Daler-Rowney Murano Pastel
I increasingly prefer using pastel paper for coloured pencil pieces. It generally comes in a variety of colours, has a good tooth for holding the pigment and is tough and durable. Daler-Rowney’s Murano paper was the first one I tried and loved.
It comes in 3 collections: Warm, Cool, and Neutral. You can get it in individual sheets in most art stores or in pads of varying sizes. Each pad has 30 sheets of 6 colours. The paper itself is sturdy and textured. It is satisfying to draw on and gives great results with coloured pencil. It takes a great number of layers, 10 to 12, and allows for erasing.
You really are spoiled for choice when it comes to colour. And at around £9.00 for the A4 size pad – you can easily get all three collections.
Strathmore Pastel Paper
The pads come in three sizes: 9 x 12 in, 11 x 14 in and 18 x 24 in. All have 24 sheets of 5 tints: cream, stone, blue, olive and dark stone and are 80 lbs.
The two reasons I like pastel paper to draw on are the tooth and the robustness. Pastel paper is tough despite its relative light weight. It will take a lot of abuse and erasing. The tooth is much rougher than normal drawing paper (like Stonehenge for example) and will take a lot of layers. It does take work to fill the tooth admittedly but the tooth can also work to your advantage creating texture to your piece. I recently used it for the CPM Challenge for June, the texture creating the perfect base for sand. Strathmore’s pastel paper is much more textured than a paper like Mi-Tientes even though it is thinner – you may prefer to use the smoother back side of it.
I like it. It didn’t disappoint. Strathmore have provided a nice selection of colours, though I would like to see some dark colours, it’s sturdy and has an interesting tooth that forces you to work a little harder, a little more creatively.
Derwent Pastel Paper
On the 19th of February, Derwent announced the release of their first Pastel Paper pad, especially designed with pastel pencils in mind. They come in A5, A4 and A3 size with each pad containing 24 sheets of 200gsm paper. The paper is a neutral grey, quite pale and Derwent assure us that it is an “optimal” tone for pastels. Now, I am increasingly finding that pastel paper (Mi-Tientes, Daler Rowney Murano) are the best supports for coloured pencil work, so I bought the A4 pad. It is a lovely pale grey, neither cold or warm, and it is much smoother than I expected, no visible tooth.
I recently used this paper for a challenge piece, Black Grapes. I used various coloured pencils on Derwent’s new Pastel Paper. I loved this paper – it is like using sanded pastel papers without the abrasive quality. It takes the pigment very well and allows for a lot of layers without any trouble. Blending is easy too and the grey shade look fantastic behind your painting. Prismas, however…it hates them. It may be a wax pencil issue, but Prismas do not work well. Maybe as a last layer but they fill the tooth too quickly, make the surface too greasy and they do not play nicely with other pencils on this support. Coupled with the other problems I have experienced with Prismas lately, I know this isn’t the paper’s fault and I will continue to use this paper. Highly recommended.
Stillman and Birn Sketchbook
Stillman & Birn sketchbooks are very popular in America and finally they are available here in the UK through Jackson’s Art Supplies. They come in a dizzying array of choices: hardback, wirebound, vellum paper, smooth paper, ivory paper, white paper, coldpress paper with the series names: Alpha, Delta, Gamma, Zeta and sizes: 4 x 6″, 5.5 x 8.5″, 6 x 8″, 7 x 7″, 7 x 10″, 8.25 x 11.75″, 11 x 14″, 9 x 12″…(deep breath) and paper weights: 150gsm or, 270gs., So you can basically mix and match to get the exact sketchbook that you require. And the prices aren’t too bad either.
I wanted to buy one but took ages trying to decide what to go for. Eventually I plumped for Alpha Series, hardback, Natural White paper, 150gsm, Vellum surface, A4 size which is 8.25 x 11.75″. I imagine it would be easier to go into a coffee chain and order a coffee – the modern epitome of confusion and disorientation. In fact there was only one choice that was easy – hardback or wirebound. I hate wirebound sketchbooks – I hate that the holes punched for the wire intrude on your pristine page, that you can’t do a double spread and that the books don’t pack flat.
