Hahnemuhle Velour Pastel Paper
An ideal paper for pastel pet portraits. Textured finish ideal for fur. Be warned though not the easiest pastel paper to use.
When it comes to Pastels my favourite choice of paper is Hahnemuhle Velour Pastel Paper. I have been painting my pet portraits on Hahnemuhle Velour Pastel Paper for over 20 years and I love it.
Hahnemuhle Velour Pastel Paper – Reasons I Use It
Before I found Hahnemuhle Velour pastel paper I tried so many different types of pastel paper. I used to get so frustrated as I just couldn’t achieve the soft fur feel and look that I was after. The portraits always looked like a dog on paper (although lifelike) rather than the dog sitting in front of you. It’s this extra reality that clients comment on when they receive their pet portraits. It’s also a common theme of the reviews clients leave.
Hahnemuhle Velour pastel paper can be bought in pads or single sheets. A lot of my pet portraits are large so I always buy my Velour pastel paper in sheets. They come in packs of 10 and there are a few colours to choose from. These include Light Grey, Mid Grey, Black, Sandy, or Ochre. I mostly use the Light Grey Colour. The Light Grey really lets the bright colours of the pastels show up beautifully. Sometimes I use the Sandy colour too. The Sandy colour is lovely if you are painting a white dog, cat or horse and you don’t want to put any colour in the background. With the Light Grey Hahnemuhle Velour Pastel paper I can leave the background plain or put shades of other colours around the subject to give depth.
I find Velour Pastel Paper lovely for other types of paintings too. For example, a horse standing in a field or in a Stable doorway. Or a dog sitting in an armchair or sofa. Or a cat laying on a lovely soft blanket, the list goes on!
Hahnemuhle Velour Pastel paper is excellent for animals as the softness of the paper lends itself to creating beautiful lifelike fur. However it is also excellent for painting Seascapes, Landscapes and people too. I really like how people look on this Velour Pastel Paper surface. It gives a soft look, which is very flattering. Take a look at the little boy in the portrait below. He is standing with a horse. It was originally a Horse Portrait commission that was to be given as a birthday gift. It was mentioned that she would like to incorporate her friends two year old little boy in the painting. I worked from separate photos. I had several of the horse to choose from, but the position of the horse in this photo worked best to incorporate the little boy. The other photo below is a pastel painting on Velour of a Labrador sitting in her favourite chair. The client wanted the painting to be a reminder of where the dog used to spend most of her time. Her favourite spot! The Hahnemuhle Velour pastel paper shows off the beautiful colour of the chair don’t you think?
Hahnemuhle Velour Pastel Paper – Any Downsides?
Using Hahnemuhle Velour Pastel paper can be a bit of a love hate relationship. It’s a bit like marmite! Some artists love it and some artists hate it. Velour pastel paper is not very forgiving and if you make a mistake you can’t rub completely out. Using a bit of masking tape will lift the colour you don’t want, but it will leave a stain and you would have to cover with another colour. Handling Velour Paper is tricky too. I buy large sheets and when lifting it out of my drawer I have to be very careful not to crease it. If you bend it too much it will crease and it will show in your painting. I’ve used it for 20 years now so have got the hang of handling it! It HAS to be kept flat. Even when you have finished your painting on your Velour Pastel paper, keep it flat until you have it safely in its frame.
I’ve often seen on art forums that artists have had trouble with pastel falling off when using Hahnemuhle Velour Pastel paper. This is true if the wrong type of pastels are used. Pastels that are very soft tend not to hold onto the velour very well at all. Hard pastels hold much better. I use Faber-Castell Polychromos pastel sticks and some Creta Pastel colours. I’ve used these for over twenty years and have never had any problems. As with any other pastel paper, if the painting is knocked you will get some shedding. With Velour you do have to be more careful, so using the right pastels is important to me. The painting of the horse in the sea scene at the top of this blog was painted nearly 20 years ago. I still have the painting and it looks the same today as the day it was painted, no shedding (and it’s moved house a lot over the years!).
Some artists that use Velour pastel paper dry mount the paper first onto 5mm self adhesive foam board. I haven’t tried this yet, but it will keep your Velour pastel paper nice and flat and would stop any danger of you bending the portrait before or after you have finished the painting. The framer would find it easier to handle too! It’s certainly something I would like to look into.
Framing your Hahnemuhle velour pastel paper
As with all pastels on any type of pastel paper, the portraits must be framed under glass and using a mount of any width you like to keep the glass from touching the painting. However, the difference with Hahnemuhle Velour Pastel paper is that you can either frame it with a mount under the glass, or use no mount and have the glass directly on top of the painting within the frame. I find framing it this way is great if you want to use a large chunky frame and make the portrait have a “Oil painting” look to it. It will also stop any shedding should the portrait be knocked. If you wanted a mount but still have the glass touch the painting, you can have a canvas slip incorporated into the frame. This is done with Oil paintings that frame Canvases. It gives an extra luxury feel to the painting. The glass would be under this. The pastel portrait below was painted on Hahnemuhle Velour pastel paper and framed with a mount under the glass.
Using Pastels On Hahnemuhle Velour Pastel Paper
Using pastels on Velour pastel paper is very different to using any other type of pastel paper. With other types of pastel paper (and there are many!) you can blend with your finger or a blending tool or blending brush etc. With Velour pastel paper you can’t blend in this way. You can rub your finger over it and nothing will happen! To achieve different blended colours you have to build up layers of different colours to achieve what you would like. Also, by very lightly rubbing a pastel stick over your work you can give an effect that is like a “glaze” which you would achieve in an Oil or Acrylic painting. The painting below I was only just starting, but you can see how I am already building up layers of pastels on the Velour. It takes lots of practice, but once you’ve mastered it you will love it.
Another question people sometimes ask is whether to use a fixative on Hahnemuhle Velour pastel paper. In my opinion it’s not really necessary to use fixative. A lot of the fixatives will darken the colours, however I have found one that doesn’t darken the colours at all. It’s called Lascaux Fixative. I’ve used it for twenty years. But if I’ve run out it doesn’t worry me as I don’t think it is necessary and the painting will be shipped without it.
I hope you have enjoyed this blog. Pop over to my dogs gallery, cat gallery, or horse gallery to see more of my portraits on Hahnemuhle Velour Pastel paper. All of my pastel portraits are painted on this paper. Would you like me to do a portrait of your pet? Pop over to my contacts page and I will answer the same day. Fellow artists might also want to visit the makers website for more information, including the option to buy online or find a local art dealer who stocks it.
**2022 Update. I’ve recently started to use Clairefontaine Pastelmat paper for my pet portraits and it’s my current paper of choice.