“Swan” pastel 15 x 15″ UArt on gatorboard.
So if Sennelier LaCarte is the pretty, delicate princess at the ball, then UArt is the party crasher that just showed up on a Harley in black leather.
Yeah, it is indestructible and a little badass. It has a rougher texture than most others and feels almost like a heavy sandpaper and yet it can be layered to build up very smooth transitions. Although it WILL take a while. If you think you can pick up a few sticks and “blend” them to death and get a smooth texture early on- then you will have a hard time. But that’s ok. I find that we artists rush to that “end result” too fast – UArt will let you take your time and layer. Explore. Add and subtract. Make mistakes and correct them. This surface is perfect for that. “Builder” brands like Girault are perfect for this surface. A “builder” is one of my subcategories of pastel that are the best for building up layers. There are Gliders, Builders, Burners and Blenders…. If you ever get a chance to take one of my “Power of Pastel” workshops, (new ones are on my site now) I teach how that works.
UArt is fine with getting wet and in fact I have literally run a painting I was frustrated with under water in the sink and washed off all the pastel in order to start again. After it dries it leaves a ghost of the painting that is still in the crevices of the grit and yet it still has the tooth to start again. It can save a surface and give you a way to restart without getting a new sheet. (so frugal) I normally have UArt mounted onto gatorboard. It is just easier to work with that way and then it can be slammed onto my easel. You can use tack sheets for smaller works or any framer can dry mount them for you. I have a large roll of UArt and I just cut off what I need and have sizes mounted. This works great for very large works.
The only real problem with UArt is that the main color is “buff” – close to a cream color. I really wish they made pure white because this color tints everything that layers on top of it. Makes sense right? They also make a black surface which is fun too. Because it is indestructible I have tinted it with watercolors or taken pastels and scribbled all over an area and then hit it with a wet sponge to create an underpainting. So helpful. Once it dries you are good to go. It is a fast way to work too. I once had to paint a large piano behind a child. I blocked the entire piano out first in dark pastel and then hit it with water to create a fast coverage of the area rather than wasting a ton of time and pastels to cover all that black acreage.
It can be rough on the hands. This surface will teach you to NOT blend with your fingers because if you do you will wear your fingertips off. I have bled over many paintings in the past until I learned. Besides, it is not nice to give your painting the “finger.” Lol.
Next week, UArts’ cheap cousin, Colorfix.