Strathmore generously sent me one of their grey toned sketchbooks for review purposes. I also purchased some of their toned tiles to supplement this review. The sketchbook they sent was the 400 series grey toned hardbound sketchbook, the softcover is also available on Amazon. Strathmore offers hardbound, softcover, wire bound, pads and even cards & tiles all in several convenient sizes and in both grey and tan paper.
Since this sketchbook only calls for dry media, I used my Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer watercolor pencils, Uni-ball Signo white gel pen and Staedtler Pigment Liners to create the art in this review. The paper is 118gsm and great for pencil crayons, fountain pens, graphite and even markers. If however, you would like to use traditional watercolors with this kind of toned journal, all you have to do is upgrade to their mixed media paper. It comes in both grey & tan, pads and journals. The mixed media toned paper journal is a new offering from Strathmore and was not yet available when I first requested a review copy of Strathmore’s toned sketchbooks.
I quite enjoyed using Strathmore’s toned paper. It felt smooth and had a lovely variegation to the visual texture of the paper. The watercolor pencils moved smoothly over the surface with little to no drag. I did, however find that it took more layers to fill in the depressions where the paper surface microscopically undulated. As you can see in the piece above, there is “pixalizaton” in the scan which is caused by the slight texture of the paper. This isn’t noticeable in the hand of the paper, when touched it feels smooth. Only when I started laying down color did I notice this slight surface variation. I think in the shadows it adds a lovely unique quality but in larger areas like the blue part of the lighter I found this slightly urking. The metal part, because it’s smaller in area, doesn’t show the variation as noticeably. This certainly wasn’t a heavy negative but if you wanted a smoother application one could move to the mixed media paper so water could be added and true smoothness could be achieved.
I actually found that with the toned tiles this small amount of texture added to the overall beauty of the art. Notice with the bird that the shadow is granular and the feathers look like they’re undulating and ruffled. In this piece the micro texture of the paper helps in producing a cool piece of art. When I made the bottle drawing on the right I actually used a small amount of water and a 0 sized brush to move the watercolor pencil pigment around. This didn’t buckle the paper at all but any more water would probably have worked negatively on this somewhat lighter weight paper. The toned tiles actually feel quite luxurious to the hand, not thin at all, but still not made for water applications.
When I made the stapler I used much more pressure in the final layers and got better coverage. This did indeed take many, many layers to achieve though. I do appreciate that Strathmore offers so many choices of toned paper, not only two colors but so many choices of bindings and ways to make art on their superior paper. Strathmore even offers toned paper in rolls of 42″ x 10″. The Toned tiles would be fun for Zentanglers to have a go at non-white paper, it stretches the imagination to come up with new ways to make art. That’s why I enjoyed the experience of creating these hyper-realistic pieces. Hyper-realistic isn’t the only kind of art that can be done though, just with the use of one white pencil crayon, a black pen and a white gel pen an artist can make truly beautiful, expressive yet minimal artwork. John Muir Laws has a terrific article on where to start with toned paper.
Until the end of this year, Strathmore is offering a free course called “Ethereal Mixed Media On Toned Paper” by Georgina Kreutzer. If you take the course, I’ll probably see you in class!
Practicing: Brush Lettering using Tombow Brush Pens. Gotta get this Christmas Cards finished ASAP!
Anticipating: Picking a WINNER for my first GIVEAWAY. You have until this Saturday to enter! Remember to subscribe so you’re eligible.
Planning: Review on Hahnemühle Postcards & how to DIY the tin it comes with to make a watercolor palette!