Wet Paint

Artists' Materials & Framing in St. Paul, MN

1 Comment

The Secret to Fantastic Drawing: Use More Paper

As a kid my mom would make sure my sister and I always had plenty of paper for drawing. She was a teacher so there was always a box of extra mimeographed worksheets to scribble on the backs of and, for a while, a carton of green-striped tractor-feed paper from the school office. We went through all of it. One birthday though, I received a pad of real drawing paper from the art supply store. I decided that it would be for special drawings so I set it aside until I was certain that I’d be doing a fantastic drawing.

Visiting my folks at home last fall I found that pad in a box and it is still blank.  As a kid I wasn’t confident that I’d be creating a masterpiece piece so I stuck to scrap office paper.

Since then I’ve stopped using the backs of German 101 vocab quizzes as sketch paper because I’ve learned that you shouldn’t wait to use good paper. Using better paper makes the drawing work out better. Now I get thick spiral pads with decent, toothy paper and I immediately do something fast, messy, and scribbly on the first few pages so that theres no hesitation about picking it up and adding to it and filling it up. Decent paper and not hesitating to use it is what generates fantastic drawings.

8080960Since I’ve gotten back into the store my new favorite is the 9×12 Bee 808 pad. It’s a sincere-looking, rugged, spiral-bound with 60 thick pages and a heavy board for a back cover.  And Bee makes it in the U.S., which is cool. I like the warm white color of the paper and medium surface. Spiral pads lay flat, which I prefer. It handles fine-point pens, soft pencil, and pastel nicely. It says it’s for multi-media so I’m going to get some ink and watercolor shading going soon.  My kids are each getting one with a promise to replace every full book with a fresh one.

Now thru February 10th, 2017 all pads and journals are 20% off at Wet Paint!

Leave a comment

Only at Wet Paint: Hahnemühle Nostalgie Sketchbooks

This holiday season we are featuring some of the unique, creative supplies that are regionally, or nationally, exclusive to Wet Paint. These items are great gift ideas that you will not find anywhere else. 

Heavy (190gsm) Hahnemühle Nostalgie paper is suitable for most any technique – the fine tooth is smooth enough for pen, yet textured enough for dry media…it’s also heavy enough for a light wash of ink or watercolor. The anthracite-colored hard covers feature a linen pattern that simultaneously makes the books durable and beautiful. And of course they’re stitch bound so the sheets lay virtually flat. And it’s not just us that loves Nostalgie sketchbooks…check out what our friend Roz Stendahl says about ‘em on her hugely popular blog!

Wet Paint is currently your exclusive North American source for Nostalgie sketchbooks. Choose from six sizes, but hurry…limited quantities available!

Leave a comment

Why Wet Paint loves Gil


gilNearly 30 years ago I met Gil. Gil was selling art supplies at a store in Berkeley. Next time I saw Gil, he owned an art supply store in Palo Alto. Both of us being independent art supply retailers meant we had a lot in common. What we didn’t have in common, we have in a friendly way, argued about over the years. Gil likes to travel and spends lots of time in Europe. And during those trips, he has found some great art supply lines that no one was importing into the United States. So we share our retailer woes together plus Wet Paint buys Gil’s Kunst & Papier books and Fibonacci brushes.


Justin with his Kunst & Papier sketchbooks

Kunst & Papier is a German line of sketchbooks and journals. They were designed by an artist because he couldn’t find a sketchbook to meet his own needs. The Wet Paint staff heartily endorses this line through their own personal use of the product. All of the sketchbooks are made with beautiful, quality paper. They respond to a variety of media and of different artists’ touch very well. The binderboard sketchbooks are their signature line. With a highly flexible spine these books have a great lay flat quality. No more using the side of your palm to hold the rolling paper flat. With plain bookboard covers, they are plain and simple in appearance which then can become the substrate for the artist to personalize. Newbie at Wet Paint, Chris, likes the subdued appearance which you can “make your own without defacing the book.” Both Liz and Justin rely on Kunst & Papier because their books are so well made they “wear well” and hold up to hauling them around with you. Even K&P’s simplest soft-covered sketchbooks that have few sheets and staple binding meet the discerning eye of Virginia who applies a wide range of media to their pages. Everyone feels they are just the most esthetically pleasing line of books, to the eye and to the touch. They look good. They have a wide variety of sizes. They have great paper. They are well constructed.


Gil with a handful of Fibonacci brushes

A few years back Gil visited Wet Paint with the Fibonacci line of brushes he found during his travels. The jaded Wet Paint staff, who have seen and tried just about every brush currently made, all wanted their own Fibonacci brushes. Beautifully crafted with synthetic blended heads in a vast assortment of sizes and shapes for water media. So what’s with another line of brushes? Liz likes the comfortable, well balanced handles. Verra likes the great snap of the hair. Justin likes the fact they hold their point for a very long time. Steve likes the crispness of the lines they make. Another esthetically pleasing, well-crafted tool.

