Stillman and Birn
Sunday, June 23, 2019


ARTIST: Santi Sallés, Spain
ARTIST STATEMENT: Drawing made with graphite pencil with oil base and painted with watercolors and topped with colored pencils.

MEDIA: Pencil, watercolors, colored pencils
SURFACE: Beta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Cold Press Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST:Santi Sallés is an urban artist, illustrator and graphic designer. He lives in Barcelona and works for advertising agencies, companies, magazines and newspapers. He has published several drawing books and has participated in different international travel notebook festivals. He usually teaches urban drawing workshops and conferences.

Instagram: @santisalles
Facebook: Santi Sallés



Saturday, June 22, 2019

Giveaway Winners Announced

We’re pleased to announce that the following are the winners of our Square Sketchbook Giveaway contest:

Patricia Barbero
Annelein Beukenkamp
Bonnie Fogg
Ana Gonzalez
Shirley Lewis
Alejandro Morales
Anjali Mittal
Raffaela Mori
Andre Slu
Alida Wings

Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all for participating. Please look for our next giveaway coming soon.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Square Sketchbook Giveaway

We’re giving away ten of our new 7½” x 7½” softcover sketchbooks. Winners can choose one sketchbook from the following series in which this new size is offered:
• Alpha Series
• Beta Series
• Zeta Series
• Nova Trio (toned paper – mixed sheets)

Simply email us with your name to: We will automatically enter you. You will receive an email reply confirming your entry within 48 hours. Entry to this contest closes Thursday June 20, 2019 at 11:59 PM EST.

Winners will be picked at random on Friday, Jun 21, 2019. Winners will be notified by email and their names will be announced on our blog and social media sites that day. We will naturally respect any winner’s instructions to remain unnamed.

You must be over the age of 18 in order to enter; only one entry per person. No purchase required. No geographical restrictions….you can enter this contest from anywhere!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Seen at Life Drawing Symposium

Thank you to co-founders Melanie Reim and Veronica Lawlor for featuring our new Alpha Series square sketchbook at their Life Drawing Symposium. The Symposium took place this past weekend in White Plains, NY. The annual two-day workshop is an immersive experience oriented to training artists in the techniques of drawing people. For more details and contact information please see the Symposium’s website

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Hot Sauce

ARTIST: Shari Blaukopf, Canada
ARTIST STATEMENT: Every once in a while, I love to take my tubes of gouache out to play. I find that the process of applying opaque pigments onto toned paper is a great exercise in thinking about colour mixing.

The real challenge in this one was figuring out what to do with the transparent bottles against the dark background. In reality, when I looked at them, the only thing I could really see was the highlights on the glass and the little bits of dried hot sauce on the inside of the bottles. The bottles themselves sort of dissolved in to the background. I tried to solve the problem by painting the transparent part of each bottle slightly lighter than the background grey, and then adding a few darks and lights to each one. The most fun part was painting the brightly-coloured labels on these.
I work very much the same way for this that I do with watercolour, except for the highlights (which in watercolour are the white of the paper): big shapes and mid-tone values first, followed by colour accents, then darks and finally the highlights.

MEDIA: Gouache
SURFACE: Nova Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Beige – Medium Grain

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Shari Blaukopf is a Montreal-based painter, teacher, illustrator and sketch blogger. She is the author of The Urban Sketching Handbook: Working with Color, and you can find her online courses Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink and Watercolor and Sketching the City in Pen, Ink and Watercolor on
She spends her winters painting snow scenes and her summers outdoors, giving workshops and sharing her love of urban sketching in watercolour.

Instagram @sharisketcher

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Vintage Fender Telecaster

ARTIST: John Fishman, United States
ARTIST STATEMENT: I have admired the design of guitars since I began playing them as a teenager, and built a few of my own in high school and college. They are truly practical art, meant to be admired and used. In my mind, Fender Telecasters, such as this 1962 “Fiesta Red” example, epitomize mid-century American design: mass-produced, futuristic, exciting and fun! Telecasters have provided the inspiration for countless innovative musicians whom I admire across so many genres, including country, blues, rock ‘n’ roll, folk, jazz, and bluegrass.

In this piece, I tried to capture not only the light, but the details that reveal this guitar’s journey: the dents and dings, the chip marks and scratches that testify to a well-loved, much-used instrument.
I was playing in my 9” x 12” Stillman & Birn Gamma sketchbook, using my Platinum Carbon fountain pen, Platinum Carbon Black ink, and some brand-new-to-me Schmincke Horadam gouache paints, plus a Uni-ball Sign pen for the highlights.

