Dryburgh Abbey


Purchase Weatherd Scottish Abbey


During the break I took over the last few weeks, I learned that Stillman And Birn, makers of wonderful sketchbooks, had featured my watercolour paining of Dryburgh Abbey, not only on their website, but on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages as well.  I am not an affiliate, so imagine my joy at the news!


I wanted to take a painting project with me to fill the long hours of travel time on the plane while travelling to England.  Of the places we visited in Scotland, Dryburgh Abbey is one of my favourites.  I enjoyed the tranquil moment standing alone in front of this aged and wet stone abbey chapter house ruin so much that it became the subject of my painting.


You can read about the artist statement I wrote for the feature on Stillman And Birns’ blog.


I am really very excited about it all.  So I thought I do a full review of the Stillman And Birn Beta Series paper and on why I love working with it.





At the time of my travel I didn’t have a travel-size sketchbook.  I am very heavy-handed with water when it comes to watercolour, so the new sketchbook had to be able to handle that. During my research, I came across Stillman and Birn.  Their Beta series sketchbook with 270 gsm weight paper seemed ideal to me.  I also like the white paper of the Beta series instead of the ivory of many others.


The Stillman And Birn paper stayed smooth despite my water usage. I didn’t see even the tiniest bit of the lint-like effect that other papers get when used with watercolour.  It also warped very little, which I was able to easily fix once the painting had dried. 


The Beta series is not rough like cold press watercolour paper, neither is it as smooth as the hot press ones.  It has an in-between texture.  I love to play with different painting media and the texture of the sketchbook handled them all beautifully.  I pulled out a few examples so you can get a good idea. 





The Dryburgh Abbey painting was done with watercolour pencils.  The picture above shows how much I had finished on the plane using a waterbrush.



Sketchbook 2017 - Canoe Prismacolour Marker And Copic Marker | Whims And Fancies



Markers typically work best on smooth paper, but this paper was smooth enough for me to blend and lift off paint with ease on this marker landscape and canoe painting.

Note – if you use markers, the pigment does seep into the back of the page.  Therefore, you won’t be able to use the back side.  I only use the right side of a sketchbook, so it was not a problem for me.



Sketchbook 2017 - Cat On The Wall Prismacolor Marker | Whims And Fancies



The sketchbook is great for quick, fun, comic-book style marker and ink sketches too.  I was able to layer different markers and blend them without hard edges showing.  I used a Micron pen to draw the black ink outlines.



Sketchbook 2017 - Lavender Field Painting Derwent Pastel Pencils | Whims And Fancies



The paper has enough grain for pastel pencils to work just as well.



Sketchbook 2017 - Vintage Tiles Winsor & Newton Watercolour Marker | Whims And Fancies



I used Winsor Newton watercolor markers to paint these rusted tiles.



Sketchbook 2017 - Dance Copic Marker | Whims And Fancies



I worked with mixed media on this one – markers, ink and pen.



Sketchbook 2017 - Steampunk Fleur De Lis Painting Marker & Winsor Newton Ink | Whims And Fancies



Water soluble Winsor Newton Ink gave me the vibrancy I needed for the steampunk Fleur-de-lis and the blue background.  I also used pens and pencils for the details and shading.



Sketchbook 2017 - Birch Trees In Snow Schmincke Horadam Watercolour | Whims And Fancies



Of course, it does superbly well with watercolour.  Once I painted the background, I went over with more saturated paint for the details on the trees, finishing the painting off with white paint for the snow. 

When I originally posted this painting, many of you chose this one as your favourite and wrote lovely words about it.  Since I prefer colder temperatures, I used this one as the watercolour example.



Sketchbook 2017 - Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks | Whims And Fancies



If you are looking into trying out sketching, painting, or journalling, I highly recommend the Stillman And Birn Beta Series sketchbooks.  You get 25-26 sheets per sketchbook.  It is thick paper, which makes it suitable for both dry and wet media.  As you see, I have used all kinds of painting media along with pens on this paper.  Currently I am working on a travel journal, hopefully I will be able to share more with you soon.




Since I have written this review I have worked on very wet on wet paintings.  The paper does not handle that kind of the water at all.  It becomes too soft and starts to lint severely.   It was an exersize in frustration.  I suggest using 100% cotton Fabriano or Fluid paper.  Fluid is a cheaper option of the two and does very well with wet on wet paintings.

Other than that Stillmand & Birn is quite a versatile sketchbook.


Until then,


I am linking up with the linky parties on my Events And Links page.  Please pay a visit to some of them.



35 thoughts on “Dryburgh Abbey

  • Wendy @ September Violets May 12, 2018 at 04:42

    It was a pleasure to have you describe the workings of your sketchbook and paints etc. You’ve created some lovely sketches and paintings within these covers! I still love the birch trees ;)

  • Nadya May 4, 2018 at 09:37

    Oh, Soma! Way a lovely sketch (and trip!) And great review!
    How fun that you’ve been featured by Stillman and Brin, and now by PPF!! Congratulations!

  • Ness May 4, 2018 at 05:32

    How exciting to be featured and thoroughly deserved as well! I’ve been to Dryburgh Abbey several times on our trips to the Borders. It’s such a peaceful place.

  • Rachel May 3, 2018 at 09:34

    Very pretty! I love that painting of Dryburgh Abbey and the colors in your quilt!

