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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

When are you Good Enough for the Good Paper?

'Making Tracks for the Big Hill'               18x24              pastel             ©Karen Margulis
available for purchase $400
The Good Paper sits on the shelf waiting for the right time. It sometimes seems as if this paper is as precious as gold. I contemplate using it and then I hesitate. I need a better painting idea. I don't want to mess up and waste it. So it sits and gathers dust. 

What is Good Paper and when is the right time to use it?

Good Paper is different for all of us. It depends on our preferences. For me the Good Paper is my small stash of Wallis paper. It has become precious to me since I can't get it (hopefully that will change soon) For those new to pastel the Good Paper is usually any of the sanded papers. Because the sanded papers are more expensive than unsanded papers such as Canson, they become precious.

" I am not good enough for the sanded paper" " I'll wait until I am better" "I don't want to mess up and waste the sanded paper"  So often I hear this from new pastelists.  I have some advice and I am taking it to heart myself.

Good Paper will help you become Good Enough.  If you have tried a certain paper and you like it but you feel you aren't worthy of it, go take it out or order some more and USE it!  It will make you feel good and you will often have less struggles.....painting becomes more enjoyable and so you paint more and the more you paint the better you get.......Good Paper helps you become Good Enough!

close-up detail of the sledders on the Big Hill

I took my own advice today. I have a few sheets of Wallis white paper. I don't know what I am saving it for but I decided I would use the whole sheet for a painting.  The paper isn't going to get better with age so why not enjoy it. I did enjoy it!

TIP:  If the cost of sanded paper is a concern keep in mind that sanded papers and boards can be washed off, wet down, sprayed. They can take all kinds of abuse.  If you don't like what you have done....reuse the paper and start over. In the end it is actually more cost effective than the less expensive unsanded papers. 

My palette for today's painting


mi fasola said...

Your words are always inspiring and I agree with the method of using one's sanded paper. It's then that the rubber hits the road and if one cannot find sanded or they just want to experiment, go buy some cheapie sanded paper at the hardware store and try it out. Of course it's not archival, but what the heck it's a good start and if you mess it up, no biggie.

Susan Williamson said...

Karen, you are so right! I have been guilty of this sort of thinking and hear it all the time from people who are new to the world of learning how to pInt with pastels.
I would like to share this post if that's okay.

Karen said...

Thank you both!!! Susan please share! Let's get the word out that we are good enough for good paper!!!

Tim Moore said...

another one who said "i dunno if i am good enough"..if i use the good paper will i enjoy painting more? will i learn more?..will it "work" easier?..if i struggle on ok paper, will using the good stuff help me? i too have tried the cheapie sand paper from the hardware store!..so funny...its almost like wanting to spend money for some REAL good pastel's..but thinking i am not good enough yet..think i will go to the art store this weekend and see whats there..thank!

robertsloan2art said...

This is so very true! Wallis Museum paper and board can literally be washed off and reused seven or eight times. Because of that, I got the Museum pad instead of the Professional and oddly enough, I have never goofed up a painting on Wallis badly enough I needed to recycle it.

I love Art SPectrum Colourfix too, a little more than Wallis. But I'd get frustrated with running out of it, so eventually I started getting AS Multimedia Primer (Colourfix primer). It comes in all 20 colors including Clear... and that stuff can be painted on the cheapest 140lb watercolor paper to get the same surface as good Colourfix. Most of all, Clear will let me recycle bad watercolor paintings on good archival paper into lovely pastel underpaintings.

For a while I had all 20 colors in pints. I haven't replaced them because I want to get my set shipped from Arkansas and put up with delays. But while gone, I ordered a pint of AS Supertooth primer in Clear. It's much toothier, closer to Wallis, nearly as toothy. Like one step down from it rather than several.

Same thing, I can use it on good watercolor paper (all rag archival) or museum board and have the same sanded surface. So if cost really is a major problem, get the AS primers. Practice paper and studies can have the same sanded surface and you get better using it.

Also what I tell people who hesitate about using up The Good Paper is to use primer and make smaller preliminary paintings of the same subject. Work it out on primed sanded practice paper and then scale up for the Good Paper. There's more than one way to scan a cat! (Yes, I am changing the old saying, ever since I saw an ultrasound of a mother cat with five kittens it made more sense!)

robertsloan2art said...

Oh last thoughts.

Any medium, using the BEST supplies will give better results. Cheap student stuff does not function the same way. You can go nuts trying to get effects ONLY possible on sanded paper, or only possible with the texture of Unisons pastels or Girault or some specific brand. Then think it's that you're not good enough when your supplies aren't.

It takes great skill to make cheap supplies function well. Beginners do better jumping in the deep end and invest in the best materials and try everything to find out what it does. Look for bargains, clearance sales, don't fuss about brand if you don't know the medium yet but try whatever washes up on Clearance. Sanded papers are awesome and I've enjoyed having a variety of them. Uart is becoming a favorite for its variety of grits. Colourfix always was for its variety of colors. Most of all having lots in hand and not faced with that terrible decision of what to do with the LAST piece is a big aid to reduce anxiety.

ida mae poopsnatch said...

I haven't used my Wallis paper since I bloodied my fingers on it. Now I have pipe insulation & no excuse not to get it out. I just looked at 'Edgemon Art' on the Net & they have Wallis for sale. Just to be sure, I clicked it into my basket--no bells rang, no notice said 'Backordered!!' I didn't buy any since I don't need it, but I guess not all vendors are out. Go figure. (This art supply place advertises in Pastel Journal & listed 'Wallis paper' in the most recent issue.) Maybe this will encourage folks still more to use the 'good paper'...
L&K, MaryB