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.

Patterns for Meditative Drawing

| Artist Tiles | DIY Art Projects | Products |

If you're looking to relax this weekend and maybe even relieve a little stress, try out our Artist Tiles for pattern drawing and meditative art.

Strathmore Artist Tiles

The process of creating patterned drawings by combining repetitive marks, circles, lines and forms to create small pieces of art is a great way to clear your mind, and let yourself become more focused and relaxed. It’s also an approachable and easy to learn art form that anyone can try, regardless of skill level. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, and it’s a great way to let go and enjoy the emotional benefits that art can bring.

We've got a full line of the right surfaces in small, approachable sizes that are perfect for this art form. Learn more about the full line which includes Bristol Tiles, Watercolor Tiles, Black Tiles, and a Recycled Sketch Journal here.

If you need a little inspiration to get started, our very own Jane Oliver created a free template with a variety of fun & beautiful designs.

Pattern 1 Pattern 2

Pattern Designs

Download the template from the link below and give it a try!

DIY Watercolor Gift Tags

| Artist Tips | DIY Art Projects |

Watercolor Tags

We had a blast creating these colorful watercolor gift tags using our 400 Series Watercolor paper!

These are great for adding a little pop of color and a personal handmade touch to any gift. See how we made them and give it a try for yourself or use these as inspiration to create your own personalized gift tags!

Supplies

  • Free downloadable gift tag template (link at the end of this post)
  • Strathmore Watercolor Paper - we used 400 Series Watercolor
  • Printer (or permanent ink pen if you'd rather do your own hand lettering)
  • Watercolor Paint - (we used Golden's new QoR Watercolor)
  • Watercolor Brush
  • Scissors
  • Hole Punch
  • String
  • Corner Punch (optional)

First we trimmed down our 400 Series Watercolor paper to 8.5"x11" size so we could run it through the printer. Please note we do not typically recommend our watercolor paper for printers, but in this case it worked well with the template.

Strathmore Watercolor Pad

WC Tags Printed

Next, we watercolored the entire sheet before cutting out the individual tags. The fun part of watercoloring the whole sheet at once is seeing the unique design that each individual tag has after it's cut down.

We used Golden's new QoR Watercolors, which have a unique formulation to accentuate the luminosity and brilliance of pigments even after drying.

Watercolored Template

Watercolored Template - Close Up

After the watercolor dried, we cut out each individual tag. Some corners were rounded and others were cut just at the top corners. We used a hole punch at the top of each tag and strung a string through. What a simple way to brighten up a special gift!

Close Up Finished Tags

Finished Watercolor Tags

Paper Permanence and Longevity

| Artist Tips | FAQ | Technical Paper Info |

Factors affecting paper permanence

Paper permanence is a very important aspect to consider when creating artwork. Acid is the main factor that affects paper permanence. It deteriorates the fiber, causing brittleness and yellowing.

Fine art paper is tested for its acid content by using a pH scale. Less than 7.0 on the scale is acidic, 7.0 is neutral and greater than 7.0 is alkaline. Acid free papers should have a pH of approximately 7.5.

pH Scale

Artists concerned with permanence should not only use acid free papers, but also consider all the elements that come into contact with the paper. This includes drawing and painting materials, quality of water being used, materials used when mounting and framing, and also the environment.

Some important factors to remember concerning the permanence and longevity of paper and artwork inlcude:

  • ACID: As mentioned, acid is the main factor that affects permanence, so if you’re concerned about longevity remember the most durable and long lasting papers are acid free.

  • OTHER ART MATERIALS: Paper permanence refers not only to the acidic level of the finished sheet of paper, but also to factors that affect the paper after it is made, like what comes in contact with the sheet (paints, oils, fixatives, etc). Make sure you are using safe materials if you're concerned about longevity.

