Clairefontaine Pastelmat | Properties & Techniques (Mini Review!)

Hi guys and welcome to this week’s video! Today I’ll be drawing a cat in coloured
pencil on Clairefontaine pastelmat. I’ve been asked a few questions about Pastelmat,
so I figured I’d make a video explaining why I like to use it as much as I do, as well
as it’s properties and some positives and negatives about the product. Pastelmat is a unique surface created in France
by the company Clairefontaine. It consists of a thick cardstock that’s
surface has been treated with a special coating of cellulose fibres- so one one side it has
a velvety finish, and the other side is just a glossy cardstock. As far as I’m aware, Pastelmat is one-of-a-kind
as it’s been textured with tiny cellulose fibres- no other company offers an equivalent
product. However, it is often compared to sanded papers,
which also have a similarly micro-abrasive texture. The difference though is that sanded papers
are coated with a texture containing pumice grit or sand, whereas pastelmat is coated
with these plant fibres. As such, sanded papers generally tend to be
rougher and more abrasive than pastelmat- although a few brands such as UART and Fisher
offer a variety of grades of coarseness, much like how you can buy different grits of sand
paper at a hardware store. Pastelmat just comes in one grade though. It’s quite difficult to describe the texture,
but it reminds me of denim to the touch, as it has a softness to it and a very fine texture. And this makes it considerably more abrasive
than conventional drawing and watercolour papers. This means that with dry media, pigments are
effortlessly deposited onto the paper, and the texture also helps to finely break up
the pigments and grabs onto them. Pastelmat boasts that because of the way the
surface clings onto pigments, it greatly reduces the need for a fixative spray. As to not fall off or get rubbed off of the
paper, artwork created with soft or chalk pastel generally require to be sealed with
a fixative, as they don’t have the waxy binders that coloured pencils do that make
them adhere to the paper. But many pastel artists find that using fixative
alters their colours or even removes their top layers of work- so the fact that Pastelmat
reduces or removes the requirement for a fixative is a huge benefit in this case. As for other media, pastelmat holds up very
well to all sorts of products. I’ve used the surface with charcoal, pastels
and pastel pencils, coloured pencil, watercolour and watercolour pencils and inks. It can also be used with acrylics- and I’m
sure plenty of other things- but I have yet to try these. If you’d like to see how different mediums
interact with the surface, I’ll leave a link to a playlist in the cards in the top
right and in the description box for a few videos where I demo different products on
pastelmat. But one thing I wouldn’t recommend using
on pastelmat is pens with soft nibs, or brush like nibs, as I have a feeling that the abrasive
surface may wear the nib and cause it to fray. I’m sure it would work, but it might slowly
eat away at your pens. Pastelmat is a thick 360gsm, and the surface
doesn’t appear to be very absorbent, so as a result I’ve never experienced buckling
with this paper, and warping is minimal and only seems to occur with very heavy application
of water, and if water can seep into the sides of the paper. Because of Pastelmat’s rigidity, I really
like it for wet media, and think that the surface works beautifully well for water soluble
pencils. Even with heavy application of water and some
scrubbing with my brush, the surface coating doesn’t lift or bubble. On the other hand, I’ve heard that Sennelier’s
Pastelcard doesn’t take moisture at all, and even just a small amount of liquid will
lift the surface to reveal bald spots of uncoated card. However, there are other sanded papers that
do tolerate water and mixed media. Something else I really like about pastelmat
is how it interacts with aliphatic solvents- so things like odourless mineral spirits or
paint thinners- or my personal favourite, the Zest-It Pencil Blend- which I use throughout
the process of this piece. Again, it holds up wonderfully to these solvents. When using coloured pencil, the pencil pigment
is broken up by the abrasive surface and is very easily dissolved and dispersed with the
use of these liquid solvents. This has the effect of turning the coloured
pencil into essentially a thin oil paint, and can achieve brilliantly smooth coverage
and be easily spread around the surface of the paper. Coloured pencil behaves very differently under
these circumstances compared to being used dry on drawing or watercolour paper- and to
me it almost feels like an entirely different medium. Another reason why I love pastelmat is just
how easy it is to layer and blend. Because the surface breaks up pencil pigment,
it’s easy to blend coloured pencil together without the use of liquid solvents, and can
also be helped along with dry blending tools. Moreover, when using pastels, you can quite
comfortably use your fingers to blend, whereas true sanded paper can be very abrasive and
quickly wear down the skin on your fingers. Additionally because the surface pulls pigment
so readily, you can effectively layer light colours over the top of darker ones, and the
lighter colours will remain clear and crisp. This is something quite unique to abrasive
papers, and you’d struggle to get the same effects on watercolour or drawing paper. The paper also accepts a lot of layers, meaning
that you have plenty of room to build up depth, adjust your colours and add in details. Although the paper is textured, it’s still
easy to achieve fine and crisp detail, especially when a few layers of pigment is laid down
beforehand. And because the paper accepts so many layers,
I have found myself using up more of my coloured pencil than I had done on other papers- however,
I found that most of this use was because of repeated sharpening to regain a sharp point. But, I soon realised that a needle-like point
wasn’t necessary until the detailing layers for pastelmat. The benefit of a sharp pencil is more control
over the smooth application of pigment, which can be circumvented when using solvents to
