Strathmore Art Blog is a resource for artists to find more information about our products such as newly released items, frequently asked questions, greener options and helpful technical information. We also create articles of interest including artist features, project ideas, events and contests.

The Art of the Ghost Army of WWII

| 23rd Headquarters Special Troops | Art History | Drawing | Ghost Army | Watercolor | WW2 | WWII |


“We were sleeping in hedgerows and foxholes, but nothing kept us away from going someplace to do a watercolor.”

- John Jarvie, Corporal - 23rd Headquarters Special Troops

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After the war John Jarvie spent thirty years as an art director for Fairchild Publications, owner of Women’s Wear Daily



In the summer of 1944 the U.S. Army recruited a hand picked group of men, many from top art schools and advertising agencies, for a special assignment. In the new book The Ghost Army of World War II, authors Rick Beyer and Elizabeth Sayles tell the story of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, nicknamed “The Ghost Army.” They were a unique troop tasked with misleading the German army via a host of deception tactics.

The Ghost Army, containing 1,100 soldiers, would impersonate armored divisions containing 15,000 or 20,000 soldiers.  The goal was to deceive the enemy about the strength and location of American units. The Ghost Army, comprised of three units: radio, sonic, and visual deception, was kept secret from the rest of the army during the entire war.

The visual deception unit used inflatable tanks, jeeps, and artillery to create the illusion of a large, armored division. They painstakingly created tank and truck tracks with bulldozers to insure the deception was complete. They made fake uniform patches and painted numbers on trucks to add to the appearance of legitimacy. They frequented local cafes and bars with the intention of “leaking” information for German spies.

The sonic unit blasted recorded sounds of heavy equipment on the move via loud speaker.

The radio unit was comprised of radio operators sending the corresponding transmissions the Germans would expect to intercept with a large troop movement.

All the units were incredibly meticulous. Any slip in the deception would have been disastrous as they had no heavy weapons to defend themselves. From June of 1944 to March of 1945 over the course of 21 missions, they suffered only 3 fatalities and a few dozen injuries.

When the artists of the Ghost Army had free time, they spent it drawing and painting the local landscape, people, and their fellow soldiers. Several of them went on to very successful careers including Ellsworth Kelly, Bill Blass, Jack Masey, Arthur Singer, and Art Kane. The drawings and paintings are a rich archive of their experiences in The Ghost Army.


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To learn more about this fascinating story, read The Ghost Army of World War II by Rick Beyer and Elizabeth Sayles.

All images from The Ghost Army of World War II by Rick Beyer and Elizabeth Sayles. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2015.tl_files/content/blog/2015 Blog/GhostArmy_grp-pic-now.jpg

Ghost Army veterans, plus the author, Rick Beyer - April 2015

From left to right: Jack Masey, Seymour Nussenbaum, Nick Leo, John Jarvie, Rick Beyer, and Gil Seltzer


Introducing Strathmore® Writing

| Books & Art Journals | calligraphy | cards | handwriting | Lined paper | stationery | Writing | Writing pads |


For centuries, hand written letters were the primary way people communicated over distances. However, in the last few decades emails, text messages and social media posts have proliferated to the point of becoming the primary manner of written communication. With this recent shift, people have come to appreciate mindful communication even more – giving new significance to the act of hand writing with pen and ink, the art of hand lettering, and sending and receiving physical mail.                  

There is a certain charm and significance that digital communication can’t match given the extra effort it takes to put pen to paper. In this digital age who doesn’t love getting a real letter or seeing characters artfully formed on a page? It carries with it a special fondness, authenticity, and aspect of nostalgia.

Using ink to write on a real surface is a richly rewarding and interactive experience. To celebrate thoughtful communication, the timeless art of calligraphy, and the physical act of putting tangible ink to beautiful paper, we are introducing a full line of high-quality cream writing papers.  The range of formats in the Strathmore Writing line allows individuals to share this special form of communication with others or keep their own personal chronicles. 

Strathmore® Writing is available in the following formats:

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Learn more about the entire line here.

Workshop 2 Supply List Available - Expressive Acrylic Painting

| Acrylic | Workshops |

Workshop 2 of our FREE Online Workshops starts May 4, 2015!  Instructor Patti Mollica will guide you through 4 video demonstrations in her workshop Expressive Acrylic Painting.

Our workshops are completely free and self-paced, so if you haven't registered yet, click here. Workshops will remain open until December 31, 2015.

The supply list for her workshop series is now available. Watch this short video to see Patti explain which supplies she uses and why: 

Please feel free to use what you have. You don’t need the exact supplies to complete the lessons.

