Featured Artists

Marta Oliehoek

I have always been attracted to smooth surfaces, although I have not always drawn on them. In the past, when drawing was just a sporadic hobby and not yet an integral part of my life, I often used pastels and would go for the obvious textured and tinted surfaces. In the spring of 2015 I decided to follow my long-lost dreams and take up drawing again. I discovered coloured pencil and did some research regarding different sorts of paper and surfaces. When I tried the Strathmore Bristol smooth paper it immediately became a favourite of mine.

I find it challenging to work on a smooth surfaced paper and there are pros and cons that make it more suitable for some mediums and pencil brands more so than others. A smooth surface, as opposed to a more toothy one, gives you more control and is perfect for lush, fine detailed work.

However, it is also more vulnerable than papers with a more textured surface, because there isn’t as much opportunity to fill the paper like there is with more toothy papers. You have to watch the position of your strokes and work very lightly.

I have found that the beautiful texture of the smooth Bristol paper can take many more layers of coloured pencil pigment than other competing brands. The effects can be breath-taking and very painterly. However, I have discovered that the secret to success is to remember to create very light, soft and even layers very early on. It’s important not to press too hard too soon in order to avoid filling the paper too much to early.

I often draw children’s portraits and this surface is ideal to emphasize the softness of child’s skin, the roundness of the cheeks and the freshness of children’s faces. I really enjoyed creating the multi-layered affects in ‘Ascension’ and with each subsequent layer I became excited as my image began to evolve into a rich and densely covered application. The Bristol smooth paper surface helped this image to really glow!

Being an artist is a never-ending learning process. I see Strathmore Bristol smooth paper more as a tool for advanced artists, who have mastered their craft really well. Why am I using it then myself, while still being a relatively new artist? Because it motivates me to get the best out of me and to strive for the best strokes and application possible for me again and again.

During the course of the years my style and technique have changed and evolved; I have also tried many different brands of graphite and coloured pencils, but my love for Strathmore Bristol has remained!

“Sister” – 2019; colored pencil on Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Smooth
“Amelka” – 2018; graphite on Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Smooth

Ryan Spahr

Ryan Spahr is an accomplished artist working in a variety of media, including marker, pen and ink, oil, pastel, photography, and tattoo. His work exhibits bold, expressive mark-making, exploration, and experimentation. Ryan lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where he spends his free time with his family and collecting records. His future plan is to further his education in the Arts.


Pug Marker Drawing

Patti Mollica

Patti Mollica has been a fine artist and professional illustrator for over 30 years. Her artwork is is known for its fearless use of color and uninhibited brushwork. She delights in painting the world around her in a bold, decisive style, with hues that are intense, brilliant and contemporary.

"Great painting is not about the “subject matter," but rather the way an artist communicates beauty, sensitivity and integrity in whatever is depicted. Flowers, gardens and sunsets are no more worthy as painting subjects than subjects than a subway station full of weary commuters, or a close-up of some old rundown fire escapes. My goal as a painter is to point out the hidden artistic essence in all subjects and scenes, and objects, most especially the ones that are not commonly thought of in an artistic light."

Patti has been commissioned by, and is included in, the private collections of American Express, Sheraton Hotels, CBS & RCA Records, Penguin Press and many others. Additionally, she is a Certified Teacher for Golden Paints and conducts workshops throughout the U.S., covering topics such as "Innovative Acrylic Techniques using Golden Paints", as well as "How to Paint Fast, Loose and Bold".

Patti's original artwork is represented in several galleries throughout the US. Published prints and posters can be found in retail chains worldwide. Patti is the author of 3 books, "Modern Acrylics",

"Color Theory", and "Acrylics - Getting Started", published by Walter Foster Inc. She has also authored 3 instructional painting DVD's, "Acrylic Painting Value Techniques, Brushwork Techniques, and Color Techniques", published by FW Media. As an active member of the “daily painter” movement, Patti posts her latest paintings and commentaries at her blog, http://newyorkpainter.blogspot.com

For more information on Patti's work or workshops visit: www.pattimollica.com.

