This is my favorite paper.  I will explain why.

Artagain Paper by Strathmore

I use black and the assorted colors in pads.

The first paintings I did were done on white (a big no-no) cheap paper.  Choosing good paper without spending a ton of money is difficult.  The following three paintings were done back in June 2017 which were my very first efforts.  The last one here was my favorite in the beginning and I hung it behind an old mat on the fridge for months.  Six months later I threw it away because the majority of the pastel dust had fallen away.  Lesson learned.  No more cheap white paper.  In all fairness, loosing the pastel from the paper has a lot to do technique.  I will explain this  in another article. Did this one on a Multi-Media    Only took 2 layers, maybe 3 but very hard to cover paper and pastel is falling off.

Multi-media paper

  Did this one on Drawing paper (white)...only too 2 layers of pastel and pastel is falling off.

White drawing paper

Did this one on white paper that said it was for pastels from the grocery.  Got maybe 3 layers and almost all of the pastel fell off.  I threw it away. :(

Very cheap white pastel paper from grocery.

Now I use Strathmore Series 400 paper for doing pastels.   You can use your soft pastels on paper that is not designed for pastels but the problem is:  There is no tooth  in the paper so there is nothing to hold the pastel.  Over time the majority of the pigment will fall off the painting.  So, spending a little more money on your paper will make a huge difference.  The best papers are very expensive.  Until you are at the point of doing commissioned work or charging hundreds of dollars for your paintings, I  really think Strathmore  Series  400 is a good choice.  These paintings I did in  November 2017 have dropped no dust to date and the surface will hold  several  layers of pastel. A paper that is made for acrylics just will not work for pastels.  Drawing paper has no grit to it or tooth as it is known to hold the chalk over time.  When you create a pastel  painting you will need to do several layers of the soft pastels to get your desired effect and yet a last layer for putting in your fine detail  work. You must use a good paper.  I have searched the Internet many times looking for the best options for paper.  As usual, I found that Amazon has the best deals.  My favorite paper is by Strathmore and is called Artagain.  This is made from a recycled paper  and the tooth is there but not so harsh as some of the others.  I prefer my paintings to be soft in appearance.  Many pastel artists like the blotchy, grainy look.  I am not a fan but they do have very successful businesses selling these paintings and even running teaching classes.

Art is a very personal thing.  Everyone looks at a painting as see something a little different.  What is beautiful to you may not  be to someone else.  AS an artist your work  does become very personal in that you put a little bit of your heart and soul into each creation.  Being a successful artist is about your passion,  your experience and of course getting  your work in front of potential buyers.  The latter is not something I had considered when I began  painting with pastels.  However, it has become a passion and almost every day I create a new painting.

Carson white paper.

Carson paper for soft pastels is  something I have used.  I did this paining using this paper.  It is a good paper and comes in a choice of  colors which is good.  The problem I have with this paper is the tooth is really difficult to cover up so if you look closely you will see the texture.  Again, not a fan of this look.  I worked and worked on this painting trying to fill all the tooth.  Unfortunately, there is a  point where the tooth gets filled or crushed and it is not  possible to lay more pastel down.  If you look at an enlarged version of this painting you will see the grainy look.  This painting was a lot of work and it just never got where I wanted it to go because of the paper.  

Overview, you must choose a paper that is intended for using soft pastels.  It is a form of paint as it is compressed, dry pigment, however, it will only stick over  time to  the better papers designed for their use.  I have heard of  pastel artists who use other grounds than paper like canvas.  It is not something I have tried but it seems to me canvas would produce a very grainy look and other grounds would not hold the pastel pigment over time.  When you create a pastel painting it should last for years to come if you have used good ground and used proper techniques.  I hope this information helps. 

This is my newest painting which was done on Artagain by Strathmore on dark gray.  It is a joy to use.  The cost, considering the quality of the paper and it's ease of use, is really reasonable.  Some artists say they use the highest quality paper which can run $20 a sheet.  As a beginning artist these papers are really not necessary.  I call this painting, "Scenic View in Northern Georgia"  This is soft pastels and pastel pencils for the tree leaves.