  • LIGHT: Sunlight fades all color. Ultraviolet and fluorescent light accelerates fading. Light energy is converted into heat and a minute amount is absorbed by paper, causing fibers to become brittle. Be sure to protect your artwork from the sun and hang it where it won't be directly exposed to sunlight. Consider installing UV shields on fluoursecent lights to prevent accelerated fading.

  • TEMPERATURE: Typically a lower storage temperature of paper makes it last longer (although extreme cold can cause brittleness). The life of paper is doubled with every decrease of 10˚ F. Too hot of a temperature can cause mold. In general, the average room temperature range is safe, and it's best to keep artwork in a place where there won't be a 20˚F fluctuation within a 24 hour time period. For example, a garage may not be the best place to hang artwork if it gets down to 50˚F at night and up to 90˚F during the day.

  • HUMIDITY: Too low a humidity increases paper brittleness. Too high a humidity increases the chance of mold. Cycling (temperature/humidity fluctuations) weakens and breaks down paper fibers by causing fibers to expand and contract due to the water contained within them. On average 5% of water remains in a finished sheet of paper after the paper making process is complete, so think of paper as being alive... it can be affected by changes in the environment.

  • STORAGE: The main consideration is not to let anything acidic touch your paper. Acid free interleafing can be used to store artwork. Acid free tissue paper is a cost effective option. Glassine paper can also be used, or museum barrier paper. They all prevent acid from touching your paper. Do not use a stiff cardboard container to crate your portfolio as the acid in the cardboard can enter your paper. We’d recommend making a container out of either an acid free illustration board or acid free mat board.

DIY 4th of July Watercolor Cupcake Toppers

| Artist Tips | DIY Art Projects | Products |

Patriotic Cupcakes

It's 4th of July week! We dressed up some delicious cupcakes and made them patriotic by creating watercolor cupcake toppers! If cupcakes are on the menu for your 4th of July celebration, see how we made these and give them a try for yourself! We've included a free downloadable cupcake topper template at the end of this post.

Supplies

  • Free downloadable 4th of July cupcake topper template (links are at the end of this post)
  • Strathmore Watercolor Paper - we used 400 Series Watercolor
  • Printer
  • Watercolor Paint - Red & Blue (we used Golden's new QoR Watercolor)
  • Watercolor Brush
  • Toothpicks
  • Tape and/or glue

First we trimmed down our 400 Series Watercolor paper to 8.5"x11" size so we could run it through the printer.

Strathmore Watercolor Pad

Please note we do not typically recommend our watercolor paper for printers, but in this case it worked well with the template and we hope it works well for your printers at home, too!

Printed Template

Next, we watercolored the entire sheet before cutting out the individual circles. We used Golden's new QoR Watercolors, which have a unique formulation to accentuates the luminosity and brilliance of pigments even after drying. We put a wash of water over the sheet first, then dropped, painted and splattered watercolor onto the page to give it a firework-looking effect.

Watercolored Toppers

Watercolored Toppers Close Up

After the watercolor dried, we cut out the individual circles.

Watercolor Toppers Cut out

Next, either tape or glue toothpicks to the back of the toppers. First we taped the toothpick to the back of one topper, then glued a second topper to the back of the first topper so the toothpick was in the middle and both sides showed our watercolored image.

Stick them in your cupcakes and enjoy!

Finished Cupcakes

Calling All Card Artists!

| Art Requests & Contests | Creative Cards |

Strathmore Cards

We are looking for fun & fresh fall and winter themed artwork created on our greeting cards! There is still time to submit for a chance to win cash prizes and Strathmore Card products! Submissions are due by Friday, July 11.

Get all the details and submit your cards here.

We will be selecting 3 featured artists from our fall/winter card artwork submissions to receive the following:

  • 1st place - Awarded $500, plus $200 retail value of Strathmore® card products
  • 2nd place - Awarded $250, plus $100 retail value of Strathmore® card products
  • 3rd place - Awarded $100, plus $50 retail value of Strathmore® card products

For information on our full line of cards, click here. We've got a wide variety of cards in a range of paper types including watercolor, canvas, mixed media, stamping and more.