achieve these smooth areas of colour. Also, I began to be more conscious about rotating
my pencil as I work as to avoid wearing down just one side, and this also helps to shape
the pencil point and keep it even on all sides. One of the drawbacks I’ve noticed with coloured
pencils on pastelmat is that if a lot of layers have been applied, the peaks of the paper’s
tooth becomes saturated whilst the valleys can still accept more pigment, so further
application of colour only fills the deeper areas of the paper whilst not sticking to
the top of the paper grain. This also can result in just burnishing the
paper’s peaks, and everything combined can give a speckled appearance. So, it can take a little time and practice
to know how much pigment the paper can take to give smooth results, without adding so
much as to create this mottled effect, but I also have found that using Brush & Pencil’s
Touch Up Texture works fantastically to help combat this, by sealing the layers below and
creating a textured film which can be further layered upon. And, I use this product a couple of times
throughout the completion of this piece. As for availability and the range this paper
comes in, the paper is available in 14 beautiful colours with a great range of jewel-like colours
and some more muted and desaturated shades. All colours are apparently lightfast and acid-free. For this piece here I’m using the colour
“Light Blue”, which is more of a cool grey in my opinion, but still a beautiful
colour to work with. It’s worth mentioning that a lot of the colour
names for the paper aren’t necessarily what you’d invision when hearing or reading them,
so make sure to base your purchases off of images of the paper rather than the colour
name alone. Just as an aside, I have a hunch that the
paler colours are smoother than the darker colours- the darker colours have a speckled
appearance to them, and seem to have slightly more texture. Pastelmat paper is available in large loose
sheets measuring 50x70cm, and also can be found in packs of 5 sheets measuring 24x32cm. On top of this, the paper is available in
a very wide selection of 12-sheet pads in 3 different sizes: 18x24cm, 24x30cm and 30x40cm. The pads have also been given dimensions in
inches on the packaging, but they aren’t very accurate. All of these pads conveniently come interleaved
with glassine or crystal paper, which helps keep the paper clean before use, but I also
find it very useful for storing and packaging finished artwork. This is a waxy protective paper that prevents
pigments from smudging or lifting off. There are 6 different pads available: 4 of
which contain a selection of 4 different colours, and also pads that contain just white, or
just anthracite, which is a slightly speckled charcoal grey colour. As usual, I’ll leave links to my blog post
in the description box down below, which gives more information about the colours and sets. Moreover, there’s also another option of
pastelmat available- which is Pastelmat Board. This is just pastelmat that’s been mounted
onto a 3mm backing board, which gives the surface an extra thickness and rigidity. As for pastelmat’s availability, this might
be a difficult paper to find unless your art shop is large or very specialist- but it can
be readily found online. And like most papers, ignoring any additional
shipping charges, it’s most cost-effective to buy large pads or sheets, and cut them
down to the size you want to use. And this is certainly what I’ll be doing
when I buy more pastelmat next time- I’ll be buying the large individual sheets as this
also gives me better control over which colours I’m buying, as some colours I naturally
use more than others. When I first bought the paper, I bought all
4 colour selections in order to have all of the 14 colours, with duplicates of White and
Dark Blue. Whilst I’m burning through some colours,
I’ve barely touched others. So… that leads me on to the price, and probably
my least favourite thing about Pastelmat! This is not a cheap paper and is priced similarly
to high-end watercolour papers. As such, although I love working on this surface,
I try and be selective about what I draw on it and mainly reserve it for commission pieces
and pieces that I intend to sell, as a way or recouping the price. I also keep scraps, and when I want to experiment
on this surface, I make sure to cut the paper down to very small sizes. If you’re looking for a cheap alternative
to pastelmat to use with coloured pencils- nothing I’ve tried or heard of is the same,
but a paper I can recommend is Canson Mi Teintes- which is what I use for practice pieces, or
pieces that I don’t quite want to use pastelmat for. The reverse side of this toned paper has a
fine texture- and whilst it isn’t abrasive like pastelmat, it’s similar in some respects. By using a sharp pencil and a light hand,
colours can be built up in a similar way, and it accepts mineral spirits pretty well So- to summarise- is pastelmat worth it? I think it is worth it- but only if you’re
happy to splash out on your hobby, or if you’re earning money from your artwork. But I am biased because I love this paper
so much- and I know that other artists do too, and they create the type of beautiful
work that I strive for. But all this being said, paper is a very personal
choice as it affects so much of your process- what I might love, somebody else might despise-
so like anything, I suggest that you try it out for yourself! And that’s just about everything I can tell
you about pastelmat! As I mentioned before, more information, scans
and charts can be seen on my blogpost about this topic, link to which is in the description! I’d love to hear what your favourite paper
is for coloured pencil- or any thoughts and questions about Pastelmat. I read and respond to every comment! And here’s my finished piece, I had a lot
of fun playing with the colours in the light on this one. I’d been itching to draw a fluffy kitty
in full-colour for a while, and I’m pretty satisfied with both the process and the result. As always, all my materials are in the description
box below too. Don’t forget to leave a like if you found
this video helpful and subscribe if you’d like to stay up to date with my future arty
videos. Hope you have a lovely week and I’ll see
you in the next video!


