|I fill a number of watercolour sketchbooks each year!|
If you've been following me for any time at all, you'll know I'm a big fan of sketchbooks. Besides the many watercolour sketches of mine that you see here and on social media, I also have idea-type drawing sketchbooks that I doodle in or jot down ideas. So what's the big deal? Why do I love sketchbooks so much? And which sketchbooks would I recommend? Read on ;-)
I have a ridiculously long list of reasons why I love sketchbooks. If you catch me in person and ask the question, you're in for a long afternoon. Haha! I'm passionate about them! But here's a short list of some of the main reasons why I keep sketchbooks...
- They're a document of my life and travels. Unlike photos, the sketches in the books are not a quick snapshot. They're usually a careful decision about what I feel is important enough to spend an hour or more capturing.
- Unlike a photo album, I can write little stories next to the sketch. A diary of sorts. I didn't do this much in the beginning, concentrating just on the painting. But now these stories have become almost important than the sketch. Even though I'm not a writer, just a few notes, read years later brings back so many wonderful memories.
- A full sketchbook tells a wonderful story. So many folks who stop to watch me sketch or see a sketch later, say it's a pity it's in a book. Why? I think it's because they're only seeing each page as a separate thing and not as a whole story. A sketchbook becomes a sort of coffee table book - something that works when you page through it. Mistakes and all.
- The sketchbooks are only for me! No, I don't regret that a 'perfect' sketch can not be sold. Why does everything need a monetary value to give it importance? When I open my sketchbook and start painting I'm not thinking about pleasing anyone else. Just me. It's very different when I pull out a beautiful fine art sheet or work on a commission.
- They're documenting my artistic journey. I tell my students often to add a note and a date to their paintings. On a bad day, when you feel like every brush stroke is a struggle, there's nothing like grabbing an old sketchbook and seeing how far you've come.
- Proper watercolour paper - not drawing paper, or mixed media paper or anything else. Something made specifically for watercolours.
- 300gsm weight - I work very wet and thinner paper can buckle in bigger sketchbooks, which can be a pain when you're working outside.
- 100% cotton paper - I know it's expensive, but I spend hours on every book. Days in fact. I think it's worth it.
- Flat binding - spiral bound books are great (see below), but I'm really enjoying the story-telling / coffeetable-book feel I get from a bound book at the moment.
- Vegan - as always
Here's what I'm using at the moment...
The Perfect Sketchbook from Etchr Lab
|The Perfect Sketchbook from Etchr Lab - A4 & A5 sizes|
- Ticks all the boxes above.
- Very strong - my books need to take some abuse as they go everywhere and get shoved in hiking packs and such.
- The thicker paper dries a little slower than the thinner paper in other sketchbooks, so more working time.
- Very easy to get soft edges. If you like hard edges they're not easy to get.
- The folks at Etchr are lovely and helpful. Yes, this is important too!
- Expensive and not available locally. Can take a very long time for your order to arrive. Plan ahead.
- Not that many pages in a book, so I go through them quickly. You can't really have more pages than it has, because the thick paper would mean a very bulky book if it had more pages. So this isn't really a fair con.
- Paint doesn't lift out easily.
- The first and last page don't open flat. A minor thing, but other bound books manage this.
Other sketchbooks I also like
|Fabriano watercolour sketchbooks, A4 and A5 sizes|
They are spiral bound. This makes them super convenient for painting outside, because you can fold them back and they're not as uncomfortable as a big bound book on your lap. Especially the A4 size. I haven't taken my A4 Etchr book outside yet, because I think it would be a bit cumbersome. Time will tell.
The spiral binding has another advantage - you can work in either landscape or portrait format easily. Not really possible in a bound book. I miss this.
|Hahnemuhle watercolour sketchbooks, A5 and pocket size|