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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Cesar Santos Reviews Stillman & Birn

Thank you to Cesar Santos for taking the time to review our sketchbooks. In this video Cesar demonstrates how he prepares a Beta Series sketchbook with gesso and then creates an oil painting on it.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Living Room Sketch

Artist: Paul Heaston, United States
Artist Statement: I have sketched my wife Linda knitting or crocheting in the living room so many times I’ve lost count. Knitters make great models because they’re usually pretty still and relatively oblivious to someone sketching them, especially if it’s their husband. We’re expecting a new baby at the beginning of May so she was busy knitting matching dresses for our two-year-old daughter Juni and her new baby sister. I love documenting these little moments with a sketch. As a way to record a particular time in our lives it’s even better than a photo, and it’s something I look forward to sharing with our girls as they grow up.

MEDIA: Pen & ink (technical pen and gel pen)
SURFACE: Nova Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Beige – Medium Grain Finish

Paul Heaston was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, now living in Denver. He received his BFA in painting from the University of Texas, San Antonio and his MFA from Montana State University, where he continued on as a faculty member. He is an obsessive sketchbook-keeper. Heaston is a correspondent for, an internationally known website showcasing visual journalism all over the world, and in addition maintains his own sketch blog, Three Letter Word for Art 

Heaston is world-renowned for his virtuosity in draftsmanship. His work has advanced the theory and practice of curvilinear perspective (fisheye perspective) in which he works with as many as five vanishing points. Likewise, he is also an influencer in the integration of complex perspective theory with digital rendering techniques.


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Stillman & Birn Arrives in Denmark

We’re delighted to begin a new partnership with Stelling Art Supplies, our exclusive distributor in Denmark. Special thanks to our friend, Copenhagen illustrator Tomas Björnsson, who has been our advocate in Denmark. Mange tak, Tomas!

Stelling Kunstnerartikler
Amagertorv 9, 1.sal,
1160 København, Denmark
+45 33 33 05 20

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Stare Down or Steer Clear

Artist: Tim Oliver, United States
Artist Statement: This is a small color study for a larger watercolor piece that is in progress. Pencil and watercolor (Daniel Smith) in Stillman & Birn Beta Series sketchbook. This sketch was laid out lightly and loosely from observation and photography in HB pencil. It was then painted in watercolor using successive glazes. I use this method regularly as I explore composition, values and color. Most of my final watercolor paintings, both plein air and studio, begin with studies such as this. Still debating the title of the final piece…right now it’s between “Stare Down” and “Steer Clear”….

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

Tim Oliver is a full time Landscape Architect and passionate watercolor artist and sketcher. He paints exclusively in watercolor and is dedicated to consistently keeping a sketching regimen. He sketches in pencil, pen and ink, water soluble graphite and watercolor. He holds associate membership in the Outdoor Painters Society, American Watercolor Society, National Watercolor Society and West Texas Watercolor Society. He is also a member of the GAS Painting group and Urban Sketchers Texas.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Gate to the Past

Artist: Seto Parama Artho, Indonesia
Artist Statement: Kotagede is a historic area in the city of Yogyakarta in Indonesia. Inside we can see many traditional and old buildings, quiet life, quiet alleys, silversmiths, relics, sites of the Islamic Mataram kingdom. Everything is present in the mystical and mythological atmosphere that cannot be separated from the spirit of life of the people of Java. I really like Kotagede and always want to be present in it. For me Kotagede is an oasis in the midst of modernity.

MEDIA: Pen & watercolor
SURFACE: Delta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – Ivory – Cold Press Finish

I have loved sketches since I was in elementary school. Wherever I go I always carry sketchbooks. I love to walk especially to the old towns and take the time to sketch. Old towns have always been an inspiration for me in working and reflecting on life.
Instagram: @setoparama

Saturday, April 7, 2018


Artist: Holly Platt, United States
Artist Statement: When practicing my daily art exercises I have found that I prefer to use a notebook with a heavyweight paper. When using mixed media and primarily acrylic paint I do not have to worry about the paper warping and tearing if it is heavier. The Nova Series works well for my exercises and I am enjoying the unique color play of having a toned background. I prefer to slightly blur the line between representational and abstract styles, while focusing mainly on florals and landscapes.

