Featured Artists

Artist Karen Charatan

Karen Charatan art
art by Karen Charatan

400 Series Calligraphy

Karen Charatan art
art by Karen Charatan

400 Series Parchment

About Karen Charatan

photo of Karen Charatan

With pens, brushes and traditional tools, Karen Charatan designs and digitally customizes calligraphic and drawn lettering for commercial work. She also creates abstract calligraphic paintings which she exhibits internationally with a group of Asian and Western artists. Some of these works are included in the collection of the Mobile Museum of Art in Mobile, AL.

Karen has taught for the international lettering arts conferences and for guilds in the US and abroad. Her work has been featured in various lettering journals and books. A gallery of her work is found at www.karencharatan.com

"My word-based abstract work is often about the complexities of human emotional struggles. Illegibility doesn't frighten me. In some compositions words may be decipherable, but visual content is the main focus. However, as a commercial artist who also experiments with type design, I do feel the shapes of letters are always important. Whether they are a major focal point or a textural rhythm, letters are dressed simply as themselves or costumed to perform center stage."

Interview with the Artist

How did you interpret using the Strathmore Thistle for the pad cover artwork?  Anything else you'd like to share about your piece? How did the Strathmore paper you used for the project affect your drawing (or painting) techniques?
A Multitude of Kindness  (400 Series Calligraphy Paper)
Growing out of the ground like a real bit of nature, the thistle is an expressive calligraphic form waving to an exuberant environment of letter forms. Kindness is the theme of the texts that inspired me to make this abstract piece of writing. While one would think that the letter K would symbolize kindness, I chose the S or ess for its softer sound and look, lingering at the end of the word. A packed composition of hugging, squeezing and tangling marks continues off the edges into an infinity of endless giving. Never too much kindness!

Normally I work on a large scale and with verve. I challenged myself to see how sensitively I could work on this calligraphy paper's delicate laid finish, even though it is strong enough for heavy-handed pressure with a broad metal nib or a pointed pen. The paper is ideal for ink or diluted gouache. Its toothy texture allowed me to cover large areas with dry brush strokes and pencil shading. For careful pen control or for quick, spontaneous work, this surface is much more inviting than a smoother paper.

Good Old Fashioned Kindness (400 Series Parchment Paper)
The mysteriously illegible thistle is nestled like a gift in the hand of the large S shape and is made only of pencil writing on the warm natural color of the paper. Opaque gouache and walnut ink cover the parchment in varying degrees. The thistle "speaks" with contemporary handwriting, contrasting the historical writing styles used elsewhere in the work.

Because I incorporated all four Strathmore parchment colors, the work had to be a collage. With this sturdy paper, torn edges are easy to achieve and I related to them with dry brush strokes and rough-edged contemporary script letter forms. Parchment paper has a subtle mottling intended to simulate real parchment or animal skin which was used throughout history for manuscript books and official documents. Writing styles have greatly evolved since real parchment was used, so I wanted to blend the look of lettering over the centuries. Old fashioned kindness, as might be felt with a more formal correspondence, is blended with today's warm personal style of casual writing.

Which artists inspire you?
Fortunately the vast visual influences of New York City signage and architecture are nearby. In my travels, museums and major art collections of the world have introduced me to my favorite traditional, impressionist, art nouveau, expressionist and conceptual artists. Renaissance men Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo are two of my heroes. Asian and Western abstract artists have led me to new avenues. Other art forms such as music and photography have also contributed to the evolution of my art.

The international calligraphy community gathers multidisciplinary artists who promote the understanding of historical letter forms and excellence in craftsmanship. It has been my pleasure to study with many masterful lettering artists and to be included among them in their supportive atmosphere of courses and workshops. Unexpected and unique applications of lettering art have emerged from this nurturing. Journals such as Letter Arts Review and myriad books such as Artist and Alphabet: 20th Century Calligraphy and Letter Art in America have been a source of inspiration to experiment and diversify.

What advice would you give to beginning artists?
Calligraphic art uses a vast range of materials and tools, so you may also appreciate many other Strathmore papers because calligraphy is essentially drawing. The practice of seeing and drawing larger letters will improve your written pen and brush calligraphy. Identify lines with character, whether part of a traditional oil painting, a photograph or a completely abstract work. Observing Asian calligraphy, perhaps illegible to a Westerner, offers a study of brush movement that conveys the artist's energy, mood and impulses. Mail order lettering books and journals help to provide efficient self-guided study. Use every opportunity to put media on any surface, invent greeting cards and wrapping paper, draw in the sand, experiment designing grocery lists. Even if you aren't drawing, never stop seeing.

