There is often a lot of confusion surrounding Pastelmat and I have seen it used in a generic way to refer to any pastel surface but it is actually a cork based surface manufactured by Clairefontaine. This surface was originally designed as a pastel surface but works beautifully for coloured pencils as well. This unique surface now comes in 14 different colours, is 170lb (360gsm) weight, and is available in large sheets separately or in pad form. The pads are sold in a range of sizes and each pad has 12 cards and has four different colours:
Pad 1 has Buttercup, Maize, Dark Grey and Light Grey
Pad 2 has White, Anthracite, Brown and Sienna
Pad 3 has 12 sheets of White only
Pad 4 has Sand, Wine, Light Blue and Dark Blue
Pad 5 has Dark Green, Light Green, Dark Blue, White
Pad 6 has 12 sheets of Anthracite only
You can also now buy the Pastelmat in board form where the original pastelmat has been adhered to 3mm acid free board At these boards and some of the newer colours and pads seem to be more readily available in the UK but should be available in other countries in the not too distant future. In countries other than the UK, the pads may have different names such as Pad A and Pad B
Advantages: The Pastelmat surface has a slight tooth that allows for multiple layers of coloured pencil and also gives you the ability to layer light over dark. It is a multi-media surface so solvents work really well, you can underpaint with watercolours or combine pan pastels with wax and oil based pencils. The possibilities are endless. Lisa Ann Watkins has some fabulous tutorials on combining watercolour pencils with regular coloured pencils on the Pastelmat to create stunning animal artworks.
Cons: The Pastelmat can be difficult to erase and smudges or unsightly marks that appear whilst you are working on a piece can be challenging to remove. The good thing is that you can easily cover up these marks and smudges with a couple of sweeps of Panpastels. The tooth of this surface will chew your pencils slightly more quickly than a smooth surface will and your detail won’t appear crisp and clean until you have several layers down. The Pastelmat is also quite an expensive surface when compared to other drawing and pastel surfaces.
In the US, Pastelmat can be purchased from various outlets including Dick Blicks.
In the UK, you can get it from SAA
In Australia you can purchase it from Soft Pastels
It is also available on Amazon from most countries.
I have used the Pastelmat both for pastel artworks and for coloured pencil artworks and found it worked beautifully for both mediums.
This first artworks entitled Nature’s Palette was done using a range of Pastel pencils from my own reference
The next artwork was done using a range of coloured pencils on Pastelmat and the reference was used with kind permission of Judith Crown.
This next image shows you a closely cropped version of the above artwork so you can see how with many layers there is very little texture showing through from the Pastelmat and you can achieve a reasonable degree of detail