Journal Group Experiments with New Mixed Media Sheets

The Minnesota Center for Book Arts – Visual Journal Collective experiments with Strathmore’s new 500 Series Mixed Media paper. Following is an except from our Autumn Artist eNewsletter.

By artist Roz Stendahl

When Strathmore® first released their wire bound Visual Journals with 500 Series Mixed Media paper, I knew I’d met a paper I loved. I could hardly wait until the Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media paper became available in 22" x 30" sheets. It meant I could bind my own books with this versatile paper. But it also meant that the Minnesota Center for Book Arts Visual Journal Collective could have a group project–making a journal with this paper. Thanks to a generous gift of paper from Strathmore, that’s exactly what thirty intrepid journal keepers did in May 2012.  Click here to see more about the collective.

The following group members agreed to share their thoughts about this paper and their approaches to journaling:

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Above: Terri Myers Wentzka worked in pen and watercolor on 500 Series Mixed Media paper when sketching her toy polar bear.

Reviewer: Terri Myers Wentzka
Terri Myers Wentzka’s experience of the paper’s great qualities began at the binding stage. “While binding it into a small journal I immediately appreciated the paper’s clothlike feel, its heft, and the way that it was very easy to tear down into smaller pieces.” She worked “with gouache, watercolor, watercolor crayons and pencils, ink and collage in this journal. The paper handled all media without buckling and without any show-through of images from one side of the sheet to the other. I was able to do some lifting of watercolor without difficulty, and found that I could control the paint quite well.”


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Above: Tina Wittmer gave the paper a full mixed media workout in this journal page using acrylics and ink pens.

Reviewer: Tina Wittmer
“I love this paper!” wrote Tina Wittmer. She mostly used acrylic paints on the pages of her journal and found that the paper held up beautifully to her techniques. “I tend to use a lot of layers of paint. I smear it around with an old credit card, my fingers, or paintbrushes. In this journal I added gesso to cover some parts of the pages and then added more paint on top with stencils or stamps. I have rubbed quite hard on some of my pages to remove paint layers and the paper has held up well."


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Above: One of the multi-layered and textured pages created by Serena Mira Asta.

Reviewer: Serena Mira Asta
For Serena Mira Asta, Strathmore® 500 Series Mixed Media paper has become one of her favorites. Her next journal will be a Strathmore Hardbound Art Journal with 500 Series Mixed Media paper. She learned that:
• The paper reacted to watercolor as nicely as some of her favorite hot-press watercolor papers.
• The Micron pen had a fast feel on this surface and was a joy to use. The paper seemed to be made for it.
• Pencil worked great, giving her a smooth, responsive line.
• Pastels blended well with that creamy sense she likes.
Asta writes, “the paper laid flat, no matter how much water media I used. Granted, I didn’t douse the page with liquid, but there were times the work was wetter than I intended. This paper took everything I threw at it.”


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Above: To test the paper, Jo Ann Musumeci divided one scene, Cedar Lake, into four quadrants on a page. She drew each quadrant in a different medium. Clockwise from left to right, colored ball point pen, Sharpies, colored pencil, and Cray-Pas on the lower left. She felt her experiment showed how the paper did a good job of manifesting the qualities of each medium–sharp lines for the pens, soft for colored pencils, and bright/broad for the Cray-Pas.

Reviewer: Jo Ann Musumeci
Jo Ann Musumeci approached her experiments with an eye for comparison. “I began testing the Strathmore® 500 Series paper with simple pen or pencil drawings and gradually moved through various media from gel pens, colored ball point pens, colored pencils, markers and Sharpies®, watercolor, Cray-Pas® and pen and ink.


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Above: Roz Stendahl used gouache, inks, paper collage, and 3-dimensional collage (a medallion of Claybord™) and thread for one of her tests of 500 Series Mixed Media sheets.

Closing thoughts: Roz Stendahl
I think you can see how versatile this paper is from these visual journal keepers’ experiments. I have been in love with this paper since it first came out. You can see several blog posts concerning my own work with this paper here: RozWoundUp.Typepad.com. Use the blog’s search engine to search for references to this paper. I have found it perfect for painting with watercolor, gouache, acrylics, and inks. It’s my new go-to paper. I love that I can purchase it in sheets and make custom books out of it. But if you’re not a book binder, don’t despair. This paper is available in the 500 Series Mixed Media Visual Journal (wire bound) and it has just been released in their new Hardbound Art Journals as well. If you’re a visual journal artist you now have three ways to enjoy this paper.

About Roz Stendahl: is a graphic designer, artist, and life-time journal keeper. She teaches bookbinding and journaling at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts.

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