Tips for choosing a surface for pastels

The beauty of pastel is best exploited by using a paper with some degree of texture. Not only because then the pastel has a surface to adhere to, but because the visual effects are more varied than when using smooth sheets. For this reason, pastel papers or board with a textured surface are the most common surfaces for pastels. But paper can also be prepared for pastel work using a primer, which adheres to the surface creating a “tooth” similar to that of pastel board.

Watercolour paper

Rough and not (cold pressed) watercolour papers make excellent textured surfaces for pastel. For example, 300lb sheets are popular if an artist is spending a long time on a picture and perhaps carrying it around with them, as the sturdiness of the paper helps prevent damage.

Cartridge or drawing paper

Medium surface cartridge (drawing) paper also offers a good quality surface for pastels at an economical price. The heavier the weight of paper, the more robust the work: 220g is an ideal weight. This paper is useful when using a lot of paper in classes or making preparatory studies.

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