I coat plain bristol board with a pastel medium which lends it that rough quality. Pastel papers cost a fortune! I like the velvet quality of some of the prepared papers, but this roughness works well with landscapes and some still lifes. Thanks for the comments!
Grapes are evil. I HATE painting them, which is why I chose this photo to paint from. And I do have a show coming up, I'm headin to hand the paintings this afternoon... the first of many I hope.
PS> I, too, was a band geek! Played clarinet, then added oboe abd bassoon. I actually got to do the half time show for the NY Giants once, and I got to play at Boston Symphony Hall. I still have the clarinet, though I haven't touched it in forever. too many other things going on.