Your choice of sketchbook is probably the most important decision to make as it affects so many aspects of your work. Not only will the paper will dictate what media you can use, but the size and binding will have an impact on how easy it is to use. For example a small sketchbook makes it easier to pull out of your bag and do a super quick sketch, while a larger book with thicker watercolour paper will probably be reserved for dedicated painting sessions.
So it is not just a matter of buying someone else’s selection and assuming that it will be ‘right’ for you. You have to think about how you want to use it first.
I have discussed these ideas before – so please pop over to my section on sketchbooks to read some more thoughts on how to choose a sketchbook.
Last week I started a new A4 watercolour moleskine book and I have had some clarity on a situation that thought was a big compromise.
I think the A4 moleskine is my all time favourite sketchbook to use (despite the fact that the current paper isn’t as nice as the old paper was) but it is just too big and heavy for everyday use. I love the Stillman and Birn Alpha 9×6 landscape sketchbook for everyday use (quick sketches and lots of notes), but when I am out sketching and have some time to do a more serious sketch I would prefer to use better watercolour paper. So for the last few years I have resorted to working in two sketchbooks – I take the A4 moleskine out when I am going on a sketching day.
I would much prefer to only have one book as a continual narrative is a big deal for me. I have been thinking that this arrangement was an unavoidable compromise and I disliked the idea of having some sketches in a separate book – it was as if they were lacking in some way because they were isolated from the record of my life. This relates back to what I was thinking about a few weeks ago Recording Life vs Creating Art.
This weekend, as I was working the two books during the inagural national Urban Sketchers Australia sketchmeet ,I suddenly realised that the ‘serious sketches’ don’t need to be part of the day to day narrative of my life. My big A4 sketchbook is a separate narrative of my sketching outings over the course of a much longer time frame (6 months to a year). I really like the idea of having a book with a longer story as my everyday sketchbooks only contain a limited time frame of 4-6 weeks.
This weekend I used my Alpha for the quick ‘squeezed in’ sketches while travelling or at the end of the day when I was tired. These quick more experimental/risk taking sketches are enough for me to include the event in my day-to-day storytelling and a place to write my thoughts. I hope that makes sense?
Anyway, I am in danger of rambling on and on about these ideas, so I will leave it at this point and start sharing my pages. I will intersperse the larger sketches in with my everyday pages so you can see how the two work together.
I know that I have discussed this topic before, but I always love hearing about how other people use their sketchbooks and what challenges they have at the moment finding the right fit. So I would love to hear from you!