Stillman and Birn
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

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

St. Edmund Parish School

Artist: Ted Gordon, United States
Artist Statement: I sketched St. Edmund Parish School [Oak Park, IL] in watercolor. The ornate, French-styled features captured my attention and I wanted to paint the feeling of them knotted along the roofline. I chose two neighboring views that framed those details in dimensional lighting.

I worked on facing pages in my Stillman & Birn sketchbook, so I could paint the views on two pages at once. I indicated a few main landmarks in pencil, then progressed with my Winsor & Newton watercolors quickly and loosely, light-to-dark, limiting my palette to three colors. I used an angled brush, so I could get edges where I wanted them. I painted a layer on the left, then a layer on the right, alternating until I had a density I liked.

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

Ted Gordon is a professional artist and animator; he enjoys urban sketching, plein air painting, and taking on commissions featuring the beautiful architecture in and around Chicago. His websites are and

St Edmunds

Sunday, August 23, 2015

At Salty’s Supply Co. – Trinidad, CA

Artist: Brenda Swenson, United States
Artist Statement: It’s been a busy summer with a family reunion at the Lake of the Ozarks, road trip to Northern California, taught three workshops, day trip to San Diego… Throughout the weeks and months my Stillman & Birn sketchbook was by my side. I have many books filled with wonderful memories.

MEDIA: Ink and watercolor
SURFACE: Delta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – Ivory – Cold Press Finish

Brenda Swenson is the artist author of two books, Keeping a Watercolor Sketchbook and Steps to Success in Watercolor. She has served on the board of directors for the National Watercolor Society and Watercolor West and teaches her painting and sketching techniques internationally. Website: Blog:


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My Stillman & Birn Collection

Artist: ‘BurgerSketch’, Australia
Artist Statement: For one spread, I usually start with one corner and finished the rest of the page. I normally use ink, watercolour and markers. I started sketching in April 2014.

Since I was a newbie, I tried to practice everyday and that’s how my sketch journal began. My favourite sketchbooks are the Alpha Series and Beta Series by Stillman & Birn.

I like to carry my sketchbook everywhere I go. When I sketch with Urban Sketchers Group, I usually sketch with ink first then watercolour. You can find more of my work on Facebook: or on Instagram:

MEDIUM: Ink and ink marker (PITT® artist pen)
SURFACE: Alpha Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – White – Medium Grain Finish

Burger Sketch

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Red-tailed Hawk

Artist: Mark Fraley, United States
Artist Statement: I love to play with a variety of tools and techniques. For this first page of a new hardbound 8.5 x 11 Alpha Series sketchbook, I sketched out the image of red tailed hawk, a fascinating bird my son and I love to watch here in Colorado. I used collage for the sky with the help of oceans from an old atlas. I then used some acrylic paint to develop the colors of the bird. I went back to collage to add print and help “locate” the bird as one from Colorado, using travel brochures and magazines. The medium I use to tie it together is matte acrylic gel, it finds it’s way in most everything I do now.

The fun in creating a spread like this to see how unrelated items can juxtapose to create a whole and unique image. I typically don’t pay too much attention to the words found in print, other than how they provide a sense of direction and guide the eye. There’s a playfulness to collage that I don’t find in other mediums and I hope it translates to other people wanting to experiment and wonder what they can create.

You can find more of my work at, on Facebook at Mark Fraley Art, and via email at I love to hear from other artists and find new places of inspiration.

MEDIA: Ink, collage, acrylic pigment, acrylic gel medium
SURFACE: Alpha Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – White – Medium Grain Finish



Monday, August 3, 2015

Out of the Blue

Artist: Jean Mackay, United States
Artist Statement: Of the 123 million pounds of lobster caught on the Maine coast each year, only one in two million comes up blue. I was among the lucky few to see this genetic mutation, hauled up by lobstermen in Muscongus Bay, and then tossed back into the deep. The blue really was that brilliant and, when I saw it, I thought about what colors in my paint box might capture it. I used layers of Phthalo Blue and Ultramarine, with Burnt Sienna for mixing the darks. Normally, American lobsters are maroon and greenish-brown, but regardless of the color of lobster caught, all turn red when cooked.

