Best Paper for Oil Pastels

The best paper for oil pastels is mostly a matter of personal preference.

Choosing the best paper depends on what type of drawing you’re going for. If you’re wanting to do something very realistic, you might want to look for paper with a smoother surface, so that you can fine to the sharp details. But if you’re doing something more abstract or pointillist for example, you might choose a textured surface.

Unfortunately there are extremely few artist papers that are marketed specifically for the oil pastels medium, and this can make the search for the best paper for oil pastels tricky.

Keeping these things in mind, there are a few characteristics to look for when choosing paper for oil pastels.

Weight of the paper

The weight of the paper is an important consideration for oil pastels.

I don’t recommend anything under 80lb for oil pastels, such as sketch paper or drawing paper. The reason is that the lighter papers don’t hold up well with oil pastels. Oil pastels is a thicker, heavier medium compared to drawing with pens or pencils. So you want a paper that is more sturdy and thick, such as some type of Mix Media paper.


Texture can be important in deciding what paper to use. Oil pastels are often helped when paper has a little bit of tooth to it. Smooth paper can be used of course, depending on the type or art you are working on.

With most artwork involving oil pastels, I recommend something with a little bit of texture or tooth to it.

Acid-Free Archival

Acid-free, archival paper is made from materials that have a neutral or slightly alkaline pH level. This helps to ensure that the paper does not yellow, become brittle, or deteriorate over time.

Also, artwork created on acid-free paper retains its original colors and appearance for a longer period, as the paper doesn’t get discolored or cause any fading.

Paper Recommendations for Use with Oil Pastels

I want to offer my own recommendations on paper that can be used with oil pastels.

But first let me start by making clear that there is no right or wrong in choice of paper. Making quality art doesn’t mean fitting yourself in a box and sometimes stepping out of the box is a great way to go. For example I have seen oil pastels art drawn on newspaper print and on cereal boxes. It’s really up to the artist’s intent. That being said, here are my own suggestions for top oil pastels paper.

Mix Media Paper

A great paper to consider starting out with is mixed media paper. I’m a big fan of Canson Mixed Media at 96lbs. It’s got a decent weight to it as well as a little bit of texture too. I think they’re very good for oil pastels and I use this paper often.

Canson makes a variety of sizes in this paper, from 5.5 x 8.5 inch up to 18 x 24 inch.

The XL Mix Media pads are acid-free, there are perforations along the edge for easy removal from the pads, and they are also very economically priced.

For some, this paper might not actually be enough weight for oil pastels. My own recommendation is to avoid going below 98lbs, but if you’re new to oil pastels, I feel these are the perfect place to start out with.

Watercolor Paper

Watercolor paper can be a perfect choice due to its texture and weight. One recommended type I have is Arches Watercolor Paper. It is made from 100% cotton, providing strength and durability. It also comes in different textures: Hot-pressed, cold-pressed, and rough. There are also a variety of weights at 140 lb, 300 lb, and 356 lb. So Arches provides many choices in watercolor paper to suit your own artistic preferences and needs.

Mixed Media Journals

Mixed Media Journals are typically excellent quality paper, and the watercolor series is 140lbs. The 140lb might be considered a sweet spot as far as oil pastels paper goes. Not too thin and flimsy, but not overly thick either.

Strathmore’s Visual Journal series of pads could be considered a little more artist-quality than Canson XL. They are a little more expensive but overall still economical.

Although this paper is targeted at watercolors, they are just perfect for oil pastels. 140lb weight is in my opinion an ideal paper for oil pastels.

There are several other brands and types of paper that vary in weight. Again, I recommend not going under 98lb, but this is going to be your personal preference. I have donesome oil pastels using Canson colored paper for pastels, and it has worked out fine for me. The point is, it’s just something to experiment with, there are really no rules for what type of paper works best, just guidelines and recommendations.

Sennelier Oil Pastel Pad

The Best Paper for Use with Oil Pastels

If I’m forced to choose just one type of paper as being the “best” for oil pastels, I’m going to go with Sennelier Oil Pastel Pads.

This is just my own personal choice, everyone artist is free to make their own of course.

One reason I like these is that this is one of a very few handful of art papers created specifically for oil pastels. These pads by Sennelier were designed for use with oil pastels.

They combine well with Sennelier’s own oil pastels product, which are also top quality. You can of course use any type of oil pastels with this paper, not just the Sennelier brand.

A few characteristics that make this Sennelier oil pastel pads great for oil pastels are:

  • Weight: It is a good heavy weight at 160lb
  • Textured: Providing just the right tooth for use with oil pastels.
  • Acid-free: Helps art to last long, and is archival.
  • Brand: Made by Sennelier, the same brand that makes high quality oil pastels
  • Protection: Glassine sheets between each page helps protect your paintings.

Any oil pastels artist is going to want to use these for their more serious pieces of artwork. While being more expensive than other papers, they provide the artist-level of quality.

And that’s my recommendation for the best oil pastels paper: Sennelier Oil Pastel Pads. They come in various sizes, from 9.5 x 12.5 inch, up to a larger 15.75 x 23.5 inch.

Bonus Recommendation

But wait! I actually have one more recommendation that is a personal favorite.

Even though this is actually not paper, it happens to be by far my favorite surface to use with oil pastels.

Pastelbord by Ampersand

Pastelbord I feel it’s worth mentioning while discussing oil pastels surfaces, of which paper has been the focus for this article.

Pastelbord is made by Ampersand, who also makes Hardbord, Gessobord, Scratchbord, and a variety of sturdy surfaces for painting and drawing.

In my opinion, Pastelbord is perfect for oil pastels. There is no concern for the weight of the paper, because it isn’t paper, instead it’s a hard surface to work from. Pastelbord also has a perfectly textured surface which picks up the oil pastels medium very well.

I use Pastelbord for all my serious artwork, and the only drawback with it is that they are more difficult to get framed. It is possible to frame them, it’s just not as easy. But because they are so much more stronger and durable, in my opinion it makes the value of the artwork increase. Partly due to the effort and expense of getting them framed.

For information about getting pastelbord framed, I recommend visiting a local art store or framing shop.

Pastelbord comes in a variety of sizes, and if you’re interested, also try out some of Ampersand’s other surfaces to experiment with. For me there is no comparison, Pastelbord wins my favorite surface overall, for oil pastels artwork.

For further reading, please visit my articles:

Beginner’s Guide to Oil Pastels

Oil Pastels Brand Comparison

Happy oil pasteling! – Eric

Visit my Facebook page Oil Pastels Artist

Join the Oil Pastels Group on Facebook and post your own artwork!

Popular searches:

oil pastels paper
canson paper xl series oil pastels
oil pastel canson paper
best paper types for oil pastel

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *