Sketchbook Review: Kunst & Papier Watercolour book

February 7, 2020 | 2 Comments


I’ve been testing a lot of different sketchbooks lately and this week I finished a Kunst & Papier Aquarellbuch – Watercolour Book. I liked it a lot!!

I first came across this book when I was travelling in Europe a number of years ago, and was reminded of it by my friend Yvonne recently. I bought this book from Newtown Art Supplies but have been told by a few people that it is available under Jacksons brand in black.

(Doing sketchbook reviews takes a long time so I’m trying a new streamlined approach in the hope that it will help me share my thoughts more easily. It’s great to be reviewing this book immediately after finishing it. )



 

BOOK CHARACTERISTICS

Size and Format: Squarish format – 9.4 x 8.1″ (other sizes available)

Weight: 690 (finished book)

Number of Pages:  60 sheets/120 pages

Binding: Hardcover, Sewn bound, opens flat. No elastic strap. No back pocket. Blue grey endpapers – very nice!

Cover material: Dark blue fabric

Wear and tear: I used this book for 3.5 weeks and in that time the cover does have some marks/stains on it and the fabric on the corners are starting to wear.

 

Summary: This is a big sketchbook with a heap of pages and would take most people a long time to get through. It’s a little bigger and heavier than I would normally choose for an everyday book, but I did really enjoy the format. There is something very nice about having a big well-loved and used sketchbook. I really liked the squarish format and loved the book cover!

 



PAPER

Fibres: 35% Cotton Fabriano

Paper Weight: 160gsm

Colour: Natural white

Texture: Nice smooth cold press texture which is the same front and back – yay! No strong diagonal linear grain (such as Handbook Travelogue – review coming soon) but there is a noticeable texture.

Ink: Paper is great for ink – I used a variety of pens and they all worked great.

Pencil: I did one sketch using watercolour pencil lines and the paper was nice to draw on, but I didn’t do any extensive pencil tests.

 

Watercolour: When I started using this book my thought was that ‘ the paper is fine’. This meant that I was able to do what I wanted but there wasn’t anything that made me say to myself “wow” or “nice!” (Yes, I talk to myself all the time when I’m sketching!) However by the time I was close to finishing the book I was really enjoying it and was sad to see it come to an end.

While I was using this book I was constantly thinking about how it compared with Stillman and Birn Alpha – my usual everyday sketchbook. Please see this article for explanation of what I’m looking for so that I can achieve my quick urban sketches.

Here are a few of my findings:

– The paper is only 160gsm so you would expect it to buckle when using watery washes. And yes! the paper did buckle. I felt as if it buckled more than Alpha. I rarely think about buckling when I use Alpha, but there were times when I felt the paper surface in this book was a little uneven and hard to write neatly. If I had used some clips to hold the book together tightly, the buckling might have been reduced. Note: I’m okay with some buckling as I love a well-used sketchbook feel and I also love the sound of buckled paper.
– Colours appear bright on this paper.
– It allows for good granulation – although the paper texture is a major factor in granulating areas.
– It was difficult to achieve smooth washes – the buckling didn’t help with this, causing valleys and subsequent backruns.
– I found the best results worked when I only did two layers of washes and didn’t fiddle (this is my style so this was not a big issue for me).
– Paint  dried fairly quickly  (I think… but please note I used this book in December – our summer)
– This paper allowed me to create a reasonable variety of marks (something super important to me – I don’t like smooth washes)
– I was able to do a few very quick, rather wet direct watercolour sketches and I was pleased with the results.

Note: There is a Fabriano Watercolour Book (see here for more about that book) with 300gsm 25% cotton paper. The paper in this K&P book is quite different being lighter in weight(160gsm) and with less sizing. I found the paper in this book easier to use.

 

Summary: Once I accepted the amount of buckling, I enjoyed using the paper in this book and it worked well for a number of different techniques. I really liked the blue cover, the format, the number of pages and the overall feel of the book as I worked through it. As mentioned above , towards the end of using this book I grew very attached to it. I have another smaller portrait size version which I look forward to using later in the year. So, I did enjoy using this K&P book a lot.

 


PAPER TESTS

Here are my usual tests:

And for comparison, here are the same watercolour and ink tests done on Alpha:

 


SAMPLE PAGES

Here is a collection of sketches(close ups) done in this book:

 

To see all the sketches in this post check out these posts or…

this flip-through on Instagram


OVERALL SUMMARY

I think this Kunst and Papier sketchbook is a great everyday sketchbook. The paper texture is nice, consistent front and back and good for quick sketches whether you are using ink, pencil or watercolour. It would be a good choice if you want a sketchbook with many pages, want some nice granulation and textured washes and don’t mind a bit of buckling.


OTHER REVIEWS

If you want to find out about some other sketchbooks here are a few that I have recently reviewed:

Etchr Sketchbooks in Hot Press and Cold Press

Hahnemuhle Nostalgie

 


Let me know in the comment section below your thoughts about using these books and/or if you have any questions.


 

2 Comments

  • Patricia Miles says:

    Hi Liz
    Interesting review.
    I think it would be helpful if you could include the cost of these sketchbooks and possibly where they’re available.
    Cheers
    Trish

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Patricia- I have linked to two places in this article so you can see the prices there. As I’m in Australia it’s hard for me to source for my readers elsewhere. But from now on I will ask my readers to share. 🙂


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