Is Traditional Drawing Paper a Thing of the Past?

Is Traditional Drawing Paper a Thing of the Past?

Today’s reader question addresses a topic that I find interesting and fun to consider. Is traditional drawing paper a thing of the past?

Let’s begin with the question.

Now that material like Pastelmat is here, I still have lots of drawing paper. Do you think paper is gone by the way as a art medium for colored pencils? I saw a lot of good work on paper a few years ago.

Photographic Film and Buggies

I once answered a similar question from a friend who photographed horses with a 35mm camera and film. (Obviously, this conversation was an old one, but it’s still relevant.)

She wondered out loud if film photography was doomed because of digital cameras. What I told her was that I didn’t think film photography would ever cease to be. Instead, it would become a specialty art. An art form all its own.

There was reason to believe that when I said those words because cars were everywhere, but people still rode horses for pleasure and profit, and some people even still drove horses. People still ride and drive horses all these many years later.

So the people who said that buggies and carriages would go out of style with the introduction of the horse-less carriage were in error. The market for horses just changed and became more focused.

Is Traditional Drawing Paper a Thing of the Past?

Note: For the sake of this discussion, I am using the term “traditional paper” to mean any paper that is not sanded or does not have a textured surface added to it.

The question of traditional drawing paper ever going out of style is similar to the examples above, but not exactly the same.

The question is the same as my two examples because something new and “better” has entered the market.

But it’s also different. Pastelmat doesn’t replace traditional paper in the same way that digital cameras replaced film cameras or cars replaced horses.

The reason is that a lot of artists either don’t like Pastelmat and similar papers or choose not to use them. Those artists will keep the makers of traditional drawing papers in business for years to come.

Traditional drawing papers are also great for new artists to learn on.

Many other factors play a role in this, as well. Pastelmat isn’t available world-wide, but traditional papers can be found almost everywhere.

And there are some uses for which Pastelmat simply is not suitable. Traditional drawing papers fill those needs perfectly well.

So it is my opinion that there will continue to be a market for traditional art papers.

On a Personal Level

As for the personal level, the answer is different for each artist.

Like this reader, I have a pretty good stock of traditional art papers, and I’m not sure I’ll ever use it all up because much of my work these days is on Pastelmat. But I’m keeping my Canson Mi-Teintes because some projects require the unique and interesting colors available in that line of paper.

So is Traditional Drawing Paper a Thing of the Past?

In my opinion, no. Not in the grand scheme of things. There will always be artists who prefer traditional art papers and others who have no other choice.

But there are also some artists for whom traditional drawing paper is a thing of the past.

What do you think?

Got a question? Ask Carrie!

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    1. You’re not alone in that, Gail. I know of artists who move from one medium to another with ease because they would be bored with one medium.

      I, on the other hand, am content to learn all I can about my favorite medium and admire all the artists who make such great art with other mediums!

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.

  1. Very well expressed! i think my take on your 3 topics will sum up a lot of people’s ideas: vaguely weltzschmertz-y that horses have never been a part of my life, like film but not enough to fight the tide, and lots of other things would change before i switch from traditional papers (very much prefer smooth surfaces!) thank you, Carrie

    1. Valerie,

      Thank you for your very kind words.

      weltzschmertz is an interesting choice of words. I had to look it up, but I think the human condition is always to want those glorious moments to be every day and life just isn’t like that.

      My point was that there are things in every generation that pass out of popular favor and become a niche thing (like horses and film). I don’t think traditional paper will ever be in that category.

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