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Friday, October 13, 2017

A Great Way to Tone Paper for Pastel Painting


'Summer in Finland'             5x7             pastel              ©Karen Margulis

Enjoy this post from the archives while I am out of town!

Sometimes I just don't want to think. I don't want to think about underpainting colors or the best way to start a painting. Sometimes I just want to paint directly....no underpainting. No thinking.  I find that a middle value paper makes the best choice for these times. A nice warm toned paper allows me to paint directly without worrying about covering up a light or white paper.

I find that the light bits peeking through my layers can be distracting and a mid value toned paper helps me avoid the light bits!  If bits and pieces of the middle value tone peek through it is more pleasing. In fact it can unify and harmonize the painting.

Of course we can buy colored pastel paper and I do. But sometimes I want to use my favorite paper Uart, but I want it to be more of a middle value. Now I can!  

Art Graf pigment square....unusual and amazing!

I was introduced to this new product at the recent IAPS convention. My friend found them at the trade show and insisted that I have a look. I am glad I did and I am glad I bought the set.  These squares of rich water-soluble pigment create a most wonderful toned paper. And a little bit goes a long way!

They are thin square shapes like tailor's chalk only they are not chalk. They are not pastel either. In fact they feel a bit waxy. But they work like a dream to tone paper. Read more about them here:








It takes very little pigment to create a rich tone.  I tested all 6 colors on Uart sanded paper. I used the side of the Art-Graf to color the paper....lightly!  A brush and some water is needed to liquify and spread the pigment. It took some practice to figure out the right amount of water. More water equals a lighter tone. I got some drips and bubbles on some of mine because I was impatient. I liked the effect though!

I even mixed more than one bock on the same paper to make a custom color.  It was great fun and I loved the results.


 How does pastel react to the toned paper? I am happy to say that it was a great marriage. The pastel responded perfectly. The painting at the top of the post is on the sepia toned paper.  The pigment of the Art Graf did not fill the tooth of the paper. I am thrilled!  I am looking forward to using them to tone paper for my upcoming plein air workshops!

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