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.

Holiday Gift Giveaway!

| Drawing | News |

2014 Holiday Gift Giveaway

General Pencil Goodies

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM STRATHMORE AND GENERAL PENCIL! Our Holiday Gift Giveaway is loaded with all sorts of goodies for DRAWING! We've included Sketch, Drawing, Heavyweight Drawing, Bristol Vellum, Toned Tan & Toned Gray Pads, and a Hardbound Mixed Media Art Journal. A special thanks to General Pencil for donating the perfect pack of drawing materials to go with our paper products!

Enter below before 11:59pm CST on Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014 for a chance to win!

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


a Rafflecopter giveaway

In My Father's Eyes

| Drawing | Featured Artists | News |


Artist Brent Anderson is using his artistic talent in a beautiful, generous and moving way. A few years ago, Brent felt called to create and donate portraits for the families of children with cancer. Unsure of what the reaction may be, he shied away from this idea and pursued art in other ways. Then just this past July, he decided he couldn’t shake his desire to pursue his idea any longer. With the encouragement of his wife, he made his first terrifying phone call to a local hospital. The reaction he received was the best he could have hoped for – he was welcomed with open arms and hospitals and families have been exceedingly receptive.  

Currently, Brent works with Child Life Departments of local hospitals to identify families who could be blessed with a portrait. He visits with the families to explain the program. The family gives Brent a number of photos to choose from, and Brent creates his drawing. When it is complete, he presents it to the family along with a certificate that allows them to have the portrait custom framed. The families do not have to pay a dime for any of it. Brent has applied for a 501c3 non-profit status and will call the company “In My Father's Eyes”.

Brent has been drawing as long as he can remember. He is self-taught and has an amazing natural ability. He uses Strathmore 300 Series Bristol paper and Pentel mechanical pencils & leads for the detail work in his drawings. All the portraits he creates for the program are graphite only. Once finished, they are sprayed with a Krylon fixative.

Thank you Brent for sharing your amazing story and talent with us, and thank you for the program you’ve created. If you’re interested in learning about how you can help this program expand, contact Brent Anderson at

Bernice Presentation
Brent and Bernice




Caleb Presentation
Brent and Caleb

How to Remove Sheets from a Watercolor Block

| Artist Tips | FAQ | Watercolor |

We often get questions about how to remove sheets from our watercolor blocks, which are glued along all four edges. Check out our short video which demonstrates the process:

Having the paper glued along all four edges eliminates the need for stretching the paper prior to painting. You can load the water on and not only will your top sheet dry nice and flat, the sheet underneath will be clean and ready for use after the top sheet is removed. For more information on our watercolor blocks, click here.

Fall Artist Newsletter

| Art Requests & Contests | Creative Cards | Drawing | FAQ | Featured Artists | Newsletter | Printmaking |

Fall NewsletterThe Fall Issue of our Artist Newsletter is here! Click here to download the article.

Here's a look at what's inside:

Drawing as Process
By: John Rise
This Issue features a thoughtful investigation of drawing as a process by Artist & Professor John Rise. John, who teaches Drawing at the Savannah College of Art and Design, gives us an inside look at his love for graphite as a medium and discusses the proposition that the process an artist experiences while drawing is potentially more important than the outcome of the final piece. 

Featured Product: Heavyweight Drawing Pads
Strathmore® 400 Series Heavyweight Drawing has been one of our most popular papers since 1940. Previously this 100 lb. (163 g/m2) cream colored paper was only available in sheets and rolls. Now Strathmore is introducing 5 convenient pad sizes to the Heavyweight Drawing family. Find out more in the Artist Newsletter.

Card Art Submission
Strathmore is accepting submissions of spring and summer themed artwork created on any Strathmore Greeting Card product. Entrants have a chance to win cash and card prizes! Get more details and submission information in the Artist Newsletter. 

Questions from our Website
Download the Artist Newsletter to get answers to frequently asked questions about our new line of Printmaking Papers, such as: What is the difference between wood and cotton fiber printmaking papers? Can all of your printmaking papers be soaked prior to printing? Why are there so many sizes of your Printmaking pads?

If you haven't subscribed to our quarterly Artist Newsletter, sign up for free here! 

Silver - By John Rise

Determining Paper Weight

| FAQ | Technical Paper Info |

Paper weight can be confusing. There are two ways that paper weight is measured and stated. The United States measures paper weight in pounds, whereas it is standard to measure in grams per square meter outside of the US.