If you’re looking for a little inspiration, Opus Art Supplies has a great how-to video featuring artist Leslie Redhead as she creates a fall-themed watercolor greeting card. Click here to see it.

Leslie Redhead's Watercolor Card

Card created by Leslie Redhead on Strathmore Watercolor Cards.

Sandra Wolfson's Printmaking Workshops

| Printmaking | Products | Workshops |

Sandra & SherrieIf you’re in the California area, check out Artist & Instructor Sandra Wolfson’s printmaking workshops this summer! Sandra is a Printmaking Instructor at Orange Coast College and an Artist Educator for Strathmore. She will be sharing her printmaking knowledge in two Workshops:

Screen Printing & Painting: A Colorful Combo at Open Ground Studio in Seaside, CA from July 14-18. Click here for more information on this workshop.

Mix it Up! At Orange Coast College Printmaking Studios on July 12 and August 2 in Costa Mesa, CA. Click here for more information on this workshop where Sandra will team up with Sheryl Seltzer to guide artists through relief, etching, monotype and screen printing techniques. Sounds like a blast!

 

 

Sherrie (left) & Sandra (right) at OCC Printmaking Studio

You can also try out Strathmore’s new Printmaking papers in Sandra’s workshops! We’ve got a brand new line of soft, strong & absorbent printmaking papers for the full range of needs for beginners, professionals and everyone in-between. Get all the details on the full line here.

Strathmore Printmaking

Sign up for Sandra’s workshops or look for a printmaking workshop in your area this summer and give it a try for yourself!

Playing with Gelli Plates

| Artist Tiles | Printmaking | Products |

Gelli PlatesWe had some fun here yesterday and put a wide variety of our papers to good use with Gelli Plates! While we all have a strong appreciation for art and creativity here at Strathmore, we don't all consider ourselves artists. Even so, we found the Gelli Plates were super approachable and a ton of fun to use with our papers!

We used the 6"x6" printing plate and the 8"x10" printing plate with a variety of found objects like rubber bands, feathers, stencils, cut papers, bubble wrap and mesh screens to create layers of colors, patterns and textures.

 

 Check out some of our prints:

Gelli Plate Prints on Strathmore Paper

 

 

Print on Printmaking

Created by Matt on Strathmore's new 400 Series Printmaking paper which is coming this summer!

 

300 Series Bristol Vellum

Created by Sabrina on Strathmore Bristol Artist Tiles.

 

Strathmore Acrylic

Created by Jane on Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic.

 

Strathmore Charcoal

Created by Jane on Strathmore 300 Series Charcoal.

 

Watercolor Tiles

Created by Sara on Strathmore Watercolor Artist Tiles. The background was created first using the Gelli plate. Once the print was dry, detail was added with a white gel pen.

 

Strathmore Mixed Media Card

Created by Sara on Strathmore Mixed Media Cards.


We had lots of fun with the Gelli Plates and encourage you to get all your materials out and give them a try! They work great with our papers and the possibilites are endless!

For more infomration on Gelli Plates click here.

Strathmore's on Pinterest!

| Artist Tips | News |

Did you know we're on Pinterest now? Check out our page and follow us here!

This is a great resource to see a variety of artwork, artist tips, video lessons & tutorials, product information/FAQ's and more in once place.

We'll continue to add to our boards and make this a great place for you to enjoy artwork, get tips & information, and get inspired!

Strathmore Pinterest Page

COMING SOON: Strathmore Printmaking Papers

| News | Printmaking | Products |

Strathmore Printmaking

This summer we are excited to be introducing a complete line of Printmaking papers for recreational, student, and professional artists.

With our 300 Series Lightweight, 400 Series Heavyweight, and 500 Series RiverPoint® Cotton printmaking papers, we’re offering a full line that will meet the range of needs for beginners, professionals and everything inbetween.

