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.

Summer Artist Newsletter

| Art Requests & Contests | Artist Tips | Drawing | Featured Artists | Green Products | Newsletter | Products | Technical Paper Info | Toned Paper |

Did you read the summer edition of our Artist Newsletter? It's all about Toned Sketch! Click here to download your free copy. 

ShellsOn the Transience of Light, Colour, and the Artist’s Digital Platform
By Georgina Kreutzer

Georgina Kreutzer is an artist studying her Master of Architecture in Sydney, Australia. Her artwork is often characterized by ethereal textures and a soft palette, juxtaposed with metallics, high detailed still lifes, and bold photoshoot style portraits.  In this Issue, Georgina gives her tips on working with toned paper and her reasoning for why she prefers it to express light in her drawings. She also reflects on the growth of social media and how it has helped propagate ideas among a vast, virtual community of creatives. Learn more about Georgina and see her radiant artwork in the Artist Newsletter.


TonedFeatured Product: Toned Sketch

Our Toned Sketch paper is available in warm tan and cool gray, and a wide range of formats. The middle tone of the paper allows the artist to use a wider range of values from light to dark, making it easier to deliberately place highlights and shadows. By pushing darker values and adding brighter highlights, drawings POP on toned paper. Learn more in the Artist Newsletter.



Catalog CoversCall for Artwork: 2016 Product Catalog Cover

We are calling for artwork submissions for our 2016 Product Catalog Cover. The theme is “Make Something ______”. You fill in the blank to title it as a description of your artwork. Examples are “Make Something Colorful”, “Make Something Intricate”, “Make Something Bold”, etc. The deadline for entry is Wednesday, September 30, 2015. The artist selected will receive $300 and their artwork will be featured on the cover of our 2016 Product Catalog. The artist will retain all copyright and ownership rights to their artwork. Get more details in the Artist Newsletter


TonedQuestions from Our Website: What are the fiber inclusions in your Toned Sketch paper?

Fiber inclusions are added to our toned paper for the sole purpose of creating a visual effect. The result is a soft, natural look. Read the Artist Newsletter for more information on what the fibers are and where they come from.  

Strathmore Writing Video - Celebrate the Art of Writing

| Books & Art Journals | Calligraphy | Creative Cards | Lined Paper | Products | Writing |

This year we introduced our full line of Writing products to Celebrate thoughtful communication, the timeless art of calligraphy, and the physical act of putting tangible ink to beautiful paper. Who doesn't love getting a real letter or seeing characters artfully formed on a page? It carries with it a special charm, authenticity, and nostalgia.

Our new line includes Blank & Lined Writing Pads & Envelopes, Flat & Folded Correspondence Cards, and Blank & Lined Hardbound and Softcover Journals that perform beautifully with a broad range of ink varieties and writing instruments, including fountain pens.

Click here for more information on the full line. 

Writing Products

The 365 Project - Angela Staehling

| Books & Art Journals | Featured Artists | Gouache | Painting |

The following blog was written by Artist Angela Staehling:


For over 15 years, I have been working as a licensed artist to create home decor products. My product range includes any items from dinnerware and stationery, to wall art and kitchen textiles. Most of my clients are larger retailers, such as Target, Pier 1 Imports, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and Michael's. However, I also work with many boutique retailers around the world and online. 

I am thrilled to be creating this new line of imagery with the Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media Art Journals. This collection of journal entries captures a different painting every day. As part of a larger 365 Project, I decided to categorize each month to reflect a different theme based on nature. 





I began painting these daily sketches in March as a way to keep true to my art. As a licensed artist, I spend a lot of time on the computer tweaking and altering my imagery to fit product specifications. I found that many days would go by that I hadn't even picked up a paintbrush. With art as my passion, I decided to create a sketch every day for one year. I follow several artists on Instagram who have taken on the same yearly challenge. They have been my inspiration, as well as other followers who have kindly shared stories, tips, and other encouraging comments. 