MEDIA: Ink, gouache
SURFACE: Gamma Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Ivory – Medium Grain

ABOUT THE ARTIST: John Fishman uses his sketchbook as a place of meditation to unwind from his sometimes stressful day job as a hospital chaplain. He believes that each piece of art is an act of recreation, not only of the object, but of the artist, and that making art is a form of play, in the best possible way. He tries to post daily to his Instagram account: @justrecreationing.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Color Playground

ARTIST: Stefanie Hornik, Germany
ARTIST STATEMENT: This sketch is all about trying out, playing with colours and materials. I more or less randomly picked different tools to test the effect and the handling on the paper. (For example, I used watercolors, acrylic markers and colored pencils.) I mostly use these materials for my artworks. This approach is always a good way for me to overcome the fear of the white sheet at the beginning of a new sketchbook. In this case it was a Stillman & Birn Beta Series softcover.

MEDIA: Watercolor, colored pencil, ink, water soluble oil pastels, acrylic markers
SURFACE: Beta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Cold Press Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Stefanie Hornik lives and works in Dresden, Germany. She is a passionate Urban Sketcher and tries out different media in her drawings, but mostly comes back to ink and watercolor. She is less concerned with the detailed representation of a situation than with the expression of a special feeling in a setting. It’s always exciting to get into conversation with other people through art in various places. You can follow Stefanie’s work on Instagram at

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Stillman & Birn Arrive en France

We are very pleased to announce that Stillman & Birn has finally arrived in France thanks to our new partners at Aqaurelle et Pinceaux ( ).

Thank you M. and Mme. Laisné and the rest of the Aquarelle et Pinceaux team!

Thursday, May 16, 2019


Artist: Natalie Higgins, United States
Artist Statement: I love experimenting and playing in my sketchbook. It gives my brain a break from the technical and precise work of designing and making jewelry, my day job. I enjoy trying to capture the expression and mood of the human face. I start my drawings with a simple pencil sketch trying to place facial features. After the pencil sketch, I paint layers of watercolor to the desired depth and color I’m trying to achieve. Finally, I use ballpoint pen crosshatching to create more depth, add texture and focus on details. I enjoy all types of media, but my favorite is a mixed-media combination of watercolor and ballpoint pen.

MEDIA: Pencil, watercolor, ballpoint pen
SURFACE: Beta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Cold Press Finish
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Natalie Higgins is an artist and jewelry designer living in Magnolia, Texas with her husband, two labradors and two cats. She has a creative soul that loves to explore various mediums with the goal of having fun and relaxing. Sketching allows her to have the freedom to play.
Instagram: @nhiggins123


Friday, May 10, 2019

Thanos Study in Gouache

ARTIST: Jordan Rhodes, United States
ARTIST STATEMENT: I painted this gouache study out of excitement and anticipation of the upcoming movie Avengers Endgame. This particular scene was from Infinity War when Thanos was explaining his motivation behind his quest to eliminate half of the universe. While at the surface it is a cruel intention, it is one solution to the difficult issue of overpopulation. While he is obviously the villain, he genuinely believes that he is doing the right thing, and is willing to sacrifice anything toward achieving his ambition.

MEDIA: Gouache
SURFACE: Nova Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Beige – Medium Grain
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Jordan Rhodes is currently a chemistry Ph.D. candidate in Nashville TN. In his free time he makes art for fun, primarily focusing on portraiture. His preferred mediums are watercolor, gouache, and Copic markers.
Instagram: @jmr_art
Youtube: @jmr_art

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Unfurling Ferns

Artist: Jean Mackay, United States
Thank you naturalist Jean Mackay for posting this lovely drawing of unfurling ferns to celebrate the arrival of spring. One of the joys of spring is watching fern fronds unfurl. They start with small fuzzy arcs in the early spring, just poking their little heads above the crown of the plant and slowly growing upward and unfurling like the unwinding of a spring.

From Jean’s blog:  “My simple tip…is to let observation and delight drive your sketching. Go out with no agenda and see what strikes you. I was drawn in by the variety of fiddleheads when I started looking more closely at them unfurling in the woods – some hairy, some smooth, some reddish-brown, others bright yellow-green. Had I gone out with a pre-planned idea of what I wanted to paint, I might never have seen them.”

