Stillman and Birn
Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Bea McNally’s in Hackettstown

Artist: France Belleville-Van Stone
Artist Statement: Because I rarely do a “pre-sketch” in pencil, I often end up with second or third attempts on one page. There is something healthy about keeping the failed drawings close at hand, to be reminded of where they went wrong. The construction lines cannot be erased as they were also drawn in pen — but so be it. If i didn’t like the sketchiness of sketches, I would be taking photographs.

MEDIA: Ink and watercolor
SURFACE: Gamma Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Ivory – Medium Grain Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: France Belleville-Van Stone is a high school French teacher and mother who sketches in her free time. She is the author of Sketch! The Non-Artist’s Guide to Inspiration, Technique and Drawing Daily Life and an instructor at Danny Gregory’s Sketchbook Skool. Her favorite medium is pen, and she uses a Gamma Series ivory Stillman & Birn sketchbook for her everyday sketches.

Bea McNally's in Hackettstown, attempts

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Daffodil Days

Artist: Shevaun Doherty, Ireland
Artist Statement: [Ed: The following is reposted from a blog post first published by the artist in April, 2014…/04/daffodil-days.html ]

Golden daffodils are always the first to appear each year, heralding the start of spring and the promise of warmer brighter days. Daffodils would certainly make a statement, but they were also going to be a challenge, not least because they are yellow. Yes, I know that I’ve grumbled about greens before, but yellow is a tricky pigment too. How do you depict subtle hue changes and the delicate nuances of light and shade, when you can’t mix in another colour? Yellow mixed with any other colour is just not yellow.

The answer is layering. You need to paint the underlying shade tone first and very lightly build up the form of the flower in soft greys. I found that my daffodils had two shades of grey- one leaning to green (cerulean+ cobalt violet+ perylene green) and the other leaning to purple (cerulean+ cobalt violet + light red). Once you have established the form of the flower, you can then paint over with washes of yellow.

Once I have drawn out my flower, I paint over the pencil lines with a thin line of the paint and then erase the pencil lines. I used lemon yellow, Winsor & Newton lemon and Winsor yellow as my cooler yellows, whilst cadmium yellow, Winsor yellow deep and Winsor orange provided the warmer tones of the corona.

The result is a page of happy daffodils. I think it’s a bit looser than my normal style but I quite like that. “And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.“ (William Wordsworth).

MEDIA: Watercolor
SURFACE: Zeta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Smooth Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Shevaun Doherty is a botanical artist living in Dublin. She first began to paint in watercolours whilst living in Egypt. Inspired by the beautiful flora and fauna of the Middle East, she studied botanical art with the Society of Botanical Artists, graduating with a distinction and becoming a full SBA member in 2014. Since then she has exhibited in Ireland, Spain, Germany and the UK, and has won numerous prizes for her work. She is now a tutor for London Art College and the SBA. Using art to raise awareness about conservation is something that she feels passionate about, and recently designed the cover image and logo for The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. She writes a weekly blog about botanical art Email:

Daffodils by Shevaun Doherty

Friday, November 20, 2015

Portrait of Daniel Radcliffe

Artist: Laura Sfait, United States
Aritst Statement: I did this portrait of Daniel Radcliffe from a black and white reference photo. I made up the colors using my usual palette for skin tones and Walnut ink for the hair.

My procedure for portraits is based on simplification. Drawing is often not what you draw but what you leave out. I begin with a very accurate ink drawing. If the features are somehow hard to get I start with pencil first, but Radcliffe has a very distinct face that is somehow easy to do. The likeness is pretty much attained by an exaggeration of the eyebrows and getting the eyes right. The jawline is also key in this case.

When I do portraits I try to create a rhythm of contrasts so your eye jumps from dark spot to dark spot back and forth, keeping the interest in the portrait in a circular motion. The warms and cools also play a part in that rhythm. Since in this portrait most of the real estate is warm, the cooling factor is the blue eyes. Eyes are the feature that we feel mostly attracted to in a face, so a very bold blue in that focal point compensates for all the warmth that is around. This cool color finds then a visual connection with another cooling color, the greenish blue of the shirt, between those two I think I accomplished a balance and the portrait feels right. The shading in the face was done using about three layers of watercolor, allowing the first layer to dry completely.