  • Nephtalie Albert

    Claudia, I couldn't find the blog post to the Arteza supplies. Are you sure it's in the description box because I looked and I didn't see it. And do you think the Canson Moulin Du Roy hot press watercolor paper is good for water based markers?

  • Barb Bell

    Beautiful cat, I can almost hear her meow, she is so lifelike! Thank you for the pastelmat information, I’ve not tried it yet. I haven’t found a shop that carries it in my area. I live on Vancouver Island, in BC, Canada.

  • DeeJay28

    This cat is beautiful! your work is always AMAZING! I would like to try pastelmat but being more expensive and not available unless I get it online, I have been using Strathmore Bristol Vellum, and Strathmore toned for my Color Pencil. I am only 3 months into using C.P and have been making a few mistakes since leaving graphite art…but I am still not completely happy with Bristol Vellum either, especially when I need to erase!, ughh.Non the less, I am proud of what I have accomplished so far!

  • michael mc ewan

    Lovely work again, love pastel matt paper,

  • Genevieve P

    Very informative, thank you. Lovely work as well.

  • Sherry Utah

    Your fluffy kitten is absolutely beautiful.

  • Jacqueline DRAWS

    I only started using pastelmat a few months ago and I just love it! In fact, I started my channel shortly after and all my pieces (only 3 so far) I have used pastelmat. I haven't tried watercolour on it or solvents (I plan to) but I did use a bit of gold acrylic paint in my first drawing and it worked great. I have also struggled with the texture of the darker colours. I love the colours and versatility of the paper. Thanks for an excellent review!

  • Parasol Mushroom Art

    This kitty is so soft looking omd. I just wanna pat the kitty ;-;
    I use Canson XL mixed media paper, its not the greatest paper ever, if someone wants to use lots of layers it does get wax bloom. You can use watercolor first though. Ignore buckling, using colored pencils actually flattens it out. Its good if you don't have a lot of money. I hear Strathmore mixed media paper us much better, but it costs a lot more.

