Monday, August 23, 2021

Floe Lake Study

ARTIST: Tyson Klein, Canada

ARTIST STATEMENT: The Rocky Mountains are a common theme in my artworks. Being raised on the prairies, I have always been drawn to their foreign starkness and scale. I try and spend as many summer weekends as possible in the backcountry of these mountains and usually spend the rest of the year planning hikes for the following summer.

I have recently added a sketchbook and set of pens to my hiking gear in an effort to better remember some of the incredible vistas of these trips. This study of Floe Lake in Kootenay National Park, B.C. is one of a few sketches I have been able to do in the backcountry this year. My drawing process in the backcountry has a few quirky considerations lending from plein air painting and the physical environment of the Rockies. For example, the low air pressure high in the mountains means that some drawing implements (fountain pens and acrylic paint pens for example) can become pressurized from the ascent of a hike, leading to all kinds of messy situations that need to be handled before pen gets placed on paper. Also, the sun in the thin atmosphere can drain your energy very quickly. Like a plein air painter, staying in the shade is a must for a study like this. For this study in mid-July, the black flies, horseflies and mosquitoes were almost unbearable, but they did help me keep on task while the sun shifted across the face of the mountain.

As for the sketch itself, I tried to go slow and choose a hatched texture that fit with the motion of the mountains, trees and air. There is no cross hatching in this drawing, and apart from some perpendicular lines in the texture of the trees, almost all lines are parallel. This consistent and dense linework takes a lot of time and is easy to rush, but if each line is purposefully drawn it can lead to a very dynamic feeling that, in my opinion, existed in the real scene in front of me.

The grey paper of this sketchbook is perfect for a three-tone drawing, especially where the subject has such extreme variation in values between the rock and the snow. With this paper, I used the grey as an ‘anchor’ value; I chose a midtone in the scene and either lightened with white if the value was lighter (the snow in the sun, the snow in the shadow, the sky) or darkened with black if the value was darker (the rock of the mountain, the scree in the shadow, the trees). Careful observation of value is one of the most important things to focus on in a subject with such extreme contrast in a monotone study and can single-handedly be the success or failure of a drawing.

Sometimes it is a struggle to complete a detailed drawing like this on scene, but each completed sketch I have is another memory of an afternoon spent in the mountains.

MEDIA: Pen & ink, acrylic paint pen

SURFACE: Nova Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Gray – Medium Grain Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Tyson Klein is an artist from Saskatchewan, Canada. He has created large murals, pen and ink sketches, and many works in between. Tyson usually likes to create on-scene studies of natural landscapes and abstract linework. Follow him on Instagram @klein.tyson (

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Coming Soon: New Stillman & Birn Landscape Sketchbooks

We’re announcing today that Stillman & Birn is introducing hardcover landscape sketchbooks made with our extra-heavyweight (270 GSM) papers: Beta, Delta and Zeta series. We’re taking this step in response to repeated artist requests that we expand our range to offer sketchbooks in these series in a landscape format.

These new sketchbooks measure 9 x 6 in. (22.9 x 15.2 cm) open completely flat for two-page landscape spreads. You can see Don Colley’s (@donald.colley54) test drive of these sketchbooks at this video link:

We thank the following artists for permitting us to use their work for the cover art:

Beta Series – Thomas W. Schaller – @thomaswschaller

Delta Series – Brenda Swenson – @brenda_swenson

Zeta Series – Mark Fraley – @markfraleyart

Saturday, March 13, 2021

The Mando & Son

ARTIST: Alex Iniguez, United States

ARTIST STATEMENT: It took me a long time to land on my “art style” but working with a variety of tools has helped me get to the artistic place I need to be in order to feel like I’m doing my best work, what does this look like? It means throwing everything at the surface I’m working on, everything but the kitchen sink.

MEDIA: Watercolors, ink, colored pencils, alcohol markers, airbrush and graphite.

