Many of us started working with pastel in the Dark Ages. There were very limited supplies available and sanded pastel surfaces were no exception. We found out we could make our own, and many of us did and still do (see my previous blog on the subject). To use a commercially available surface, we had to compromise the archival quality of the finished painting since these sanded papers were manufactured with very even surfaces of varied tooth and were nothing more than fancy sheets of hardware store sandpaper. They were never intended for fine art application. This lead to a struggle between the desire to work on a surface we enjoyed and the need to have finished paintings that would stand up to the demands of time.
One of the most commonly used sandpaper surfaces was Ersta. It accepted pastel beautifully and was a favorite among a lot of pastel artists for its consistent tooth over a range of grits. What worried us was the acidic paper. This lead to the rise of other sanded papers usually manufactured under the guidance of a professional artist. One such surface is Wallis. Recently Uneeda Enterprises, Inc. has reintroduced Ersta as PH neutral and acid-free. The paper is called Uart Premium Sanded Pastel Paper and is available in a variety of grits. Grade 400 and 500 are moderate grit, and 600 and 800 are considered fine grit. The color of the paper across the line is a manila/beige, just like its predecessor. Available now through major distributors, it will soon be offered in a dry-mounted version, a favorite for wet underpainting applications. It accepts watercolor and very thin washes of oil, as well as a host of other mediums. I’m testing the lightfastness of the paper color and will let you know the results in a couple of months (check the previous blog for information on testing lightfastness). Uart is seeking original pastel artwork done on their surface for inclusion on their website and artists are encouraged to submit works. For more information, visit their (www.uartpastelpaper.com) or email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Apparently, sometimes something old can be new again.