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.

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:

NEW! Printmaking Cards

| Creative Cards | News | Printmaking | Products |

Printmaking Cards

Last year we introduced a new, complete line of printmaking paper in sheets and pads. This year, we're excited to announce that we've added even more printmaking surfaces and now have full sized Printmaking Greeting Cards!

These soft, strong & durable printmaking cards are ideal for a wide variety of printmaking techniques including relief, lithography, intaglio, screen printing and more. The paper is a natural white color and absorbs large amounts of ink.

  • Printmaking Card Weight: 280 g/m2
  • Printmaking Envelope Weight: 104g/m2
  • Printmaking Card Size: 5" x 6.875"
  • Printmaking Envelope Size: 5.25" x 7.25" 
  • Availalbe in packs of 10, 50 and 100 cards and envelopes
  • Acid Free
  • Made in the USA

Click here for more information. 

Printmaking Cards

Cards by Meredith Sand

COMING SOON - 400 Series Colored Pencil Paper!

| Colored Pencil | Drawing | News | Products |

Brian Scott ArtworkColored Pencil Artwork by Brian Scott on Strathmore 400 Series Colored Pencil Paper

Colored pencil has met its match!
We are excited to introduce our new 400 Series Colored Pencil pads this February

It can be difficult and intimidating choosing the right quality paper specifically for colored pencil. To make it easier for all artists to enjoy this versatile medium, we are now offering Colored Pencil paper in convenient wire bound pads.

Strathmore 400 Series Colored Pencil Paper provides a clean white, toothy surface that is ideal for a variety of colored pencil techniques. Smooth, even coverage can be achieved, and the heavy weight combined with the vellum surface allows for the application of multiple layers. The durable surface can stand up to repeated erasures and reworking. It is also excellent for use with pencil, charcoal, and sketching stick.

Strathmore 400 Series Colored Pencil Paper:

  • 100lb. (163gsm)
  • Medium surface
  • Stands up to repeated erasing and reworking
  • Durable wire binding
  • “Actual Size” sheets
  • Acid free
  • Made in the USA
  • Available in 9” x 12”, 11” x 14”, or 18” x 24” pads

See more here: Colored Pencil Paper

Colored Pencil Pad

The Artistic Biologist - By Pamela Corwin

| Featured Artists | Watercolor |

The following blog was written by Artist Pamela Corwin:

My coming of art isn’t one that is normal. My name is Pamela Corwin, and I’m actually a wildlife and fisheries biologist here in South Carolina. I didn’t go to school for art. I surely didn’t have time to take any art classes, except in high school. I was a double major in biology and anthropology and like a lot of college students, I felt as if I had to save the world. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to find that niche I belonged to and provide that voice that actually mattered. But how? The answer to that question didn’t come until many years later. 

Pamela Corwin

After college, I joined the South Carolina Army National Guard and obtained my first real job as a biologist. Then to complicate things, I started attending graduate school. Art was the least of my worries and something that I thought was left in the past. I was studying our fine-feathered friends and witnessed the full capacity of what nature can offer to a studying soul.

The Army, on the other hand, was quite a wild ride, so to speak. I had my fair share of Army life along with my battles (what we call our sisters and brothers in arms) but some of my battles had way more than their fair share. Some were coming back with PTSD; some were missing legs and arms. So I started volunteering at a veteran’s shelter here in Charleston, S.C. After all of those years with no art in my life, I picked up some art supplies (of course, Strathmore paper) and started having art therapy with these veterans. I didn’t really draw or paint; I was just there for support. I was there to show them, and eventually myself, that art is a form of therapy that speaks without words. 

Combat Boots

After I graduated from graduate school, I started having a little free time and one day, out of the blue, I decided to paint a brown trout as a birthday card. I honestly didn’t think any skills would come back but as soon as I picked up that watercolor brush, it was there. Every brush stroke felt as if it had never left. Once the trout was finished, and I had given it to my husband, he showed it to someone at our headquarters and ideas started brewing. They were coming up with a program for anglers that catch trophy fish. This was called the Trophy Angler Program and the certificates were to have fish artwork painted by me. So I started painting fish.


Then the S.C. Wildlife Magazine asked if I would start painting for them. Of course, who could say no!? So I started painting for the magazine. Most of it was wildlife or related to the outdoors then one day, a light bulb came on. I finally knew the answer to my question I had in college. Not many artists truly experience wildlife and the outdoors as a biologist would. I knew the biology, the movements, the colors, and everything relating to our flora and fauna. So my second career as an artist began and my voice developed. I became a conservation artist, or in the biology community, the “artistic biologist”.

When it comes to painting, I study everything I can about the subject (if it isn’t something I already study as a biologist). But why? Everyone can paint from a photo; but it takes an understanding of the subject to truly portray it on paper. I’ve also developed the same sense of “soul” when it comes to commissions. I get a lot of pet commissions. I’m a huge animal lover and when someone comes to me asking if I can paint their dog, they’re not asking to paint the photo. They’re asking to paint the emotions, the love, and the happiness that their pet provided. I know how hard it is to lose a pet (if that were the case), especially when they’re considered part of the family. That energy is put into every painting I do.

Pam Corwin - Dogs

Pam Corwin - Dog

One day, I was contacted by a fisherman that wanted me to paint the fish he caught and released. He didn’t want a fish mounted; he wanted the fish in it’s natural environment. So a new type of commission was started: I dubbed it the “catch, release, and paint” commission. It has been a huge hit, especially with rare/keystone fishes.

Pam Corwin - Sea Trout

Even with these commissions, I always kept asking myself “why me?”. One day, someone finally told me it was my unique style of painting with watercolors. I don’t like “loose” painting and use the paintbrush like I would a colored pencil, and I have learned that paper is a HUGE part of my style. I ONLY use Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor paper. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve used Strathmore paper. I even prefer the Bristol paper for my colored pencil pieces and can honestly say the paper holds true. My parents still have paintings and drawings from 25 years ago hanging in the house (I’m celebrating my 2nd annual 29th birthday this year).  

So with little training and just a natural ability to paint, I’ve created a world where I can get away from stress but still maintain a positive foothold. I donate a lot of original paintings and prints to various non-profit organizations to raise funds for conservation efforts. I strongly believe that every child should witness the wonders and splendor that nature has to offer. I don’t want to show my grandchildren and great grandchildren animals that were once wild, only to be found in zoos. Wendell Berry once said, “We can learn about it [conservation] from exceptional people of our own culture, and from other cultures less destructive than ours. I am speaking of the life of a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children; who has undertaken to cherish it and do it no damage, not because he is duty-bound, but because he loves the world and loves his children…” With this said, my motive isn’t monetary gains; it isn’t fame and fortune; it is to help preserve something we all share for generations to come.

Pam Corwin Bass

The Strathmore Story

| FAQ | Products | Strathmore History |

Here at Strathmore, we're  proud to provide high quality fine art papers that artists can depend on. We've been serving artist needs for over 120 years and we believe better quality paper gives artists the best possible chance to be successful.

Take a moment to watch our new video, which gives a bit of background on who we are and what we're all about.