  • Beverley Gardam

    Just beautiful work ,and l love cats .!!

  • Tj Voelker

    You’re very talented and I love your voice!! Thanks for the detailed review!

  • Marcotronic

    gorgeous drawing again and very nice review. I recently tried Pastelmat for the first time (using Soft Pastels) and I loved it. Really expensive, though, unfortunately. One thing I didn't like was the fact that when I used rubbing alcohol (99% Isopropyl) on my first pastel layer the alcohol lifted the abrasive coating of the Pastelmat at some places which made the drawing/painting useless and I had to start from scratch.

  • EphygeniA

    beautiful cat <3

  • Claudia Sketches

    Hi guys! Just wanted to add that alcohol (and alcohol based markers, inks etc) should be used with Pastelmat WITH CAUTION. It appears that high concentrations of alcohol dissolves the coating.

    You'll see this in effect in my Coloursoft review video where I demo it with the Derwent Blender Pen :

    I've read in a few places that pastel artists will use 70% isopropyl or lower- this works ok, and many will use it to blend out an underpainting. High concentrations cause the issues- but as usual I recommend doing your own experiments before you start on a piece! 🙂

    Thanks to Marcotronic for bringing this up in the comment section!

  • Astrid

    pastelmat is my favorite too!!

  • John Garrett

    Thanks for the great review. I have used Pastel Pencils on Pastelmat, but not CP's yet. This video has inspired me to try it. :0)

  • Lynn Rushton

    What a beautiful cat 😍 love the colours you have used 😁👍

  • PeggyCovicFineArt

    I'm working on pastelmat with PolyChromo's for the first time and also trying Zest-it pencil blend out too.
    It's certainly a learning curve but loving the results I'm getting so far. This fluffy kitty is gorgeous!

  • Cassandra Hanley

    Ooh I am so curious about the pastelmat.. I have used the mi-Tients and ampersand pastelbord with colour pencils and I really liked The results. I think I'd really like to play with another textured surface! I recently found a supplier for pastelmat in Australia, so your video has definitely inspired me towards perhaps going in a little shopping spree 🙂

  • Kimbearlys Original

    Beautiful work of art. Great video as always. Thank you.

  • Tj Voelker

    I just watched this again and I do actually have a question. I notice you are using Derwent Chinese White (I'm assuming) and Caran D'ache Luminance White. Can you please tell me why you use two different types of white on one picture? Which is more opaque? Thank you!

  • claudiswelt

    Thank you for your opinion about Pastelmatpapier. Your information was very helpful for me! Thank you! For crayons
    I currently use the Hahnemühle nostalgia paper. The polychromos practically glide smoothly over the paper. I think that's
    very good! Another equally excellent artist uses the Fabriano Artistico for crayons. Did you already use this paper for it!
    Greetings Claudia from Germany

  • Alexis Cassandra Art

    This cat turned out beautiful ! It actually almost looks like it was done in pastel because of the smoothness. I’ll have to look into zest it pencil blend online because I don’t think it’s as easy to find in my country.

  • J J

    Hi Claudia, I'm a new subscriber 😊

  • Matthew Brown


  • Sharon Knight

    Lovely ! Thank you for all your videos. Im looking forward to using CP . I illustrate for outdoor magazines, and use Bristol, but once I get used to CP, I will suggest to my editors to work in the coloured backgrounds at times, too. Enjoy your videos and art very much , Claudia.

  • Avigail Klous

    Thank you for this video, there is so much I didn't know about this paper! I can't wait to try it, I loved the cat and listening to you, you have a new subscriber, I want to see more! 😍

  • sujanith tottempudi

    Lovely cat….other paper which is worth trying meteintes touch…sandpaper…

  • RuthAnn R.

    Hi Claudia! I continue to learn so much from your wonderful videos! May I ask what size you usually work on?

  • Pat Travis

    fabulous kitty' thanks

  • Thomas Weed

    Hi Claudia.
    Love your skills with pastelmat your portrait of the cat is fantastic.
    I use pastelmat i find them great and easy to blend the colours i use paper stumps can you tell me what is your preference please.