SURFACE: Nova Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Beige – Medium Grain Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Alex Iniguez is a born and raised Southern California artist. He is currently a freelancer, some of his clients include Disney, Lucasfilm, Marvel, Topps and Upperdeck. Alex feels very fortunate that he gets to draw his childhood for a living, “Star Wars and Marvel are a giant influence and reason as to why I got into art as a career. My wife (a very wise woman) has helped streamline my efforts on this art journey and based on her recommendation, all of my social media handles are the same.” Alex can be found on all the major social media platforms as Alex Iniguez art, or you can google those three words and find him that way as well. Alex also has a website,

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Collage and Cubism

This is a re-post of New York Times senior art critic Jason Farago’s excellent interactive analysis of the relationship between collage and early cubism. The article focuses on Juan Gris’ mixed media work, “The Table” on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Link to New York Times article:

SURFACE: Paper on canvas
MEDIA: Opaque watercolor (gouache?), charcoal, collage

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Bighorn Sheep

ARTIST: Mark Fraley, United States

ARTIST STATEMENT: My sketchbooks are my playground. I find so much pleasure in trying new things. This particular depiction of a bighorn sheep is no different. I knew what combination of elements I wanted to include, but not exactly how they would interact with each other or in what exact manner.

I began with a loose ink outline drawing. I followed with the application of torn a map using matte medium. I work a lot in collage aside from sketchbooks, and have a certain affinity for maps. The way they can depict so many ideas or themes make them a really versatile component.

One of my particular areas of interest lies in the notion of home. At the time this was created my family was living in Colorado, following a move from Seattle. I have moved many times in my life and I find myself constantly redefining the word home. Bighorn sheep hold an important significance in the mountain landscapes of Colorado.

The watercolor application was done in excess, pouring additional paint over the Zeta Series paper. I then tilted the sketchbook to create the dripping effect. I was working on a separate piece that included a lot of pouring, and this was one of the first times I used it inside a sketchbook. The way the colors played together was appealing! I like to blur where the collage elements are included so that the piece is well blended. The pouring effect accomplished this too.

Finally, I redrew the outline, trying to keep it loose enough as to not make it too stale and predictable. As an artist, I lean toward a strong depiction of realism and have to curtail this inclination when needed. The Zeta paper worked in a fantastic way with each element I included in the bighorn sheep, allowing for creative exploration.

MEDIA: Ink, watercolor, collage

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

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Mark lives in Caldwell, Idaho with his wife and three kids. He works as an early childhood special education teacher and as an artist. He specializes in collage and portrait work. Having grown up overseas in France, outside of Paris, and having moved around a lot as a grown up, he loves to reflect on the intersection of culture, faith, and concepts of childhood. Sketchbooks remain a favorite place to gather ideas and channel a restless creative spirit.

You can find Mark…

On Instagram: @markfraleyart

On Facebook:

Via email:

Sunday, December 27, 2020

An Orchestra of Peacock Feathers

ARTIST: Monali Haldipur, India

ARTIST STATEMENT: I enjoy depicting and visually presenting the scene and objects, the way I interpret it, the way I feel about it. That’s my goal, going the realistic way isn’t. However I do feel that realistic studies are very important to begin with in order to build a strong foundation. Stylization then comes as a building block in the visual journey. I was so captured by the variety of the feathers (being of the same species of bird) and yet the harmony that sung through them, I didn’t dare disturb it. I painted them realistically in the flow. I hope to have achieved the delicateness and lightness in the process. It’s meditative. I enjoy watercolours immensely. Their inherent transparency and fluidity meant that I could work in minimum layers to keep the feathers afloat. I drew out the feathers very lightly with a 2B graphite pencil first, and then used a heavily water loaded brush to keep the edges as soft as possible.It’s been a long, long time since I began using the Stillman & Birn sketchbooks for all kinds of sketching. The Alpha and Beta series are my ‘go to’ books whenever inspiration strikes me!

