As mentioned in previous posts I've decided to get back into pastel paintings and to that end, after a little research, decided to try out this Pastelmat paper. It arrived on Saturday morning and so I straight away began a small painting to try it out.
I should point out here that I am no expert regarding pastels, but not a complete novice. I've produced a few fairly nice pieces before but only ever tried out a few different surfaces, mostly struggling along with Fabriano papers or Colorfix. The colorfix was good but had a few disadvantages because of it's rough surface, making it quite tricky to achieve sharply defined edges.
I didn't want to use a full sheet of Pastelmat for my first experience of this paper, after all at just under £5 a sheet (50 x 70cm) it's not cheap. So I cut a small piece about 8 x 9 inches to use for my first go. The picture I chose for reference is yet another from the Paint My Photo web site. It contains many elements upon which I could practice several different techniques. Rough stone surfaces, hairs, sharp edges, fine lines, deep shadows and bright colours. For this piece I used the pale grey pastelmat and my set of Faber Castell Pitt pastel pencils.
My first thought upon taking it out of it's pack was that the surface was not at all what I had expected. From what I had read I thought it would have far more texture to it. Although it felt abrasive, there didn't appear to be very much tooth. I went ahead and sketched out my composition.
As soon as I touched my pastel pencil to the surface of the Pastelmat it seemed to grab the pigment and left a beautiful rich mark, you hardly have to use any pressure at all in fact a light touch is definitely required. I began by putting in the rocky pebbles one at a time. Blending with my fingers immediately pushed the pigment right into the surface and after two or three layers I had the effect I wanted and it was obvious to me that I could have added many more layers if I'd wanted to. This paper just grabs and holds the pigment. What's more there doesn't appear to be any excess or loose dust, so sealant is not required. That's a real advantage as sealant always seems to dull the colours right down normally.
The bright colours on the butterfly went down very easily with no sign of the pale grey paper colouring showing through. It was easy to blend the yellow into the orange and likewise the brown. I made some light indentations with my stylus where the fine hairs were to go before laying down the brown. The using a finely sharpened yellow ochre pencil, the hairs were lightly added on top. The furry texture on the butterfly's back was quite simply achieved using several different colours and blending with a colour shaper.
Finally I wanted to test out the addition of a wet medium to finish off. I used a little yellow gouache spattered on with an old tooth brush. Also some light blue using a very fine paint brush.
Job done! This little painting took me about 5 hours to complete from start to finish and to be honest I found it very easy to do. So with plenty of confidence in this Pastelmat paper, I'm looking forward to starting on a full sized piece in the near future.