Pastel Painting Transportation, Part 2 | Protective Sheets, Tape & More

In last week’s blog post, I started a discussion about the transport of unframed pastel paintings, starting with information about the importance of the painting surface support. As I mentioned there, Gatorfoam board has become a very popular product for this purpose. Here, I’ll continue the conversation with a discussion of protective sheets, tape and other useful products.


Examples of various tapes and protective sheeting positioned on top of a “painting sandwich” consisting of Gator foam board and binder clips.

Traveling With a Painting Sandwich: When heading out for a day of painting, either in classroom or on location, I fasten the day’s pastel surface to a sheet of Gatorfoam Board and then clip another board of the same dimensions on top of it affixed with medium-size binder clips (5/8’’ capacity). For two paintings, I use three Gatorfoam Boards and large size binder clips (1’’ capacity). The two boards holding the painting surfaces face inward toward the third blank center board. Six to eight binder clips usually suffice depending on the overall outer dimensions. Excess pastel is not prone to adhering to the blank Gatorfoam Board that acts as the protectant to the paintings. The key is to place the boards directly on top of each other without any slippage. This painting sandwich is easy to transport either under an arm or over the shoulder in a canvas drawing board bag.

Top Tools for Transportation of Pastel Paintings:

  • Protective Sheets: Protective sheets of glassine paper are a staple for pastel transportation and storage. An extremely light-weight, anti-static paper, it is near perfect for placement over the top of a pastel painting. It is available in large sheets or in a roll and will need to be trimmed to appropriate sizes. An alternative, that is nearly as popular, is tracing paper. While slightly more prone to pastel migration, it is available in various tablet sizes from most art retailers and when handled properly is a good alternative to glassine paper (note that vellum tracing paper is heavier in weight, which makes it easier to handle in windy outdoor situations).
  • Tape: You’ll need tape to attach the pastel painting surface to a support, as well as to a protective sheet, and not all tape is created equal. The adhesive and color makeup of the tape can have profound side effects. For short-term applications, a good grade of masking tape available from most paint/art supply retailers will work well. When I plan on leaving the tape attached for an extended amount of time, however, I make sure to use PH-neutral masking tape, drafting tape (drafting tape is much easier to remove over time but often doesn’t adhere as well), or artist’s tape. It is imperative that the color of the tape be as neutral as possible. Avoid brightly colored tapes marketed as painter’s tape. These intense green, blue, and violet tapes may be attractive and easy to remove, but when visible around artwork they have a sginificant effect on painting choices. Ask yourself, “Would I choose a matting of this color for my finished painting?” If the answer is No, then avoid their use. Fortunately, neutral-tan masking or drafting tape, PH-neutral black masking tape, and white artist’s tape are all readily available.

Next week, in part 3 of the “Pastel Painting Transportation” discussion, I will conclude the conversation with tips for how best to pack pastel paintings for air travel.



Read Richard McKinley’s latest column “Watch Your Tone” about the importance of your painting’s surface tone in the new August issue of Pastel Journal on sale now in the North Light Shop.

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Now on DVD! Painting snow in pastel with Liz Haywood Sullivan!

Now on DVD! Painting surface color and texture with Liz Haywood Sullivan!

Now on DVD! Plein air painting in pastel with Liz Haywood Sullivan!


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