MEDIA: Acrylic Paint
SURFACE: Nova Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Grey – Medium Grain Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Holly Platt lives in Southern California where she works as a freelance artist. She grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah and discovered her love of creativity at a very early age. She studied art at SLCC and the U of U. She is an award-winning artist and has had work at local galleries. You can see more of her work on Instagram @hollyplatt


Saturday, March 31, 2018

Dryburgh Abbey, Scotland

Artist: Soma Acharya, United States
Artist Statement: When I was travelling to England, I wanted to take a painting project with me to fill the long 10 hours of travel time on the plane. I found an old photo I took of Dryburgh Abbey in Scotland. The photo reminded me of how much I fell in love with the tranquil setting of the place.

I picked watercolour pencils because of the space constriction of an airplane seat. The colours of Derwent watercolour pencils are less intense than those of Inktense pencils, and are easier to lift off if needed. They also blend beautifully. Weathered stone structures is one of my favourite subjects to paint. I had a lot of fun with layering the colours and creating water stains.

As I was painting, I was reliving the moments of standing in front of the quiet Dryburgh Abbey Chapter House all on my own, soaking in the atmosphere of an old, wet stone ruin.

MEDIA: Watercolour pencils
SURFACE: Alpha Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – White – Medium Grain

As an eternal lover of stories, it is important for me to have a background story to the art I am creating. Although I love to paint with watercolour, I let the subject of the painting dictate the media.

I am happiest when I am travelling and experiencing the world up close. Seeing nature through science-coloured glasses gives me a deeper joy. Photography is a passion. I use it for journalling and for creativity, capturing the abundance of colour and movement around me. Life fuels and inspires my art.
Instagram: @whims.n.fancies

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Chappell Hill, TX Residence

ARTIST: Michael Broshar, United States

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

Michael Broshar is a practicing architect and watercolor artist. He started painting watercolors in 2013 after working in digital art for a number of years, and now paints exclusively in watercolor. He sketches in pencil and watercolor, sometimes also using ink and gesso. He never travels without his sketchbook, which is his tool to capture images and scenes as he travels around the United States. Those sketchbook images often become the basis for a finished studio painting. He holds associate membership in the American Watercolor Society and the National Watercolor Society, and is a signature member of the Iowa Watercolor Society.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Portrait of Chris Pine

Artist: Ong Kok Leong, Singapore
Artist Statement: I was very impressed with Chris Pine’s portrayal of Steve Trevor in the blockbuster movie Wonder Woman. He certainly gave a fresh interpretation compared to the classic Lynda Carter’s version and the animated 2009 animated version. I’ve recently purchased a small Beta soft cover sketchbook and decided to use it mainly for portrait work. Painting a portrait on a small surface is quite challenging but I really enjoy it. I’m primarily a portrait watercolorist and I love how the Beta paper takes watercolor paints and the result that it gives.

MEDIA: Watercolors
SURFACE: Beta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Cold Press Surface

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Born and based in Singapore, Kok Leong began drawing at a tender age of four. Although he had taken art lessons in his early school years, Kok Leong is essentially self-taught. After a long hiatus from art, he began posting his work on Facebook in 2012 and has been drawing and painting ever since. Kok Leong has done commissions for local independent retailers, illustrated concert promotional material, as well as created paintings for friends and family.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Fragrance of Spring

Artist: Irina Safronova, Russia
Artist Statement: I created this artwork in stages. After determining the layout, I first moistened each petal section of the tulip on the paper with water, then introduced multiple watercolour washes, wiped with a wet brush. I layered bright places to build up color. After drying I added even more washes and did this glazing until I got the effects that I wanted. This work was almost like a puzzle, working petal by petal, drawing every bud. The emphasis was made on the central tulip, as it is the main object of the composition. The paints I used were from Winsor & Newton as well as a premium Russian watercolor brand, the “White Nights” range of Nevskaya Palitra. [Ed.: Available on Amazon]

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

Irina Safronova is a Russian artist living in City of Krasnodar in the Armavir Province. Irina works mostly in watercolours and occasionally in pastels. She draws on inspiration from the world around her and especially likes working on botanical subjects.


Название работы: благоухание весны
Художник: Ирина Сафронова Россия Краснодарский край Армавир
Материал: акварель
Скетчбук серия ZETA-270gsm

Ирина Сафронова пишет в основном акварелью, иногда пастелью. Понравилась бумага в скетчбуке, она прекрасно выдерживает несколько слоев акварели и справляется с поставленной задачей. Вдохновение черпает от окружающего мира, любит рисовать цветы.

Данную работу выполняла поэтапно, сначала смачивала каждый лепесток тюльпана водой, затем вводила акварельные растворы, протирала влажной кистью светлые места для формирования объема. После высыхания были сделаны доработки, лессировками. Так лепесток за лепестком, собирая работу, как пазлы:) я рисовала каждый бутон. Акцент был сделан на центральном Тюльпане, он является основным объектом композиции.

