After growing tired of using those scratchy hard pastels I decided to try the softer varieties and after much research about the health hazards and a good deal of colour and value comparisons I ordered Unison and Terry Ludwig landscape sets. The Unison's are as wonderful as expected and the Ludwig's are even better if you like their soft fluffy texture. I'm finding that the harder Unison pastels work better under the softer variety since they can lift the super soft pigment right off.
I also tried the Belgium Mist Wallis paper and the Ampersand Pastelbord and love both surfaces for entirely different reasons. Wallis is a super toothy sand paper that can take ridiculous amounts of pastel which does appeal to the oil painter within. The Pastelbord on the other hand is far more akin to drawing on paper with a little more tooth and I think it would work very nicely for oil pastel and pencil art if you really like to layer those colours. However, it works wonderfully for soft pastel as well but it won't take as many layers and neither does it faithfully hold onto the pastel making far more likely to smudge.
I also love working on a hard surface so I will mount a sanded paper on foamboard or some kind of non-warping surface and try Richard McKinley’s wet-underpainting technique. This should also make framing much easier since I can bypass that dreaded matboard thing and all the related gadgets.
Here is my first soft pastel on Wallis:
And my first pastel on Pastelbord:
|Woodland Garden Path 11x14" Pastel on Board|