How to Choose Paper for Pastel

For an artist, the type of paper they choose to use is just as important as the type of drawing or coloring utensil that they choose.

Different types of paper are better suited for more advanced art supplies like pastel and chalk drawings. Pastel and chalk tend to be heavier than regular drawing and coloring utensils, which means that they will require thicker paper that perhaps has some sort of texture to it for the color molecules to latch onto.

Here, we will discuss what types of paper and the different features that the paper should have to be ideal for pastel drawing paper and chalk pastel drawings.

This choice can be confusing, but we have worked hard to find the best information possible to make that choice easier for you. You will learn the importance of choosing the right colored paper, the type of textures that can be used, and the importance of the paper’s weight and durability. Let’s get started.

Pastel Paper Colors

Some people make the mistake of thinking that white paper will provide the best effect on the finished picture. However, this is not always the case, especially when you are working with pastels and chalk. The mood and atmosphere of a finished pastel or chalk piece are dependent on the color tint used on the paper for a couple of reasons.

For instance, when using paint, the artist usually covers the entire surface with paint. However, with pastels, the artist will rarely cover the entire surface of the piece they are working on and some specs of the underlying paper color will show through the pastel or chalk colors.

Therefore, choosing the right paper color can allow it to show through the tiny gaps of the pastel allowing the color to shine through.

Plus, choosing the right color of paper will give the overall piece a particular “knit” and sense of unity that using a basic white color might interrupt and provide the wrong feeling for the piece.

Pastel paper comes in different shades and tints of various colors that can help to match different types of drawings to ensure that the right mode is showing through from the background.

However, it is important to look at the paper you are purchasing and perhaps look for a pack of paper or an art pad that provides multiple colors, which is ideal for different types of scenario artwork.

Finally, when it comes to colors, it is important to remember that the texture of the paper is also important because it will allow you to visualize what colors are going to bleed through the small gaps of the oil pastels available in the artwork.

Pastel Paper Colors

Pastel Paper Textures

Just like with the various color choices, you can choose from a wide range of textures that can help to provide different feelings from a pastel drawing.

When using chalk or oil pastels, the paper you choose must have some sort of texture for the chalk or pastels to grip onto. When these types of art utensils are used on a smooth surface of the paper, they have the chance to allow the molecules to bleed together, making the final piece messy looking compared to other types of art utensils.

When looking for the perfect pastel paper, there are a couple of terms and definitions that you need to familiarize yourself with. They are often used when describing pastel paper, and you should better understand them to ensure that you truly know what you are getting.

For example, Ingres paper is described as having a “laid” effect, which basically means that grains are laid in closely spaced lines that help to provide a nice texture for the chalk or oil pastel to latch onto.

On the other hand, other paper brands have a velvety texture that is designed to provide a smooth finish to the ending artwork. Some artists have even found sheets of sandpaper to make an excellent source for pastel work.

It provides a hit and misses effect that pastel is excellent for, and it is one of the best ways to produce a strong impact with the final overall piece of pastel artwork.

Pastel Paper Textures

Pastel Paper Weight and Format

Weight and format are not as important with pastel artwork as say watercolor pieces, but there are still some reasons why you should consider the different weight and format options that are out there.

For instance, if you are merely straight drawing lines with pastel utensils, you might not need to worry about the weight of the paper. However, if you are planning on doing a lot of blending and maneuvering the pastel on the paper with your finger or torchon, then you might want to look into stronger paper styles to keep it from tearing or messing up in the process.

In general, when working with oil pastels, you want to look for paper that is at least 175 gsm. Another type of paper format that you might want to consider is paper that has a board backing that will help to stabilize the piece while you are working on it, and you will not have to be as careful with handling the artwork while making your masterpiece.

However, this does not mean that you cannot find pastel paper that is translucent and acts like tracing paper, which will allow you to create new and exciting pieces of artwork from existing artwork.

Finally, if you like to use art pads for your work instead of loose pieces of paper, then it is imperative to make sure that the pad you get has some sort of interleaved ‘glassline’ paper so that the oil or chalk does not rub off or get smugged on the backside of the piece before it.

Pastel Paper Weight and Format

Insights and Takeaways

If you really want to make a go at creating fantastic oil pastel or chalk art, you really have to step up your thinking for the types of paper that you use. Generally speaking, the right types of paper for this sort of art can be on the pricey side, but the results will make the extra money an excellent thing.

You want to remember that depending on the type of art piece you are creating will weigh heavily on the color and texture of the paper that will best suit your needs.

All in all, before deciding to start on an oil pastel or chalk art piece, you should really look at the type of paper you are getting and the quality of the art piece that you want to create.

You should consider the quality of your art utensils as well because this can have a huge reaction to the type and quality of paper that you will need to get to reach the progress that you want to create.

Then, you might want to decide if you need single pieces of paper or if you are the type of person to purchase an art pad instead to help keep all of your drawings attached and together for showing them off or just looking back at them for inspiration.

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