This article is about how to make your own Art Spectrum papers for pastel work. Art Spectrum can also be used with other painting methods such as Acrylics, Oils and Watercolours.
Previously I had experimented with Art Spectrum papers and loved the way they hold pastel, gave good results and I enjoyed using it. I invested on buying some of the coloured Art Spectrum papers but was disappointed in not being able to obtain them in larger sizes. Although a good choice of colours are available in the Art Spectrum papers and primer, I wanted to have my own colours.
Then after a bit of browsing around I discovered I could buy clear primer and thought I could have a go and make my own size and colour Art Spectrum papers. I also use Golden Pastel Ground in a similar manner.
This is how I did it …
Materials for this project
Art Spectrum Colourfix primer – Clear or Golden Pastel Ground
Acrylics – various shades or types can be used.
I have used Daler Rowney System 3 Acrylics which were on special offer at HobbyCraft.
Large decorator paintbrush or a mini roller
Mini roller kits including rollers and tray are available at B&Q for around £1.99
Small craft brush for mixing
Small glass jar with air tight lid
I am using small Knorr jars that I saved over the years and washed out. Could just as well use a small plastic container with a good lid. Make sure it is thoroughly clean to ensure your primer keeps well.
300 gsm Watercolour paper – size of your choice, I used quarter imperial
Some Magic tape, Kitchen towel and jar of water to clean up.
I placed equal amounts of acrylic paint and clear primer into a glass jar and stirred it with a small craft brush until it had all mixed through fairly well. There were still a few streaks so cleaned the rim of the jar with some kitchen towel and rinsed my brush in the jar of water. I then placed the lid on the jar, screwed it on tightly and gave it a good shake. This should ensure the acrylic and the primer, have mixed well and removes any streaks. I did this with a number of different colours. You can take this a step further by mixing your own shade of acrylics and then mix this with the primer.
Step 2 – Preparing the Paper
Selecting the size of Watercolour paper I wanted to use, I taped this to my drawing board using some magic tape, placing it so that it will leave a nice border around the paper. As I was using 300gsm paper I didn’t think it would be necessary to stretch it.
Step 3 – Applying the Primer
Then using a roller or brush, evenly apply the mixed primer to the paper. Then leave it to dry for half and hour or so. The paper may buckle a bit while it is wet but not to worry as this will flatten out later. Check for any gaps or streaks and either touch up or apply a second coat if needed. And leave to dry for another 30 minutes or until it is touch dry and there is no longer a sheen on the paper.
TIP: I find that a roller gives a better coverage than a brush, however it is inclined to use a bit more primer than a brush, so find it best to use the roller for a batch job rather than one sheet at a time.
In some cases this should be sufficient however, if you want more texture or coarseness, apply an additional thin coat of just the clear Art Spectrum primer. And leave to dry for another 30 minutes or until it is touch dry.
Gently start to remove the magic tape from around the paper being careful not to tear it. If it does start to tear a bit gently start peeling the tape back from the other end. Now lay the paper flat and leave to dry for an hour.
If the dried sheets are slightly buckled, then cover with a protective sheet of Watercolour paper of the same size and place a heavy book of the same size on top and leave for a day or so. This seemed to do the trick for me.
And there you have it … you have made your own tinted Art Spectrum paper.