Supply List for Patti's Expressive Acrylic Painting Classes:

Strathmore Products


  • Nylon Brushes (1″, 2″, and 3″)

Acrylic Paints (Instructor uses Golden Heavy Body Acrylics):
Instructor’s Color Palette*

  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Phthalo Blue (Green shade)
  • Teal
  • Green Gold
  • Cadmium Primrose Yellow
  • Cadmium Yellow Medium
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Cadmium Orange
  • Cadmium Red Light
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • Quinacridone Magenta
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Carbon Black
  • Titanium White

*These are the colors the instructor has in her palette, but are not necessarily the colors you need to use.

Here are a few sneak peek images of paintings she's created in 2 of her demonstrations for this series. Follow along or use her techniques for big, bold brushwork as inspiration to create your own expressive acrylic painting. 

Wine Bottle


Get your brushes out and get ready to paint starting at 9:00am CST on May 4 when Patti's first video lesson is posted! The videos will be posted in the Workshop 2 tab in the Online Classroom (click here). 

We can't wait to see you there!

Nicole Santo's Brush Lettering Workshops

| Featured Artists | Watercolor | Workshops |

Nicole Santo Watercolor Brush Lettering

Designer Nicole Santo recently taught two lovely and inspiring lettering workshops at Fullosophie in San Francisco, CA: Brushstroke Lettering, and Watercolor Brush Lettering. There were even mimosa’s involved… we wish we could have been there!

Brush Lettering Workshop

Nicole used our 500 Series Marker pads for the workshops, which we thought was an interesting and unique use for that paper. Nicole’s students use paper guidelines and need to be able to see through the sheet which is why the Marker paper worked well. It is a semi-transparent, 100% cotton sheet that is lightweight at 13.5lb. (50gsm). Students used black india ink, gold gouache and watercolors during the class, and the results were beautiful!

Nicole believes there is beauty in your handwriting and everyone has their own unique voice. In her classes, she teaches starting with the basics and working off the handwriting that each individual already possesses.

Nicole is a Visual Display Artist for Wellen and designs paper goods and hand-drawn art for Bash, Please. Visit Nicole's website to see more:

Thank you to Fullosophie for the beautiful photos of the workshop. Fullosophie celebrates artists, artisans and makers and connects them through intimate, hands-on workshops. If you’re in the San Fransisco, Chicago or Dallas area, check to see if there’s a workshop for you: Fullosophie

Brush Lettering Workshop

Brush Lettering Workshop

Watercolor Brush Strokes

Nicole Santo

Tips for Graphite Shading - Which Paper to Use

| Artist Tips | Drawing | FAQ | Products | Technical Paper Info |

To select the right paper for graphite shading techniques, a few factors need to be taken into consideration:

  • What type of pencil will be used? (Graphite pencils are often marked with a number 9H - 9B: The higher the number, the harder the writing core and the lighter the mark left on the paper will be. The letter “H” indicates a hard pencil that will leave a lighter mark, and the letter “B” designates the blackness of the pencil’s mark, indicating a softer lead).

Graphite Pencils

  • What degree of darkness is desired
  • What shading technique will be used

The key is to select a paper surface (medium or smooth) based upon the effects you’re looking to achieve.

As a general rule, a textured or medium surface will be able to produce a more even, luminescent shade than a smooth surface. These types of surfaces are usually chosen for shading as the tooth of the paper makes shading easier and produces a greater range of tone that can be more evenly applied.

The smoother the paper grain the more difficult it will be to produce an even shade. Although smooth papers can produce good results with graphite, they cannot produce as great a range of tone (shade) as textured surface paper. A smooth surface is very good for pen and ink as well as marker.

Smooth and Medium Comparison

Some of our most loved papers for graphite include:

Strathmore 500 Series Medium Surface Drawing Papers
Our 500 Series Drawing has been a staple drawing paper for over a century, and is made with 100% cotton. It endures repeated erasures and rework.

Strathmore 400 Series Medium Surface Drawing Paper
In a buttery-cream color, the random, medium-textured surface of our 400 Series Drawing produces subtle, rich shades that are expressive with great luminosity and sensitivity.

Strathmore Bristol Vellum:  300 Series400 Series500 Series
Our Bristol papers have a random surface with texture that is slightly more pronounced (peaks and valleys slightly further apart than drawing paper), enabling paper to handle very soft graphite pencils. It produces shades that are extremely expressive, but not as sensitive as Strathmore 400 Series Drawing Medium. 


| News |

Super Smooth Giveaway

Scroll down to enter for a chance to win our Super Smooth Giveaway that is loaded with all sorts of deliciously suave Strathmore papers and the perfect complimentary tools from Sakura. Microns and Koi Coloring Brush Pens work beautifully on our Bristol, Smooth Drawing and Layout Bond papers. 

