I went to a pastel drawing workshop today. We were shown how to use various grades of “toothed” paper. It was like drawing on fine sandpaper .
The smoothest grade was used with soft pastels (not the oily sort but the dry powdery ones). You could use a silicone spreader, I think it was called, or your fingers and hands to blend the colours.
First you make broad sweeps of tones, all of similar colours, so a light blue, mid blue and dark blue or grey for instance. You smudge them on the paper, then you add layers, working into each layer and dragging the pastels about with the spreader/smudger. You can get interesting marks and edges using this tool.
Then you overlay other colours to contrast, say an orange or a pink, adding detail as you go. Finally adding the darkest and lightest colours, which seem to float on top of the others.
The second paper was rougher and you must not get it damp or the surface will come away. It was coloured a turquouse blue. This paper was so rough you were not supposed to smudge it as it would destroy the texture. You had to draw with thinner layers of pastel and in a much more impressionistic style.
The third paper was really rough like sandpaper. The tutor said sometimes people fetch the skin off their fingers blending it. Better to swiftly smudge it with the flat if your palm. This paper could be wetted with an alcohol based liquid which allowed the pastels to blend and run. As the liquid quickly dried you could draw over it and smudge it with the silicone spreader. or use a pastel pencil for more definition.
I gained a lot of information from the workshop and will be doing some more work in pastels.