Friday, May 22, 2009

Comparison of Pastelmat, Pastelbord and Fisher 400 paper

I have recently read several discussions among artists about using supports other than paper, so here are my experiences with the above.
'Eye to Eye'
cat on Pastelmat, for the 2009 SOFA exhibition in September
Made by Clairefontaine, acid free, 360 g/m2, available in various colours as single sheets or in pads.
Two sizes of sheet available: 50 x 70cms or 70 x 100cm's.
Can be purchased in the UK from Great Art or Tim Fisher.
I have used both the black and the white.
I found the surface mid way between colourfix and velour, certainly much softer than either the Pastelbord or Fisher 400. It took several layers, you could get a nice sharp line and on the black it was possible to get a really white, white. I have found this difficult on some black surfaces.
I could not get as many layers as on the Arches paper I often use, but this didn't matter to me as the colour saturation was good.
Katherine Tyrrell has done a review of Pastelmat on her Making a Mark Reviews Blog.

Cat on Pastelbord
Sold by the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery, London, SOFA 2008

Made by Ampersand in the USA.
Ampersand Pastelbord is described as "a clay and gesso hardboard panel with a granular marble dust finish" The pastelbord is available in four colours, sand, grey, green and white.
I have not found a supplier in the UK, I have had to use mail order from America which makes it expensive.
I ordered samples of all four colours although up to now I have only worked on the sand one. The Ampersand website shows the four colours and gives much more information on the product, including the diversity of media you can use on it.
So far I have used acrylic, coloured pencil and neocolorII.;
This is the hardest of the three surfaces and can be framed without glass.
Again it takes several layers but I found it harder to get the fine lines for my fur than on either of the softer surfaces, it is possible, just harder to do. It is again possible to get white, whites and paint highlights in acrylic if you don't mind mixed media.
The benefit to me of the Pastelbord was framing without glass.

Fisher 400
I wrote about this in my last post.
Developed by UK artist Tim Fisher it is a sanded pastel paper.
Supplied by Tim Fisher in the UK, International customers are welcome.
I probably enjoyed working on this surface the best, it almost 'grabbed' the colour, was easy to blend and burnish yet retained sharp edges where I wanted them.
You can read an in depth review of the paper here by super talented artist Nicole Caulfield. Nicole also uses Pastelbord for her work, her portraits are stunning, especially the one she did of my son., 'Rob'
Great Art website
Making a Mark Reviews - the introduction


Teresa said...

When I saw that you were trying out the Fisher paper I hoped that you would do such a review as this comparing various supports.

Was interesting and informative reading. Thanks for the info and the links.

BTW - As usual, your art is stunning. I always sit and stare at your new pieces.... so much detail and lush color. You're a wonderful artist.

Making A Mark said...

Gayle - I'll highlight this on MAM Reviews and link back to this if that's OK with you.

Plus it'll be featured in the art supplies section of tomorrow's 'who's made a mark this week?'

Unknown said...

Thanks for the mention Gayle!!! The Fisher is so fun to work with!

I'm so impressed at your work on all the surfaces.

Mona Diane Conner said...

Gayle, what a terrific post, thank you so much for this information! Your beautiful cat, "Aristocrat" inspires me to give Ampersand another try. (They changed their pastel board formula some time ago.) What is the size of "Aristocrat"? Amazing detail.

I have been using a sanded paper called La Carte for my portraits, and particularly enjoy working on a color called Van Dyke brown. The one drawback with La Carte is that if you get a waterspot on it (and I'm thinking this could apply to fixative also?) the adhesive coating dissolves, along with the grit, back to white. Wondering how it compares to Fisher 400.

Gayle Mason said...

Mona, Aristocrat was 16 x 12.
The Fisher paper is fine if it gets water on it, I think you can tint it with watercolour but I haven't tried that. However when I did my water test I wet a corner and it dried with no marke, damage to the surface etc.
You're welcome Nicole I love the portrait of Rob.
Thanks Katherine.
Thank you Teresa, I'll try to add to the post as I discover more links.

Pauline said...

Thanks for this comprehensive comparison Gayle. I have used watercolour on Fisher 400 successfully, however it is inclined to bleed if too wet.

Unknown said...

Thank you for all the interesting in fo on materials, and I love the cat... just beautiful work.

You are so talented. your work is stunning.

Debi Fitzgerald said...

I am really excited to have just found your blog! I have been experimenting with new surfaces to work on. I do portraiture mostly of horses, dogs and people in oils and pastel. Anyway, I am getting ready to try the pastelmat by Clairefontaine... and was thrilled to see your review. Of course now I need to get a piece of the fisher 400 to try too... Hope I can get some here in the US. Also very happy to find out that I can get the pastelmat in the bigger size. Thank you for the review!

Shuma said...


thanks for making this review :)

I just have one question: what makes Pastelboard that special from other boards ? I mean why not to frame other boards without glass ?

Thanks :)

Gayle Mason said...

Hi Shuma
I think which board to use is a personal preference, it is one of many supports I like to use.

Shuma said...

Hey again,

I'm realising it, I was just wondering why can we frame pastelboard without glass while it's not possible for other boards.. You said: The benefit to me of the Pastelbord was framing without glass.

What is the characteristic that makes it "frameable" without glass among other boards ?

I'm sorry, may be my English is not clear enough..