Entry for giveaway ends at 11:59pm CST on Wednesday, March 11, 2015.

Six names will be randomly selected to win the following items:


For more information on our products, visit our website:

For more information on Sakura visit: 
Instagram: @sakuraofamerica

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Alan Bean - The Artist on the Moon

| Featured Artists |

Alan Bean is not only a talented artist, but he was also the fourth man to set foot on the moon. As the Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 12, he's got quite the story to tell:

Alan Bean

He explored the beautifully desolate landscape of the Ocean of Storms and later, as commander of Skylab Mission II, Alan spent 59 days in orbit around our fragile, blue-and-white Earth.

Alan had been painting earthbound subjects for many years by the time he began training to pilot the space shuttle, but his fellow astronauts convinced him to paint his experiences on the moon.

“You can create the very first paintings in all of history of a place other than our own planet,” they said. “Your paintings will forever be the first paintings of the many other worlds humans will visit as the centuries unfold.”

Because of this unprecedented opportunity and challenge, Alan resigned from NASA in 1981 to devote all of his time and energy to painting.

Over the years, Alan's art has evolved into a mixture of painting and sculpture, textured with lunar tools, sprinkled with bits of Apollo spacecraft and a touch of moon dust. You can see many of Alan Bean's paintings on his site and read more about the space-age techniques and materials used in his work here.

Alan Bean


2015 Online Workshop Supply List

| News | Printmaking | Workshops |

Workshop 1 of the FREE 2015 Online Workshops is almost here! On Monday, March 2 Instructor Traci Bautista kicks off the fun with Bold, Expressive & Unconventional Printmaking. Here's a workshop preview:

The supply list for this workshop is now posted. These are the supplies that Traci uses in the video lessons. The brand names are provided but feel free to use what you have. You don’t need these exact supplies to complete the lessons. 

Strathmore Products

  • Strathmore Printmaking Pad 8″ x 10″ (300 and 400 Series)
  • Strathmore Printmaking Pad 11″ x 14″ (300 and 400 Series)


  • Inking Palette (Grafix Impress print media)
  • 11″ x 14″ plexiglas (can be found a hardware store)
  • 6″ x 6″ Gelli plate (Gelli Arts)
  • Golden OPEN slow-drying acrylics
  • Fluid and high flow acrylic paints (Golden Artist Colors)
  • Lightweight plastic palette
  • Soft rubber brayer (Speedball 4″)
  • 4″ foam paint roller
  • Stamp ink pads (Ranger archival ink pad black and Distress ink pad)
  • Circle cling mount stamp (by Ashley Goldberg/AHA arts)
  • Paint marker (Pen Touch by Sakura of America)
  • Water-based markers (Koi Coloring Brush pen by Sakura of America)
  • Black permanent brush pens (Pigma brush pen by Sakura of America)
  • White gel pen (Gelly Roll White pen by Sakura of America)
  • Collage Pauge Matte or gel medium
  • Stencils (floral stencils by Traci Bautista)
  • Spray inks (Ranger Distress inks & Dylusions)
  • Dimensional paint (Tulip dimensional paint or Dina Wakley paint with applicator tip)
  • Glitter (Tulip ultra-fine glitter and Ice Resin Iced Enamels Inclusions)
  • Unmounted rubber stamps {creativity flows Graffiti GLAM stamp by Traci Bautista}
  • Golden extra heavy gel medium matte or gel medium
  • Craft glue (Aleene’s Turbo tacky glue)
  • Craft foam and adhesive craft foam
  • Craft foam stamps
  • Skewer
  • Scissors
  • 1″ foam brush, foam paint brush or foam pouncer
  • Flat paint brush
  • Deli paper (used as palette and table cover)
  • Water spray bottle
  • 2-ply white paper towels
  • Plastic page protector or plastic freezer bag
  • Trowel palette knife
  • Rubber band
  • Plastic paint scraper (old hotel plastic keycard with notches cut out)
  • Paint scraper tools
  • Optional ~ baby wipes (to keep hands clean)
  • Optional ~ hot glue gun (for handmade stencils)
  • Optional ~ water soluble crayons (Derwent Art Bars)

If you haven't registered yet, click here. The workshops are completely free, self-paced, and will remain open until December 31, 2015. 

Follow along and create your own artwork, then share with us on Instagram (@StrathmoreArt), Facebook & Twitter with #StrathmoreWorkshops. We can't wait to see you there!

