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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook

I still have one more un-used hand-bound journal on my shelf, but this time I decided to use this Epsilon sketchbook from Stillman & Birn that a dear friend gave to me. The paper is made more for ink than watercolor, but light not-too-juicy washes work well on it. And my fountain pens simply glide over the smooth paper!
Every one of Stillman & Brin products are a dream to use, and the binding lasts no matter how rough I get with it.

As always, I drew my current sketching palette on the first page. Actually, this is the second 2-page spread -- I left the inside covers blank for collecting random quotes. Lately I have been carrying a larger purse than my norm, allowing me to carry a full-size sketchbook and this pocket art toolkit from Expeditionary Art inside the bag. Smaller bags only hold my tools and I carry the book separately. 

In the kit are two fountain pens (one with water-resistant ink and one with water-soluble ink), a waterbrush, two travel brushes (a #8 round and a dagger), a mechanical pencil and tiny case holding a kneaded eraser, a tiny stencil brush for spattering, a shortened white pencil, a shortened blue-gray watercolor pencil, a re-usable towel for wiping, and two pocket palettes, also from Expeditionary Art. I can switch out either of these palettes with a third one: one holds a basic warm/cool limited palette, one holds granulating earth colors, and one holds gouache. Not shown is a 4th set I made myself using a business card case that holds a basic palette of 14 paints.

Just after putting together my pocket palette set of granulating earth colors, Jane Blundell posted one she put together . . . so I had a bit of fun comparing our sets side-by-side. I have a set of Daniel Smith color dots that I used for the colors she uses that I don't own. She also recently put together a set for urban sketching along with some suggested options, so I added that just for fun.


  1. Oh, this is terrific, thank you! I still haven't created a granulating palette, because I got rid of most of my DS Primateks and other brands. I don't want to buy new unless I am SURE, so this is very useful.

    And I hope you like the Epsilon, I have filled dozens of them!

    1. This is my first time using the Epsilon (it's one of the sketchbooks you gave me) --- I LOVE how fountain pens glide across the surface!

      I kept several granulating paints when I cut down to my "core choices", including a couple of Primateks. Granulation is so much fun! Jane Blundell gives fabulous info of all kinds on watercolor pigments --- I thought it funny that she came out with her choices only a day after I did.

    2. I really love how my pens glide on that paper! I was out when it was time to start a new one so the one I'm using now isn't Epsilon and I feel the drag every time I write. SO glad it's a small journal!

      I've always loved granulation, that's why I've always had to have Manganese Blue (now Hue) nearby! And it must be something in the air, because I've been wanting to add more. I have to say Lunar Black really granulates like mad, but it's just too dead for me. Lunar Blue on the other hand, is lovely...

    3. Oh! I forgot about my lunar blue --- that would be better than the mixed gray in my set! I do love Jane's choice of Sodalite genuine -- a rich Payne's gray shade -- but I agree with you about lunar black.

      When autumn comes around, I tend to move more towards the granulating paints. It just seems right this time of year. Too bad the Epsilon paper isn't better for really juicy wet-in-wet watercolors --- that's when granulation is the most fun!

    4. That's when I use the lovely, smooth Zeta!

      I will use black watercolor once in a while, but very, very sparingly...the pupil of an eye, maybe, or a dark limb and twigs, but for a whole painting it just looks dead to me.

    5. My palette black is a convenience mix I make from the usual blue and neutral tube paints, stirred together and let dry. More 'lively' than purchased blacks. But more often I find myself just grabbing the Pentel pocketbrush pen when I need a black. So maybe I'll switch it out for something else.

      I didn't know the Zeta could take juicy washes!?! I have one you gave me but haven't wanted to unwrap it because your art is on the cover tag. Sentimental, huh?

    6. Awwwww! USE it. You can save the band. :D And since it's thicker, yes, you can do juicier washes. It may buckle some, but lots of papers do...

    7. I __can__ be silly, can't I?

      Though I still love using journals I bound myself, I'm thinking I'll use more Stillman & Birn books as well. I noticed a "sampler" set of the smaller size softcovers on Amazon, one of each type of paper.


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