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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Closer Look at a Great New Paper

'Under the Summer Sun'       12 x 9      pastel  on Uart Dark 800      ©Karen Margulis
available $165
The first thing I did with the new paper was to paint on it. I wanted simply to respond to it without overthinking.  Next I put it to my paper test. I was more deliberate and analytical. I tested how the paper responds to harder pastels vs. softer pastels. I also did a layer test. I wanted to find out how many layers the paper would take. Finally I painted the same thing using the same pastel palette on each of the 4 grades of paper. I've been playing with the new Uart dark sanded pastel paper this week and having a great time!  Below are my results.

All 4 test paintings together in a collage

My test strip. Click to enlarge for detail
  • How dark is it?  The paper is called Uart Dark and the level of darkness varies according to the grade of the paper. The two lower grades (rougher) 400 and 500 are the darkest.They are considered black. The 600 grade is slighter lighter and is called dark charcoal. The finest grade 800 is called charcoal and is slightly lighter. The higher the grade, the smaller the pigments are. I find the variation in darkness to be so slight and subtle that it made no difference at all in my paintings. 
  • How do pastels perform on Uart dark? The good news is that both hard and softer pastels perform EXACTLY THE SAME on the dark paper as they do on regular Uart sand color paper. Pastels go on easily and layer well.  There is no struggle to get pigment from even the hardest pastels. You get the benefit of the consistency of the Uart you love with the new dark color.  I truly forgot I was working on black because the paper felt so familiar to me. 
  • How many layers does Uart Dark take?  I put each grade to the layer test. I used my box of 30 Terry Ludwig yellows and started layering. I used my usual light touch. I got to 26 layers without a problem. I layered dark over light and light over dark. I was able to build layers without the pastel completely filling the tooth of the paper and getting slippery. I could have added more layers but more than likely we don't really need to use more than 26 layers! A painting would probably loose freshness. It's good to know that the paper can take it though!
  • What is the difference in the various grades? Besides the subtleness in the darkness of the grade there is also a difference in the amount of grit or roughness. Think of how regular sandpaper is graded from smooth to rough. I found that I didn't paint differently on the various grades and my results are similar. Click on the photos below to enlarge. The smoother paper does allow one to get finer detail. The rougher paper allows for more suggested texture. I like all grades and again found them to be the same as regular Uart sand color paper.

Final thoughts: I love the new dark paper. I will still use the sand color Uart and choose my paper color depending on the subject. I love having choices and having a dependable and consistent paper to choose from!  NEXT UP: testing wet underpaintings on Uart dark.

Today's Painting Notes: The painting at the top of the post was done on Uart dark 800. I chose to blend the sky to eliminate the bits of black peeking through. I wanted a calm sky to contrast with my busy weeds!


Unknown said...

Karen, this is so helpful and I appreciate all the testing you're doing, sharing the details with us. You are so wonderful about sharing what you learn! As an aside, could you repost the software you used to create that canvas medley? <> I couldn't get that link to work. Thank you! Kath

Karen said...

Hi Kath,
Thank you for reading my blog and for your comments. The website is

jojo said...

je suis très surpris du résultat! j'ai vu dans la revue pratique des arts une oeuvre d'un professionnel ,qui ne m'a pas convaincue (le noir dominé ,triste) étonnant le nombre de couches que vous avez superposées ! sur certains papiers on sature vite! merci Karen pour vos démos captivantes ..