A few new sketchbooks to test out!

July 17, 2014 | 2 Comments

1. Venezia Book by Fabriano. 
I have been wanting to try one of these for ages, so two weeks ago when I saw one on the counter at my local store  – The Artscene – I couldn’t resist.

The first thing I did was what I do on every the first page – a sketch of my current palette. While I normally do this as a way of tracking what I am using and any minor tweaks (the tweaks are getting less and less… truly!) it is also a great way of testing the paper.
I can test
– use of watercolour pencil (a few guidelines – I don’t really need to do this but it is a good test)
– use of ink
– how it takes all the different type of pigments in my palette. Granulating ones and staining ones that are prone to blossoming and hard edges.
– how bright the colours are – since I try to use each colour at full intensity
– and the list goes on….
I also did a teacup test (surprise surprise!) but since I overdosed on my yellow cup last week, it is the pink one. I hope you can read my notes. I will be testing this book further over the next few days (I am going away for a few days for a much needed break)
I know that this paper isn’t really suited to the way I use watercolour but I am interested to see how I go with it. There is no doubt though, that it is a beautiful beautiful book.

2. Travel Sketchbook by Hahnemuehle 
(thanks to The Art Scene…do you realise how many different types of sketchbooks they have in the store!)
140g/m2 62 pages high quality sketch paper 13.5 x 21cm landscape
This is a beautiful boundbook similar in size to the moleskine ‘large’ sketchbook but thicker. I like the quality and feel of the book and paper a lot. Colour is off white.

3. Leuchtturm 1917 Sketchbook…. in Berry
(thanks to LarryPost – they have an amazing array of Leuchtturm books… oh ah! I could roam their shelves for hours)
96 pages, drawing board with 180g/m2 , white, 14.5 x 21cm portrait
I love Leuchtturm books – I have used their notebooks for a number of years for various writing based notebooks (prefer them over moleskine notebook paper) They have the most delicious range of coloured covers… don’t get me started.
This is a stunning book – the paper is bright white and thick and the quality, like all Leuchttrums, is outstanding.

Ok – this is not a full review but just the starter…I just couldn’t stand to have those books sitting on my shelf looking at me.
I did a palette sketch for each and that was certainly enough to confirm that both books do not really suit a serious watercolour painter. Depending on how you use watercolour the Hahnemuehle might be ok (ie. more for simple block colours) and I certainly liked the tooth on the Hahnemuehle for both ink and watercolour pencil.

The Leuchttrum was lovely for the ink but tragically the watercolour bleed through to the other side.

Anyway – I have plans for how I am going to use both of these books for some development projects I have coming soon – so I will be able to report on how they are holding up to different media and uses
But in summary: Neither of these two would be suitable for ME as a daily sketchbook.

Looking forward to playing with the Venezia book though!


  • Jen Grove says:

    Hi Liz,
    Just wondering if you used the Venezia sketchbook anymore after the test. I’ve been tempted by these for ages but resisted as not sure how the paper will stand up to watercolour. I haven’t seen one in the flesh as yet – not many art shops in rural France! – so can’t feel the paper. I notice that Jonathan Twingley uses one now and again for his ink drawings so presume it takes ink/dip pen well.
    Any thoughts you have would be very welcome…
    Thanks, Jen

    • Liz Steel says:

      I haven’t used it at all after my initial test… but I know that the paper doesn’t suit my style of watercolour.
      If you want nice even washes then I think the book will be good.

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