Artist Luana Luconi Winner

Luana Luconi Winner art
art by Luana Luconi Winner

400 Series Grayscale

About Luana Luconi Winner

photo of Luana Luconi Winner

Luana Luconi Winner is a founding member and North Carolina Ambassador of the Portrait Society of America. She was schooled in Rome, Florence, Switzerland, and the USA, and her portraits and murals hang in corporations, universities, and residences on both sides of the ocean.

Luana's portraits and paintings in oil and pastel have won national and international recognitions and awards, including an international silver medal and "Best in Show" at the Richeson International Figure and Portrait Competition. She is currently the President of the Pastel Society of North Carolina and sits on several art boards.

Her articles have appeared in International Artist Magazine, Artist Magazine, The Art of the Portrait, Signature, The Folio, as well as regional publications and periodicals. In the annual edition of Studios Magazine (September 2010) by American Artist Magazine, Luana was part of the cover story "20 Top Artists Open Their Studios." She has authored four workbooks, twenty instructional DVD's on drawing and painting portraits in pastel, watercolor, acrylic, and oil, and has three series of brushes by Silver Brush.

In demand as an instructor, she has served as faculty for the International Association of Pastel Societies Conferences- Albuquerque and Santa Fe, the Portrait Society of America International Conference- Boston, Dallas, and Washington, DC, the American Artist Magazine Art Methods Conference - Pasadena, Pearl Paint Great American Art Event - New York City, Learning and Product Expo - Chicago and Pasadena,  the Portrait Society of Atlanta, Cheap Joe's- Boone, NC,  Jerry's Art of the Carolinas - Raleigh, NC. Go to http://www.winnerstudios.com/.

Interview with the Artist

How did you interpret using the Strathmore Thistle for the pad cover artwork?
Once the image of the young family was chosen for "Story Time," it was easy to see that the bedding and night clothes offered several opportunities to use the Strathmore logo. Therefore, a "rose" on the bedding quickly became the "Thistle."

Anything else you'd like to share about your piece?
It is my hope that the image is either instantly recognizable as a part of your own life today, or that it evokes a fond memory of your childhood...or perhaps a life you wish to have in the future.

How did the Strathmore paper you used for the project affect your drawing (or painting) techniques?
Toned paper is always my first choice for drawing. It permits me to work much like the way I paint both in oil and pastel. Starting with the darks to sculpt the form in the shadows and moving progressively into the lights to accent key details, I allow the middle tone of the paper to do some of the work for me.

Which artists inspire you?
Rather than pick out one or two artists, I would say that I am inspired by artists with European Academy training. As an American of Italian descent, I have great admiration for the long traditions of both the Italian and French Academies. Remember even Sargent, Degas, and so many others we admire all began their artistic lives at the Academy in Florence, Italy where they learned the basics of seeing.

What advice would you give to beginning artists?
Draw all the time. Fill reams of paper with drawings without worrying if they will be masterpieces.  Draw to develop eye-hand-thought coordination.  Draw to practice technique. Draw to record something interesting. Draw to remember something. Draw as you dream something up. All the time you are building your drawing skills, you will be developing your artistic voice as well, and this will come out in your paintings and sculpture later.

Artist Alex Marshall

Alex Marshall art
art by Alex Marshall

400 Series Layout Bond

About Alex Marshall

photo of Alex Marshall

Alex loves to sketch. He's been drawing since he could remember and that naturally lead him into a design career. He earned a B.F.A in Industrial Design from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2009. He's worked in a variety of markets including cell phone accessories, power tools and PND/marine navigation. In his spare time he enjoys designing footwear and soft goods.

To Alex, design is a process.  During this process, he blends aesthetics and user research to create meaningful user-centered solutions. These objects can and should evoke positive emotions and make the users task easier and more enjoyable. Generally this process involves drawing to develop his ideas.

Interview with the Artist

How did you interpret using the Strathmore Thistle for the pad cover artwork? Anything else you'd like to share about your piece?
Although using digital media to draw is common in industrial design, everyone should first learn how to sketch and draw by hand. Strathmore 400 series Layout paper is a great medium to use. I quickly sketch a rough underlay then use different layers of paper to correct the sketch and compose the drawing.

How did the Strathmore paper you used for the project affect your drawing (or painting) techniques?
Strathmore layout paper has a nice tooth for drawing and holds maker very well. It is a great all-round paper to work with. I use it throughout my drawing process as an underlay all the way through to the final marker rendering.

Which artists inspire you?
I always fall back to the design philosophy of Dieter Rams, The Ten Principles of Good Design are always in the back of my mind when I am working on a project.

What advise would you give to beginning artists?
Don't get discouraged if you're not happy with your work when you first start. Just keep practicing and perfecting your craft.

Artist Jennifer Bain

Jennifer Bain art
art by Jennifer Bain

About Jennifer Bain

photo of Jennifer Bain

Jennifer Bain was born into an artistic family in New York City in 1955. Her parents were immigrants from Canada who came to New York to pursue the rich culture and vibrancy of the American art scene in the post World War II era.

