Years ago when I first tried painting with pastels on sanded paper, my tools and techniques didn’t work. I couldn’t understand why everyone was so enthusiastic about these papers. After I saw pastelists Cuong Nguyen and Jude Tolar using a very (VERY!) light touch, I decided to try it again. I experimented first with plain old 600-grit black sandpaper from the hardware store, and was stunned! Colors went down and STAYED there! I was able to put colors over top of each other without just making “mud.” Sharp lines and atmospheric blends were both possible.
Nguyen had mentioned that he was using a new paper from China, and my interest was piqued. I was already in contact with fellow pastelist Isabelle V. Lim whose husband Alex is working on distribution, so I asked her about it. She recommended that I contact Alex directly. The paper was originally called “Yi Cai” but Alex told me it recently changed its name to MingART. He put me in contact with the representative here in Taiwan and I arranged to purchase a single sheet of their “Premium” paper in Dark Green.
I cut the 31.3×43.3″ sheet into smaller sizes, leaving one big enough for an 18×24″ painting, and another to accommodate 16×20″. That still left three at 8×10″, one at 6×9″ and a few smaller sizes.
My very first painting on MingART made me feel like I had leaped to another level! The sanded surface allowed for an even wider range of expression than I could get on the 600-grit sandpaper. I could place small dots of color with the tip of a pastel pencil, or lightly drag a stick for interesting textures. Soft and harder pastels were equally useful. I quickly painted another one, and it was just as exciting!
I let Alex know how much I enjoyed the paper, and he sent me a sample booklet with 5 small sheets of each of their 4 types of paper in a variety of colors. Isabelle had helped MingART develop two new colors for their Premium line, and Alex included an A4 (letter) size sheet of each: Midnight Blue and Payne’s Grey.
When they arrived in the mail, I immediately opened the package and changed my plans for the day! By the end of the day, I had painted an 8×10″ sunset on the Midnight Blue.
I’ve started painting on the small sample sheets (4.5×7.5″), just to see how they work for me. I’ll keep you posted on my experience!