fairyland'           9 x 12.5           pastel         ©Karen Margulis
It never ceases to amaze and intrigue me. It is such a simple thing but can make a big difference in a painting on Canson paper.  Canson Mi-Teintes paper is actually one of my favorite pastel papers. I know many artists dislike it. I know many also love it.  I have blogged about it before and heard from both sides.  I have decided that knowing a few tricks can make it into a great surface.  Which is a good thing since it is so affordable.

One of the problems many have with Canson is they fill the tooth of the paper too quickly and colors start turning muddy. It is impossible to add fresh layers of pastel to it. Frustrating!

Here are a few things to try to help you avoid this problem:

  • Try using softer pastels but be sure to apply them with a light touch. The lighter the touch the more layers possible.
  • Have a plan...if you have a value and color plan it is easier to make a mark and leave it alone rather than fiddling as you try to figure out what you want. (and filling the tooth in the process)
  • Try using sandpaper to roughen the paper and making it more receptive. (I don't do this but I have heard it works)
  • When you do fill the tooth of the paper try my FAVORITE TIP....spray the area with a light spray of workable fixative. I use Blair Low odor workable fixative.  When it dries your next pastel layers will easily go over the fixed areas without disturbing these areas. This has a great textured look. (see the photos below) Be sure you only uses a light spray. You don't need to soak the paper. You might want to cover areas you don't want spray but I kind of like the extra droplets!

close up views of my marks and texture created by applying pastel over fixative

I used the fixative several time in the creation of today's painting. I used it to make the suggestion of foliage in the trees. I also used it to darken the bottom of the path.  I love workable fixative especially on Canson!


Tim Moore said...

i really like this painting...its like a Moody Blues song...really enjoy the light coming from the back .

Lorraine said...

I love this painting Karen, the light and colours are beautiful and captivating! I'm one of those who isn't fond of using Canson Mi-teintes but you've got it "covered"! ;-)

Marian Fortunati said...

Gorgeous, Karen!!!

Mary Radovich-Miller said...

Love your blog and artwork! Because of you, I have begun trying new ways of doing pastels and new surfaces, and I'm getting braver about experimenting! For Christmas my sister gave me some pan pastels and I have found they are great for putting in the initial values and color underpainting on Canson paper. I only have the primary colors and black and white pan pastels, but I can mix the other colors from those. I have found that the pan pastel colors are more saturated and tint the paper better than stick pastel rubbed and wiped into the surface. Because of this the tooth does not get filled in as quickly either. I'm having fun! Thanks for sharing so much great information!

Karen said...

Thank you all for your comments! I appreciate your kind words!

robertsloan2art said...

This painting is wonderful, one of your best! I love it that you let the color of the paper come through here and there. One thing I love about Mi-Tientes is its glorious range of colors.

And yes, a little fixative really helps in layering. Great lesson on using it too. I always favor the smooth side over the "wove" surface on the "top" side (pads put the wove side up), but in a larger painting the weave texture can be fun.

Agree with Mary that Pan Pastels work great on them too, either for the whole painting or as the first layer.

Wendy Cunningham said...

Another tip I learned from Arnold Lowry - if the tooth of Canson paper gets filled, take a razor blade edge at 90 degrees to the paper and LIGHTLY scrape off the excess. I was scared to death to do it the first time, but it really works. It removes excess pastel dust and still leaves the color behind.