A list of 12 Black artist papers - Archival and Acid Free options
Black paper is a great base colour, as it defies the natural process in developing art on a traditional light based paper. Instead of working from light to dark, as is the normal practice when working with coloured pencils, it is inverted. Since you already have a dark foundation, you select lighter versions of the tones you would usually choose for a light coloured paper. White positively 'pops' on a black surface, and it is this impact which draws artists to it. Black paper is extremely effective when used with metallic and interference colours, however, translucent pigments are less efficient than opaque pigments.
During our search for the 12 black surfaces we include in this article, we found there are far more options, with many companies producing their own ranges, in varying shades of black and different textures. The following article provides you with a selection of the most popular brands, including some lesser known, which are suitable for different mediums and offer varying textures, allowing you to choose the one(s) most relevant.
Which black paper surface do you prefer?
Do you work with soft pastels or are you relatively new to the medium and require guidance? Have you found a particularly efficient way to mix soft pastels? Did you even know there are numerous ways of blending soft pastels? In this article, we have searched the web for a wide variety of tools that will benefit your blending techniques in your pastel work.
Check out our list of the ten best tools for mixing pastels.
Below, we run through the ten different ways to blend your soft pastels and explain how to apply, plus the pros and cons of each technique.
What products do you use to blend soft pastels?
Are you thinking of trying graphite pencils but unsure what you need or where to begin? Which brands should you buy? We have put together a comprehensive article for artists like you who are looking for some guidance. It can be overwhelming when there’s so many products available but we have broken it down into sections to provide you with lots of useful information.
Our current favourite product is the Sennelier oil pastel. Creamy, highly vibrant and great fun to work with. Perfect for use on the pastelmat paper too!
Great on its own for drawing really moody pictures or use it with other graphite media like Graphic or Sketching pencils to add dense shade and tone.
We have created two tones, medium and dark, but it is easy to build up darker shades if you need them by increasing the pressure. The wide strip can be easily sharpened and will hold a fine point, perfect for capturing the detail in drawings!
Taken from the Derwent website - www.pencils.co.uk
These Onyx pencils were created by Derwent to add darker shades to their graphite pencil ranges.
You don't need the full range of graphite pencils to create effective art, and this set, comprising only of a Medium & Dark grade would be ideal for those on the go, who like to sketch out in the field or those who prefer the minimal amount of art supplies (I'm sure there's some artist out there like that!?)
In this article, we explore the possibilities of these pencils and their characteristics.
Derwent Graphic v's Derwent Onyx tonal chart
As you can purchase these pencils for under £2.00 each, we decided to buy them and try them out ourselves.
We created a chart below, comparing the grades of the Derwent graphic range and the Derwent Onyx pencils. We include it here so you can see the difference for yourself. We applied the pencils as heavily as possible to ensure the darkest tones were replicated.
Personally, we do not feel that the Dark grade is darker than the Graphic 9B, but what do you think?
What are your personal experiences with these pencils?
Do you use them exclusively or in conjunction with other brands?
Do you find them useful?
Let us know in the comments section below.
I received an email from the online art store Cassart, notifying me they had a sale on their daylight lamps, an ideal time to replace my old one and get a brand new one for a good price. After much deliberation, I chose the Lumi LED task lamp. It looked sleek and with a 20" wide head and I knew it would provide more light than my previous model.
Here, I offer my thoughts on this product.
The 'on' button is found on the top of the light. It offers two levels of brightness which can you can adjust by pressing the button twice.
Although the LED lights cannot be replaced which may concern some people, they provide over 50,000 hours of usage. Continuous usage at 8 hours a day, 5 days a week means your light could last around 24 years so this does not seem much of an issue after all. LED lighting also uses less power than bulbs whilst emitting the same amount of light. They are less susceptible to breakage and last far longer than a traditional bulb.
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My personal rating: 8/10
For anyone interested, here is my old light - now a discontinued model.
My previous studio light also from the Daylight Company, was the D33200 model which was released in 2008. It had a heavy duty, flexible gooseneck arm with a metal clamp which attached safely to an easel or flat surface. The circular light could rotate 360° allowing you to direct the light in the area needed most. Previous to the LED light system of today, the daylight lamps in this range used low energy daylight bulbs which you could replace. I bought my D33200 light in 2010 and the 18w bulb (D13621) lasted almost as long as the light. An 18w bulb was the equivalent to an 100w bulb. Having used it for 12 hours a day, 5 days a week on average, the bulb provided up to 30,000 hours of usage.
To access the bulb, you had to remove the four chunky screws from the plastic cover and then slide off.
Comment below and share your experience
Spotlighting Art-n-Fly - Art-n-fly is an affordable oil-based coloured pencil which is covered in this edition. There is a link to a You Tube video demonstrating these pencils used with Art-n-fly alcohol markers.
Finding the Unique You - Alexandra Zeres showing her artwork framed in flowers, birds and butterflies
Creating Prints of Your Art - Learn how to navigate the options in order to get started printing and providing your followers and fans with gorgeous prints of your artwork.
Hare Tutorial - Workshop series by Karen M Berisford
Pairing with Pitt Pens - Sara Ostlund compares the pros and cons of using the Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens with your coloured pencils. Follow her demo to try it for yourself.
Creating a Beautiful Layout - Learn how to create beautiful layouts by Erin McManness in an excerpt from the book of the month.
