“Don’t it always seem to go, you never know what you’ve got ’til its gone…” – Joni MItchell

So I was in love with the Wallis surface. It was pure white and it took layers like a champion. Later they introduced, “Belgium mist.” It came in rolls as well as in sheets and so I would just cut it to size and have it mounted onto gatorboard. I’ve done commissioned paintings as large as 54” on it.  It was lightweight and indestructible. The funny thing was I was allergic to it.  If I had the heels of my hands on the surface while I was drawing, I would get itchy.  I am not sure why.  But I was careful to not touch it as much as possible.  If you work in pastel you know this surface is no longer made.  I would love to know the reasons why.  There were tons of rumors- which I won’t repeat here- but the surface was made and designed by the artist Kitty Wallis and she had a great following.  She was known for putting pure pigment washes on this surface before painting on it with the sticks.  If anyone knows anything more about what happened please let me know just for curiosity’s sake. I have one sheet left and it is waiting for the right inspiration. 

My painting “Cold” was done on this surface.

The next surface you may not have heard of ( I am old) was Ersta. Again, I loved the Ersta surface before finding Wallis and it was a much finer grit.  You could get very smooth transitions on it and it had this lovely drag that was so soft and tactile.  Not sure why they stopped making this either, but I do miss it.

Next is Ya Cai.  I was introduced to this surface out of China at an IAPS convention. I bought a bunch of sheets and loved it once I started working on it.  It felt very similar to Wallis.  Here is a painting on this surface.

“On my Mind” pastel 20 x 16”

Unlike the older Wallis it came in different grits and colors.  I loved the darker low-chroma purple. I found out the company then changed its name to Ming Art and were making pastels as well. I actually have a set that the company asked me to use and then write up my opinion on them, but they could not be bought in the US. I had bought a bunch of sheets and luckily I have quite a few left including white, which I love.  The grit must be some kind of mica because it shimmers a bit when the light hits it just right.  Almost glittery in some of the colors. The layerability is awesome and I wish I could order more.  Again, if anyone knows anything, please let me know. I have seen in some recent shows that artists from China are still using it-  it has a distinctive shimmer. So if you can find it, I recommend trying it. 

Next week- Richeson and Pastelmat.

Share this!