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Monday, August 03, 2015

Pastelmat vs Uart Paper ...Test Results

'Sanibel is Calling'            8x10            pastel            ©Karen Margulis
purchase painting $145
Let's go to the beach this week!  I am taking a short break from my Europe trip report to spend some family time at the beach. It is always wonderful to visit one of my favorite places...Sanibel Island in SW Florida. I've painted the beaches of Sanibel many times. In fact when I first started painting, most of my paintings were of beaches and shorebirds. (that is another story!)

Ive been cleaning my studio and came across two paintings of the same scene. I do that often if I am drawn to a place. But I noticed something interesting right away. Even though the paintings were from the exact same photo reference and had a very similar palette.....they appear quite different.

Look carefully at each painting and notice the differences....some subtle.

'In Search of Shells'               10x15           pastel          $165
 What did you notice?

  • The top painting appears to have more texture.
  • The marks in the top painting seem to be applied with a lighter touch.
  • The top painting has more evidence of layering...the colors underneath are visible
  • The top painting feels more painterly and delicate.
  • The painting at the bottom seems bolder
  • The marks in the bottom painting are heavier and seem to be applied with more force
  • The bottom painting has a variety of colors but the layering isn't as obvious.
  • The bottom paintings seems smoother overall.
Did you notice anything else? Why are they so different? It is because of the paper!
The top painting was done on UArt 400 grit sanded pastel paper. The bottom painting was done on a gray piece of Pastelmat sanded paper. Paper choice does make a difference!

This was not really an official paper test. It wasn't intentional but the results give me food for thought. I happen to love both brands of paper. But I have discovered that my painting approach is different when I work on Pastelmat. This paper takes a lot of layers but I don't usually do many layers on it. I love the way it grabs the pastel and keeps it in it's place. It lends itself to bolder and more direct work.

Conclusion: If I am feeling bold, fearless and want to paint directly with no fiddling I turn to Pastelmat. If I want to play with layering and interplay of color or create texture, I turn to UArt.

What do you like or dislike about either of these papers?

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Vanessa Turner said...

Beautiful landscapes Karen! I always love how you balance detail, never too much or too little.

Anonymous said...

I do like the texture and visibility of the different layers in the first one. Thanks for showing a side-by-side example of the difference the surface makes in a painting. Wish I was there! ;)

Bernadette deCesare said...

This was very helpful--I favor UART for landscapes---(I think)

Jane said...

They are both beautiful. Depends on which style you like, soft or bold.
I like both styles. Thanks for sharing all your information! I am just
beginning to paint with pastels and value all the information on your site!
Thank You,
Jane Capen
Wilmington, NC

robertsloan2art said...

Karen, these are perfect! I love Pastelmat. It's beautiful stuff for exactly that, color doesn't move, hard edges are crisp, details can be quite small and everything comes out bolder on it. The Uart painting is just as lovely. You chose the best possible examples to highlight the difference and both are gorgeous.

I had to smile because at a glance I knew which was which. Both are among my favorite papers.I love using pastel pencils on PastelMat and working lightly, letting the surface show as part of the composition.

I painted a white wolf at night on the Anthracite color, glittering near black, with a few black accents in the deepest darks. That gift for my son in law came out spectacular.

Details with hard pastels or pastel pencils are easy to achieve and I can get all kinds of linear textures layered on it. PastelMat's smoothness allows shading by pressure without paper texture changing it, so I get smooth transitions without blending when I'm careful. I also love it with Pan Pastels.

Uart has become my favorite sanded pastel paper. I love the variety of grits and the toothiness of the coarse Uart. I love how it handles a water wash, use lots of wet underpaintings on it. The beige color is a bit easier to handle than bright white, sometimes a bright white can throw my values off but the light neutral Uart lets me handle them well.

I'm a paper nut anyway, love having different surfaces to choose from and different colors. PastelMat created its own category for me, coated papers that aren't sanded texture. Velour is also its own category. Favorite unsanded is Canson Mi-Tientes, which I just finally got a sheet of all the colors in. There's also the Colourfix/Canson Touch texture that's gritty but with grit mixed in acrylic, a bit easier on fingers for blending and falls between unsanded and Uart for layering.

I've never used up all the tooth on Wallis, probably because I don't like fiddling for days with the same painting as much as to move on and let go when it's done. It wasn't my favorite though it's very good. Uart has more variety of textures!

Bobbe's Community Food said...

I've used Wallis for years and years and had a good backstock when it became unavailable. I've been slow to change but about a year ago I discovered pastelmat and I love it for my more detailed work. It is so easy to work on. I've yet to try Uart, but it is on my list. Not sure which grade would be most similar to Wallis though.

Diane Worthington said...

Do you find you paint much faster on the Pastelmat?