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Author Topic: Pastel Painting and Toning the paper...  (Read 3378 times)
dragonfly_high
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« Topic Start: April 06, 2008, 07:03:04 pm »

Actually, this question could relate to other types of drawings or paintings too.  I'm teaching myself how to use pastels.  There's a section in the book I'm reading that talks about 'toning' your paper.  One of the methods is using used teabags.  This got me to thinking, if you can use old teabags to tone paper, what results would green tea or an herbal tea bag have?  Has anyone tried this? Would the results just be lighter brown? I'm wondering, I have a tea that has pomegranate in it, I'm thinking that might make a rich reddish brown tone.

I would love to hear if anyone has done this and what the results were.  either way, I'm going to be 'toning' a variety of paper to see what happens.  All thoughts, suggestions, tips and experience welcome. Cheesy
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Cathira
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« Reply #1: April 07, 2008, 05:56:54 am »

All thoughts, suggestions, tips and experience welcome. Cheesy

I don't know if buying already-toned paper is out for you, since there is a huge variety of different types and colours of pastel paper (I love my pastels!).

I've never tried tea bags for pastel paper toning, however I've tried it for something else, and there are easier ways of toning pastel paper. You could pick up a cheap set of watercolour/acrylic paints for example, and have quite a lot of variety open to you.

On the subject of the teas you do have, I doubt you'll get much colour at all from green tea, normal tea gives a sepia colour if you do it correctly, and the pomegranate tea you mention will probably be the equivalent of whatever colour tea it makes. How well it will work for you generally depends on the paper you use. A smooth finish will be difficult to colour (and use pastels on obviously) while a velour-finish paper will probably take on quite a bit of colour, but water may also damage the paper surface. Probably best to experiment with what you have and see what turns up, and learn how to get the kind of surface you want, be it smooth or mottled colour.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2008, 05:58:57 am by Cathira, Reason: Getting things to make sense » Logged

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« Reply #2: April 07, 2008, 09:13:17 am »

All thoughts, suggestions, tips and experience welcome. Cheesy

Well, I've never worked with pastels or tried to tone paper in this manner.  The closest I've gotten was creating a bath of hot water and old coffee grounds and soaking an old pair of heavy cotton gi pants (karate uniform) in a it.  I ended up with a really nice, natural, nut brown color that worked quite well for the Renaissance Faire costume I was working on.  The color lightened in tone after a couple of washings but that wasn't a problem as the pants were part of a peasants costume and mottling was just fine.

I did work in an arts supply store for a few months a number of years ago.  I vaguely recall that pastel paper is pretty light weight.  I'm assuming you're working with chalk pastels rather than oil?  What about using a light weight water color paper with a bit of a tooth to it?  Something like a forty-pound cold press paper?  That is if I'm remembering things properly.  Like I said it's been a number of years.

Using paper along these lines would allow you to brew your tea and using a large brush put down a wash over the surface and allow it to dry.  Water color paper has been designed to resist buckling and wrinkling and, I would think, would be more suited to doing a colored wash than pastel paper.  Of course, you'll still want to anchor your paper to your working surface before you begin to lay down your wash.

One thing to keep in mind is that you will be bathing the paper in an acidic wash.  This will cause aging/yellowing to occur over time.  For some folks this is no big deal, esp. if it's part of the overall tone of the work.

Good luck with this and let us know how it goes.
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dragonfly_high
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« Reply #3: April 07, 2008, 11:46:18 am »

I don't know if buying already-toned paper is out for you, since there is a huge variety of different types and colours of pastel paper (I love my pastels!).

I've never tried tea bags for pastel paper toning, however I've tried it for something else, and there are easier ways of toning pastel paper. You could pick up a cheap set of watercolour/acrylic paints for example, and have quite a lot of variety open to you.

It's not out, I just have this nice pad of white paper that I thought about trying it on. Smiley  Actually, now that you mention it, I have quite a few acrylic paints in my art room. (I like to decrotive paint.)

On the subject of the teas you do have, I doubt you'll get much colour at all from green tea, normal tea gives a sepia colour if you do it correctly, and the pomegranate tea you mention will probably be the equivalent of whatever colour tea it makes. How well it will work for you generally depends on the paper you use. A smooth finish will be difficult to colour (and use pastels on obviously) while a velour-finish paper will probably take on quite a bit of colour, but water may also damage the paper surface. Probably best to experiment with what you have and see what turns up, and learn how to get the kind of surface you want, be it smooth or mottled colour.