  • Thomas Weed

    Hi claudia.
    Many thanks for youe reply.👍👍👍

  • Doppelgänger

    Unbelievable! Beautifully rendered; looks 3D. 💕 Have 8 fluffies – 1 is the most photogenic cat I’ve ever seen! Just purchased Pastel Mat in anthracite – always loved working on a black background. How long did this take you in real time?

  • Jay Dee

    Can I use my Sennelier oil pastels with solvent blending on this Pastelmat paper?

  • Art By Connie Dawn

    You are amazing and provide great info.

  • Jay Dee

    You can make your own Pastelmat paper that is FAR less expensive and goes a looooong way by using Golden Fine Pumice Gel on the substrate. It’s also already toned to a beautiful medium grey tone. And if you want to take it one step further you can make your own Pumice Gel by using fine marble dust with clear Gesso that you can tint to any color.

  • Tony Ortiz

    You're using Zest-it pencil blend on a paint brush to blend your colors?

  • Nicole Julien

    Beautiful cat WOW; I'm working with Pastelmate but only with Pitt Pastel Faber Castell, may I use Zest-it with these Pastel or if it's only for color pencil? I know that I can use a blender for Pitt Pastel but I don't know if I can use Zest-it with pastel? Thank.

  • Birdsong

    Excellent video, information and a lovely drawing 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

  • ThePepperdawg

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful art and your knowledge. Considering the amount of time and effort that goes into each of our artworks it is my opinion we should strive to use the best surface we can use. I have regretted using a lesser surface more than once when I unexpectedly produced an especially nice piece when practicing. Since the last time I have vowed to be more cognizant of its importance anytime I draw or paint.

  • JPW-Artist

    You can also use watered down acrylic paint on PastelMat to change it's tone. I often paint it jet black for projects.

  • Dave Woolacott

    Nice work, unfortunately I am hearing impaired and could only hear about 30% of what you were saying. Maybe next video the volume could go up a bit… it looked like a really good and informative one!

  • Hayley Jackson

    you can buy the base paint that they use to make the Pastelmat paper in all the colours available for Pastelmat. I use it instead of buying Pastelmat paper and the only draw back to it is it can warp the paper just like any paint would however it gives the exact same results as just buying standard Pastelmat paper. It is also cheaper in the long run I believe and can be used on all surfaces. It is called Colourfix Original pastel and multimedia primer by Art Spectrum.

  • Smi Sch

    Very beautiful and helpful thank you

  • JT Paar

    You're an amazing artist with incredible skill and your videos are very informative! Not sure why you don't have tens of thousands of subscribes, but I will certainly subscribe to your channel. Thank you!

  • Techjunkie68's Music and Tech

    Beautifil cat, he looks like our cat Ziggy, great job!

  • Anna Maria Lassen

    Hi Claudia, could you perhaps make a video on the differences between Caran D' Ache Pabło and Luminous?

  • Karen Hinson

    What is zest it pencil blend? Great video! Lovely cat.

  • นัน รักดอกไม้

    wow!!!!! Unbelievable , so cool .-Nun

  • Tricia T-B

    Very beautiful cat and lots of good information. Thanks for sharing.

  • Art By Connie Dawn

    Just beautiful. Love your work.

  • fay vickers

    Great video, very informative and easy to listen to. Adore your cat it’s soooooo good 😍. I’m definitely going to give this a try thank you for sharing 🥰

  • Diane Ridpath

    This cat is beautiful!

  • Kristiina Sakai

    Absolutely gorgeous! Thank you for sharing your skills, knowledge and the products you use.
    I appreciate all of it. Can't wait to order some Pastelmat to try with my old Dervent pencils. I also have some Prismacolor pencils. How do you think they would work on Pastelmat?
    Thank you so much. I will subscribe to your channel.

  • Chantel Figueroa

    Thank you for helping answer all my questions!!! I have severe multiple chemical sensitivity and can only work with certain products as a result… i have been wanting to learn pastel pencils for years now but have withheld as i understood final works had to be sealed… hearing this particular mat can probably do without a fixative is exciting hopefully i can finally try it!!!


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