Depending on the light source direction I start my first wash with the main skin tone. Then I add the first pass of dark brown and follow with the lighter and darker skin tones once the first layer is dry. The cooling touches are at the end. The drawing process took me about 25-30 minutes, the coloring about 15 minutes.

MEDIA: Ink and watercolor
SURFACE: Beta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Cold Press Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Laura F. Sfiat is a Boston-based illustrator and graphic designer; founder of Urban Sketchers’ Boston chapter. To see more of her work, her blog can be found here:

Daniel Radcliffe

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Supporting the nation and people of France

French Flag by Roger Pfister, U.K.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Girl with Mobile Phone

Aritst: Russell Stutler, Japan
Aritst Statement: This year I started drawing with a dip pen and bottle of ink which I loved during my high school days in the 1970s. I used a Zebra Maru (mapping pen) [comic pen nib] which is practically a crowquill nib and Pilot drafting ink for this drawing. Lately I’ve been trying to get a sort of block print feeling with pen and ink where white lines play a bigger role. I drew very slowly with extra strong reading glasses (+0.5 power) to see detail, paying more attention to the space between the lines, and also added white lines with Dr. Martin’s Bleed Proof White [ink]. This was done in an Epsilon 5.5 X 8.5 sketchbook, filling most of the page.

MEDIA: Black and white Ink
SURFACE: Epsilon Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – White – Smooth Surface

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Russell Stutler has lived in Tokyo since 1987 where he teaches at a junior and senior high school. Although he used to be a professional graphic artist, art is a hobby now, and far more fulfilling. [Ed. Note: Russell Stutler is also the founder and custodian of the much-respected “The Sketching Forum”: ]



Friday, October 23, 2015

Peonies and Grape Vines

Artist: Charley Parker, United States
Artist Statement: I’m frequently fascinated by contrasts of light and dark in the landscape. These peonies are in my own yard. I noticed they looked great at a certain time of day in the dappled shade of the grape vines growing on the chain link fence along our driveway. I set up my pochade box in the driveway and captured the fleeting effect in two sessions of similar light conditions. I luckily beat the rain that removed most of the petals from the flowers a day later.

I have a 5×7 board that I use to rough out a rectangle on the 7×10 paper, as I prefer not working to the edge. I did a very quick sketch in pencil, using the edge of the board to get my verticals true. I painted in the peonies and surrounding grass first to capture the light, and left finishing the less rapidly changing grape vines and fence for later in the sessions. My gouache palette (Winsor & Newton and Holbein) was Ultramarine Blue, Viridian, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow Pale, Burnt Sienna and Permanent White.

I’ve used gouache in a Beta Series sketchbook before, but when I tried the Zeta Series it became my preference. Like the Beta Series, the Zeta paper is strong enough to stand up to the application of the paint, even in multiple layers. Since gouache sits on the surface of the paper rather than sinking in like watercolor, I find the smooth surface lets the gouache take on its own character more readily than a cold press texture. It also makes a great surface for the crisp detail that gouache so nicely allows. The wire binding lets me fold the sketchbook back for propping on the pochade box, and the hard covers hold up to being repeatedly shoved into a pack on the go.

MEDIA: Pencil and gouache
SURFACE: Zeta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Smooth Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Charley Parker is a painter and designer living in the Philadelphia area. He studied Painting at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. His paintings can be found on his blog at Charley is also the author of the popular arts blog, Lines and Colors.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Artist: Cathe Jacobi, United States
Artist Statement: I typically paint every evening, with a focus on the given season. I like to observe those elements that are ordinary but change with the weather. Some of my favorite things to observe are leaves, flowers, feathers, rocks…ordinary subject matter that continues to change with the temperature. I use Stillman & Birn Beta Series, Daniel Smith watercolors and a Copic Multiliner or a Lamy pen.

MEDIA: Ink and watercolor
SURFACE: Beta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Cold Press Finish


Friday, October 16, 2015

Beautiful Woman

Artist: Jorge Santiago, Jr., United States
Artist Statement: I enjoy drawing people more than anything, and when I saw this woman at the store I wished I had my sketchbook on me. I drew this after coming home, the image still strong in my mind. I remembered the woman’s outfit, the hair, the expression so strongly; it really made an impression on me. I used a variety of pens for the body and a Pentel Color Brush for the hair. I chose my Stillman & Birn Gamma because I love the character the ivory tone brings to my ink drawings.

SURFACE: Gamma Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Ivory – Medium Grain Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Jorge Santiago Jr. is a comic artist and illustrator who recently earned his MFA from SCAD Atlanta. He is based in Atlanta and can be seen in local cafes with his headphones, drawing people and his comics.

MEET THE ARITST: Jorge will be hosting a demo of Stillman & Birn sketchbooks this Saturday at Binders Art Supplies at the Piedmont Cross Shopping Center in Atlanta.
Date: October 17, 2015
Address: Binders Art Supplies
3330 Piedmont Rd NE #18
Atlanta, GA 30305
Hours: 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Beautiful woman


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Piazza del Duomo, Milan

Artist: Mais Qasrawi , Palestine
Artist Statement: I usually try to capture scenes or characters and take them out of their usual context, either using freedom in line strokes or in the application of color. I take quite an unstructured approach to creating my art, which I think makes it look more lively to the eye.

This sketch is of the Piazza del Duomo in Milan from a reference photo. I liked the panoramic view of picture so I decided to make a fast sketch of it. I did the line work with a Lamy Safari pen with a fine nib loaded with black ink and a Pilot G-Tec C4 rollerball pen. I used Pebeo watercolors.

I wanted to smudge the watercolors on purpose so they almost blend together in a unique way and as a final touch I added many splashes and stains to make the sketch more colorful and dynamic.

MEDIA: Ink and watercolor
SURFACE: Zeta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Smooth Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Mais Qasrawi is a Palestinian architect living in Nablus, having gotten her degree last year. Apart from her professional artwork, she is passionate about sketching. With the encouragement of her professors, she began sketching regularly and now never goes out without her sketchbook and pen. She is preparing of a unique urban sketching exhibition that will consist of her drawings of historical sites in of the ancient city of Nablus. Instagram link:

Piazza del Duomo

Monday, October 5, 2015

Abandoned Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Baker, California

Artist: Thomas W Schaller
02 Oct 2015
Thank you Tom for sharing this really atmospheric drawing. The comment left on your page about the similarity to the feel of the Bates Motel was on the mark. :-)

MEDIUM: Pencil
SURFACE: Beta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Cold Press Finish

Royal Hawaiian Motel (482x640)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

New Product Announcement: Softcover Edition

We’re pleased to announce the upcoming launch of our new Softcover Edition sketchbooks and journals.
• Softcover sewn bindings – flexible, rugged and upscale
• Same great mixed media paper as in our hardcover sketchbooks
• Rounded corners: premium feature that also prevents frayed edges
• Three portrait and two landscape sizes in each series

Distribution of our new sketchbooks will be phased in later this month in the U.S. and Canada. Elsewhere, Softcover Edition sketchbooks will be available early in 2016.

This program also includes our new Epsilon Series journals which we will offer with both lined and gridded paper. We believe our Epsilon Series, with its heavy weight, smooth surface and resistance to feathering and bleeding will be an exceptional surface for writers’ journals. These journals will be released in January.

For more information please visit the Softcover Edition page on our website at this link:

Stillman Softcover Announcement

Monday, September 28, 2015

English Coast Sand Dune

Artist: Felicity Flutter, U.K.
Artist Statement: There are times when I trawl through my sketches and photos looking for inspiration for my next painting or drawing. I often have an open mind and no firm idea as to what will happen next.

The images I had of the Dunes and Marram Grass at Camber Sands on the English South East coast near my home in Peasmarsh, first suggested a watercolour but on second thought, I decided the subject matter would be just perfect for a [mixed media] black and white picture. This meant working on Stillman & Birn’s lovely Beta Series paper, my preferred choice for a mixed media work of Graphite Pencil and Watercolour.

I began by masking out an edge to the foreground and some grasses on top of the dunes so that I could paint the sky in Payne’s Grey. I also added some soft watercolour tone to other parts of the picture before proceeding with the drawing using a range of Caran d’Ache Grafwood graphite pencils from HB through to 6B.

I recently discovered Cretacolor Nero Pencils which are perfect for the darkest tones as they do not have a reflective finish as with the softest Graphite. This Beta paper is robust enough for me to use a technique of gently etching some lines to represent grass into the paper surface before stroking pencil marks over the paper to leave very fine ‘white out’ shapes.

MEDIA: Watercolour and graphite pencil
SURFACE: Beta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Cold Press Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Felicity Flutter is a graphic designer who spent many years in the advertising industry in London. After moving to Kent on the south coast of the UK, Felicity transitioned to becoming a full time watercolour painter. Since becoming a member of the SGFA [Society of Graphic Fine Art], the only dedicated drawing society in the U.K., drawing has become even more central to her art. Felicity’s website is full of images –


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Her Whimsical Self

Artist: Iris Fritschi Cussens, United Kingdom
Artist Statement: I always draw & paint faces. Faces tell a story; to me there is no part of the body that is as interesting as the face. There is so much to express, so much to learn and often the faces surprise me, as if they had a life of their own that simply had to come out on paper.

I like to use a bright and fantastical colour scheme, picking the colours that speak to me in the moment. I use a set of 24 Sennelier watercolours in a colour palette that I put together myself. There are lots of pinks, blues and turquoises.

For this painting I started with clear water in an oval shape and just dripped & swirled a few different colours to fill the shape. Once that was dry I started adding in the features and shading with more colour. I alternately apply the paint on a dry or on a wet background to get interesting effects and give the face a whimsical quality.

MEDIUM: Watercolour & paint pen
SURFACE: Zeta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Smooth Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Iris Fritsch-Cussens is a mixed media artist and creative enabler from London. She helps people clear their creative blocks so they can make art & live a happier life. She is in love with painting whimsical faces and her work often features heavily textured backgrounds, bright/fluorescent colours and uplifting or inspiring phrases. New work is posted on Instagram: and you can find more information & get inspired on her website:


Friday, September 25, 2015

A New Product Line from Stillman & Birn

We’ll tell you all about it in our new product release on October 1.

New Product Announcement_10-01-15

Monday, September 21, 2015

Art Therapy: Drawing Furiosa

Artist: Christina Yoder, United States
Artist Statement: So this evening, we had the very difficult situation of having to treat our cat Ruby who had contracted bobcat fever. The survival rate, at best is 60%. And to destress I decided to draw one of my favorite strong female film characters of all time, “Furiosa” from Mad Max: Fury Road. I did this in about 4 hours on Alpha 11×14 using graphite pencil and kneaded eraser. I call this my “Art Therapy”; sketching helps calm me in extreme stress situations.

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Christina is an artist and graphic designer who has worked in the illustration and design industries for over 20 years. Her works have been printed and displayed throughout the U.S. and Canada. She got her start while working for an independent contractor employed by the U.S. Army, creating graphics, sketches and illustrations. Website:

MEDIUM: Graphite pencil
SURFACE: Alpha Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – White – Medium Grain

Ed. Note: We sadly learned that Ruby passed away earlier today. Our sympathies go out to Christina and her husband Steven. Cytauxzoon felis, also known as bobcat fever, is a tick-borne blood parasite that infects domestic cats. It is called bobcat fever because bobcats are considered the main parasitic host for the disease.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Back Alley at Jalan Bahagia

Artist: Vincent Pang – CitiSketcha, Singapore
Artist Statement: I grew up in this housing estate that was built in the 60’s under the local government’s housing administration, HDB. Being built then meant that there was a mix of 10-storey apartment buildings as well as 2-storey terrace houses which still stands today. The view of this back alley in the afternoon was done on location during a sudden bout of nostalgia. The afternoon scene hasn’t changed much over the decades: neighbours still catch up over the partition fences, while the birds twitter in the heat of the overhead sun, filtered through the shrubs and trees in the backyards of the homes of weekend gardeners.

I did a quick outline of the drawing with a Derwent aquarelle pencil and made the original painting with Daniel Smith watercolour on a Stillman & Birn Delta Series square sketchbook (7 x 7). I was inspired by Japanese anime artist Makoto Shinkai to create the misty sun-kissed effect. Post-drawing, I enhanced the drawing digitally, using the lens blur and glamour glow filters on the Google app, Snapseed.

MEDIA: Watercolor and digital effects
SURFACE: Delta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – Ivory – Cold Press Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Vincent Pang, the Citi-Sketcha, is an educator, a weekend freelance artist and member of Urban Sketchers. He paints and sketches whenever he finds the time, especially on weekends with pencil, ink and watercolour. Vincent’s work can be found at and on his blog:

Jalan Bahagia back alley

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Head Badges

Artist: Jessica Canales, United States
Artist Statement: Head badges are hood ornaments and logos for bikes, attached to the bike’s “head tube”. This collection of vintage head badges was displayed at a new bike shop in Portland, Oregon, called Rivelo. They caught my eye, being old and detailed, and I love drawing up collections of small things. I’m no hoarder so I don’t want a house full of nonfunctional pretty things, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate them for being beautiful and funky. Drawing in sketchbooks allows me to keep collections without needing to line my walls with stuff that always needs dusting.