Thank you Jean for also posting the excerpt from poet laureate M.S. Merwin’s lyrical contemplation of spring, his poem “Empty Water”. These are the lines in Jean’s drawing:

come back
believer in shade
believer in silence and elegance
believer in ferns
believer in patience
believer in the rain

Here is the link to the entire Merwin poem:

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

Jean Mackay is a naturalist, watercolorist and art instructor. She is the Director of Communications and Outreach at the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. This is the link to Jean’s blog:


Thursday, April 25, 2019

Coming Soon: Square Softcover Sketchbooks

Stillman & Birn sketchbooks will soon be available in a square shape: 7½” x 7½” (19 x 19 cm.) These new sketchbooks will be made in four varieties:
Alpha Series – Item 101750S
Beta Series – Item 301750S
Zeta Series – Item 901750S
Nova Trio – Item 399750S

Square-shaped drawing surfaces have a completely balanced aspect ratio and are ideal for proportional visualizations, gridded studies and much more. And of course, square is the preferred shape for Instagram posts. These flat-opening softcover sketchbooks open to a dynamic 7½” x 15” (19 x 38 cm.) landscape spread.

We begin shipping to our distributors and retail partners this Friday. Look for these sketchbooks to begin showing up on art supply store shelves and online in the U.S. and Canada by mid-May.

Friday, April 19, 2019


ARTIST: Rachel Gates, United States
When I painted this, I’d been thinking about the importance of sketchbooks. How they are more than just a place to create. They are a place to experience, to explore, to learn, to share with the world or even to keep sacred with oneself. I was excited to dive into the first page of my new Stillman & Birn Zeta series sketchbook, on which this is painted, with a new perspective. I decided to start this work loosely, mixing my acrylic paint with a lot of water and relaxingly blocking in all the shapes and values. I initially worked with a very limited palette, only drawing from a few colors in order to maintain a neutral aesthetic. Towards the end of the piece, I added in the glowing sun rays and hints of pink and reflective light into the sky and water. Seeing the vibrancy of the sunset manifest only towards the end of the painting, I felt refreshed and at peace. It is my hope that this painting can make someone feel this way too.

Media: Acrylic Paint
Surface: Zeta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Smooth Finish

Rachel Gates is a landscape artist based in the state of Maine. Surrounded by beaches, mountains and forests, Rachel draws daily inspiration from the endless beauty in nature. Studying how light interacts with different environments, Rachel enjoys conveying in her paintings the natural harmony that exists amongst a balance of brilliant colors and both light and dark values. Rachel works to evoke a sense of depth, authenticity, and timelessness in her paintings that allows the viewer to feel centered and present in the experience. Follow Rachel’s paintings on Instagram at

Friday, April 19, 2019

Coming Soon

The reveal: 4/24/19 – 8:00 P.M. EST
In the meantime, guesses welcome


Friday, April 12, 2019

Alexandria Window Study

Artist: Reham M. Ali, Egypt
Artist statement: Sketching architectural elements such as doors, windows or any architectural details, especially of old buildings always interests me. That’s the reason my sketchbook is filled with door sketches that I usually call my rescue topic during any artistic block. And as an interior designer, my architectural background has helped me with these sketches. What I love also is adding depth to my sketch. Sometimes I can only find a door or window that seems flat, so I enjoy adding shadows to my subject to create the feeling of depth and movement to a static element like a window.

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

Reham M. Ali (Alexandria, Egypt) studied Fine-Arts and holds a Ph.D. degree in Interior Design from the University of Alexandria. She has been drawing since childhood. Sketching architecture came as a natural part of her study and work, she began sketching on location since her senior year in college. In 2015, she discovered Urban Sketchers and since then she started to focus on sketching her hometown city, Alexandria, which is the main subject of her watercolor and sketching work. In 2018 she led a workshop “Urban Tales .. Buildings Can Talk Too ” at the 9th Urban Sketchers Symposium in Porto. Reham is also a workshop instructor in both Egypt and Saudi Arabia where she works now as Assistant Professor at IAU University.

Instagram: @reham_m_a


Monday, April 8, 2019


Artist: Sara Crawley, United States
Artist Statement: This was done in a Nova Trio sketchbook that I was given. I love it! The fact I get to pick from three different colored pages is fun. This art piece was inspired by several things: my joy of playing video games, stargazing, and coats.

As always I started out in pencil and ended it with ink. That was until my boyfriend asked if I was going to use gouache to paint it in. The answer after that was yes, because it was a great idea! [Ed: Because gouache is opaque, it is a great medium for toned paper] Which meant I had to go over my original ink outlines with the gouache, whoops. The end results are better than I thought they would be! I left the background grey so the character and colors could pop off the page.

