Thursday, December 13, 2012

Winter Wonderland

"Winter Wonderland"
pastel on Canson coated paper
size: 9 X 13 inches
2012 copyright MaryAnn Cleary

This is my first attempt at using the latest Canson coated paper for pastels. A few months ago I decided to buy the sample pack as I loved the array of colors that Canson offered on the paper. My favorite paper to date is Belgian Mist by Wallis, but since they had been having manufacturing issues (no longer an issue) and supplies and sources for that paper could not be found, I opted to try out a variety of others.

Some of my favorite papers for drawing are the toned papers of Canson MiTientes for drawing using conte or charcoal. Having a toned color to use for a value in the drawing is nice. With that in mind, I ordered the sample pack. The Canson sample pack came with several toned surfaces, including white, and a nice sample size of 10 x 14 inches.  My previous experience using a coated paper has not been a great fit for me. With a couple of other surfaces that I have tried, one layer of pastel on the paper and that is the end of trying to get anymore pastel on the paper as the grain has filled and the pastel just slides across the surface.

This paper has a coating that actually feels like a sandpaper. I would rate the surface as a fine grit or tooth - enough to get a few layers of pastel on the surface - probably due to there being a pumice or grit in the coating. It is textured and not the popped bubble kind that I have seen in some surfaces.  The paper that I used for "Winter Wonderland" has a very light gray tone to it (parts can be seen in the snowy area of the background behind the trees on the right). I also like to block in an initial layer of pastel and then either use alcohol or wipe the surface with a cotton rag to get a blended surface. For this painting, I used a rag for this first layer as I had just had had a bad experience with another brand of paper and alcohol. I did not want to risk the coating coming off.

Canson Coated Papers without the light gray - Sample Pack
After that I re-did the drawing and began blocking in the dark, shapes. I had no issues and the tooth of the paper is good for this initial layer and subsequent layers. However, I also like to really lay in the pastel really thick in the last stages of the painting and that is where I saw the tooth fill-in. The pastel began sliding across the surface and not gripping or laying down onto the paper. These areas would be the highlight found on the the tree branches. I will definitely use this paper again and I love having a variety of colors. I just need to remember to utilize those tones for the background and not try to fill each and every space of the paper as well as have control on those last textural areas that I love to fill.