Paper weight in the US is stated in lbs. and is determined by weighing 500 sheets (a ream) in the basis size of a particular paper. For example, the basis size (or in other words, the master sheet size) of our Watercolor papers is 22”x30”. If you place 500 master sheets of our 400 Series Watercolor paper in the 22”x30” size on a scale, it should weigh approximately 140lbs.

The part that can get confusing when weighing paper in pounds is that not all paper types have the same basis size. For example, drawing papers have a basis size of 24”x36”, versus watercolor papers which have a basis size of 22”x30”. 500 Sheets of 400 Series Drawing paper (24”x 36”) weighs 80lbs. If you look at our 500 Series Aquarius II Watercolor paper, it also is listed as 80lbs, but the basis size of Aquarius II is 22”x30”, not 24”x36”, so it’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison.

On the other hand, weighing paper in grams per square meter does give you a clean, apples-to-apples comparison. Measuring paper weight in grams per square meter (commonly referred to as gsm or g/m2) is literally taking the weight in grams of 1 square meter of paper. So even though both Drawing and Aquarius II are listed as the same weight in pounds (80lbs), the master size sheets being weighed are not the same (again the drawing paper basis size is 24” x 36” and the watercolor paper basis size is 22” x 30”). When these two papers have the same size (one square meter), we see that the Watercolor paper actually weighs more than the drawing paper (130gsm vs. 170gsm).

Paper Weight


This chart shows various papers and their common basis sizes & weights. A papers weight does not necessarily reflect quality. It is usually a reflection of intended use. Watercolor papers are heavier weight because of their need to hold a lot of water, versus drawing & sketch papers which are intended for dry media.

Common Basis Sizes

You will find the weight of our papers stated in both lbs. and gsm on our packaging, in our catalogs and on our website.

Detailed Realist Drawings - By Joel Daniel Phillips

| Artist Tips | Drawing | Featured Artists |

The following blog was written by Artist Joel Daniel Phillips:

One of the first things that I’m often asked about my work by artists and non-artists alike always makes me smile wryly and chuckle a bit. In fact, I’m so used to the question: “How do you keep the drawing so clean?!” that my standard, half-joking response “by drawing slowwwly”, is starting to feel a bit worn out.

I create realist, large-scale, charcoal and graphite drawings on paper, and am currently thirty-something portraits into a series exploring the social ecosphere and how it relates to poverty in my surroundings. Seeing that the drawings are life-size, the question of how I keep the drawing clean and smudge/smear free is quite a legitimate one.

Joel Daniel Phillips in Studio

The answer lies in my (admittedly rather absurd) process. In a nutshell, I draw from the top-left to the bottom-right of the drawing, more or less finishing as I go.


1. Quick, loose under-sketch:

For the biggest drawings, this involves transferring the initial image loosely via projection. For manageably sized works it is a quick, gestural sketch or a grid laying out the basic proportions and placement.

Drawing Progress

2. Tight block-in

Once the very general placement and proportions are in place, a much more thorough second pass sketches in a deeper and more concrete set of details and proportion.

Drawing Progress

3. Top to bottom rendering

After finalizing the sketch, I dive headfirst into rendering. My approach to this part of the drawing process is the answer to the ever-present question around cleanliness. To keep my hand from inadvertently smearing anything I’ve previously drawn, I work from top-left to bottom right, doing my best to finish the rendering as I go. While this creates its own set of challenges and frustrations, particularly in regard to value consistency and volume transitions, I find that it allows me the necessary control over the charcoal, which can so easily smudge out of control or smear where it isn’t wanted.

Drawing Progress

Drawing Progress

Drawing Progress

4. Final changes

After the meat and bones of the drawing is finished, I tend to let the piece sit for a bit and then go back in and fix anything that I misunderstood on the first pass - on a good day this is limited to shifting values here and there.

Finished Drawing


Paper: I use Strathmore 400 Series rolls for most of my large drawings. The light-cream tonality of the paper is wonderfully warm but light enough from a value standpoint to allow stark contrasts. The tooth is the perfect balance between accepting of charcoal and graphite and lifting ability. The 400 series comes in rolls up to 42inches wide, and my only complaint is not having it come in even bigger sizes.

Charcoal: Conté à Paris charcoal pencils and Cretacolor charcoal leads, in addition to compressed charcoal bars.

Graphite: Mars Staedtler Technico lead holders and a range of Staedtler leads.

Happy Halloween!

| Drawing | Featured Artists | Toned Paper | Watercolor |

We are celebrating Halloween with some perfectly fitting artwork created on our papers! Check out the fantastic pieces these artists have made… maybe you’ll be inspired to create your own frightfully fantastic piece!