After high school she pursued creative yet practical career, she earning an A.A. degree in Fashion Design and working successfully in that field until her mid twenties. After a devastating illness in which she nearly lost her life she returned to art school receiving a B.F.A. from The California College of the Arts in 1981 and a M.F.A. in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1985.

Fine art galleries throughout the U.S. including New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco represent the artist's work. Her works are in private and corporate collections nationally and globally. She is honored to have been included in the U.S. Department of State's Art in Embassies Program in 2005 - 2007 and 2009 - 2011. She is married to an artist and lives in California.

Interview with the Artist

How did you interpret using the Strathmore Thistle for the pad cover artwork?  Anything else you'd like to share about your piece?
I have been incorporating thistle images in my work for a while so using a thistle of choice in this project was a natural.

How did the Strathmore paper you used for the project affect your drawing (or painting) techniques?
I found it to be resilient and took all my techniques well. I used acrylic in wash and opaque application, reductive drawing with wet on dry paint, as well as ink, graphite and charcoal.

Which artists inspire you?
Anyone who has practiced art for many years!

What advice would you give to beginning artists?
Decide how art making fits into your life and make it a consistent practice. I believe it envelops the totality of a person's life and perspective - that's a rather large commitment but if you are an artist it defines you, so commitment is not an option or a problem. Do what you love and listen to yourself.

Artist Woodward Payne

Woodward Payne art
art by Woodward Payne

400 Series Watercolor

Woodward Payne art
art by Woodward Payne

400 Series Watercolor Block

About Woodward Payne

photo of Woodward Payne

Woodward Payne was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1935. He is a painter and photographer by profession. His paintings have been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States, and are included in distinguished private and public collections.

Following completion of undergraduate school at Arizona State University and graduate school at Indiana University he spent four years in Germany, during which period he traveled extensively throughout Europe.  His paintings of this period were primarily landscapes and cityscapes, which were ultimately exhibited in one-man shows in Munich and Berlin.

In 1966, he returned to Arizona where he spent the next fifteen years teaching at Mesa Community College and Arizona State University. His work as an artist began to be influenced and, to a significant degree, shaped by his experiences as an aviator (he learned to fly when he was 13) as well as his love of travel. During the past fifty years he has taken thousands of slides and digital photographs of which many have served as idea sources for his paintings. His subject matter includes aerial landscapes, landscapes, dynamic florals, seascapes and abstracts.

Mr. Payne was highly honored by an award, in April 1986, of First Prize in Smithsonian Institution's  National Air and Space Museum Earth Views  competition in Washington D.C.  The competition was open to artists throughout the United States, and over 2000 paintings were entered.   One of these was selected for the First Prize purchase award, adding Woodward Payne's  aerial painting "Morning Mist" to the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

Since 1985 the artist has lived, with his wife Beverly, in Northern California. His studio is located in their home on Mt.Tamalpais above Mill Valley, just North of San Francisco.


As my work has developed over the years I find increasingly that I identify with and respond to the sensuality of nature and landscape in all its aspects.

These concerns were first evidenced in my aerial landscape paintings which were a direct result of my lifelong interest in flying and viewing the unique elegance of the earth from above. Although this viewpoint is still of considerable artistic concern my recent efforts have gravitated more towards dealing with natural forms of a smaller scale.  I enjoy working in a variety of media and on varying scales although very large watercolors continue to be my dominant direction.

The abstracts were a natural progression resulting from my quest to deal with formal artistic elements without consciously basing them on tangible imagery. I am equally interested in both approaches to painting and feel neither is more valid than the other.

Interview with the Artist

How did you interpret using the Strathmore Thistle for the pad cover artwork?  Anything else you'd like to share about your piece?
This was the first time I had ever used a thistle as a subject for painting which is surprising since I had photographed them on occasion and visually find them quite compelling.  Although many of my floral paintings are somewhat realistic, I chose in this case to use a slightly more abstract approach wanting to emphasize the inherent  design qualities already evident in the thistle.

How did the Strathmore paper you used for the project affect your drawing (or painting) techniques?
The Strathmore 400 Series watercolor paper was an ideal surface upon which to work in this case.   Over the years I have found that it is ideal for supporting the many techniques I employ in my paintings and holds up particularly well under aggressive approaches to applying paint.

Which artists inspire you?
I have been inspired by  a wide variety of artists because I enjoy pursuing a variety of techniques and "styles" in my own work.  Wayne Thiebaud, Richard Diebenkorn,  John Marin,   Pierre Bonnard and Winslow Homer are among the artists that have influenced me the most.

What advice would you give to beginning artists?
My advice to beginning  artists would be to study with a wide variety of instructors. They all have different ideas and philosophies about art and the greatest exposure you can have to these will definitely benefit you as a developing artist.