When Your Pen Leaks Make It a Feature

September 13, 2019
Brush pen, acrylic marker, and color pencil sketch on chipboard (which is medium brown).

Here’s a sketch from 2018 when I was doing some experiments to find my favorite toned paper for mixed media.

I was testing a bunch of different chipboards. They soak up watercolor and gouache but you can use acrylic markers on them. Most I found were too expensive (when you locate them and pay postage) to justify the use though. And too limited as to materials you could use on them.

In this sketch you can see that my hot pink marker leaked (I don’t remember which was the original blotch). So I made blotches all over the background. I think they make a fun addition to the pattern in the hair.

After the Chipboard Testing…

My favorite toned mixed media paper remains the Strathmore 400 Series Mixed Media Toned Paper in Tan and Gray. It’s sold in large pads and in sketchbooks (but be careful as lightweight sketch paper is also sold in their sketchbooks—I’ll have a post about this later. If you can’t wait, and are worried about which weight paper to get, see my comments below to Tina, including links. Look for the 184 lb. version of this paper!)

    • Paul
    • September 13, 2019

    Got to love your use of “happy accidents” and appreciate the toned paper recommendation. I’m just starting to explore toned papers!

    1. Reply

      Paul, be sure to read what I responded to Tina with, so you don’t get the light weight paper.

    • Tina Koyama
    • September 14, 2019

    Strathmore 400 used to be my favorite toned paper (especially tan) until Stillman & Birn came out with their toned Nova papers. They are just a bit heavier than Strathmore and therefore seem to hold up a little better to wet markers like opaque paint markers (which are so much fun to use on toned paper, especially black paper). That hot pink sure is great!

    1. Reply

      Tina you’re not using the right Strathmore 400 Toned if you think it’s lighter weight than Nova.

      Strathmore 400 series comes in a drawing weight and in a Mixed Media weight. The first is drawing weight paper and the Mixed Media Weight is a 184 pound (300 gsm)weight that happily takes ANY WET media and mixed media you want to test.

      I actually have a post coming up about these because the packaging on the journals in particular can be confusing.

      Here’s the paper in Pads

      And it comes in a wonderful BLUE as well a tan and gray.

      It’s hard to wade through this confusion and I didn’t know myself that the thicker paper was available in journals as well as pads until recently. (Hence the upcoming post.)

      Here is a link to Jerry’s where they have the journals with the thicker paper.

      The key is to always look at the description and make sure that the product you are ordering is the 184 lb. paper. So on the journal labels it will say that and also have the page count listed as 48, as indicative of the heavier weight paper.

      If you like to do wet media on toned paper there is NO BETTER PAPER than the Strathmore 400 Series Mixed Media Toned paper in the 184 lb. weight. I hope you can try some.

      If you’re going to compare mixed media papers be sure that you’re comparing the mixed media toned paper from Strathmore that is intended for wet media. It’s thicker than Nova and has a better surface, as well as flecks (which I helped pick out).

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