For my daily journal entries, I specifically chose gouache as my main medium. I had been painting in oil and acrylic (and some watercolor) for over 20 years. It was time to freshen up my style and experiment with a new medium. One of my goals was to break away from some of the realistic work I've created in the past. Another goal was to introduce new color combinations while adding more modern hand-lettering. The idea of working in a high quality sketchbook every day forced me to not overthink any of my daily entries. The whole purpose was to create art for myself that wasn't a specific request from a client. It was, and is, a very free-form approach to my art. The only confines I have are how each painting will look as it's placed into a grid at the end of the month. At the end of each month, I post a photo of all of the daily entries of that month as a collage. Therefore, I keep an ongoing grid in Photoshop where I can see how all of the background colors will look as they come together.

Woodland Creatures

I love the Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media Art Journals because the paper is durable enough to hold my washes and thicker layers of paint. The paper is also smooth so that my artwork and lettering don't get rough along the edges. I have used both the soft-cover and hard-cover versions of the Art Journals and they work equally as well.

I am excited to continue my daily entries, and even think about creating a new 365 series after this year is finished. Ironically, these personal sketches have now caught the eye of several global manufacturers who would like to turn the art into wall art, stationery, fabrics, and more. Whether or not these images get selected to be on any of those products, I am happy to continue my daily journal entries as way of doing what I love.

Click here to see more daily paintings on Angela's website.












7 Tips to Help You Start a Plein Air Painting Practice

| Acrylic | Artist Tips | Books & Art Journals | Painting | Plein Air Painting | Watercolor |

Jane LaFazio - Artist and Teacher

Summer is the perfect time to get outside for some Plein Air painting. This pastime is a wonderful way to improve your studio skills while enjoying the great outdoors. Here’s a few tips to get you started in your own Plein Air practice:


1. Scout out your location ahead of time

This allows you to have an idea of what you want to paint so you can be prepared with the right color paints and gear. It also allows you to spend more time actually painting and less time trying to figure out a location.


2. Make an appointment                

It is difficult to carve out several hours to practice your art. Don’t approach your practice with an “if I have time” mindset. Block out the hours on your calendar and treat it like an appointment. Plein Air painting is your gift to yourself.


3. Dress appropriately

You may be outside for hours. Be prepared with sunscreen, a large brimmed hat to shade your eyes, and layers that you can easily take off or put on as the temperature changes. Avoid wearing white or bright colors that can reflect onto your painting.


4. Remember to bring water

If you’re doing watercolor or acrylic, don’t forget water for rinsing your brushes and a separate bottle for drinking. You don’t want thirst to cut your session short. If you’re painting during cool or cold weather, remember to bring a thermal container of a favorite hot beverage to keep you warm.


5. Make choices in your subject matter

When you're outdoors, the visual information around you can be overwhelming. You won’t be able to paint everything so reduce the scene in front of you by selecting a portion you can manage. Framing the scene with your hands or using a cardboard frame template can help you determine a good composition.


6. Be patient with onlookers

People will naturally be curious, which can make you feel self-conscious. If they want to talk to you, address them politely. “If you don’t mind I have a limited amount of time before I lose my light.” “Thank you for your suggestion. I might try that next time, but right now I’m happy with what I’m doing,” or similar responses will help encourage the curious to move on while you remain relaxed and focused.


7. Be kind to yourself

Taking on a new discipline can be frustrating at first. Remember that growth comes through struggle. The more you practice, the better you’ll become and the closer your paintings will come to the picture you had in your head. You may find your first time out you didn’t bring enough supplies, the next time you brought too many. It will take a few outings for you to learn what you really need and that’s okay. Remember every accomplished Plein Air painter was a newcomer once.

