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Friday, September 16, 2016

FAQ: Choosing Pastel Paper

'Into the Woods'      5x7         pastel on Uart       ©Karen Margulis
It really is a great question. If we have been painting with pastels for awhile we may take for granted all of the choices we make without much thought. Take paper for example. We are fortunate to have so many wonderful papers and supports to use for pastels. We tend to find our favorites and with experience we know when one surface suits the painting project.

But when we are new to pastels everything is a mystery! How many pastels do we need? What is a good set to buy? What about paper? What is the difference between sanded and unsanded paper? There are many questions and today's post is inspired by a question I received today.

"How do you decide when to use Uart and when to use MiTeintes?"

I had not really given that much thought. The choice has become so automatic. It is a great question for those new to the medium. Here are my thoughts....

alcohol wash underpainting on Uart sanded paper

Paper choice often depends on both the idea I have for the painting and my mood. I love most papers for different reasons but I do tend to use Uart and Canson MT the most and I will use them interchangeably most of the time.

  • If I am planning to do any kind of wet underpainting however I will use Uart sanded paper in 400 or 500 grit. Canson MT does not take a wet wash and is not as sturdy as Uart. 
  • If I want to try anything experimental such as adding texture with gesso and pumice or maybe experimenting with inks...I will choose Uart. It is versatile and stands up to abuse.
  • If I want to paint something quick and don't want to do an underpainting or tone paper I will choose Canson MT. I like that it comes in so many colors. I do prefer the smooth side and like to use the gray tones.
Note: Like may other artists I didn't like Canson MT when I was new to pastels. I found it unforgiving. Looking back I was using harder pastels which didn't give me the soft juicy look I admired. It really wasn't the paper...It was my pastels and my inexperience.

'Out of the Woods'        6x6        pastel on Canson Mi-Teintes paper        available $50


Karen Price said...

That is really interesting as I have been asking myself the same question. I am new to pastels and have found this quite a dilemma.
I am in Scotland, are these papers available here? If not then do you know what the alternative would be?
I love your demo's and advice. Thank you for sharing you knowledge.
Karen Price
K Price Art

robertsloan2art said...

Choice of paper and pastels can sometimes be very personal. I love Canson Mi-Tientes and most of the sanded papers - but I started with M-T so I learned all its little ways including getting good results with hard pastels on it. Thanks for the tips on Uart! I wouldn't have thought of using texture or gesso on an already sanded paper, but I can see how that'd be great - especially if you want to texture an area but still have the original grit on another area. Makes sense it'd stand up to it.

I tend to use all-rag cold or hot press watercolor paper when using texturing stuff, but now you've got me considering different grits in different areas!