Friday, August 15, 2014


The Stillman & Birn sample sheets I was sent are all 4 x 6 inches and I've tried out three of the sample papers so far, using only watercolor and gouache.  Here are the results...

The Alpha Series 100# paper held up well to the wet watercolor but really isn't heavy enough to do much in really wet media (you couldn't lift color from the paper well), so I'd use this for gouache or colored pencil, other dry media, maybe.
(Correction:  Viktor from Stillman & Birn referred me to the painting by Iain Stewart who is working on a larger sheet of the Alpha paper and he layers up to 5 layers and can lift, using a tough scrubby brush!  I stand corrected!  Perhaps I was too gentle with my lifting, afraid to tear the paper, or was using staining colors?  Thanks for educating me even more about these wonderful papers, Viktor!  I have to say, the Stillman & Birn reps are very responsive and I like that.)  For that video Viktor sent, see here:

The Epsilon Series 100# paper held up well, too, and was very much like hot press in that it dried quickly and left hard lines which I used to advantage in painting this rough tree.  I painted this very wet and the paper didn't buckle or seem to soak up too much water.  If you like hot press, you could use this paper the same way, although it is thinner than hot press watercolor paper.  This might work best with pen + ink with watercolor.

The Gamma Series 100# paper has a vellum surface and was like hot press paper but you could add and layer color.  I didn't lift color, but will try it using a scrubby brush after hearing from Viktor at Stillman & Birn about the Alpha paper liftability.

I added some gouache to the watercolor.  Like hot press, you got hard lines when the paper dried quickly, but that could be worked around or used to your advantage.

Of these three papers, I liked the Epsilon Series 100# paper best of all and liked painting wet-in-wet on it and working with the way it dried.  

I'll do the other three later...


Lorraine Brown said...

this is what it so good about blogging sharing experiments and tips, thanks Rhonda

Stillman and Birn said...

Hi Rhonda,

Sorry but we do have to disagree about the Alpha and Gamma paper not supporting lifting techniques. Please take a look at this video and watch the last 3 minutes:



RH Carpenter said...

Glad you enjoyed my little experiment, Lorraine. See my updated info on the post after Viktor's comment.

Viktor, thanks for sharing this link. I did watch it was amazed at how rough he was lifting with a tough scrubby brush without damaging the paper. I think I was too timid with my lifting, using just a watercolor brush, but I will definitely get out the scrubbies and work on the others - and I stand corrected. You folks at Stillman & Birn are very good at customer relations and in this day and time, that's a great thing!

CrimsonLeaves said...

Awesome review, Rhonda!!

CrimsonLeaves said...

P. S., Loved the video!

RH Carpenter said...

Thanks, Sherry. I liked it, too, and will watch it again - he really puts on juicy layers of color.