How to Mount Artwork to a Piece of Wood

| Artist Tips | FAQ | Newsletter | Technical Paper Info |

In the Winter Issue of our Artist Newsletter, we answered the question
How do I mount my artwork to a piece of wood?

Artwork by Jane OliverArtwork by Jane Oliver

Here are the steps we’d recommend following:

STEP 1: Seal the wood
First, the wood should be sealed. Sealing the wood helps the glue go on smoothly and prevents it from sinking in. It also prevents the acidity of the wood from leeching into the paper that is glued on. There are several ways the wood can be sealed:

PVA Size: Gamblin makes a PVA Size (polyvinyl acetate) which can be thinned down with water to the proper consistency to seal canvas, fabric and wood. Cover the wood with a mixture of PVA Size solution and water. Let dry.

Acrylic Polymer: An acrylic polymer can be applied to the surface of the wood to seal it. Golden makes an Acrylic Polymer Sealer (GAC 100) specifically for sealing canvas, fabric and wood. This sealer prevents the acidity of the wood or substrate from traveling into the paper and causing discoloration of the paper or artwork, known as Support Induced Discoloration (SID). Cover the wood with a layer of the Acrylic Polymer and let dry.

STEP 2: Glue the paper to the wood
Make sure to use a pH neutral or acid free glue, such as PVA glue. Use a firm roller (paint roller) to roll the glue onto the surface of the sealed wood. Next, adhere the paper to the wood surface, and cover the artwork/wood piece with a clean sheet of paper as a protective barrier. Using your palm, press firmly over the entire surface to remove any air pockets. Place a wood board larger than the glued surface on top. Place weights (books work) on top and let sit for 48 hours. When you remove the board and weight, check to see if the paper is completely dry. If it feels cold or clammy, place it back under the weight until dry. The moisture of the glue could cause the protective sheet to wrinkle under the board.

Periodically check the interleaf paper during the 2 day drying process and replace it with a new sheet if it is wrinkled. If it is not replaced, there is a risk that the wrinkling of the interleaf paper could create a pattern in the glued paper.

STEP 3: Seal the Drawing (this step can be done before Step Two)
To seal your artwork, use a varnish or spray sealer. We especially recommend a spray sealer versus a sealer that needs to be brushed on for graphite drawings as there is a risk of smearing the graphite. Many companies make protective spray sealers and fixatives, such as Lascaux Fixative and Protectant. Look for something that is safe to use on the medium that was used for the artwork. The best way to apply any sealer or varnish is by applying several thin coats in different directions, waiting for them to dry in-between coats. This assures an even application. Always wear a duel filter spray mask when spraying.

We answer frequently asked questions from our website in each Issue of the Artist Newsletter, which is a free, quarterly publication. If you haven't subscribed yet, click here!

Free 2015 Online Workshops

| Artist Tips | News | Printmaking | Workshops |

Online Workshops - Workshop 1

On Monday, March 2, 2015 our free Online Workshops will return with the first video lesson! Traci Bautista, who we’re excited to welcome back for another year of Online Workshops, will kick things off with the first workshop, “Bold, Expressive, and Unconventional Printmaking.”  

In this workshop, explore how everyday objects can create beautiful, expressive marks. Dive into unconventional techniques to create one-of-a-kind monoprints, relief prints, and patterns. Experiment with creative ways to adorn the surface and create colorful, textured layers on your mixed media artwork.

How the Workshops work:

Each workshop consists of four video lessons and supporting downloadable instructions. You can get access to the free videos and instructions any time after they are released. Students can participate in conversations with the Instructors and other students in the discussion boards, and share artwork in the classroom photo gallery.

Our workshops are self-paced, so after a video is released each week during the 4 week period, take your time to follow along, pause, fast-forward, rewind, re-watch, re-visit, and work your way through each lesson at your own pace in your own home. After a video is released it will remain open and available for viewing until December 31, 2015.

Did we also mention the workshops are completely FREE? Click here to register.

On March 2, the first video lesson will be posted at 9:00am CST within the “Workshop 1” tab on the Online Workshop website. 

Here’s the full schedule:

Workshop 1: Bold, Expressive, and Unconventional Printmaking
Instructor: Traci Bautista
Start Date: March 2, 2015

Workshop 2: Expressive Acrylic Painting
Instructor: Patti Mollica
Start Date: May 4, 2015

Workshop 3: Exploring Pen & Ink
Part 1: Hand Lettering & Calligraphy
Instructor: Maureen Wilson
Start Date: Sept 7, 2015

Part 2: Drawing
Instructor: Alphonso Dunn
Start Date: Sept 21, 2015

Workshops will remain open until Dec. 31, 2015. To learn more and to register: