Stillman and Birn
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).


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Remembering Georgia O’Keeffe

Artist: Nisha Sehjpal, India
Artist Statement: Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings are as intriguing as they are evocative. The colours used are bold and her strokes confident. Looking at her art it’s no wonder she is recognised as “Mother of American modernism”. This is my first ever attempt at painting with gouache and I couldn’t have thought of a better inspiration. And I wouldn’t deny, I am still trying to find my voice as an artist.

MEDIA: Gouache
SURFACE: Beta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270gsm – White – Cold Press Finish

Nisha Sehjpal is an engineer by education and an artist by intuition. She is a strong supporter of versatility, who doesn’t believe in restricting oneself to any one particular medium. Her first love remains travel for all the visual stimulation and inspiration it provides.
Instagram: @nisha.sehjpal

Thursday, January 3, 2019


Artist: Michael Ryan, United States
Artist Statement: For this illustration, I wanted to create a serene and magical evening snowfall scene. The gentle polar bear happily gazes up in wonderment at the snowflakes. I began this illustration by creating a light sketch with a mechanical pencil. I then inked the outline of the polar bear and the horizon with a dark blue fine-nib ink pen. I used alcohol-based markers for the colors. While using alcohol-based markers on paper can be tricky, I find that Stillman & Birn’s Gamma Series works very well with minimal bleed-through. To protect the next page in my sketchbook, I place a folded sheet of scrap copy paper underneath the page that I’m currently working on. Beginning with the top of the sky, I built up my darker tones and progressed to lighter tones further down the page, which helps frame the polar bear as the focal point. For the polar bear’s fur and the snow on the ground, I used the ivory tone of the Gamma paper. The snowflakes and white accents were created with a white gel pen as the final finishing touches.

MEDIA: Alcohol-based markers, ink, and white gel pen
SURFACE: Gamma Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Ivory – Medium Grain Finish

Michael Ryan is a visual artist, designer, and educator from Peekskill, New York. His professional work includes both traditional and digital illustration, graphic design, and photography. Michael is a Professor of Art and Design and teaches a wide range of subjects including Drawing, Graphic Design, 2D Animation, Digital Imaging, Digital Illustration, Visual Storytelling, Art History, Color Theory, Web Design, Video Editing, Motion Graphics, and more.

For his illustrations, Michael works in a range of different styles from cartoons to realistic portraits. He utilizes a variety of media and often enjoys the challenge of working with a limited palette. Michael offers original illustration and portrait commissions.
Instagram: @mikeryanart
Twitter: @mikeryanart

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Best Wishes for a Happy New Year

The management team at Stillman & Birn wish you a happy and healthy 2019.

“A view of the Fireworks and Illuminations at his Grace the Duke of Richmonds’s at Whitehall and on the River Thames” (1749)
Hand-colored etching
Beard Collection, Victoria & Albert Museum

This etching illustrates the royal fireworks on the Thames in the Whitehall section of London (near Big Ben) on May 15, 1749. The fireworks display was for the benefit of King George II to celebrate the victory of the British over the Austrian in the War of Succession. This was the occasion for which George Frideric Handel composed his renowned “Music for the Royal Fireworks”.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Big Fella

Artist: Conrad McEwan, United Kingdom
Artist Statement: For this piece I wanted to make Santa look more real, after all, he is based on Saint Nicholas from Asia Minor in the 1st Century AD. The golden halo is a nod to the religious iconography associated with him, combined with the more modern version we know today. The hipster mustache is quite contemporary, but also harks back to days gone by. Although he is lit from below, which is usually quite a sinister lighting, I wanted to give the impression of him by a warm fire or lit by Christmas tree lights. The hatching style is a quick way of building up tonal values while allowing for some subtlety. It always amazes me that close up it is just a bunch of squiggles and marks on a page, but from a distance, the whole picture comes into better focus. Apart from all of this, it’s just a festive picture to help get me in the mood.

MEDIA: Ink, metallic ink, and paint markers
SURFACE: Nova Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Grey – Medium Grain Finish

Conrad McEwan is a freelance commercial illustrator and graphic designer from Leicestershire in the UK. Having spent most of his career on digital work for clients, he was keen to get back to using more traditional media when he joined Leicester Sketch Club recently and create art for himself. He works with several different media and each has their own style, but he mainly works with pens. He enjoys working on toned paper with a limited colour palette, as it’s fairly quick but also can look really effective. His ethos is that you don’t need to spend a fortune on fancy art supplies as long as the surface you’re working on is good quality. Having suffered with arthritis all his adult life, sketching can be a distraction from the pain and a relief when a lack of mobility forces him to stay indoors. When he can, he does enjoy urban sketching although it is much harder in the winter months. Conrad plans to develop his work a little more and prepare a body of work for an exhibition in the new year. He is also in the process of updating his Etsy shop where some of his digital lino-cut prints are available. These are digital drawings using lino-cut techniques created on an IPad Pro using Adobe Draw. He is available for commissions for both portraits and illustration work.
Instagram: @mcewan_creative
Twitter: @mcewancreative

Monday, December 17, 2018

Holiday Giveaway Winners Announced

These are the ten winners of our 2018 Holiday Giveaway:

Michael Basler
Colin Breaud
Elena Chan
Colin Dowden
Debra Keirce
Trey Murrah
Eric Scott
Jim Serrett
Grant Thomas
Kristin Gjerdset

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Red Button Radish

Artist: Dr. Disha Chauhan, India
Artist Statement: I love capturing everyday happenings around me on paper and over time have realised they work as great inspiration for colour, form and detailing study. In the process I am also trying to understand my own style too. As I have been trying major changes in my life to eat healthily, I have started taking my grocery seriously and found these splashy radishes during my recent trip to local market. Although I don’t like radishes, but know their health benefits. To be honest I was smitten by their colour and wanted to understand the lovely tones so just grabbed them and tried this watercolour study in my sketchbook.

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

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Disha Chauhan is a Neurobiologist and Watercolor and Digital artist who lives in India and is also certified Natural History Illustrator. She has recently discovered the Urban Sketchers chapter of Delhi, India and is uncovering new life for the city.

You can see more of her work on Instagram: @thevisualstoriesstudio