Artist Marta Oliehoek

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

Go back