MEDIA: Watercolor, graphite

SURFACE: Alpha Series – Heavyweight paper – 150 gsm – White – Medium Grain Surface

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Rooted in the visual form, Monali’s work involves exploration of both her personal and urban environment, and capturing moods, cultural identities and stories with her brush. Her colourful sketches pay tribute to the places she has traveled to. Monali sells her original artworks and also offers commissioned work.

Instagram: @monali.haldipur

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Midnight in Donosita

ARTIST: Aaron Kelly, United States
ARTIST STATEMENT: I’m often attracted to spaces and views that I feel are overlooked. Spaces devoid of people or on the backside of a frequently used place. This painting is of the view from my hotel room in Donostia in 2019. (San Sebastián or Donostia is a coastal city and municipality located in the Basque Autonomous Community, Spain. It lies on the coast of the Bay of Biscay_Ed.).

The streets below were quiet, with the only sound being the occasional taxi tires on the rain-slick road. I wanted to capture this urban midnight stillness.

While I occasionally paint plein air, I prefer to take photos and use them later as reference. Liberties were taken with this painting, and I don’t like to be obsessive with mimicking every detail of reality.

This piece was sketched with a cheap ballpoint pen (which I probably got from the hotel). The colors were laid in with watercolors, and some of the deeper tones are done with Dr. Ph Martin’s liquid watercolors.
Finally, the headlights and street lights were painted in gouache.

MEDIA: Ink, watercolor, gouache
SURFACE: Delta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – Ivory – Cold Press Surface

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Aaron Kelly lives with his wife Raquel, dog Sage, and cat Kitton, in Los Angeles. Starting at an early age with finger painting, Aaron has nurtured a love for drawing and painting. He is particularly fond of pen and watercolor, which he uses as an outlet for his creative whims and explorations. Aaron works as an Art Director and Set Designer in the film industry.
Instagram: @saxton_art

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Morning on Ivanovskaya Gorka

ARTIST: Alex Gimein, Russia

ARTIST STATEMENT: This picture was drawn on the Ivanovskaya Gorka – my favorite place in Moscow. It’s one of the oldest parts of the city, located on one of the seven Moscow hills, with a lot of alleys, beautiful buildings and churches. I draw here all the time, this view is one of my favorites.

All of the line work was made on location with a pen and ink, and painted later in the studio with acrylic markers and colored pencils.

MEDIA: Fountain pen, permanent ink, acrylic markers, colored pencils
SURFACE: Nova Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Beige – Medium Grain Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Alex Gimein is an amateur artist and urban sketcher from Moscow, Russia. His favorite theme is the streets of old Moscow. He is inspired by the urban environment with all its attributes – courtyards, alleys, brick walls, drainpipes, air ducts. His favorite techniques are pen & ink and mixed media. He participated in several exhibitions, gives workshops on urban sketching

Instagram: @omally13art
Facebook: See Less

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Rainy Day Sketches

ARTIST: Alex Cfourpo, Sweden

ARTIST STATEMENT: I like to explore in the local forests on my bicycle and I often take pictures of places that stand out to me. But somehow a picture never really captures the right atmosphere or memory. So I started drawing them instead. Mostly on the rainy days when I don’t go out with the bicycle. I use mechanical pencil for the sketch and different fountain pens and technical drawing pens for the linework.

MEDIA: Graphite, Ink

SURFACE: Delta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – Ivory – Cold Press Surface

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Alex Cfourpo works as a tattoo artist and illustrator in Stockholm, Sweden. Their work consists mostly of pen and ink line drawings with a focus on organic, ornamental and nature motives. Always with lots of details, elements of fantasy and high precision. Instagram: @alexdrawdraw and @alexcfourpotattoo Facebook: Alex Cfourpo Tattoos Website:

Saturday, November 7, 2020

One of the Most Famous Rooms in Art Hstory: Van Gogh’s “The Bedroom”

via The Van Gogh Blog – via @theartnewspaper

It was autumn when Van Gogh first slept in the Yellow House and painted what must be the most famous bedroom in art history. The picture is a still life, although one on an enormous scale. What does it tell us about Vincent’s life on the eve of Gauguin’s arrival?