First impressions are that the book is very well made; it is solid, heavy, well bound and opens flat without strain or damage to the book. The inside flap tells us that the Alpha series is tailored to all dry media and light washes, withstands multiple erasing, cold press paper – which means in this case that the vellum surface has a good tooth, archival, acid free with high density board for the hardback cover. There is no inlay papers, you open straight onto the sketching paper sheet of which there is 62 sheets (124 sides). And the paper is lovely – not a bright white but a very soft, warm shade of natural white. It’s really lovely and I can’t wait to try it out.
An A3 Moleskine sketchbook and it is beautiful. Mr S. is a bit of a stationery addict and obsessive. So I left this on the kitchen table to taunt him when he came home from work. Cue short gasp. Clutched chest. Then deep growl directed my way. Only true Moleskine fans will understand that reaction.
This book is exactly the same as the smaller A5 and A4 versions only big. It still has the expanding wallet in the back, the ribbon bookmark and the elasticated closure.
While the size is fantastic, this is not going to be a sketchbook that you cart about with you sketching surreptitiously. This is for going to art class. Sketching at home. Big practice pieces. Big preliminary sketches. Big, expressive drawing.
The paper inside is the same smooth tinted yellow sheets with the white edge. Too much erasing will reveal the white underneath the yellow and the paper will take washes, watercolour, pen, ink, pencil, coloured pencil…but not Copics, which I discovered recently. If you want to use both sides of the paper, then steer clear of the Copics – the ink will bleed through. The paper is 100g, acid free and you get a generous 176 sheets inside.
What on earth will I fill this book with? How many art supplies is it going to devour in it wake? How can I bear to spoil it’s gorgeous awesomeness?!
All I know is…I love owning it. A little of that is to do with Mr S.’s reaction. I admit it.
I haven’t used this paper yet so am unqualified to give a full review of it. But I will tell you why I bought it. I dislike the favourite standard paper of coloured pencils artists – Stonehenge. It’s too soft, sucks in pigment, makes lines fuzzy and blurred. So I tend to stick to Mi-Tientes which I love. It’s hard-wearing and stubborn – much like myself. But sometimes it’s texture isn’t what I need.
One coloured pencil artist whom I admire greatly, Alan Woollet, uses this paper almost exclusively with Faber-Castell Polychromos and he gets fantastic results. So I thought I would take a chance. It’s expensive – I paid around £34 for this pad – but I hope it works as well with me.
They have released some black paper sketchbooks that come in the landscape version I have, A4 and the smaller sketchbook. The paper in them is very matt black and very smooth. Curiously, mine (and I presume all) comes with black corrugated paper at each end to help keep its shape. This is loose so can be removed. The little envelope at the end is also black. I see a lot of buyers are using them to make little photo albums which is actually a very cute and nice way to use them. I plan to use it for sketches using white and silvers. It’s a very lovely addition to the Moleskine range that we all love so dearly.
Fabriano Ingres Pastel Paper
While I have beginning a relationship with pastels, I have been watching a few YouTube videos of the pastel artist Colin Bradley and I noticed that he uses Fabriano Ingres pastel paper, so I thought I would get some.
On a certain jungle-y internet retailer, you can get 50 sheets of 160gsm, 35 x 50cm sheets for around £20.00 – which surely is the bargain of the year? I chose to get grey as I do most of my drawing on grey paper. Colin Bradley tends to use sand coloured Ingres but that’s too warm for my tastes. Grey is a great neutral, but neutral with an edge.
It is a nice paper and while I can’t give you a complete review having not used it yet, I can tell that I will like it – even for coloured pencil. It is quite like Mi-Tientes but instead of the waffle texture there is a subtler, rectangular, grid-like texture. It’s smoother too yet robust enough to deal with my heavy hand. And luckily I have plenty to play with!