Friday, October 4, 2019

Mini Review: Strathmore Toned Mixed Media Paper

9/30/19 water-soluble graphite and watercolor pencil on Strathmore toned mixed media paper (10 min. poses)

Last Saturday at Daniel Smith’s annual Vendor Day, where reps from many of the store’s product manufacturers give demos, I chatted with a woman representing Strathmore. I mentioned that one of my favorite sketchbooks for life drawing is the wirebound Strathmore 400 Series toned recycled sketch journal (the one I just filled last week). With a hundred pages for less than $7 (the 9-by-12-inch size), it’s a good value for life-drawing practice (less than a third of the cost of a Stillman & Birn Nova, for example, in the same size and format). I started to say that I only wished the sizing on the paper were a little more tolerant of wet media, as I sometimes like to use water-soluble pencils at life drawing, and voila! She pulled out a pad of Strathmore 400 Series toned mixed media paper and handed me a sheet. She said its weight is similar to 140-pound watercolor paper. I don’t think it’s new, but it was off my radar, so I was happy to give it a try. Available in classic tan and gray, it also comes in steel blue.

I took the sheet to my life-drawing session this week and tried it with an ArtGraf water-soluble graphite pencil (left) and a Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle pencil (right). With my usual light application of water from a waterbrush, the paper showed no signs of buckling (when I’ve done this in the Strathmore sketch journal, the paper warped permanently). I probably could have used a much heavier wash, and it would’ve been fine. The color and surface texture are identical to the sketch journal paper I’m used to. I’ll use the reverse side at another session with more water and see how it does. Or maybe Ill take it out on location.

Of course, the mixed media paper is quite a bit more expensive than a Strathmore sketch journal, so it’s not the kind I would use regularly at life-drawing practice, but it’s nice to know it’s an option. For example, a couple of years ago, I used watercolor pencils in a S&B Nova sketchbook, and as expected, it buckled when I spritzed it with water (though not too badly). Now that I know I can use water more liberally on this Strathmore mixed media, I might be more inclined to use it on location as well as at life drawing.

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