Van Gogh began renting the Yellow House in Arles in May 1888, but it was unfurnished and initially he kept his hotel room and just used the new place as a studio. In August he bought two beds, one for himself and the other for a guest, a fellow artist. He first slept in his own bed there in mid-September. “I can live and breathe, and think and paint”, he wrote with delight to his sister Wil.

It was in this room that Van Gogh composed some of his finest pictures. From Arles he wrote that “the most beautiful paintings are those one dreams of while smoking a pipe in one’s bed”. No doubt this was where he conceived the idea for “The Bedroom” (“La Chambre à Coucher”) (1888).

On 16 October Vincent started work on the iconic picture, in order to give his brother Theo an idea of his new home. He advised Theo that “looking at the painting should rest the mind, or rather, the imagination”. For us, today, it gives a glimpse into his domestic life.

Although the bed looks narrow, Van Gogh described it as a “wide double bed” and it has two pillows beside the scarlet blanket. Was he hoping that he might find a woman to share it with? The two chairs prefigure a bold painting of his own “empty chair” which he would make a few weeks later (now at the National Gallery, London).

On the far wall his clothes hang on a row of hooks, along with the straw hat that protected him while working under the strong Provençal sun. On the washstand is a miniature still life—with a water flask and glass, jug and basin, soap, and three bottles (he also presumably kept his razor there). Above this hangs a mirror that he had just bought, presumably used both for grooming and capturing self-portraits.

The perspective almost seems to make the bedroom sway, as in a dream—but this is partly because of the room’s unusual trapezoid shape. The house had a diagonal frontage, where it where it faced a public garden, slicing off the room at an angle near the washstand. The bed seems to loom up at us, with the bedend appearing even higher than the bedhead.

Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo that the walls were “pale violet” in the painting. But his pigments have deteriorated: the cochineal red in the blended violet has faded, now leaving the walls a bluish tone. Specialists at the Van Gogh Museum have created a digital recolourised image of what the original painting might have looked like.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Gamma Series

The Stillman & Birn Gamma Series features medium grain heavyweight paper, at 150 GSM, and comes in a lovely warm Ivory tone. The Gamma Series has the exact same paper qualities and strengths of our Alpha Series, with the added benefits of a warm backdrop to suit your sketching and illustration needs. When using transparent media like watercolors, the Ivory paper will give your washes an extra note of warmth, perfect for portraits, studies, and urban sketches done where the light is bright and the sketching is plentiful. Available in various sizes, bindings, and 22×30 inch sheets, the Gamma Series is the perfect sketchbook to keep with you in these Autumn months.

Visit our Gamma Series gallery at: to view previously featured artwork done on Gamma Series paper.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Magic River

ARTIST: David A Parfitt, United Kingdom

ARTIST STATEMENT: My watercolour paintings and monoprints are informed by being in the landscape. I make many drawings and sketchbook studies/experiments but it doesn’t mean that everything is used to develop a finished studio painting. This drawing probably won’t either. It was started during a woodland walk with our grandchildren and somewhere I used to walk with my grandfather when I was a child. The girls made up stories about ‘wood elves and the magic river’ while we walked so in my eyes this spot will always be known as the ‘Magic River’. I initially made a few pencil marks at the time and then finished the drawing with brush pens and ink at home.

I use watercolour in my finished work but recently to experiment more with tone, my sketches have been done with mechanical pencils, ink and brush pens. I use a green Sailor Fude de Mannen fountain pen and various Pentel colour brush pens which I have refilled with grey and black Diamine fountain pen ink.