Краски были использованы от разных производителей: Белые ночи Невская палитра, W&N, кисть колонок.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Cat’s Eye

Artist: Maryanne Pitman, U.K.
Artist Statement: The image that I was going to use was of a black and white domestic cat, the focus being on the eye. Now I wanted to be a bit lazy with this one and do as little drawing as possible, so selected the black shade paper (and this is a good true black shade, not that wishy washy black that some papers tend to be). It was a case of love at first sight between the Polychromos and the Nova Series, as the pigments adhered to the paper brilliantly, and with what little blending that was needed worked effortlessly. So I felt that I had achieved what I had set out to do as the black paper did most of the work for the negative drawing and popping out the eye so as to give it that glass marble effect. Thank you Stillman & Birn, this is a top notch paper!

MEDIA: Faber-Castell Polychromos colour pencils (oil based)
SURFACE: Nova Series (Black) – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Medium Grain Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Maryanne Pitman now lives in Dorset, UK, after having grown up in South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. Maryanne primarily works in graphite pencil, but dabbles in anything that leaves a mark on surfaces!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Zeta Series

Extra Heavyweight: 270 gsm
Shade: White
Surface: Smooth
Media: Dry & wet media, watercolor, ink

Excerpt from online review:
“By far the Zeta series is my favorite paper to draw on. The paper is smooth and thick, allowing for lots of layering and blending without any pilling and erases quite nicely.”

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year

We wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful new year.

Shown here:
“Fireworks over Kyoto” (1948)
Artist: Kōichi Okumura, Japan
Woodblock Print

Sunday, December 24, 2017


Artist: Muriel Christensen, United States
Artist Statement: When I saw my niece’s daughter’s upset face, I got an idea to put her on Santa’s lap for this year’s family Christmas card. I like to do a custom card every year with my artwork. So, for the baby’s face study, I sketched out the concept first in my sketchbook. Sometimes just a pencil sketch or in this case with oil paint. I used acrylic gesso, first applying a generous amount in my Alpha Series sketchbook. I tried to get in the emotion of the baby. Since it was in an upset mood, I chose a somewhat jollier Santa to make the overall impact a bit more festive. When I was satisfied with the result, I painted the full rendition on canvas. The initial study in the sketchbook allowed me to experiment with color and placement. Sometimes I paint in all the final details in the sketchbook study, but in this case, I just did the rendition of the baby only.

Study: Gesso and oil paint
Finished rendering: Oil paint

Study: Alpha Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – White – Medium Grain Finish
Finished rendering: Canvas

Muriel Christensen is full-time an engineer but loves art and creates artwork whenever she can. She loves to do portraits and uses different media. Muriel is based in a suburb of Chicago and is a member of Urban Sketchers Chicago chapter and also a member of Plein Air Painters of Chicago (PAPC).
Instagram: @murielannart


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Koi Stream

Aritst: Juanjo Gaspar, Spain
Artist Statement: While visiting the Sensō-ji in Tokyo, I saw this stream of koi, and I couldn’t resist painting them. I’m in love with Japanese culture; I have studied Japanese and Shodo (traditional Japanese calligraphy), so this trip was a chance for me to get a first-hand glimpse of the icons and imagery associated with the country.

I used acrylic markers for the koi and plants, then several watercolor washes to get the watery effect and finally some pointillism shading with a .2 calibrated pen.

MEDIA: Acrylic markers, watercolors and ink
SURFACE: Zeta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Smooth Finish

Juanjo Gaspar is a Spanish illustrator and designer based in Madrid. He divides his time between food illustration, oil and acrylic paintings and sketches for personal interest and vector illustration for his design studio clients. You can find him on his Instagram account: @juanjogasp

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Holiday Giveaway Winners Announced

These are the ten winners of our annual holiday giveaway. Each will receive a Nova Series sketchbook (5½ x 8½) in the shade of their choice and a set of Caran d’Ache gouache.

Winners were chosen by random drawing. Sequential numbers were assigned to each participant upon entry. After the contest closed we used a random number generator to select ten numbers from the total entries. These are the winners:

Moh’d Bilbeisi
Vivien Blackburn
Michael Broshar
Riko Colin Chock
Felicity Flutter
Kristin Gjerdset
Elaine Hill
Maike Josupeit
Patrick Ng
Laura Sfiat

We congratulate the winners and thank all who participated.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Nova Series Review

Artist Jennifer McLean, author of “Just Add Water Silly”, the popular blog about watercolor and mixed media, recently posted this review of our Nova Series sketchbooks: Shown here are two of Jenn’s drawings done on Nova Series paper from the review, both painted with watercolor and gel pen.

