Sunday, March 02, 2014

A Substitute for Wallis Pastel Paper

'Feel This Moment'         18x24             pastel         ©Karen Margulis
click here to purchase $450
 I don't want a substitute. I want some new Wallis paper!  Belgian Mist to be specific.  If you have tried to find Wallis paper you know that it is backordered everywhere.  The Dakota website states that there are production issues and the shipping date is undetermined. (I have heard they recently shipped pads to those who had backorders but alas I did not)  I checked the Wallis Co. facebook page and here is a quote from Kitty Wallis dated February 26  "We will be in production again. I don't know how soon."

Hmmmm I need it for a couple of big painting trips and this doesn't sound very hopeful!  It is time to find a substitute.

I issued a challenge last month to my pastel students to come up with some substitution ideas and I came up with my own which I will share  in this post.

A plein air study on Wallis Belgian Mist    purchase for $100
What is all the fuss about Wallis paper anyway?  It is one of the most popular sanded papers for pastels. It comes in white and a neutral warm gray tone called Belgian Mist.  I like Wallis paper but I also like Uart paper just as much.

However I like to use the Belgian Mist paper for a specific reason....I love it for plein air studies.  I like the tone of this paper which works well for my quick landscape studies. I like the way the paper looks when it peeks through my pastel layers. It is not at all distracting so I don't have to tone the paper or do any kind of underpainting. I can just pick up my softest pastels and quickly respond to the scene in front of me.  (on the other hand I don't like Belgian Mist for underpainting or toning as colors appear dull)

My Belgian Mist substitute
One of my students came up with the idea of using her used pastel dust to tone Uart sanded paper. She saves her dust and made a pastel with it. It was a nice warm neutral gray similar to the belgian mist tone. I didn't get a photo of her sample but I do have a jar of collected dust so I will try my own.

In the meantime I decided I would mix some acrylic paint to match belgian mist and use it very thinly to tone some sanded paper. Before I got around to that I happened to be in Home Depot and found a small sample jar of 'oops' paint...samples that were rejected. It was very close to the color I wanted and best of all it was only 50 cents!  I toned a piece of Uart 240 grit....I found it to be the closet mach to the Wallis grittiness.

Result: It was slightly lighter when dry and also a bit warmer than the belgian mist. But I liked it. I put it to the test with a large painting 18x24 (see top)  I loved it!  I didn't do any kind of underpainting or block in for the painting. I just went right in with my soft pastels ( a mix of Terry Ludwig and Diane Townsend)  You can see places where it peeks through and I like the effect. 

I am happy with my substitute. I will keep an eye out for what happens with the Wallis paper and will give it a try when it becomes available. But in the meantime I have a workable substitute.  I welcome your thoughts and your ideas for substitutes!

12 comments:

Lynn said...

I will no longer use Wallis paper. Problems with production, problems with quality control, purchasing pads that I thought were 12 x 18 but were actually 1/4 to 1/2" short on both dimensions ... the problems that I have encountered with this paper go on and on. When I want a pure white paper to do a watercolor underpainting, I have switched to MultiMedia Board or Arches watercolor paper. I also use UArt and will do underpainting on that with Acrylic Inks, or just use the light beige color as is. It is unfortunate that Kitty Wallis has not been able to provide a consistent product to artists. However, in a competitive market, others will jump at the chance to fill the gap, and they have.

Karen said...

Lynn, I also like the multimedia artboards and plan to use them more often. I love Uart and the availability of various grits. It was the tone of the paper I liked and that can be matched. Thanks for sharing.

Judy Baker said...

Love your paintings and your informative posts! I'm new to pastels, so your information is so helpful and interesting. Thank you for sharing your knowlege!

Leesa Padget said...

Hi Karen, don't know if you can get it there, but Art Spectrum soft umber looks pretty close and I love it :)

Susan Williamson said...

There is nothing quite like Wallis but we'll have to make do with similar papers. Thanks for posting the info on tinting the UART paper.

Doris said...

Karen, I use Fisher 400 panels when Plein air painting, also the fisher paper. I liked the Belgian Mist, but also want something dependable. So toning my paper and using other sanded papers is filling gap. Not sure I'll go back to Wallis unless Dakota or someone has a sale after its back. I have a feeling we'll find the price will have increased even more once its back.

sandra scott said...

richeson unison paper in different weights and colors, I like sandstone

Karen said...

Thanks everyone for sharing! I need to try Fisher. Sandra, I haven't tried sandstone yet. I find the unison paper almost to rough but I have an older piece so maybe I need to revisit it and try sandstone!

sandra scott said...

sandstone is a gold color and i like it peeking through the pastel, i also like pastel mat for dreamy looking landscapes

Observe Closely said...

That Belgian Mist is indeed a nifty color. In my dreams I see myself diluting Mars Black acrylic paint with water until I get the right value of grey. Then I mix in just a dab of Burnt Sienna acrylic to warm the temperature up a half notch. Applied to white UArt paper.

Anonymous said...

Any chance of seeing a video on how you did this exactly? I'm also going nuts with paper that is nothing like the Wallis, and I need to create an alternative.

Karen said...

Thanks!! Great idea for a video. I'm not sure when I will be able to get to it. My regular classes begin this week so I will be busy this week. Thanks for the idea. I will work on it!