How to Make a Paper Flower Bouquet

| DIY Art Projects | Products | Toned Paper |


Paper Flower Bouquet

Many of the papers in our line work beautifully for shaping, molding, and creating 3D pieces of art. Recently a bride asked us about how to make a paper flower bouquet for her wedding, and we thought it sounded like a great idea! Many of our papers provide interesting textures and colors along with the appropriate weights that are needed to hold up to molding and shaping the paper. Also, using acid free, high quality paper is important to make sure the paper will last over time and won’t fade or deteriorate.

Here are the steps showing how we created our paper bouquet:


  • Paper – we used 400 Series Toned Gray, 400 Series Drawing which has a beautiful, cream color, Gray Textured Paper, and a piece of polka dot scrapbook paper to add a pattern.
  • Flower Wire – we used white
  • Floral Stem Wire – we used white
  • Pearl Flower Stamens
  • Ribbon (to wrap the stem of the bouquet) – we used white
  • Pearl Pins
  • Glue Gun
  • Scissors




Place a pearl flower stamen in the center of a flower wire and fold the flower wire in half over the center of the pearl flower stamen. Twist the wire together.

Stem with Pearls

Cut a small square piece of paper (about 2"x2") and fold it in half. Choose whatever type of paper you want as the center of your flower.

Place the wire ontop of the folded square piece of paper with the tip of the triangle pointing down and let the pearl stamens come just above the paper. Glue the paper onto the wire using a glue gun.

Stem with Triangle

Begin to roll the piece of paper so it wraps around the wire. Add a spot of glue half way through rolling it up, and on the inside as you are finishing rolling it up so it stays in place.

Rolling The Triangle

Cut flower petals from whichever paper you choose. We decided to do rounded flower petals that are about 3 inches in length, but you can experiment with different shapes.


Add the first flower petal to the wire by putting a line of glue across the bottom of the petal, then wrapping it around the wire and pinching the bottom together. Continue adding flowers in different spots around the wire by gluing the bottom of the petals, then wrapping them around the wire.

Adding Petals

Once your flower is the size you’d like, wrap the wire stem with floral tape.

Tape the Stem

Follow the same steps to make as many flowers as you’d like your bouquet to have. Our bouquet has a total of 11 paper flowers.

Flowers for Bouquet

After all of your flowers are made, gather them and arrange them in a bundle in your hand.

Gather Flowers

Once all flowers are in place and you are happy with how your bouquet looks, start wrapping all the stems together with floral tape.

Tape Stem

Taped Stem

Wrap the floral wire with your ribbon and use the pearl pins to secure the ribbon in place in the stem of the bouquet. Make sure to push the pins in at an angle so they don’t poke out the back side of the stem.


Voila! A beautiful paper flower bouquet that will last!

Finished Bouquet

Flower Bouquet Steps

Shading Techniques & Selecting Paper for Graphite

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

Raul SalasArtwork by Raul Salas

The selection of paper for shading techniques is influenced by the type of pencil used, the degree of darkness desired, the shading technique used, and the expression of the shading technique desired.

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 medium or textured surface will be able to produce a more even, luminescent shade than a smooth surface.

Scroll to the bottom of this post to download a printable practice shading chart. Try printing it on a variety of drawing surfaces so you can experiement with each technique on different textures. 

Graphite Pencils

Graphite pencils are created by mixing and grinding graphite and clay together, then encasing them in wood. The proportion of graphite to clay mixture determines the hardness of the pencil and degree of darkness of the pencil mark. They are available in hardness from 9H (hardest) to 9B (softest).  Softer grades produce broader and darker strokes and harder grades produce more precise and lighter strokes. H stands for Hardness, B stands for Black. There is also a pencil designation of F, for Fine Line. F is in-between B and H.

Shading Techniques

Shading is the technique of building tone through specific types of pencil applications. There are 4 basic types of shading techniques..

Graphite Shading

Hatching: Creating dark value (shades) by application of parallel lines. The closer together the lines the more even the resulting shade.

Crosshatching: Creating shades through a series of intersecting lines. The intersecting lines crisscross each other at various angles. The lines can be straight, scribbled or circular.