MEDIA: Graphite and ink
SURFACE: Beta Series- Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Cold Press Surface

ABOUT THE ARTIST: David A Parfitt is a watercolour painter and printmaker from Somerset, UK. He is an elected member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI). His work is based around the landscape of places which are close to him, both physically and spiritually and he tries to evoke a sense of place without the finished painting looking too contrived or deliberate.
Instagram: david_a_parfitt_ri
Twitter: @davidparfittRI
Facebook: David A Parfitt

Monday, October 19, 2020



ARTIST: Klavdiya Krinichnaya, Kazakhstan

ARTIST STATEMENT: For me, painting is like translating from one unfamiliar language to another (especially if you do it occasionally). What’s why I often use postcard format to avoid extra details. This was quick oil pastel study, made in one layer. Beige papers with delicate textures allows me to start working immediately, without toning or underpainting. I’ve used only a silicone tool to smooth out the strokes. The photo of this sunset was taken on a cold quarantine evening, when I walked empty streets. I had not reached the edge of town that time, but I could imagine the sun going down over the forest.

MEDIA: Oil pastel
SURFACE: Nova Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Beige – Medium Grain Surface

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Klavdiya Krinichnaya grew up and started drawing in Crimea. Now she lives in Kazakhstan and paints local steppes, woods and skies. In her works she tries to find balance between realism and minimalism.

Instagram: @klaavdija

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Spy Cider: A Study in Light

ARTIST: Inna Gertsberg, Canada

ARTIST STATEMENT: I love grey toned paper for drawing/painting light. It captures the highlights magically. The chilled sweaty can and a glass jar were perfect models. I started with a quick graphite sketch and then followed up with watercolour dual brush pens to create the space and the shapes. The highlights are various kinds of white markers – from acrylic to white chalk.

MEDIA: Graphite, watercolor, acrylic, white chalk

SURFACE: Nova Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Gray – Medium Grain Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Inna Gertsberg was born and raised in the former Soviet Union, where she studied drawing and painting from age eight. She has worked as an advertising art director for most of her life, until recently returning to her first love – drawing. Inna’s ongoing project Draw Me a Monster, in which she creates monsters based on people’s requests, has attracted audiences from all over the world. For her work, Inna uses a range of media – from traditional pen and ink/watercolour, to digital illustration. She still does some commercial art direction and illustration to support her art supply addiction. Inna’s work can be seen at Instagram: @drawmeamonster FB:

Sunday, October 4, 2020

The Marvelous Collection of Alvin Guilbert

ARTIST: Manelle Oliphant, USA

ARTIST STATEMENT: I started this project for MerMay 2020. (MerMay is a monthlong celebration about artwork about mermaids). It’s a story about letting go and having faith and there are mermaids in it. This is the book cover and I used ink and watercolor to create it.

MEDIA: Ink, Watercolors

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

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Manelle’s love of stories began with the books and movies she enjoyed as a child. It was a happy day when her mom finally let her get her own library card. She spent much of her time checking out books of beautifully illustrated fairy tales.

Since then, she has received a Bachelor’s Degree in Illustration from BYU-Idaho and has illustrated many children’s books. You can read her stories, artwork, and follow current projects on and on Instagram and Facebook @talesfantastic

Manelle lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and two cats.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Dream Koi

ARTIST: Dee Maurice, Canada

ARTIST STATEMENT: For this particular piece, I was experimenting with distress oxide inks; a combination of the sprays as well as the ink pads. I laid down a background with the distress inks, using stencils and sponges. Then I put a coat of matte medium over top of the inks to prevent them from reactivating from more wet media. I then used acrylics, wax pastels, paint markers and other various media to add the koi and other details. I love using my sketchbook as a way of experimenting with new media and techniques, it’s amazing to see what turns out when you’re just playing around!

