drawing surface and underpainting

Patels, gorgeous as they are do suffer from misinformation and have inferiority among a wide spread of public opinions. The perception of many is that oil is the king of two-dimension painted art. Followed by Watercolours and perhaps acrylics. What these mediums have in common is that the pigments are hard anchored on to with surface by oils, resins and polymers. These mediums and be rolled in a tube and posted worldwide at ease. 

Pastels do not benefit from such flexibility and tollerare far less abuse. They cannot be rolled and posted in a tube, the surface cannot be touched, then need a good frame and even better glass, and then need to be sealed against ingress of dust and insects. For this purpose, we are going to examine how best to fulfill these criteria, and indept look at pastel papers, underpaintng, and fixative sprays.

pic of several papers

Paper is a critical element in the pastel process. there is an intimate connection between the artist and the paper drawing surface. Today there is a vast range of papers (and boards) to choose from, plus artist preparing their own home-made surface prepared with a toothy finish. 

Hint; when you try a new paper, it would be unfair to judge it with a one time use, or just a scribble on a corner. Paper has a complex nature and only repeated focused use of a specific paper can place the artist in a position to judge if that paper should be adopted, or discarded. A quick scribble and immediate discard could be a mistaken impulsive decision simply because the new paper is different from the usual familiar stock. Discovering a good paper that goes well with your techniques can be a game-changer, so be patient. 

The nature of pastel drawing surfaces.
Most artists agree that pastel paper needs to have most, if not al of the following criteria:

Tooty Surface

Pastels, being basical a loosly binded powder, needs a rough surface to grip to. The rougher the surface, the more pastel powder and fill in the microscopic nooks and crannies. There are two types of surfaces tooth. First is the natural fibrous texture of the paper itself, second, a deliberate layer containing fibers or grit is applied to otherwise smooth paper. 

pic - close up of warercolour paper

vid - demo on white wc paper

Few artists manage to control raw, white paper that is not pastel specific. There is a real danger that white paper 'pinholes' getting through. Not for me, but some artists do this magnificently. Check out the great Zaria Forman as she works on the rather smoothish Lenox 100 paper.

Disadvantages of white sheets; Big learning curve before artists can master the surface if doing detailed work. The surface holds minimal pastel layers. 

Advantages; economical, can draw on huge sheets of roll supplied drawing paper. Ideal for expressive artists that do not fuss on detail.

pic coloured pastel paper

Next in line are uncoated papers that are aimed at pastel users. These usually cellulose-based semi-rough or texture embossed papers have a die added in their manufacture so as to have a uniform coloured tone. An example of this are the Canson Mi-Teints papers, similarly, there are many other brands that make similar products.