  • Kelleyn May 2, 2018 at 23:59

    Gorgeous sketches! Have a lovely week!

  • Cheryl Brickey May 2, 2018 at 17:45

    I love all of your drawings, congrats on being featured!!

  • Pieni Lintu May 2, 2018 at 11:42

    Looks so nice

  • Patty May 2, 2018 at 05:06

    Quilt for kitties sounds like fun. Thanks for linking up with Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal and good luck on your project.

  • Janine @ Rainbow Hare May 1, 2018 at 03:51

    Congrats on being a featured artist! It is very well deserved. Your Dryburg Abbey picture is stunning. And thank you for sharing your art and your thoughts on paper :)

  • Jesh StG April 30, 2018 at 11:02

    A travel sketch and watercolor book is soo handy! Once I discovered cold-press paper for watercolor paper I was hooked, since it’s also more easy to use for my technique with pastel. Wishing you success in both painting and quilting! Glad to have you back at All Seasons, Friend!

  • Su-sieee! Mac April 29, 2018 at 19:29

    I want to try this journal now. Thanks for a detailed review, especially showing how the paper takes with different media. All your drawings are wonderful. Congratulations for being featured! One more thing: I love that color green in your quilt block. I’m into that color right now. Whoo-hooo! Fun. :-)
    The View from the Top of the Ladder

  • Anne April 29, 2018 at 13:44

    oh how exciting. Your art work is real special so I’m glad they chose you.

  • Kaja April 29, 2018 at 00:00

    Congratulations! Your Dryburgh Abbey picture is wonderful, so I’m not surprised they wanted to feature it.

  • BillieBee April 28, 2018 at 17:25

    That is so exciting! Congratulations!

  • Nicole/DVArtist April 28, 2018 at 08:03

    Congratulations. You deserve the recognition with all the talent you have.

  • Bonniein Va April 28, 2018 at 07:20

    Loved seeing the wide variety of your art. Do you use that sketchbook mostly for your travels?

  • Tammie April 28, 2018 at 06:27

    Your journal paintings are beautiful. Plus they overflow with memories for you. Such a lovely thing to do.
    Congrats on being honored by Stillman and B. sharing your art on their sites!
    I have used and enjoyed their books. Very nice paper.

  • betty - NZ April 28, 2018 at 00:44

    Wow! That’s a wonderful surprise!

  • Christine April 27, 2018 at 19:01

    you are so talented.

  • Carol April 27, 2018 at 14:16

    Congratuations! You are so talented.

  • Beth April 27, 2018 at 13:30

    Congratulations! You are an incredibly talented artist.

  • Lisa Isabella Russo April 27, 2018 at 13:11

    Congrats on being featured, your work is lovely! Thank you also for the paper review.

  • gillena April 27, 2018 at 11:22

    Congratulatipns Soma. Thanks for your sumptuous sharing of art today


  • Jesh StG April 27, 2018 at 11:10

    Congrats, Soma! This is a big thing – am happy for you:) And welcome back in blogland:) Hope you’ll share this good news with All Seasons – we missed you:)

  • Sandra Walker April 27, 2018 at 10:32

    Soma, your painting are just breathtaking! I hope one day soon to go to Scotland; I’ve been to England and France twice but would love to see Scotland and Ireland. Congrats on having your beautiful one of the abbey featured in so many of Stillman and Birn’s social media! Well-deserved. Also well-deserved is mats for our kitties, right?! Now I’m going back to gaze again at each of your paintings!

  • Faye April 27, 2018 at 10:17

    Beautiful artwork in your Stillman and Birn journal. Wow, congratulations on being featured in so many platforms! It is no surprise that S and B chose your work to feature. It reflects favorably as to what a real artist can do with their journal.

  • Patty April 27, 2018 at 10:00

    Your artwork is just amazing. I love the abbey – it is beautiful.

  • Lady Fi April 26, 2018 at 21:12

    Wow – congrats on your feature! Your paintings are stunning.

  • Mary April 26, 2018 at 14:47

    Congratulations, Soma. It is a well deserved credit. It was interesting to read why you like the paper like you do. Not being a painter, I would not have imagined all the issues involved in watercolor. I love the way your photo was transferred into a different medium. The detail is incredible.

  • Kim Sharman April 26, 2018 at 14:37

    It is always a delight to be wowed by your water colour paintings, Soma. I am not at all surprised Stillman and Birn featured your beautiful painting of Dryburgh Abbey, it is superb. What a wonderful idea to while away the hours on a plane, by enjoying some artistic pleasures.

  • krislovesfabric April 26, 2018 at 11:14

    Congrats on the well-deserved feature, your art is such a pleasure to view :)

  • Susie April 26, 2018 at 11:09

    How awesome to be one of their featured artists, Soma!!! This Abbey painting is beautiful…. I can almost feel the roughness and chill of those ancient stones!!

  • Dixie April 26, 2018 at 10:50

    Wonderful, Soma. Congratulations. Good for you!
    I enjoyed reading your artist statement. There’s definitely a lot to see and enjoy out there.
    Thank you for the tour through some of my your lovely sketchbook. I really like how that one opens.

  • Kim April 26, 2018 at 10:37

    That’s such lovely recognition of your phenomenal work, Soma. And obviously an excellent showing of the country I love!

  • Susan April 26, 2018 at 10:29

    Congratulations on being a featured artist.

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