Best Paper For Oil Pastels For Student & Professional Artists

Even if you own the finest oil pastels, their true potential can only be unleashed if you pair them with high-quality paper. The right paper for oil pastels needs to have several key features: a suitable tooth to hold the pigment and binder, sufficient weight to resist tearing, acid-free for archival purposes, and the ability to handle multiple layers of the medium. One such paper that meets all these criteria is the Canson Mi-Teintes Drawing Papers.

In this article, we will not only review the best papers for oil pastels, but also provide a comprehensive buying guide to help you make an informed decision. We will explore various factors that you should consider before purchasing oil pastel paper and address common questions that arise when choosing the right brand. So, let’s get started.

Best Paper For Oil Pastels Compared

To quickly compare and find the top oil pastel paper brands, refer to the table below:

Canson Mi-Teintes9” x 12”Deep-set98 lbAssorted
U.S. Art Supply9” x 12”Medium80 lb4 natural shades
Strathmore 400 Series9” x 12”ModerateVariesOff White, Tan, Light Gray
Sennelier Oil Pastel CardVariesModerate160 lbBright White
UArt Premium SandedVariesCoarseVariesNatural, Dark
Art Spectrum Colourfix9” x 12”Medium CoarseVaries20 colors

Before You Buy: 8 Considerations Before Purchasing Oil Pastel Paper

When choosing the perfect oil pastel paper, there are several key considerations to keep in mind:

Tooth & Texture

The tooth and texture of the paper are crucial factors for a successful oil pastel artwork. Unlike regular sketch or copy paper, oil pastel paper needs to have a greater tooth to allow the pastel to adhere and create layered effects. Using mixed media or drawing paper instead of proper pastel paper may result in inconsistent results and less control over the medium.


Consider the tones of the paper based on the theme and subject of your artwork. Some oil pastel papers are specifically designed with earth tones, which are ideal for landscape or outdoor pieces. Toned papers can enhance the initial color scheme and yield breathtaking results.

Sheet vs. Pad vs. Sanded

Oil pastel paper is available in different formats: individual sheets, pads, and sanded papers. Buying a pad can save you money compared to purchasing individual sheets, but if you want to experiment with different tones, buying individual sheets may be more suitable. Sanded papers, on the other hand, offer a strong grit similar to sandpaper, providing a unique texture for your artwork.

Archival Qualities

Ensure that the oil pastel paper is acid-free to prevent yellowing or deterioration over time, especially if you plan to preserve your artwork for many years. Look for the acid-free symbol when purchasing from art supply stores.

Paper Weight

Oil pastel paper doesn’t need to be too heavy like watercolor paper. Most brands typically offer paper around 160 gsm (98 lb), which strikes a balance between strength and flexibility. However, thinner papers may be more prone to tearing, so exercise caution when applying pressure with blending tools.

Glassine Inserts

Some high-end brands, such as Sennelier, offer pastel paper with glassine inserts. These smooth surfaces provide excellent preservation for your oil pastels. Glassine prevents movement or alteration of the oil pastel, eliminating the need for fixatives. This feature is especially useful when working in the field or during transportation.

Multiple Uses

Although specifically designed for oil pastels, many oil pastel papers can also be used with soft pastels, pencils, and light acrylic and watercolors. This versatility allows you to explore different mediums without purchasing multiple types of paper.


Consider your budget when choosing oil pastel paper. Investing in quality paper can make even inferior oil pastels shine. Trusted brands like Canson Mi-Teintes and Sennelier Oil Pastel Card Pads offer reasonably priced options that deliver superior performance.

Best Paper Pads For Oil Pastels Reviewed

After conducting extensive research, reading product descriptions, forums, and artist feedback, and performing field tests, we have compiled a list of the best papers for oil pastels. Below are our top recommendations:

1. Canson Mi-Teintes Drawing Papers

Canson is a renowned brand with a 450-year history of producing high-quality papers for artists. Their Mi-Teintes Drawing Papers are the gold standard for oil pastels. These papers have a deep-set tooth that allows oil pastels to adhere effortlessly, providing greater control for artists. The texture of the paper varies on both sides, offering versatility in your artwork. With 50 colors available, you can select the perfect tone for your artworks. Canson Mi-Teintes is available in both pads and individual sheets.