That's what I was thinking, about the tea colors.  The pad of paper I bought to practice on just says vellum and that it's good for dry media (including pastels) and Ideal for practicing airbrushing.

One thing to keep in mind is that you will be bathing the paper in an acidic wash.  This will cause aging/yellowing to occur over time.  For some folks this is no big deal, esp. if it's part of the overall tone of the work.

Good luck with this and let us know how it goes.

Interesting! The author neglected to mention that!  I think I'm going to have to check into different types of paper, the already-toned that Cathira talked about and the paper with dif. weights and teeth. (lol, an image of that book in Harry Potter, the one that tries to bite them, just popped into my head. LOL)

I'll differentially keep everyone posted. Cheesy 
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« Reply #4: April 09, 2008, 09:48:16 am »

I'm assuming you're working with chalk pastels rather than oil?

You do not want to work with oil pastels if you are just starting out, they'll drive you mad. Lips sealed
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« Reply #5: April 09, 2008, 03:09:26 pm »

It's not out, I just have this nice pad of white paper that I thought about trying it on. Smiley  Actually, now that you mention it, I have quite a few acrylic paints in my art room. (I like to decrotive paint.)

Acrylic paints, if you use them as a base for your chalk pastels, will probably give you a lousy surface to work with.

300lb watercolor paper will take any manner of punishment and work beautifully without the need for stretching to stay flat. It is a bit pricy but a large sheet can be cut (I usually tear it to keep the develed edge) into at least eight smaller pieces about 10X8. I would avoid the rough surface, as if you are using decent chalk pastels (Rembrandt or something of the like) the tooth will take half your stick down quickly. But the less severe surfaces should work great, although I would avoid the hot press (the very 'slickest' surface).

I personally loved the toned papers available for pastels. I go from light to dark and everything inbetween. I love the creamy texture and unlimited layers available in the medium, one of my favorites too. The tactile delight of blending with your fingers is so much fun, shades of long ago kindergarten finger painting delights!

I hate oil pastels though, ugh, my feeling is if you want to go that way just get out the brushes and oil paints. They get too muddy for me, the way I like to work.

I have been a professional artist for many years, my online portfolio is here. Mainly my watercolors, if I get a chance I put up a couple pastels on toned paper.

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dragonfly_high
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« Reply #6: April 09, 2008, 04:12:11 pm »

Acrylic paints, if you use them as a base for your chalk pastels, will probably give you a lousy surface to work with.

300lb watercolor paper will take any manner of punishment and work beautifully without the need for stretching to stay flat. It is a bit pricy but a large sheet can be cut (I usually tear it to keep the develed edge) into at least eight smaller pieces about 10X8. I would avoid the rough surface, as if you are using decent chalk pastels (Rembrandt or something of the like) the tooth will take half your stick down quickly. But the less severe surfaces should work great, although I would avoid the hot press (the very 'slickest' surface).

I personally loved the toned papers available for pastels. I go from light to dark and everything inbetween. I love the creamy texture and unlimited layers available in the medium, one of my favorites too. The tactile delight of blending with your fingers is so much fun, shades of long ago kindergarten finger painting delights!

I hate oil pastels though, ugh, my feeling is if you want to go that way just get out the brushes and oil paints. They get too muddy for me, the way I like to work.

I have been a professional artist for many years, my online portfolio is here. Mainly my watercolors, if I get a chance I put up a couple pastels on toned paper.



Yeah, I remember taking art classes in High school at the college, we used pastels and chalk.  I loved it.  (I end up with as much on me as on my paper! LOL)  Oil pastels remind me more of crayons.  Don't know why, I think it's the 'feel' of them.

Have you done a mixed media using pastels?  I was thinking about that and trying to figure out what would work with them. Maybe torn textured papers? It seems like paints would smear and ruin the pastels.

I'm going to have to spend more time in the paper aisle doing my homework.  I never thought about paper before.  Funny thing is, all the classes I've taken, I don't ever recall any of the teachers actually taken the time to talk about the actual materials and how to decide what you need for the effects you are trying to get.  You would think that would be important to teach too.
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