Strathmore Watercolor Papers Review

Hey Readers! For my first post I’d like to bring you a review of Strathmore papers. Before I jump into this review, I’d like to say that Strathmore was the very first paper company I ever knew about, and I really liked their papers when I first began. And I still do. Though I’ve really only tried the 300 series and 400 series so far before receiving this. (these are NOT affiliate links) I will only be reviewing the 200 Series Skills – Windpower Series papers in this post. The 500 Series papers will be tackled in another upcoming post.

About Strathmore

The history of Strathmore Paper Company began on St. Patrick’s Day in 1892 when its founder, Horace Moses, opened the Mittineague paper mill in West Springfield, MA. Soon after opening the first mill, Mr. Moses visited the Valley of Strathmore in Scotland. The thistle was in full bloom and the beauty of the site impressed Horace Moses so much that he started using the name and the thistle as a symbol of high quality art and printing papers.

The Strathmore brand name began to appear on our fine art papers in 1899, first with Charcoal and soon after with Bristol. The Strathmore brand quickly became known as one of the highest quality art papers used by many leading artists around the world. Strathmore has kept this reputation as a supplier of fine art paper for over a century. Today, we continue to provide artists of all levels with the ideal surface for producing beautiful works of art.

Throughout the years, leading artists such as Norman Rockwell, Andrew Wyeth and today’s Heather Rooney have appeared in testimonial ads for Strathmore. They have associated their name with the Strathmore brand because it has provided them with the ideal surface for creating lasting works of art. – Strathmore’s Legacy

A couple of weeks ago I contacted Strathmore and asked them if they could send me some samples of their papers, and they most kindly sent me a beautiful sample pack (:OO look at all that paper). They also sent me their new Mixed Media Toned Tan 400 Series paper, which I will not be covering in this post (let me know if you want to see me review it!). The blue tab on the right shows what paper is included in here.IMG_2111

All of the papers here are 140 lb. and Cold Press (or Not-Hot Press).


200 Series Skills: According to my knowledge, this paper is meant for students to practice on. It is very inexpensive, so I would buy it… for swatches, not for painting. As you can see, above I did a mini Chinese lantern painting (this could have turned out better, since the paper was fighting me), a bucket painting (which I totally botched up because I put the shadow the wrong way. Don’t mind that. :P), and a cloudy sky painting. The sky painting came out bad because the paper absorbed the paint too quickly, leaving hard edges, and the granulation you see there is actually the paper pilling. The paper will definitely not tolerate scrubbing or lifting. The thickness of the paper was good. There was pretty minimal buckling; it wasn’t super noticeable and would not interfere with painting (you wouldn’t be able to even get an even overall wash of water or color on the paper, though, because again, it absorbs too quickly).

300 Series: This paper has an almost tractor-like texture. I would not call it a cold press- it feels like a very rough to me. Because the paper is so textured, it’s hard to get a smooth line on it, therefore making it not very suitable to botanic painting. But I enjoyed it. I didn’t experience any pilling (lifting and scrubbing WILL pill the paper to a degree), and again, like the 200 Series Skills, minimal buckling. This is the paper I personally use the most often due to my budget (come on. Arches is expensive, while this paper is SUPER inexpensive). I did a painting of a pomelo (a grapefruit, essentially) on it, but you can only see the bottom of the painting in the picture.

400 Series: This paper I find very similar to the 300 Series but much less textured. It’s a nice sturdy paper that’s not expensive, and I experienced pretty much little to no pilling. I like it better than the 300 Series because of the more cold press-like texture; in fact, this paper is my personal favorite out of all of these (not including the 500 series papers that I will talk about in another review). Great paper for students to do their paintings on. You can lift colors as long as you work fairly quickly, and it takes a light scrubbing. I understand that most of Strathmore’s watercolor journals and Visual journal is made of this paper.

Windpower Series: Many people have recommended this paper to me, and it does deserve its claims. It’s a very dependable paper; lifting and scrubbing work pretty well on this. I recommend this for students to practice paintings on. Again, I do prefer the 400 Series over this one, but this one is great for the price.

As mentioned before, the 500 Series (Imperial, Aquarius II, and Gemini) will be reviewed soon in another blog post. All in all, I think the Strathmore 300 Series, 400 Series, and Windpower Series are all solid papers and I highly recommend them for beginners; the 200 Series I would recommend for swatching as it’s very inexpensive. It’s totally alright to have fun on cheaper paper!

Thanks so much for dropping by, and I hope to see you next week on Thursday! Check the Upcoming Posts page to see what I’ll be reviewing next!- Lilian

Have you ever used these papers? How did you like them? Do you have any tips or suggestions for new artists starting out with these Strathmore papers?




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