MEDIA: Distress oxide inks, distress oxide spray, ink pads, matte medium, acrylic, water soluble wax pastels, paint markers.
SURFACE: Nova Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Gray – Medium Grain Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: I am a self taught artist from western Canada. I enjoy the challenge of trying to marry my two favourite subjects: bold abstract patterns and animal portraits. I’m always working on an animal piece of some type, either pet portraits or a more spiritual dive into an animal I connect with. My sketchbook time is incredibly sacred and cathartic, I deeply enjoy losing myself in my sketchbook where I feel I am free to express the truest form of my art without fear.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Fluorescent Florals

ARTIST: Janice C. Lee, Canada

ARTIST STATEMENT: It has been a dry, hot summer, but on this particular day it was raining. I chose an unconventional palette of black, fluorescent rose, and bright blue for a floral study. It was a therapeutic exercise. I gave 100% focus to the paint flowing from brush to paper. Competing colors vied for attention. Pigments settled down into place as water quietly vanished from my brushstrokes. Art was just what I needed to combat the fatigue and weariness of being a medical trainee during a pandemic. I had once put a prolonged hiatus on creating art to pursue a career in medicine. It took a pandemic to rekindle my passion for drawing and painting. Now, it is my place of reprieve and self-reflection.

MEDIA: Watercolor and white gel pen.

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

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Janice Lee is currently a resident physician training to be a specialist in geriatric medicine. She has a growing love for florals and urban sketching. Her favorite mediums are watercolor and ink. You can follow her artistic journey on Instagram

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Chai in July

Artist: Shivani Jadon, Mumbai, India

ARTIST STATEMENT: Mumbai is known for its rains in the month of July. This year due to the lockdown, I had a chance to enjoy the rains at home with my favourite beverage, ‘chai’. With some inspiration from the net, I decided to paint this Gouache illustration. The colour palette used is primarily to depict an evening set up.

MEDIA: Gouache

SURFACE: Nova Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Beige – Medium Grain Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: The process of painting is a therapy session for me. I have been pursuing painting since childhood. As an avid traveller, I like visiting places which have unique landscapes and different cultures. Currently, I am working on a project depicting 100 days of India where I am recreating 100 paintings from 100 different places I have been to in India. My Instagram page (@shivanimakes) is a journey of patience, improvement and self-love.



Sunday, August 30, 2020

Puppy Portrait

ARTIST: London Vale, USA

ARTIST STATEMENT: I absolutely love photorealism. I find inspiration in exploring all the raw details and flaws I can possibly capture in both acting and creating visual art. The specificity of details are fascinating to me, and I hope to share as much life as I can in both forms of my work.For this piece, I loved the highlights and wanted to make them the star — the reflections in the puppy’s eyes, light catching on his wavy fur, and the texture of his damp little nose all came together to make him look so sweet and cuddly. Stillman & Birn’s beige toned paper provided a perfect mid tone for his fur, which helped me build rich depth in the shadows and make those special features pop when I added them at the end with white gouache.

MEDIA: Watercolor & Gouache

SURFACE: Nova Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Beige – Medium Grain Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: London Vale is an actress and award-winning painter who creates art in her Los Angeles studio, employing oil paint, watercolor, colored pencils & illustration markers in her work, as well as printing stationery by hand on a traditional printing press from the 1800s. Recently her artwork has gotten some of its own screen time in the Bryan Cranston produced Amazon series Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams. She is a member of the California Arts Club.Instagram, Facebook & Twitter: @LondonValeInkWebsite:

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Apple Study on Black Surface

ARTIST: Ankit Jasmatiya, India

ARTIST STATEMENT: This is the reverse process artwork in which we need to go from dark to light. The surface is black and I can directly start using white charcoal pencil and finding light values. A process of this kind allows you to have a better understanding about light and shade.

I usually work on graphite, charcoal and soft pastels. I used various draftsmanship techniques for this study for achieving negative drawing, lighting effects, blocking method, subtraction method etc.

MEDIA: White charcoal pencil, compressed charcoal and other charcoal pencil, watercolor brush for dry blending.
SURFACE: Nova Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Black – Medium Grain Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: I am Ankit Jasmatiya, an artist based in Noida, India and passionate about pencils and mostly dry media as it gives me the freedom to work anywhere and anytime. Most of my artworks are based on portraits and my objective is to create the artistic expression of the face. I want to spread awareness towards art all over the world. To achieve this, I am uploading art tutorials on my YouTube channel where I have more than 280,000 subscribers, so that everyone can learn art.

Social media handles:
Youtube URL:
Instagram page: