Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Which sketchbook?

Not surprisingly journal keepers have specific material requirements about their supplies....avid journalers are on the brink of being book fetishists, collecting jounals on trips and receiving them as gifts. They can recite names of companies that produce blank books the way people know wines or shoe labels (care for a Daler Rowney?) and are on more than nodding terms with a wide array of pens and art supplies...
Jennifer New, Drawing from Life - the Journal as Art
I've been writing my next book review, of Drawing from Life - the Journal as Art and got distracted into thinking about sketchbooks! I guess reading all these materials pages at the front end of these drawing books that I'm reviewing and then looking at 30 odd journals is beginning to make me think more about how I can solve my problem.

My current objective is to find a way of being able to draw on a larger piece of paper with a view to sales. (I know, I know - taking leaves out of sketchbooks - complete heresy!) I guess what I'm looking for is something which feels like a sketchbook but isn't - it's full of loose paper suitable for final works - except in my case it'll be a sketch done while travelling.

The very boring picture on my right is something I bought years and years ago and have never used. It's a Roberson's Artists Paper Choice cover. It has two of those 'screw post thingies' into one end of the front and back boards which are covered with that very fine material used for binding books, a wide elasticated band around it - and it just needs to be filled with paper! Which will probably be Arches Hot Press cut to size - and that size will be no bigger than 11"x8".

I found the Roberson website (see below) and, no, they don't seem to produce what I've got any more. However I'm going to check as essentially it's the front and back boards of their watercolour sketchbooks - which colourwise and size wise look very much like the ones endorsed by the Royal Watercolour Society (and available to buy at the shop at the Bankside Gallery). Which means they may be able to do me an A3 size - which is what I'm really after! So - one step further on the track of the sketchbook holy grail.

My sketchbooks

I'll show you mine if you show me yours! Now I know this has been discussed before (but I can't find it!) but I think this exercise bears repeating! My current sketchbooks are:
  • Daler Rowney Black Hardback Sketch Book. I use both the A4, A5 and A6 sizes - but mainly the A4 size. These are the sketchbooks which work particularly well with pen and ink and coloured pencil. These sketchbooks contain 78 perforated sheets of Ivory Cartridge paper 85g/m which is acid free (this means the paper never yellows). The perforation near the binding edge means the perforation can be folded to either remove the page easily or to make a double page spread which lies flat. All my largest sketches are currently done as a double page spread in this book. The 11"x 16" is a size I'm happy working at - but I just wish it didn't have the fold line down the middle - hence the search for the new sketchbook.
  • Moleskine - I use the large sketchbook (that's the one with the lavendar blue wrapper). This contains 100 pages 250 gsm paper which has a super smooth surface (a bit like Bristol plate) which accepts both pen and ink and coloured pencils very well. I keep looking at the smaller version but I think that's just to small for me. Also I've never tried the watercolour sketchbook - but that's because it seems to have a NOT surface rather than an HP surface which is what I'm after for pen and ink and coloured pencils.
  • Winsor and Newton - I occasionally use a Heavy weight Wire-O Sketchbook - which has a hard back and a spiral wire binding which means it can lie flat easily. However the wire binding means there's no scope for a double page spread sketch unless I get the case bound version. This also has 50 sheets of 170gsm/80lb acid free cartridge type paper with perforations for easy removal. They accept pencil, pen and ink and coloured pencils well. I've also used a waterbrush with watercolour pencils with this one and not had a problem. The cover does state it's suitable for watercolour while the website says suitable for light watercolour washes.
  • I've also got a Fabriano Journal with the coloured ingres paper - but it simply doesn't open and lie fat easily and hence it never gets used!
  • My final two sketchbooks you can't get anymore so I won't mention details here - but I would be interested in anybody who knows where it's possible to get a sketchbook with glassine interleaving like my Charmian Edgerton sketchbook has.
Your sketchbooks

OK - (and again I know we've done this before) but I still want to know which brand of sketchbook do you you use and why? Any new finds you want to tell me about? If we get a lot of answers or people would like to point me to where they have previously written about their sketchbooks, I'll do a summary post which includes all the links plus some sort of commentary as to which sketchbooks seem seem to find favour with regular sketchers.

What I'm interested in is:
  • whose makes it? (and is it difficult to get hold of?)
  • what size?
  • what sort of paper?
  • what media is it suitable for?
  • would you change and/or recommend your sketchbook?
C Roberson & Co.
C Roberson and Co has been manufacturing and supplying artists' materials since 1810.
Just a quick note. This is the website for C. Roberson & Co. - which took a bit of finding. Apparently they produce a lot of good quality art supplies - which probably needs investigating (big smile!). They only deal with trade direct at their base in north London. However they do have a map of artist suppliers around the UK which carry their supplies.