I finally got started on the magnolia painting and thought I'd share the steps with you along with my thoughts on this new paper.
First of all, I'm just blocking in color and am working left to right since I'm right handed. I'm using a full sheet of the white ColourFix Suede paper (14 x 18 inches in this case) and am sort of "feeling" my way with it so it will probably take a while to finish. It works a lot like PastelMat and feels somewhat like it also. I'll probably have to do more than one painting to really decide if I like it though. It took me a while to get used to PastelMat but since this is so similar, I hope this will be easier to learn to work on. One thing, it's not at all like working on actual suede paper and it's too bad the name of the paper leads you to think that it would be.
This is the first time I've ever worked on such a large painting in pastel and what everyone tells you about working large is right - it's much easier than working small as you have room to maneuver! When I ordered the paper (which is actually a card and a very nice weight), I also ordered a set of Rembrandt 60 half sticks of pastel. I've always liked Rembrandts and am glad I have them for this painting since they're firmer than some other brands. I'm also using Pan Pastels but I don't have the greens needed for this painting in that set. One of these days, I'd like to have more of the Pans but for right now, I'm just working with what I have.
I started just blocking in colors with the Pans where I could then using the Richardson and Conte' hard pastel sticks that I have. Again, the colors are very limited in both of those sets but I've layered and blended as much as possible to get the colors I want. It's pretty time-consuming and I can understand pastel artists having huge collections of pastels!
Anyway, like PastelMat, it helps to put down a good base of pastel and build the layers before trying to blend. You have to sort of push the pastel into the paper and that's where the Pans, hard sticks and the semi-hard Rembrandts work well. It could just be the way I work, though. I've found that everyone works differently and the tools used surely make a difference also.
There are a lot of tight places in spite of the size of this painting and, while I do like the Sofft tools, I find myself using the Loew Cornell Style Styx more often. I'm very glad I found these and plan to stock up on them the next time I go to Hobby Lobby or Michael's. The Style Styx seem to be firmer without being rubbery like the color shapers. They're a really dense, firm foam rubber and I think they were designed to use with water media but they've been an exciting discovery for me.
Well, let me get back to it - I'll try to post another WIP as soon as I can. My DH has tomorrow off work because of the MLK holiday and it's sometimes difficult to work with another person in the house!