Come and Sketch At the Beach!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Get Yourself Some "Zeta" Love!!

I have recently filled my Stillman and Birn Bound Beta sketchbook and moved over into a new SB Zeta sketchbook…that I absolutely love!

I was warned that I may not like this particular paper as well because it is much smoother than traditional watercolor paper. It is similar to hot press but different. It's almost as if Stillman and Birn have managed to combine the properties of hot press (smoothness) with the responsiveness of cold press (absorbency). I gotta tell you, I love the smoother surface as it works well for pen AND it makes me think differently!

As I've mentioned in the last several posts, I've been working towards working looser. The page above is testament to how changing up our media can bring about changes in our style.

Moby is our youngest kitten and she became quite ill towards the end of January. She curled up into a ball on the couch and quit playing, interacting and basically slept 23 out of 24 hours. This is so not normal for a kitten and it scared us witless.

When the vet starts throwing words around like meningitis and spinal column injury or infection, you tend to freak out.

Two trips to the vet, two rounds of strong antibiotics, and a new, cutting-edge anti-inflammatory drug for cats later and we have a furry, purry, playful kitten again.

When I started the page, I knew I wanted to capture a quick image that showed Moby's stoic withdrawal from us. She felt so bad and it showed on her face even in sleep.

I had captured a moody picture of her with my camera a few days back before she became sick and the left part of her face was in deep shadow. When I went to sketch and paint this image, Moby climbed up into the big chair in my studio and basically sat in the same position as the photo. I was able to sketch from the live model while using the dramatic lighting from the image.

The Zeta paper is easy to paint, draw, and write on. I've found it to be very versatile and easy to use. Because it's different from my usual paper, it also challenges me to be in the moment rather than working "as usual."

I have to think about what I'm doing, how I'm laying down paint, how I'm engaging with the paper to create the image I seek.

The new header at the top of the blog is also painted on the Zeta paper and I'll have a number of other examples to share with you over the coming weeks.

So if you are looking to change up your style, let me suggest to you that you change your media. The Zeta sketchbooks are a great way to accomplish this!

I also want to comment on the overall Stillman and Birn experience. From the time I first started playing around in with the SB sketchbooks several years ago until today, I've been impressed with the overall consistency of the paper and the binding.

My books tumble around in my bag, get dropped, shipped, and drug through airports—without incident. The binding has never given way on me. The sizing on the paper is consistent and I know what I'm getting every time I pull the plastic off a new book. I can't say that about any other paper line I've ever worked with!

So do yourself a favor and get a Stillman and Birn sketchbook—you'll be glad you did!
Have you already purchased one? What was your experience?

Please Note: Painted Thoughts Blog, ImaginaryTrips.com nor I, Laure Ferlita, are affiliated with Stillman and Birn.

22 comments:

  1. Laure, I'm glad to hear that Moby is improving. Love the portrait and how it came about. Thanks for the tips on the Zeta paper. I've had a hankering to try it because I tend to like smooth and heavy papers. I usually bind my own journals and I think Stillman and Birn sell sheets too, not sure. Off to check it out!

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    1. Lynne, they do have sheets and they're great fun to play around with and I would think they'd be fabulous in your own journal. Let me know how it turns out if you make one!

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    2. I apologize, Ruca, for calling you Lynne! I wasn't paying close attention!

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  2. I like your loose Moby portrait. I am glad she is better. I have never used S&B sketchbooks. I usually buy what is available in stores. I need to venture into the cyber store and try one. I love your new header. I used to love the snow twinkling on your blog page. After this winter I am sick of snow. I will have to think of this twinkling on your blog as fairy dust. Makes me feel better. ;)

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    1. They're a treat, Lisa. I've gotten to the point where they're just about all I use. Thanks for the header love! As for the snow, it really is suppose to be faery dust!

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  3. Thanks for the great review about the Stillman and Birn Zeta paper. I have been thinking of getting one of their sketchbooks for a long time now but was not sure if I would enjoy painting on it. It does sound really nice. Poor Moby so glad she is feeling better, it is a worry when they are ill. Love the portrait.
    Lynne

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    1. I've tried the Alpha, Beta and Zeta series and I have liked them all. The Alpha was a little bit light (paper weight) for my tastes, but still performed like a champ. It's a personal preference of mine to work on heavier papers. Whichever you choose, you won't go wrong!