2. U.S. Art Supply Pastel Paper Pad

U.S. Art Supply offers a budget-friendly option for beginners and students. While not as premium as other brands, this pad still provides a suitable tooth for oil pastels to adhere to the surface. Layering capabilities may be limited due to the shallower tooth, but for quick studies and technique work, this pad is a decent choice. The pad includes four sheets of different natural colors, allowing for experimentation.

3. Strathmore 400 Series Pastel Pad

Strathmore has been serving artists for over 100 years, and their 400 Series Pastel Pad is a great option for artists seeking a modest upgrade to their paper. With three different sizes available, Strathmore offers excellent pad options. The paper provides a moderate tooth that allows for layering and blending. The pad includes multiple neutral colors, providing a solid base for various artworks.

4. Sennelier Oil Pastel Card Pads

Sennelier Oil Pastel Card Pads are an excellent alternative to Canson Mi-Teintes. These pads are available in different sizes, making them suitable for various artwork scales. Each pad contains 12 bright-white sheets, offering a unique surface for your oil pastels. The spiral binding provides strength and avoids any chemical interference with the paper’s archival qualities. One standout feature is the glassine inserts, which preserve your artwork and eliminate the need for fixatives. Sennelier Oil Pastel Card Pads are perfect for traveling artists.

5. UArt Premium Sanded Pastel Paper

UArt Premium Sanded Pastel Paper is the go-to standard for sanded paper in the market. With six different sizes and various grit options, UArt offers unparalleled scale and texture selection. The coarse tooth allows oil pastels to latch on effortlessly, providing ultimate control over the medium. The paper is available in natural and dark tones, enabling artists to explore different color schemes.

6. Art Spectrum Colourfix Coated Pastel Paper

Art Spectrum Colourfix offers a more affordable option for sanded pastel paper. With 20 different colors, this paper provides a good variety for artists. The papers are considered very permanent and acid-free, ensuring archival quality. While the scale and grit options are limited, the price and color selection make this an excellent choice for beginners and intermediate level artists.

Pastel Paper Buying Guide & FAQs

Do I need really good oil pastels when getting nice pastel paper?

Not necessarily. While high-quality oil pastels do offer better control and subtle effects, a quality pastel paper can bring out the best qualities in even student-level oil pastels. However, investing in nicer oil pastels can enhance your overall experience and results.

Is a fixative absolutely required when using pastel paper?

For the most part, yes. Oil pastel paper can only handle a limited number of layers before filling in the tooth. Using a fixative helps create a workable tooth for additional layers and acts as a varnish, preserving the vibrancy of your finished artwork. Consider using a fixative specifically designed for oil pastels.

Can you use oil pastels on watercolor paper, canvas, or any other popular surface?

While you can experiment with oil pastels on different surfaces, it is recommended to prepare the surface with gesso to provide a deep-set tooth. Gesso improves the adhesion of oil pastels and allows for better layering and control. Primed surfaces are ideal for exploring unorthodox mediums with oil pastels.

Can I use any one of these papers with other pastel types?

Yes, many oil pastel papers can be used with other pastel mediums, such as soft pastels and pencils. Check the product descriptions or websites of oil pastel paper companies to confirm their compatibility with different pastel types.

What should I use for extremely large-scale pieces?

For larger-scale oil pastel artworks, consider purchasing rolls of oil pastel paper. Many high-end brands offer rolls in various sizes, providing the flexibility to accommodate your desired dimensions.


Choosing the best oil pastel paper requires careful consideration of various factors such as tooth, texture, tones, formats, archival qualities, paper weight, glassine inserts, versatility, and budget. The recommended papers, including Canson Mi-Teintes, U.S. Art Supply, Strathmore 400 Series, Sennelier Oil Pastel Card, UArt Premium Sanded, and Art Spectrum Colourfix, offer exceptional quality and performance for artists of all levels. Whether you’re a student or professional artist, investing in high-quality oil pastel paper will enhance your creative process and help bring your artworks to life.

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