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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Why Choose Colored Paper for a Pastel Painting?

'Memories of Autumn'                9x12               pastel              ©Karen Margulis
available $165

 I LOVE paper. Maybe that's one of the reasons I love pastel is because of the many papers to choose from.  I am always trying a new paper or paper color. I don't ever want to get into a paper rut.  I know artists who have a favorite paper and stick to it exclusively and it works for them.  I would be bored.

But sometimes the choice of paper is overwhelming especially when it comes to colored papers.  Many brands of pastel paper come in assorted colors. We can tone white or light papers to any color we want as well. So how do you decide what color to paint on?

It is important to realize that the color of the paper can make a big difference in the overall look of the finished painting.  It is never a good idea to go to your stack of paper and pick the one on top without regard to it's color. Here are some thoughts:

Blue Earth Pastels Nomad set

  • White paper is the hardest color to paint on. It is hard to judge values and everything will look extra bright. It is also challenging because the specks of white will show through in a finished painting which can be distracting and make your colors less intense.  Solution: do an underpainting or tone it.
  • Black paper is challenging for similar reasons but the black can make the colors really pop and can add interest when it peeks through. I like black paper!
  • Middle value papers are the easiest to work with. A medium gray paper is nice because the gray unifies a painting and it is easy to judge color and value. I like Wallis Belgian Mist with NO underpainting. I love Canson Moonstone which is a nice warm gray that works well in landscapes.
  • The color of the paper does effect the mood and look of the painting.  A warm color such as reds and oranges can create a warmer sunnier feeling. A cool color can help give the painting a cooler moodier look. In today's post, the top painting was done on a dusty purple paper and the bottom painting was done on an orange  paper all with the same pastels. The paper color changed the overall mood of each painting. I selected orange for my pumpkin painting because I wanted a warm feeling and I didn't want to fight the lighter bits of laughter paper. 
So treat the choice of paper color as part of your overall plan for the painting. Experiment with different colors so you know what they can do. Have fun with paper!

I buy my paper in full sheets and cut it down to smaller sizes. Most online stores allow you to mix and match papers so try a few different papers and keep a stash on hand!

Working on Canson Mi-Teintes orange paper

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