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  4. I love the new header (very Spring-like), and I'm so thrilled that Moby is feeling better. You know, I don't think I have ever tried to paint an animal--I'll have to put it on my to-do list. (I've done a pen-and-ink sketch of Scout, with a watercolor-pink tongue, but that's not the same thing.) You've really got me wanting to try one of these sketchbooks, but I have several brand new and untouched ones already I'd feel guilty about buying another one. I guess the only solution is to actually sketch and paint so that I "need" a new one.

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    1. Thanks for the header love, KJ! I was going for a Spring feeling. Painting animals from photos is much easier from real life. They're usually moving too much to capture easily. Moby was feeling so lousy, I was able to capture a quick likeness of her. And there will be NO discussion of GUILT on this blog! You don't want to know how many sketchbooks I have…and I'm not telling!

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  5. Glad you enjoy the Zeta experience, Laure. I'm nearly the end of my second Zeta sketchbook and I really like them too. Still unsure whether I prefer Alpha (thinner and a bit more tooth) or Zeta as both have virtues, but I definitely believe that Stillman & Birn are the best sketchbooks that money can buy.

    Cheers --- Larry

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    1. I couldn't agree more, Larry. SB has the sketchbook market cornered...for me, anyway. I worked in the Alpha and it was okay, but since I can get carried away with paint and water, I tend to like a bit more weight to my page. I'm very taken with the versatility of the Zeta paper.

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  6. I don't have to buy a Stillman and Birn sketchbook to try thanks to you :) but I do have to finish off at least one other sketchbook before I dive into it. I am sure it will make me think differently because it's an unusual size for me. I usually work on cut down watercolor paper or in a 9x13 book.

    I love, love, love the new header! Fresh and ready to get painting! Perfect.

    So glad to hear Moby is better. He is very lucky he got you as his family!

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    1. I hear you, Timaree. I "forced" myself to finish the bound Beta sketchbook I was working in BEFORE I would allow myself to touch the Zeta. It was the siren call that pushed me to finish the Beta! Thanks for the comments on the header. It was too much fun.

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  7. Wonderful sketch of Moby and I'm glad she is better. I'm very inspired and am taking a journaling workshop here in Naples in a couple of weeks.

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    1. Really? An art journaling workshop?! Tell me more!!

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  8. ...I'll have to try the Zeta. I love your sketch of Moby. I knew something was wrong even before I read the text. You captured the mood so well. Also...LOVE your new header. That Carolina Wren is adorable! :-)

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    1. I knew you'd like that wren. They're one of my very favorite birds and they've been quite active around the house this year. Get the Zeta, you'll love it!

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  9. Laure - so glad first of all that Moby is doing well. Love your sketch of him. You are the second or third person that has talked about the Stillman- Birn sketchbooks. I looked for them through Cheap Joes and also Jerry's artorama. Think someone mentioned Dick Blick so will check there. Will also give that Zeta a try as well. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you, Debbie. The Stillman and Birn sketchbooks are wonderful. I think you'll enjoy it. If you visit their website, they have retailers listed by state, if that helps any.

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  10. Glad to hear that your kitty is on the mend.
    Very interesting hearing about your experience with the Zeta sketchbook. I love the Delta sketchbook that I won on your blog last fall. I haven't experienced the others - I'll have to put that on my to-do/wish list. I wonder if Stillman & Birn would ever make available 'sampler packs' of the different papers - so you don't have to get a whole book of each type to compare.

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  11. So glad Moby is better. That's scary - I know because my Buster was sick last week. Not as sick as Moby, but it still scared us. He's all better now too. I have a Beta Stillman & Birn that I have yet to try (soon, I hope), but the Zeta sounds like something I'd like to try too. I just need to sketch more so I have a reason to buy another one. And your new header is wonderful.

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  12. Zeta! I didn't know S&B put out a Zeta. Your post makes it sound like my kind of paper. My next stop is to treat myself to one. I can hardly wait for it to arrive. Thank you Laure for the info.

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