Stumping: Creating shades by “smudging” the applied shade. This is done by pressing and smearing the applied graphite with your finger, a soft cloth or a “stump”.  

Stippling: Creating shades through a series of dots. Building up more dots closer together results in darker shading.

How to Shade

  1. Hold the pencil at approximately a 45º angle. Shading is done with the side of the pencil tip.
  2. You can move the pencil with your shoulder or wrist. Each produces different types of marks. Moving the pencil with your elbow and shoulder produces larger strokes that may be more expressive. This approach is usually used with large-scale drawings. Moving the pencil with your wrist produces smaller strokes that are less expressive. This approach is usually used for smaller-scale drawings.
  3. The harder you press during shading the darker the mark produced and the darker the shade. The softer the pencil grade, the darker the mark.  

How to produce an even shade

  1. Start with a light pressure and increase pressure of application as you proceed in overlapping pencil strokes.
  2. Apply strokes in various overlapping angles and strokes. By overlapping at several different angles and directions the resulting shade will be more even with greater luminosity.

Textured vs Smooth Surface Paper

The smoother the paper grain the more difficult it will be to produce an even shade. Smooth paper surface cannot produce as great a range of tone (shade) as textured surface papers. Textured paper surfaces are usually chosen for shading as the texture of the paper makes shading easier and produces a greater range of tone that can be more evenly applied.

Smooth Surface Paper

It is difficult to shade evenly on smooth paper without using the Stump Technique. Smooth paper does not have the peaks (ridges) and valleys of a textured paper. This makes even, subtle shading difficult.

  1. Use a soft grade pencil – 2B and softer.
  2. Create desired shade.
  3. Use Stump Technique (smudging) to create even shade.
    1. Variation: On a scrap piece of paper apply soft pencil until shade is black. Rub finger, cloth or stump into the black shade. Then apply with your finger, cloth or stump directly to drawing paper surface. This will produce an even shade on smooth paper.

Textured Paper

Textured paper surface should be thought of as being a 3-Dimensional surface, with peaks and valleys, not unlike a mountain chain. To achieve an even shade it is necessary to surround the peaks (paper texture) with graphite from all angles. This not only produces an even shade, but it  is easier to achieve and has greater depth of tone.

The harder you press and the softer the graphite pencil the deeper you will go into the grain (valley) of the paper, producing a darker and darker shade. If a softer shade is desired, you can use the stump technique over the area you have shaded.

The visual difference between direct shading and stump (smudging) shading, is that the tone produced by the stump technique will be generally smoother and more even, but it will have less luminosity, since you are pressing the graphite into the grain (valley) of the paper surface.

Strathmore Textured Papers

The higher the grade of textured paper surfaces the deeper and more even the resulting shading will be. While all Strathmore Series – 200, 300, 400 and 500 will produce even, deep, luminescent shades, the 500 papers will produce the richest and deepest shade.

DrawingStrathmore Medium Surface Drawing Paper
Even, medium textured surface. Random surface produces subtle, rich shades that are expressive with great luminosity and sensitivity.
Click here to see all of our Drawing papers




BristolStrathmore Bristol Vellum
Medium textured, random surface that is slightly more pronounced, (peaks and valleys slightly further apart than drawing paper), enabling paper to handle very soft graphite pencils.Produces shades that are extremely expressive, but not as sensitive as Strathmore medium surface drawing paper.
Click here to see all of our Bristol papers




Strathmore Charcoal Paper
Traditional “laid” finish. Produces shades that reflect the “mechanical” pattern of the laid finish surface.
Click here to see all of our Charcoal papers





PastelStrathmore Pastel Paper
Deeper, medium textured surface. More pronounced peaks and valleys that are closer together than Bristol Vellum surface. Able to hold softer pencil applications without clogging.
Click here to see our Pastel papers





Mixed MediaStrathmore Mixed Media Paper
Even, medium textured surface. This specialty paper has the attributes of a watercolor paper and handles wet media beautifully, but has a vellum drawing finish. 
Click here to see our Mixed Media papers




Illustration BoardStrathmnore Illustration Board & Illustration Board for Wet Media Vellum Surface
A soft vellum surface. The random texture is ideal for sublte and even shading. 

