Hello my creative friends!
I have forever been wanting to try a paper that is brand new to me — Clairefontaine’s Pastelmat!
This paper is not brand new to the pastel world, however. In fact, it has been around for several years.
For more info and colors you can check out pastelmat.com.
The particular paper I purchased was in a pad of 10 sheets with five colors selected by artist Jeremy Ford.
It includes two sheets each of: white, natural sienna, brown, maize, and dark grey, each separated and protected by acid-free crystal paper (glassine, I presume).
However, the paper also comes in anthracite, buttercup, and light grey and can be purchased in pads with different combinations of colors. I bought the Jeremy Ford Pastelmat pad from SAA (the Society of All Artists) at www.saa.co.uk through Amazon for a little over $24.
According to the manufacturer, Pastelmat is a premium card surface (170 lb) coated with cellulose fibers that reduces the need for fixative and holds multiple pastel layers. The packaging on my pad states it is a “smooth cork grain surface.”
The paper is also acid free, lightfast, water resistant (so you can do wet underpaintings), and easy on the fingers and Pan Pastel tools.
In my experimentation I found that Pastelmat really holds onto the pastel, even after multiple layers.
Though I rarely use final fixative, I sometimes spray an underlayer of pastel with workable fixative if I find I need more tooth, but this paper did not need it!
I was able to apply multiple layers of pastel—in fact, just as much as I would have applied to my favorite UART 400 sanded paper.
One of the reasons I had not yet tried this paper was because many people recommend this paper for doing detailed drawings with pastel pencils. Well, I don’t really work with pastel pencils, so I thought this paper wouldn’t be for me.
Boy, was I wrong!! 🙂
I would have to say that I have definitely been missing out by not using this paper, and that it is NOT just for pastel pencil artists.
Below is a direct comparison of a pastel painting I did on white UART 400 paper vs. white Pastelmat paper using the same limited palette.
What I Found:
- The cardstock of the Pastelmat kept the paper from curling more than the UART paper.
Now, this isn’t a huge deal, I know. I guess it’s one of those things that is more annoying than prohibitive while painting. After all, I usually tape my paper to my support while painting with any paper, but it was nice that the curling didn’t happen while painting with Pastelmat.
- The Pastelmat feels ultra-smooth to the touch, but really grabs the pastel.
In fact, when I first pulled the paper out of its packaging, I felt it and thought, “How in the world is this going to hold onto pastel???” Well, it does—beautifully!
- I was able to suggest texture with the Pastelmat paper just like I could with UART paper.
I realize that perhaps a fairer comparison would have been to look at Pastelmat vs UART 800 (UART’s smoothest grade of paper), however, I wanted to compare the grade of UART I usually use with Pastelmat.
In both paintings above, you can see the texture that remains in the sandy areas. The papers helped me achieve that.
- Blending was possible once I had a few layers on the paper, but I found that I didn’t always want to!
- This paper allowed me to apply pastel in a more painterly way than I had expected it would. In other words, detailed, linear work is easily achieved with Pastelmat, but so is painting in a way that suggests with value and relationships between objects rather than directly sketching and then “filling in” a subject.