There’s just one more day to enter for our Holiday Giveaway. Ten winners will get a Nova Series sketchbook bundled with a five-tube set of Caran d’Ache gouache. Here’s the link with information about how to enter the contest:


Monday, December 11, 2017

Holiday Giveaway

We’re giving away ten Stillman & Birn Nova Series sketchbooks together with a Caran d’Ache Gouache Studio set. The gouache set contains five 10 ml tubes: magenta, cyan, yellow, black, and white. The Nova Series sketchbook is a 5½” x 8½” softcover binding; winners can choose from the three paper options (beige, grey or black).
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 December 15, 2017 at 11:59 PM EST.

Winners will be picked at random on December 16, 2017. 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; one entry per person. No purchase required. No geographical limitations.
Caran d’Ache Gouache Studio paints are formulated from luminous and highly concentrated pigments combined with vegetable-based binding agents to form colors of incomparable beauty. Because gouache is an opaque medium, color doesn’t blend into the background on toned paper and, unlike with watercolors, it is possible to paint lighter colors over darker tones. Gouache can create dramatic, dimensional effects, striking detail and vivid color on toned paper. Gouache can be easily combined with other media such as pencil, pastel and watercolor, and can be reactivated with water to help with correcting mistakes or blending color. Made in Switzerland.

Nova Series sketchbooks are made with premium toned papers that support a wide range of dry and wet media.The papers are double-sized for exceptional wet strength and surface luminescence: pigment glows on these papers! Nova Series papers are robust, they allow for multiple erasures without pilling; they hold ink line without feathering; they support layering multiple washes with wet media. These papers are suitable for: colored pencil, ink, gel pens, paint markers, watercolor, gouache, chalk pastels, oil pastels, water-soluble graphite, charcoal, Conté crayon, colored dry pigments, watercolor pencil, soapstone pencil, etc.
Paper Weight: 150 gsm
Surface: Medium Grain
Toned Shades: Beige, Grey and Black
Bound in the United States

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Prickles and Petals

Artist: Laura Capuano, Italy
Artist Statement: For this piece I wanted something fresh. I was so used to tulips and peonies, so I needed something different. I loved the idea of succulents: they look “friendly”, in a way, even with all these prickles. So what better than flowers?

The contrast between the petals and the prickles goes along with the contrast between colours: bold, complementary, contrasting, yet so harmonious green and red shades. I started with a very rough idea of what I wanted, lightly sketched it with a watercolour pencil, then built it up layer by layer. I loved that I could get really interesting granulating effects even on this smooth, hot pressed paper, that allows me to achieve very fine details as well.

MEDIA: Watercolor and watercolor pencils
SURFACE: Zeta Series – Extra Heavy Weight – 270 gsm – White – Smooth Finish

Laura Capuano is a 24 years old, self-taught watercolorist who lives in Naples, Italy. She often describes herself as living a double life: she graduated from Uni in 2016, and currently works as a pharmacist.

In the meantime, she has recently re-discovered her passion for arts, spending her free time on drawing, painting and illustrating, mainly focusing on watercolor and gouache techniques, but also experimenting with digital and acrylics. Laura absolutely loves her brights and full-on contrasts, but frequently combines them with pastel colors for more subtle, delicate and fairy-tale atmospheres.
You can follow her on:
Instagram: at @alioth_93

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Morning Light in Redwood Forest

Artist: Kris Mordecai, United States
Artist Statement: This black and white drawing shows the morning light filtering through the trees and onto a small cabin in Monte Rio, California, perched on the side of a mountain and nestled into the ancient redwoods. Ink and water brush were used to depict the cool, damp air and the lushness of the surroundings. This drawing was made only a week before many of the nearby communities were devastated by the Northern California wildfires in October 2017.

MEDIA: Pen and water-soluble ink
SURFACE: Alpha Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – White – Medium Grain Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Kris Mordecai is a nonprofit manager and artist living in New York, NY. He started sketching in March of 2017 with the goal of growing as an artist and maintaining a regular mindfulness practice. Kris believes that to sketch is to be truly in the moment, immersed in one’s surroundings and in one’s process. In his eight months of sketching, Kris has become focused on the process of growth and experimentation and less on product and output.
Instagram: @krismordecai