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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bumpy or Smooth? A Side by Side Demo on Canson

'Summer Fields are Calling'       5x7      pastel      ©Karen Margulis
available $75
 I am back to daily painting practice. I am going to give myself assignments for each painting. It is part of my focused practice which I will be sharing more about in the coming weeks.  Today's assignment: Paint on both the smooth and bumpy side of Canson to compare and contrast. I decided to paint the same scene with the same pastels for a better comparison.

As much as I love sanded papers I am equally drawn to unsanded surfaces such as Canson. Every once in awhile I just like to paint directly with soft pastels with no underpainting. It is enjoyable. In fact the painting that just was awarded an exceptional merit award was done on Canson with no real underpainting.

'Summer Fields 2'       $75
Many artists don't enjoy working on Canson. They either don't like the textured bumpy side or feel they can't get enough layers.  I have written about tips for having success on Canson. (search my blog for canson articles) So today I decided to do a side by side mini demo on both the smooth side and the bumpy side of Canson Mi-Teintes paper. I hope you enjoy!

The bumpy side is the painting on the left. The smooth side is the right. The textured side is considered the correct side but many don't enjoy the regular texture. You can click on any photo to enlarge and see a close up.

I blocked in each painting with soft pastels using 4 values of violet. I then rubbed in the pastel with a piece of pipe insulation foam. It was especially helpful on the bumpy paper.

Reinforcing the dark areas  and painting the sky with a few different pale blues and a light pink at the horizon.

Beginning to add the green on top of the violets. I had to use a light touch so I could get enough layers on this unsanded paper. I don't really notice much difference in how many layers each side of the paper will take. It feels similar.

I sprayed the bottom half of the paintings with workable fixative so I could darken the foreground and get a feeling of texture over the dark areas.

I lightly applied some golds and greens over the 'fixed' areas. The bumpy side definitely gives a feeling of more texture although some feel it is too regular and mechanical. Click to enlarge.

Finally I added the finishing touches....the flowers and a few blades of grass. The flowers are are not planted randomly. They are placed deliberately where they will help move the viewer's eye through the painting.

Which version do you prefer? Answer in the comment section. 


Anonymous said...

I prefer the smooth side.

Anne Y said...

Smooth! great Demo!

Unknown said...

Pretty convincing evidence for the smooth side. I think your subconscious prefers it too and you painted slightly better there.

Unknown said...

Thanks for posting this, Karen! I prefer the smooth side by a long shot!

Anonymous said...

I allso prefer the smooth side. The "holes" in the bumpy side disturbs my eyes and experiens of the painting, when I see others painting and when I paint on it myself. Greatings fom Denmark, Hanne Marie

Unknown said...

Definitely the smooth side.

Newbie said...

I'm a beginner to pastel & have been using the rougher side because I thought that it holds more layers of pastel. This demo was very useful. I definitely prefer the smoother side- but couldn't you cover up the " bumps" with more pastel? I will definitely try using the smoother surface to see what happens. Thank you so much for your wonderful blog.

Carol Flatt said...

Great idea of working/posting the two sides! I usually love texture, but I think it's as you said: the texture (pattern) is too precise and regular. So for today, I'm a Smoothie! Thanks, Karen.

hamnhock said...

I think the smooth side is more like what I'm used to seeing you do, but it's nice to see you change it up a bit. I'm leaning toward the textured. ��

Anonymous said...

I definitely like the smooth side. You do such good work on Canson. I need to try it again. Thank you for your helpful blogs!

betknit said...

Love the smooth side!

Dee Martella said...

I prefer he smooth side too!

Elizabeth Parsons said...

smooth. Like you said- the bumps are too regular and mechanical looking. Beautiful work! Great demo!

Anonymous said...

Smooth is my favorite, also.

njart73 said...

Canson has been my go to paper for as long as I can remember.
I am always pleased by the consistent quality from sheet to sheet and
the many beautiful colors available. For many years I worked with colored pencil on the rough, aka , "bumpy" side. I also did a number of plein air studies
with oil pastels on the smooth side and will start to work on that side
when I return to using colored pencils. When I paint with soft pastels I work
on 16/20 Canson Art Board that in my opinion has a smooth finish.
I have found that Spectra Fix Degas Pastel Fixative enables me to build up layers without altering the color. I enjoy reading your blog entries finding them to be very informative. I know that I can purchase lessons from your Etsy. Com shop and have done so.I would love though to see Northlight publish a book on your pastels and/or an art instruction DVD one day.

Unknown said...

Great demo and experiment, Karen. I think it's unanimous that the smooth side is preferred and I agree. Can you tell me what brand of spray fixative you use?

Karen said...

Thanks everyone for taking the time to share!!! Smooth side seems to be the preference.

Francesca I use Blair low odor workable fixative

Sue Taylor said...

I much prefer the smooth side. When I began pastel painting, I mostly used this paper, thinking I wasn’t good enough for the more expensive sanded paper. Once I started using UArt, my paintings improved dramatically and it is my go to surface.