Skeleton Study - by Artist Michael Webb

Michael Webb

Michael is a middle school art teach in Menasha, Wisconsin. He created this amazing skeleton study on our 400 Series Artagain paper using mechanical pencil and white charcoal pencil. He used a skeleton model in his classroom as a refernece for this piece.


Addams Family Coffee Portraits - By Artist Laura Schrampfer

Addams Family Portrait

Laura, a tattoo artist in Appleton, WI, brought the entire Addams Family to life using coffee as a medium on our 400 Series Watercolor paper. The coffee along with the frames Laura found at the thift store gives these pieces the perfect antique look.


"Boo!" by Artist Abigail Jones


Abigail, an artist in Southampton, England, created this drawing of her daughter Ruby using our 400 Series Toned Tan paper with colored pencils, chalk and charcoal. Startlingly adorable, right?

"Witchin'" By Artist Coral Colon


Coral, in Canóvanas, Puerto Rico, created this fun Halloween piece on our Mixed Media cards. Coral used mechanical pencil first, then Microns and Sharpies for the line work. The piece was colored with crayons. To achieve the smoothing effect, Coral blended and smudged with a P-100: LION plastic eraser. This card also comes with a great story: Inside, a tagline reads "Cheer up! It's okay to be different", which refers to the artwork depicting a fun-loving witch mom trying to lift the spirits of her young toddler. Coral says the thumbs-up is for the audience and is a reminder that it will all be okay.

Happy Halloween everybody! We hope it's creatively creepy!

Patti Mollica's Bold, Expressive and Beautiful Paintings

| Acrylic | Featured Artists | Watercolor |

Painter Patti Mollica is New York based artist known for her beautiful works that are bold, expressive and colorful. She works in both oils and acrylics, and when using acrylics, she frequently works on our 400 Series Watercolor paper using Golden paints. Patti often paints the urban landscapes of New York City, which gives her endless opportunities to show viewers that a great painting is not necessarily about the subject matter, but rather the way an artist communicates whatever is being painted. Take a look at some of her beautiful pieces created on our watercolor paper, and visit her website to see more:

Patti Mollica Painting

Patti Mollica Painting

Patti Mollica Painting

tl_files/content/blog/2014 Blog/Patti Mollica/Colorful City.jpg

Patti Mollica Painting

Patti Mollica Painting

Patti Mollica Painting

Patti Mollica Painting

COMING SOON: Heavyweight Drawing in Pads

| Drawing | News | Products |

We are excited to be introducing our 400 Series Heavyweight Drawing paper in pad format later this fall!

Heavyweight DrawingArtwork by Sarah Becktel

This buttery cream colored drawing paper has been one of our most popular papers since 1940 and historically has only been available in sheets and rolls. Now we are putting this 100lb (163gsm) paper into 5 sizes of pads:

Heavyweight Drawing sizes

Our Heavyweight Drawing paper features a medium surface with slightly more texture than our bestselling 80lb (130gsm) 400 Series Drawing paper. This allows for greater depth of tone, uniform areas of half tones, and non-mechanical looking cross hatching. It is also durable enough to stand up to repeated erasing and reworking. It is excellent for use with pencil, colored pencil, charcoal, and sketching sticks.

For more information, click here.

Tips for Making Trees with Watercolor

| Artist Tips | Watercolor | Workshops |

Artist Gay Kraeger has loaded Workshop 3 of our free 2014 Online Workshops with all sorts of great tips for watercolor painting. Here are some of her tips from the Week 2 video lesson for making beautiful trees using a “tree machine” (a sponge).

Tree Tutorial

  • Mix a light leaf colored puddle of watercolor. You could include shades of green, or reds, oranges and yellows for fall trees
  • Dip your sponge in the puddle, then stamp it onto watercolor paper in a tree shape. Allow some spaces to paint in the tree branches and trunk. Also think about the type of tree you want to create – tall and skinny, wide and round, bending, etc. The sponge will take care of the leaf detail for you
  • Mix a darker leaf color and stamp some shadows on the under parts of your leaf clumps
  • With brown or tree trunk-colored watercolor, paint in branches between leaf clumps and the trunk
  • Add some darker shadows to the branches and trunk while the paint is still wet
  • When the everything has dried, paint a light, leaf colored watercolor wash over the leaf areas. While that wash is still wet, add a bit of darker color under parts of the leaf areas. This is usually where the shadows are

To register for our Online Workshops and see the video lesson (plus many more fantastic tips and video lessons), click here. Our workshops are free, self-paced, and will remain open until December 31, 2014.