When you handle lots of art materials, you just know when you pick up the good ones. These are them.


This weekend only, all Kunst & Papier sketchbooks and journals are 40% off MSRP and all Fibonacci brushes are 50% off MSRP! In-stock items only, valid 10/18 to 10/20/13.

Leave a comment

Why Wet Paint Stocks Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks


Justin Terlecki pen on Delta

Back in the 1970s, if you were a serious art student, it was standard to carry a black bound sketchbook just like your professor. Besides being the repository of your sketches and notes, the binding gave you the sense of this being a permanent record, a uniform format that would be the historic record of the studies for your artwork. As this tradition continued through the decades, the black sketchbook began to evolve. Some artists didn’t like the roll of the page caused by the binding, so paper manufacturers started providing the field sketchbook: the same hard black leatherette cover but with spiral binding. Others introduced micro-perforated sheets that could be torn out discreetly. In doing so, the original intent of the bound book changed over time. The book could now be easily edited; pages torn out and discarded instead of kept archived in place and in sequence.

Liz Carlson; watermedia on Epsilon

Liz Carlson; watermedia on Epsilon

By the beginning of the 21st century, the popularity of the black sketchbook made it quite a commodity item for the pad makers. Unfortunately, in order to compete with each other, this meant that many black sketchbooks began to come out of Asia with lower and lower prices and with paper of the quality of a cocktail napkin. This devolution of the quality of the black bound sketchbook only took into consideration that all art students and most artists wanted this product. They had lost track of the purpose of the book … They ignored the fact that paper quality could affect the drawings made on their pages. They totally missed the trend of artists working in mixed media which requires heavier and better paper. They didn’t notice the growing movement of sketching as an art form where the final work is kept within the sketchbook itself. And they lost sight of the vital role that the black sketchbook could play as a place to record ideas, document the creative process, and archive one’s development as an artist.

Wet Paint staff, Steve and Langhan, and the display of Stillman & Birn sketchbooks.

Wet Paint staff, Steve and Langhan, and the display of Stillman & Birn sketchbooks.

As an industry, art materials has been ripe for the return of a quality black bound sketchbook and in 2011, Stillman & Birn did just that. Michael Kalman and Oscar Hernandez are the founders of Stillman & Birn. Michael is the nephew of the original manufacturer of the first black bound sketchbook in 1958. Michael and Oscar believe that artists need sketchbooks that are the same caliber as any of their other art materials. Stillman & Birn understands that all artists don’t work alike and need papers with different surface qualities, different weights, different levels of whiteness, and of course, different sizes and different bindings. They have listened to artists and worked to provide them with a line of bound sketchbooks that is as diverse as their needs. Stillman & Birn has sourced the finest quality papers from Europe and then bound them under the strictest quality control in the United States. They’ve mastered the challenge of featuring heavier papers in bound books in addition to spirals, and, most remarkable of all, their bindings will actually allow the pages to lie flat and satisfy the sketcher who wants to work across 2 pages.

Stillman & Birn is a supplier that truly wants to provide artists with the best possible product they can afford and Wet Paint has worked closely with them in the improving of their product and the development of new items. Their commitment to the artist shows not just in the sketchbooks themselves, but in the amount of information that is provided on each book.

Justin Terlecki; pen on Alpha

Justin Terlecki; pen on Alpha

Wet Paint has stocked the Stillman & Birn books since their first manufacture run. The Wet Paint staff personally endorses this line. Justin Terlecki only uses Stillman & Birn sketchbooks now and says, “The Alpha and Beta have wonderful paper in them that is suitable for fountain pen sketching. The paper takes the ink beautifully and produces nice clean lines that don’t feather. The paper is also heavy enough that your drawings do not bleed on the other side. When you hold one of these books in your hand, you can tell that they are no ordinary sketchbook.” They are Liz Carlson’s go-to sketchbooks too. She uses the Alpha series because “the bright white tone of the paper is perfect to show off color media.”

Liz Carlson; watermedia on Alpha

Liz Carlson; watermedia on Alpha

Last month Stillman & Birn began shipping their new “Zeta Series” sketchbook to meet the demands of artists wanting a 180# heavy weight, natural white, smooth surface in both hardbound and wirebound books. And in June 2013, Wet Paint will have 22×30” individual sheets for each of the 6 papers featured in Stillman & Birn’s sketchbooks. This enables the artist to move from their sketchbook to a larger format without having to adapt to different surface qualities. Later in the year, we will have sampler sketchbooks which will include pages of all 6 papers so people can experiment will all the surfaces in the series.

Visit Wet Paint in person or online to see the entire line of Stillman & Birn sketchbooks. And visit the Stillman & Birn blog to see more examples of what artists are doing in their books.