This drawing was made on the first page of a new Zeta sketchbook with Platinum Carbon ink in an EF Lamy Safari pen and a Micron 01. I colored the badges in with a variety of watercolors from Winsor & Newton, M. Graham, and Daniel Smith. I love the smooth surface of this book because the ink goes down easy and the colors dry vibrant and rich. I try out new sketchbooks all the time, wondering if there is something out there I’m missing, but I keep coming back to the Zetas because they are just right.

MEDIA: Ink and watercolor
SURFACE: Zeta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Smooth Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Jessica Canales is an artist who recently relocated to Portland, Oregon. Her sketches can be seen on Instagram @jessica.canales or her website

Head Badges

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Flowers from São Paulo

Artist: Sabrina Eras, Brazil
Artist Statement: I like to use my sketchbooks with watercolor but it´s sometimes hard to find one with a paper that makes me happy. But when I saw this Beta Series that a lot of artists are using, I decided to try it and felt in love.

I am especially passionate about painting flowers, and I draw and paint them everywhere. Because of that, it was natural for me to paint this bouquet using my favorite medium, watercolor. For this page, I wanted to try something without lines, letting the colors blend naturally, giving shape to the flowers. I can´t wait to go outside with my new sketchbook for some plein air.

MEDIUM: Watercolor
SURFACE: Beta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – Cold Press Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Sabrina Eras is an illustrator and watercolor artist living in São Paulo. She also illustrates children´s books and magazines and teaches watercolor classes. Here is a video of Sabrina at work in her studio: You can find more of Sabrina’s artwork on the following sites and on her Patreon page, where she shares her watercolor techniques:;;


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Kilauea Lighthouse

Artist: Joseph Stoddard, United States
Artist Statement: This is a view of the Kilauea Lighthouse on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. I wanted to capture the brilliant colors of the ocean, the sun hitting the white structure and the waves crashing below while seagulls circle. I used a Sanford Uniball Micro pen to do the basic sketch, which was done rather quickly as we were in a bit of a hurry. I painted it later using Holbein transparent watercolor, adding a few accents of opaque white for the waves.

I love this Beta Series sketchbook for many reasons: the paper has the perfect texture for pen, pencil, and watercolor. I can apply dark washes of paint and they remain intense on the page. I usually work on both sides of the paper and the thickness can easily accommodate back-to-back paintings, and the 7” x 10” size easily fits in my backpack. The covers are thick and strong and allow me to clip back the pages with binder clips to help with paper curl. I filled an entire sketchbook during my six-day trip to Hawaii.

MEDIA: Ink and watercolor
SURFACE: Beta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Cold Press Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: By day, Joseph Stoddard is a environmental graphics designer who lives in Pasadena, California. He paints in the evenings and on weekends. He teaches and gives demonstrations around Southern California and is the author of three books about watercolor sketching. His work can be found at

kilauea lighthouse


Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Mad Hatter

Artist: Molly Dixon, United States
Artist Statement: I love drawing and have been drawing since I can remember. Growing up, I adored Disney and drew Disney characters all of the time. In fact, most of my sketchbooks from when I was a kid consist of Disney drawings. But when I went off to college and studied illustration, Disney characters seemed to fall to the wayside. However, now being a mom, Disney is back in full swing in my house and really something that will always hold a special place in my heart. When I draw something from Disney it takes me back to being a kid.

When I was drawing this particular Mad Hatter I was sitting in my local Barnes & Noble, drinking a coffee for some alone time. My kids and I love Alice in Wonderland. It just popped into my head to draw the Mad Hatter. I actually watched a snippet of the movie on YouTube and lightly drew him in pencil right there from memory. Afterwards I added watercolors, starting with his hat and then moving onto all of the other various greens. After I was finished with my watercolors I added my detail with my Micron pen. I love the 005 tip because of its fine point. You can add the best detail with a fine tip.

MEDIA: Pencil, watercolor, ink
SURFACE: Beta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Cold Press Finish

Mad Hatter