Sketchbook - See what's new and in the news
Challenge Met Gallery - Artwork of 18 artists who undertook every monthly art challenge in 2020 and won themselves a free digital subscription.
plus Selfie challenge and December art challenge winners.
Featuring: Ambro Jordi
Ambro brings animals to life when he puts pencil to paper. Learn how he went from pursuing a career in animation to one in fine art. Read how he enjoys sharing his knowledge with others and offering words of encouragement.
FREE Art-n-Fly Oil-Based Colored Pencil inside the USA Print Issues only - While Supplies Last
Price: USA $3.99 UK £2.87* Euro €3.31*
*Price may vary due to exchange rate when you purchase.
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About the reference image
My partner John Graham photographed this Hare back in October 2019. It was very inquisitive. Whilst John sat motionless on the ground; the Hare came closer, allowing him to capture this image and the second one below.
This high definition photo can be used as a reference during the construction of your drawing.
If you haven't read this magazine before, you may find it a valuable resource as not only does it provide plenty of data on coloured pencils, it occasionally covers other mediums like pastel pencils and marker pens. There is an abundance of articles offering hints and tips, tutorials like this Hare above, regular competitions, a peek into the lives and studios of other artists and even guidance on the art business. They also have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages too so you can get involved in those competitions wherever you are in the world - I even had a go myself a few years ago!
Jackons's Uncradled Gesso Panel provides artists with a pre-prepared fine tooth surface that’s ideal for all painting styles, including oil paints, acrylics and mixed media. It features a professional acid-free gesso ground that is lightly textured, professionally applied to warp resistant, sturdy, tempered panels.
Jackson's Uncradled Gesso Panel's are available in Grey and Umber in sizes from 4 x 4 in to 24 x 36 in
Comparing Ampersand Gessobord and Jacksons Art gesso board
4" x 4"
5" x 5"
6" x 6"
5" x 7"
6" x 9"
8" x 8"
6" x 12"
8" x 10"
9" x 12"
10" x 10"
11" x 14"
12" x 12"
12" x 16"
12" x 24"
14" x 18"
16" x 20"
18" x 24"
18" x 36"
24" x 36"
Click the link below to find out more about this product at Jackson's Art (Local, national and international deliveries available)
Available colours are the same as the standard Colourfix options which you can view HERE
Art Spectrum® Colourfix™ Smooth is manufactured by screen printing Colourfix™ Smooth Primer onto European Archival 300gsm Hot Pressed watercolour paper making 340gsm pastel paper.
Colourfix™ Smooth is a versatile surface that can be used for pastels, oil colours, acrylics, inks, oil pastels, gouache, watercolours and dry media such as charcoal and pencils.
The Colourfix™ Smooth texture is ideal for pastel artists who are looking for a not so toothy surface. The surface still has enough soft tooth to enable the artist to do multiple layers of pastel.
Colourfix™ Smooth is available:
Colours: 20 (As the Colourfix standard)
Sheet sizes: 23 x 30cm (9” x 12”) and 50x70cm (20” x 28”) 10 sheets per pack.
Rainbow packs available in 23 x 30cm (9” x 12”)
Cool and Warm packs in 23 x 30cm (9” x 12”) size
How does the Colourfix smooth compare to Pastelmat?
Violet flower on Colourfix smooth paper
**NEW** COLOURFIX™ OPTIMUM BOARD
ORIGINAL (MEDIUM) TEXTURE
Unlike the Pastelmat surface, who has their own version which includes the foamcore (and was the first to offer this type of surface I believe?), the Colourfix surface also includes a thin layer of aluminium to prevent warping.
Art Spectrum® Colourfix™ Optimum Board is a high density archival and acid free foamcore board, hand screen printed with Art Spectrum® Colourfix™ Primer..
The secret that separates this board from all others is a super thin layer of Aluminum within the board that prevents warping and helps provide this substrate’s lightweight and sturdy characteristics.
Colourfix™ Optimum Board has a robust toothy surface that will hold layers of pastel without the need for fixative, allowing the velvet bloom and vibrant colour of pastel to be preserved.
The new Art Spectrum® Colourfix™ Optimum Board comes in 6 lightfast colours all with the Original Colourfix™ tooth. It is a superb substrate for pastels, oil colours, acrylics, inks, oil pastels, gouache, watercolours, and dry media such as charcoal and pencils.
Colourfix™ Optimum Board is available in 16 x 20” and ready to be framed without the need for a backing board.
What else you should know about this board:
The substrate board is acid free containing no lignin’s.
The glue used in this product is also acid free.
Aluminum thickness: 6.3μm
Colours available: White, Soft Umber, Terracotta, Rose Grey, Blue Haze and Deep Black.
Also available Rainbow Pack which includes one sheet of each colour
Written by artist Karen M Berisford who has always loved drawing since she was little, began taking on commissions back in the 90's after leaving school. She became a professional artist in 2011 and runs her own commission based business at: www.karenmberisford.com She is also the face behind this very website and provides all the content found within it. She is the web designer of both these sites and explains the importance of having your own website too.
Although the article was originally written in 2018, additional information has recently been added. As with all our articles on this website, we update, re-write or add new content to some from time to time.
Are there any other questions you would like answered that you would like to see included in our article? Please add them to our comments section below. We will answer them as soon as we can.
I hope you find the information helpful!
Karen M Berisford
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