Printmaking continues to be a growing art form attracting a wide variety of artists. Yet we noticed there wasn't a complete line of papers to meet the range of needs from student to professional. With this in mind, we collaborated with the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point to create a full line of quality papers for all types of artists. Read more about our collaboration here

These papers are strong and durable yet super soft, allowing them to absorb many layers of ink. They are affordable, made in the USA, and ideal for a wide variety of printmaking techniques including relief, intaglio, lithography, screen print, and many more.

The 300 Series and 400 Series papers are available in a variety of convenient ready-to-frame sizes in glue-bound pads which allows clean and easy removal. The 400 Series is also available in large sheets. The 500 Series RiverPoint® Cotton papers are available in large sheets.

See more on the full line here.

Creating Colorful and Interesting Journal Pages - Tips from the Journal Fodder Junkies

| Artist Tips | Visual Journaling | Workshops |

Students from the 2014 Online Workshops are hard at work in their art journals! In Workshop 2, Visual Journal Fodder, the Journal Fodder Junkies demonstrate all sorts of useful techniques to create colorful and richly layered journal pages.

If you're like many artist who feel a bit intimidated by a blank page, check out these great tips from Instructors Eric Scott and David Modler to help you get started with some interesting backgrounds:

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing Alcohol

Sprinkling ordinary rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol onto a wet wash of watercolor paint results in an interesting effect. The alcohol pushes the paint away creating a spotted effect. The key is to work quickly to paint the wash onto the page and sprinkle the rubbing alcohol onto the paint before it dries. An eye dropper is very convenient for dripping the the paint, but don’t fret if you don’t have an eye dropper. Use a stiff bristle brush to splatter the alcohol onto the page instead.

 

Salt

Salt

Very similar to the rubbing alcohol, ordinary table salt results in a very appealing texture when sprinkled into wet watercolor. Paint a wet, juicy wash onto a page and sprinkle a few pinches of salt onto the page before the watercolor dries. The grains of salt soak up some the water and paint leaving a crackled or “starburst” texture. Allow the paint to dry completely before brushing the salt off.

 

Splattering

Splattering

An old toothbrush or stiff bristle paintbrush make for effective tools for splattering the watercolor paint onto a page for a speckled or stippled effect. Use your finger to pull the bristles back toward you so that they fling toward the page. Do it the reverse way, and you can end up with a face full of paint splatters. Sometimes large drips of paint can fall from the brush, but this is all part of the process.

 

String

String

A painted piece of string or yarn creates wonderful random lines and textures on a page. Moistening the string first by submerging it it water and then squeezing out the excess water helps the string absorb the paint more quickly. Place the moistened string in a palette or paint tray lid, and paint the string with a brush loaded with a desired color. You can then carefully pull the wadded up string apart and drop it randomly on a page. You can also drag the string to create streaks, or you can press it down to create more apparent paths. You can create symmetrical designs by sandwiching the string between pages.

 

Stencils

Stencils

Stencils are more often associated with drawing media like pencil and ink, but thin plastic stencils can be effectively used with watercolor paint. You can even use found stencils like plastic mesh. When using the mesh you want to apply the paint through the grid holes by tapping with a stiff bristled brush. This allows the bristles to poke down into the grid and touch the paper. When using larger, flatter stencils, a sponge is a rapid way to apply paint through the stencil.

 

Layering

Layering

Since watercolor is a transparent material, it’s easy to build up a few layers with the paint. You can use any technique, but whatever techniques you use, the key is to allow the the paint to dry completely between layers so that the different layers don’t bleed together. On the other hand, bleeding and blending might be an interesting and desirable effect, so don’t be afraid to experiment. If you want to speed up the drying time between layers, use a hairdryer.

 

You can see the free video lessons that go along with these techniques in our Online Workshops. Click here to register for free today and get started.

Our Online Workshops are self-paced and remain open until December 31, 2014.