Media: Watercolor and ink
Surface: Zeta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Smooth Finish


Jean Mackay is Director of Communications and Outreach at the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. This is the link to her website:


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Flowering Cranny

Artist: Tim Smith, United States
Artist statement: Like all sketchbook junkies, I get charmed by those little corners of the world that no-one seems to be looking at. The dappled thing, the tool handle worn down by calloused hands, the first dandelion. I’m nagged by the suspicion that right in front of my nose is magic and I’m missing it. After all, every doodler knows that drawing is just seeing what is really there. We sit, we stare, sketchbook on lap, and the longer we stare the more we see, and this experience of having the quantum lights switched on is instantly addictive. Repeat a few times, and we realize that we can choose any field of vision at random from the world around us, draw it carefully and gently, and in little while God will peep back from our own page. Sketching is like collecting ghost pictures, one after the other. You take the shot, then realize there was something alive in the frame, even sidling next to you. Spooky, and may I have another?

I like to carry my sketchbook everywhere I go. I usually just draw with a pen then wash with watercolor.

I, too, have a boatload of pens and sketchbooks. My go-to books have been Stillman & Birn since I bit the bullet and paid the little extra to see what all the sketch bloggers were raving about. I have an Alpha, a Zeta, and an Epsilon. I love how they take a bucket of water and hardly flinch. Nothing else is close.

MEDIA: Ink and watercolor
SURFACE: Alpha Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – White – Medium Grain Finish

flowering cranny

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Fishing Expedition

Artist: Anna Bucciarelli, Canada
Artist Statement: I am a freelance illustrator based in Toronto, Canada. My style is influenced by my training in classic Ukrainian “Petrykivka” painting, an Eastern European art focusing on floral and plant motifs. I like to bring together various forms of traditional media, such as ink and watercolor, and introduce digital elements that take my work to the next level.

My favorite sketchbooks are the Zeta Series by Stillman & Birn, because they provide the best surface for mixing watercolor and ink pens. I’ve taken my latest Zeta art journal all over the world. This piece is inspired by the beautiful wildlife of the Caribbean Sea. To see other examples of my professional work from the African rainforests as well as my sketchbook diary, please visit my website and my Instagram gallery @anna.m.bucciarelli.

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

Ed: Petrykivka painting is a traditional form of Ukrainian decorative painting, which originates the village of Petrykivka. This art form was traditionally used to decorate house walls and everyday household items; the earliest known examples of it date back to the 17th century. It is a richly symbolic style of ornamental painting, characterized by fantastic flowers and other natural elements. Petrykivka is widely practiced throughout the region, and the tradition is taught at all levels in the local schools.
Source: UNESCO Information Services Section


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Painting with Crayons

Artist: Ellen Ward, United States
Artist Statement: This summer I have been experimenting, trying to find a way to get painterly effects with drawing tools. Ideally I could be painting with oils or using traditional pastels, but I want to avoid toxicity, dust, and fumes. After some initial frustration, a method that allows for both drawing and painting evolved using ZETA mixed media paper, M. Graham Gouache, Daniel Smith watercolor ground and Caran D’Ache NEOCOLOR II crayons. I prefer Zeta for this work because I like a smooth surface with little drag that can handle multiple washes and trials reworking with crayon.

1. I lay a ground of Daniel Smith watercolor ground, tinted with a mid-tone neutral using M. Graham gouache. This mimics the way I would begin work in oils or the way traditional pastel is layered on colored paper. Why not just use a watercolor wash? Because it would likely muddy later paint layers. This ground allows me to move the pigment when wet and create a relative value scale quickly when sketching.
2. Establish a limited color palette: 8 colors or less.
3. Render a rough gestural study using NEOCOLOR II crayons dry.
4. Liquify distant areas of crayon, blotting and smearing as necessary to create movement.
5. Work with wet crayons to create highlights & low lights.
6. For the final layer, use a sharpened crayon to establish accents or pops of saturated color.The
brightest blues in the water represent these kind of color accents.

Ellen Ward is a nationally recognized graphic/product designer and illustrator. Ellen teaches in the design/visual communications departments of Winthrop University and Central Piedmont Community College. This is the link to Ellen’s blog:

MEDIA: Watercolor ground, gouache, water-soluble crayons
SURFACE: Zeta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Smooth Finish

© 2015 Ellen Ward – All rights reserved. Do not reproduce or pin on Pinterest