Having looked out a picture of an otter that I started on velour using pastels, I decided to finish it. It was quite a job completing it, but I did. It has turned out all right.
I have also completed a Rhino on Pastelmat board using pan pastels and color pencils. Based on these two experiences I have now developed a couple of preferences.
The first is that I definitely prefer using color pencils. I forgot how dusty the pastels were. Color pencils are much cleaner and convenient to use particularly when traveling and because of this, I have tended to use these the most. The artist-grade pencils that I use have good light resistance properties and therefore I am confident that any work produced will last a long time before fading.
The one disadvantage is that you need a lot of the pigment in a pencil to cover a large area, therefore, pencils do wear down quite quickly but this can be overcome by using pan pastels for the underpainting and for backgrounds. Pan pastels are pan shaped containers that contain professional grade pastel pigment.
Therefore my second preference is to use pan pastels more as they don’t produce as much dust as ordinary pastels and can be blended quite easily. This property makes them great for backgrounds. They are also good for building up the base colors of a drawing with the color pencils being used to create the surface details. The picture of the Rhino has an underpainting of pan pastel.
As for the best surface to draw on… well I have not come up with a definite favorite. I won’t rule out using velour in the future for the occasional pastel piece but I will need to do further research into the best way to use it. For my current work in color pencil, the Pastelmat board is good for building up a lot of layers and incorporating a lot of detail. But, it will not suit all occasions. I have tried other papers including a number of watercolor papers with some success. The Giraffe was done on a watercolor paper and that worked quite well but I feel it could have done with some more layers to give it depth. On the plus side, pleasing results can still be achieved without wearing out your pencils too quickly.
For now, Pastelmat is the surface of choice but that will be under constant review as I become aware of new options.