MEDIA: Gouache, ink, gel pen
SURFACE: Nova Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Grey – Medium Grain

Sara Crawley is an alumni of Savannah College of Art and Design with a BFA in 2D Animation. When she is not at her day job or running from zombies, she’s drawing away in her sketchbook. You can see more of her work on these social media sites!
Instagram: @scrawleyart
Twitter: @scrawleyart


Monday, February 25, 2019

Untitled Drawing on Toned Paper

Artist: Jason Terracina, United States
Artist Statement: For this particular sketch of @jesstoofresh_ I drew the sketch on the Nova Series beige sketchbook 5½ x 8½. I used a Kuretake brush pen for the line work, Posca and Molotow markers for the color. Given the beige tone of the paper I was able to use it as a mid-tone for the piece, the markers as highlights, and the brush pen for shadow. The heavy weight of the paper allows you to use just about any marker, whether it be a paint marker or a watery Copic, and it won’t loose its integrity. The grain and fibers of the paper enables you to create gradients with a brush pen that gives it a dry brush look at the same time absorbing a heavy amount of ink in the spots you want your blackest blacks. I’ve found this Nova Series beige paper so versatile to work with that I’ve decided to draw a whole children’s book on the 8×10 size sketchbook.

MEDIA: Ink and markers
SURFACE: Nova Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Beige – Medium Grain Finish

Jason Terracina is a United States artist who would like you to vote. He is open for illustration and portrait commissions. You can also purchase any piece of original work or prints on his Instagram. Jason can be reached at:
Instagram: @terrrrabite
Twitter: @terrrrabite

Stillman & Birn does not recommend the use of alcohol-based markers, such as Copic markers, on Nova Series paper without a protective barrier sheet under the work surface.

Sunday, February 17, 2019


Artist: Ben Stanford, United States
Artist Statement: I’ve always been drawn to the human figure, and portraits in particular. The figure isn’t just something to be copied or reproduced but is a space for honest exploration. I use painting as a means through which tradition and craftsmanship can serve as a touchstone for the creative process; allowing for self-imposed constraints to serve as a catalyst for problem-solving. While capturing the likeness of my subjects is of high priority, I aim for a balance between the deliberate rendering of form and intuitive response. This provides a space where academic considerations can run in parallel with an open-ended process of translation.

Dana, the model depicted here, is immensely talented and has been a constant source of inspiration for me through the years. I look forward to continuing to paint on paper and utilize the unique feeling that it provides.

The painting was done on Zeta Series paper. I put down 2 layers of PVA size to prepare the surface and had no problems. I made it a few months ago, and haven’t seen any oil seeping into the paper or signs of discoloration.

Media: Oil on paper
Surface: Zeta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Smooth Finish

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Great White Sketch

Artist: Ian de Hoog, Canada [ @iandehoogart ]
Artist Statement: My sketchbook is my playground. It’s where I can relax and explore new ideas and techniques without the pressure of “creating a painting”. I never know what is going to end up on a page on any given day and that is part of the beauty of it.

I have always had a passion for all animals and sharks are no exception. This sketch began as a pencil drawing just to see if I could even draw a shark and once I was satisfied with the results I just started adding watercolour one step at a time. 1. Light washes 2. Middle values 3. Darks and brushwork.

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

Ian de Hoog is an artist and educator living in British Columbia. His skill and passion for watercolour has led him to develop a very successful series of “Confident Watercolour” demos and workshops which have encouraged many to take up their brushes and get painting. Ian’s work has found itself in homes all around the globe, is often shown in local shows and across social media as @iandehoogart (Instagram, Facebook). You can also visit his website at

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

In-Flight Feeding

Artist: Craig Houghton, United States
Artist statement: As with most pieces, whether a charcoal gesture or a complex oil painting, I really created this to have fun. Daily sketching does help me to better understand the world, strengthen my self-confidence, and connect with my emotions, but I find it best just to focus instead on how much I enjoy the activity, especially when it involves subjects that never fail to move me—I absolutely love birds. With this drawing, I began with a rough pencil sketch and a more detailed ballpoint pen drawing right over the pencil. I then used alcohol markers over the ballpoint pen, actively encouraging some pen blending and relying on the quality of the Nova Trio paper. Afterwards, I added some ballpoint back details in and brushed on some white.

MEDIA: Pencil, ballpoint pen, alcohol-based marker, and opaque white ink (Ph. Martin Pen White)
SURFACE: Nova Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Beige – Medium Grain Finish

Craig Houghton is an artist and illustrator living in Connecticut with his wife, also an artist. His technical proficiency across a number of mediums and styles allows uncommon freedom in selecting the best way to any subject or project. Craig’s work may be found on nationally distributed product packaging, in print, and across social media as @leversandpulleys (TikTok, Instagram).