Karen was born in Oahu, Hawaii in 1959. The majority of her years have been spent in California with the exception of fifteen years when she lived in Colorado, Wyoming and Alaska.

After obtaining a degree in Horticulture from Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, California and a second degree in Fine Arts from Central Wyoming College in Riverton, Wyoming, she has decided to settle down in the central coast of California.

Her work in the fields of horticulture, graphic design and theater have given her wonderful and challenging opportunities.

Karen's art is inspired by nature and the love of animals. Acrylic on canvas and scratchboard art are her mediums of choice with a style of contemporary realism.

Karen's Website

Alisa Burke

Alisa Burke is a freelance painter and mixed media artist who studied fine art at Portland State University. With a background in painting and printmaking, a desire to explore and push materials, Alisa is always looking for new ways to break the rules and redefine art. She draws inspiration from street art, graffiti, art history and fashion and it is not uncommon to find her digging through the trash in hopes of recycling something unique to use in her artwork.

Alisa had a desire to be an artist since she was a very young girl. As the child of fine artists who worked from home, she grew up in an environment surrounded by energetic creativity. Against this artistic backdrop, Alisa became accustomed to the notion that running a creative business from ones household was a natural way of life; and an attainable one as well. 

Growing up, she developed her skills with numerous drawing classes and enjoyed nightly creative sprees at the kitchen table.  As an adolescent, Alisa participated in various art shows, contests and sold her work at craft fairs. It wasn't until she graduated from high school that the pathway to becoming a full-time artist became a reality. While Alisa had always loved the creative process and identified herself as an artist, she fell in love with the notion in college. The exposure to Art History and the thrilling exchange of ideas sold her on the charms of dedicating herself to the creative life. From that point on, there was no going back on her dream of pursuing a career in the arts. 

Like most, she worked many day jobs while at the same time showing her art, taking on freelance jobs, and building up her portfolio. Alisa landed a marketing position at the University of San Diego that allowed her to utilize her creative skills.  However, the position did not satisfy her craving to make art on her own terms.  After this realization, Alisa set out to quit her job and pursue her dream full-time.  After a long five-year process of inching forward and building her creative business from the ground up, she finally came to the point of supporting herself with her artwork.  After long hours at her day job, plenty of rejection, tears and frustration, Alisa was finally able to make her dream a reality.  Through persistence and hard work, she was able to achieve her long term goal of creative and financial independence.  Alisa quit her job in 2009 and never looked back.

When Alisa and her husband, Andy, decided to start a family, they knew that they had to act on their long term goal of leaving Southern California for the rugged fringes of the Oregon Coast. A native of the Pacific Northwest, Alisa longed for the simplicity, beauty, and inspiration of her former hometown. A desire to simplify their lifestyle and focus on raising their daughter spurred this plan into action; and in 2012 they planned, saved, and worked hard to build Alisa’s business.  After careful planning, Andy quit his job as a structural engineer to become a stay at home dad.  Shortly after, they packed up their belongings and strapped 1-year-old Lucy into the car seat and embarked upon a journey to a small town on the Oregon Coast where they now reside.

Artwork by Alisa Burke
Artwork by Alisa Burke

Alisa's paintings have been exhibited in a variety of galleries and her handmade, painted accessories are carried in a number of boutiques across the country. Her artwork has been featured in numerous publications and media outlets such as Better Homes & Gardens, The Huffington Post, Buzz Feed, TLC, HGTV, Bon Appetit, Apartment Therapy, Reader’s Digest, Craft, Brit Picks, Disney and more.  In addition to creating art, Alisa currently teaches a variety of workshops nationwide and has worked as a Bernina Artisan. Alisa appeared as a guest artist on the DIY Network show Craft Lab and Quilting Arts TV on PBS. Her first book,Canvas Remix, was released in the spring of 2008 followed by her second book, Sew Wild, released in August 2011.  Alisa latest endeavor is the newly launched "Heart to Art Remix" fashion accessory line with Demdaco.