I've just tried out a new pastel painting surface--well, it's been around for awhile but I haven't tried it before. It's called PastelBord and it's by Ampersand. Each board is a rigid composition-board support coated with some kind of a clay mixture. It doesn't feel as if it has a lot of tooth--it's sort of like suede--but the label insists that it accepts "unlimited layers" so I thought I'd give it a try. Inspired by the emerging signs of spring here, I chose a scene featuring the burgeoning colours in the willows and dogwoods along local streams. The first lesson I learned was to make sure that whatever I draw on it with isn't too sharp. I laid out my composition with a pastel pencil that had been carelessly sharpened (by me!) and which had a protruding sharp point of wood. This point scratched into the clay surface, and created shallow grooves that were nevertheless somewhat hard to disguise with later applications of pastel. Note to self: sharpen your pencils more carefully or use a pastel stick for layout!
After that epiphany, however, all went smoothly. The surface is easy to blend and layer on, and the gray colour (it also comes in white) really made the pastel hues jump out. It's a bit more expensive than sanded paper, but the advantage is that your framer won't have to add a rigid backing board to it when framing, so it works out about the same in the end.
I like this product, and have special-ordered eight of their largest size (I think it's 24 x 30) for special works that are planned for an exhibition in 2013 at Station Gallery in Whitby, Ontario. What will they be? I don't know yet, but I'm sure having these large boards around will inspire me! :)
Here's the piece that resulted, titled Early Colours.