Click here to see our Illustration Boards





Strathmore Smooth Papers

Strathmore 500 Series Plate Drawing or Plate Bristol papers are our very smoothest. The smoother the paper, the more difficult it can be to produce an even shade. 

Smoother surfaces are ideal for thin line applications, mechanical pencils, and pen & ink. Some of our smooth surfaced papers include:

400 Series Drawing Smooth
500 Series Drawing Plate
500 Series Bristol Plate
500 Series Plate Illustration Boards 

Download our free printable practice shading chart below. Print this chart on a variety of textured papers trimmed to 8.5x11 to practice each technique and see how they differ on each paper:

Create More, Share More, Strathmore

| Create More + Share More | News |



This week we ventured into our local streets of Appleton, Wisconsin and gave away bags of free art materials! Each person got 1 bag that included a random Strathmore pad and a couple complementary tools like graphite, erasers, and a sharpener.


We are calling the project “Create More, Share More, Strathmore”, and we plan on doing 2 more events locally this summer. The goal is to bring more art to our local community, inspire more people to get their creative juices flowing, and just do a random act of artistic kindness.


We hope you’ll be inspired to do your own random act of artistic kindness in your community by giving the gift of your art or art materials to someone who would appreciate it. Tell us about it using ‪#‎CreateMoreShareMore‬ on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

An extra special thanks goes out to our friends at General Pencil Company for donating some of their wonderful pencils and materials for the event!











Black Artist Tiles & the Versatility of Black Paper

| Artist Tiles | Artist Tips | Black Paper | Colored Pencil | Green Products | Products |

Our Black Artist Tiles work with a wide range of mediums that let artists create unique and fun pieces. The black paper extremely versatile and works great with gel pens, white charcoal, colored pencil, crayons, oil pastels, chalk pastels, metallic inks, and other light media. 

The short video below demonstrates just a few of the different things you can do on black paper: 

The paper is 60lb (160gsm), acid free, and contains 30% post-consumer fiber. 

If you haven't tried black paper yet, you can find it in a few different products types:

Black Tiles



Black Artist Tiles (seen in video above):
-Available in 6"x6" pads
-Coming in 4"x4" packs this Fall 2015



Artagain Black




400 Series Artagain® Coal Black Pads and Sheets:
-Available in 6"x9", 9"x12" and 12"x18" pads
-Available in 19"x25" sheets




Field Journal




400 Series Black Field Journals:
-Available in 7"x10" wire bound books





Also look for this beautiful black paper in full-sized cards & envelopes coming this fall! 


| Acrylic | News | Products |

The Ultimate Printmaking Giveaway

Scroll down to enter for a chance to win our ULTIMATE PRINTMAKING GIVEAWAY that is loaded with all the goodies you need to get your creative mark-making on! A special thank you to Golden Artist Colors, Gelli Arts, and The Crafter's Workshop who generously donated products so we could put together this drool-worthy prize package that includes everything you need to get started: paper, cards, buttery paints, 2 round gel printing plates, 5 stencils, and a 4” rubber brayer.    

Entry for giveaway ends at 11:59pm CST on Wednesday, July 1, 2015.

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

Here's a bit more about the goodies you could win:

Strathmore Printmaking Pads, Cards & Palette Paper:
Strathmore ProductsOur 5"x7" Lightweight Printmaking paper (120gsm) is perfect for practicing, proofing and relief printing. Our 8"x10" Heavyweight Printmaking paper (280gsm) is great for any type of printmaking technique. It can be soaked prior to printing, and has a soft, absorbant surface. Our full sized Printmaking Cards are made of the same 280gsm paper as our 400 Series Printmaking Pads. The package includes a total of 75 cards that are 5"x6.875", and 75 matching 5.25" x 7.25" envelopes. 

Our 300 Series Palette Paper pad contains 40 poly-coated sheets that are 41lb (67gsm). They are to be used as disposable paint-mixing palettes, and work perfectly with the Golden Open acrylics and a brayer. 

Golden OPEN Acrylics:
Golden Open Acrylics
OPEN Acrylics are high-quality, slow-drying paints with a soft, buttery consistency. The increased working time of these colors expands their range to include more traditional techniques once only possible with oils. The slow-drying capability of OPEN Acrylics also makes them suitable for some printmaking techniques, including monoprinting with Gelli Plates. 

Gelli Arts Round Gel Printing Plates:
Gelli Plates
Gel Printing Plates looks and feel like gelatin, but are durable, reusable and store at room temperature. Spread paint on the surface with a brayer or palette knife, add stencils or designs, and press paper on top to create a print. It's easy to clean and always ready for printing. The round design of these 4" and 6" plates open up new, fun possibilities for monoprints!

The Crafter's Workshop Stencils & Masks:
The Crafter's Workshop Stencils
Stencils from the Crafter's Workshop are perfect compliments to Gel Printing Plates. Included in this prize package are 3 of the small stencil designs and two 6"x 6" stencils. Place them above, below, or inbetween your layers of paint on your Gel Printing Plate to create masks and unique designs. They can be easily rinsed clean with water.

To round it all out, we are also including a 4" Hard Rubber Brayer for each winner. 

Enter below for a chance to win. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Printmaking FAQ & Techniques

| Artist Tips | FAQ | Printmaking | Technical Paper Info |

We recently introduced a full line of Printmaking papers that covers the range of needs from beginners to professionals. We have some very helpful downloadable PDF's available that explain printmaking terminology, different printmaking techniques, and methods for creating monotypes.

Scroll to the bottom of this post for the downloadable PDFs. 

Our full line of Printmaking papers includes a lightweight 300 Series paper, a heavyweight 400 Series paper, and a 100% cotton 500 Series paper. Each paper in the line serves a unique purpose:

300 Series Printmaking Pads300 Series Printmaking
-Lightweight, 120gsm
-Perfect for practicing & proofing: If you don't want to risk using high-end, expensive paper for your proofs, the 300 Series is a great, affordable option that will still perform in a way that allows you to see how your final print will turn out.
-Also great for relief printing
-Available in pads: Since the 300 Series printmaking is availalbe in pre-cut, ready-frame pad sizes, the artist does not need to tear or trim sheets down, which helps save time and elimnate waste. It also makes it easier for artists to store the paper.
-Pad sizes include: 5"x7", 8"x10", 11"x14" and 18"x24".
-Made in the USA

400 Series Printmaking400 Series Printmaking:
-Heavyweight, 280gsm
-Perfect for all types of printmaking techniques: The 400 Series Printmaking paper is manufactured to stand up to any type of printmaking process, yet it is more affordable than a traditional printmaking paper because it is a wood pulp sheet versus a cotton sheet. It can withstand soaking prior to printing, and has a soft, absorbant surface that works beautifully with printmaking inks.
-Available in pads: Since the 400 Series printmkaing paper is also availalbe in pre-cut, ready-frame pad sizes, the artist does not need to tear or trim sheets down, saving time and elimnating waste. It also makes it easier for artists to store the paper. 
-Pad sizes include: 5"x7", 8"x10", 11"x14" and 18"x24". Also available in full sized 22"x30" sheets.
-Made in the USA

500 Series Printmaking500 Series Printmaking:
-Heavyweight, 280gsm
-100% cotton
-Perfect for all types of printmaking techniques: The 500 Series Printmaking paper performs for any type of printmaking process and can be soaked prior to printing. It is a super soft, absorbant sheet that is durable and has two deckled edges. 
-Available in sheets: 20"x30"
-Made in the USA