The end of an era and trying something new

August 22, 2012 | 6 Comments


End of an era… This is most likely the last one of these sketchbooks(in this size) I will use. Since mar 2009 I have been using one of three variations of this book and filled over 60 of them. The book is a Jasart premium sketchbook with 150gsm cartridge – an Australian version of the Daler Rowney ebony sketchbook (they changed the paper 2 years ago) another variation is by Millini -but paper isn’t as good as the Jasart WAS. Sadly Jasart have just changed to inferior paper. So unless I find old stock I will change to Stillman and Birn’s alpha books. The Alpha books are great and despite being a little heavier are better.

But rather than just starting with the Alpha I got at SD I feel like a change (more of this later) In May when I went for a square book I also found it easier to change to inkless watercolours than I have in my standard book. So I was thinking of using my SD moleskine… But worried about all the text I like to write.

Since making the decision to use a Moleskine WC book I have been considering its restrictions and for me I just doesn’t feel right to fill a whole page of text in that nice paper and as you all know I DO write a lot in my sketchbooks. Also there are a few ‘things’ coming up that I will want to write personal notes about….(more than normal) So…I picked up a Canson book(which we also got at SD) with 90gsm paper and it got me thinking.
Some of the things buzzing in my head
– I am in the mood post symposium for experimenting – I do not want to just fall back into my usual stuff
– I was really excited by using my sketchbook as a ‘working book’ during the workshop that I taught in SD… And by just changing pens I made interesting pages… I want this freedom of page making!
– I still have in the back of my head the great post by Laura last year on process vs product – I recommend a read or a re-read here
– I could try having 2 sketchbooks . A more formal sketchbook (moleskine) and the Canson one as a more private note making/ experimenting book
– But I also want to REALLY focus on people (I know, I have said this MANY MANY times before)…I just have struggled in the past to find the right way to tackle it. I am a little afraid, not so much of failures in my sketches, but bad pages in my sketchbook! (this is really silly!!!) I have tried a separate small sketchbook, but then because it ‘can’ be a failure I don’t take it seriously… I wonder if this is making sense… Ie. The pressure of having to live with it in my book helps me to try harder but on the other hand is preventing me from trying more often.

Anyway, this post which is really just saying “I changed my sketchbook” is getting out of hand… And still going….

So what happened… For a starters the paper in the Canson is better than I thought (see last night’s Venice palace)- the pages DO buckle but not as much I thought…BUT they make a delightful crinkle noise when I turn the page and I love that!!!
I am just loving the freedom of this ‘less than perfect’ sketchbook – and the freedom of adding a boring page of lists (ie. Shopping, action list of the week) and the luxury of having twice as many pages in the book than I am used to…so I can spread out. I am feeling that this is the perfect place for me to experiment and develop my sketching of people and some of the other fun stuff I want to try….even going to use markers in it because I will not care if it bleeds through. I am also enjoying the freedom of not using lines for my text (sometimes… I am still architect-like trying to be neat at ALL times!!!)

So the significance of last nights sketch was the fact that it was done on thin paper, and still worked!!!, but also a token “liz-sketchbook page” so that when I get into a conversation with others (which I did last night at the gym) I have something to show representing the normal way I sketch. I am going to try to give myself a break from these formally composed sketchbook pages. I am excited to see what happens… I can never quite control what happens when I start a sketchbook.

I am still thinking of using the moleskine on weekends or to experiment with my painting but this book will be my daily sketchbook for the next number of weeks.

Ooops… This post was WAY too long… But I really wanted to record my thought process (I find it very useful later on) and some of you just might find it interesting….

BTW 1 – I haven’t done any adjustments to levels etc on these scans so you can see the crinkly paper
BTW 2 – I have started this week getting to work 30 minutes early and going for a 20 min walk with a 5-10min sketch before I enter the office. I feel great and it is fun to have the challenge of SO little time to sketch. A great way to start the day!


  • Yay for you, girl! Experimentation ROCKS. I love all this rambling exploration, I'm right there with you…like taking a walk with a good friend.

  • Double that Yay! Love your ramblings…. it reads like my mind lately. I, too, am wanting to branch out and sketch more human figures. Recently purchased a Stillman & Birn alpha hardbound. Have it all broken in but still the hesitation is there… Do I keep it for my figure/face work? Do I use it for everything? But, won't I miss my Fabriano wc paper that I currently use in my unbound sketchbook….. yes, ramblings… the first stage of experimentation 🙂

  • Hey fantastic! Hurrah for experimentation! But also hurrah for having a test notebook, what I call my "crap sketchbook" where I can try things and not show them to anyone else. It is helping me loosen up a bit.

    One quick note: don't use noodlers in the moleskine watercolour book, it does not dry well and remains sticky (as I learnt the hard way). We had a long chat on facebook about this with James Richards, and Nina said that it was because Moleskine uses a lot of cotton in the pages, thus less cellulose for the Noodlers to bind with. Also, FYI, if you have Muji in Australia, I just realised that their little clear plastic rollerball pens, which are really cheap, are actually waterproof!!! They hold out really well with thick washes.

  • woohoooo! that sounds so exciting. I love the nervousness in your thoughts because for me that's just another kind of excitement, the anticipation!

    Anyway, I'm sure you'll come through with exciting and satisfying results. Remember – half they fun is getting there (sometimes more than half too!)

  • Liz Steel says:

    Carol – I haven't fully tested the new paper but it might not be that bad. there is still the DR Ebony books with creamer paper.

  • Oh dear I do hate it when a manufacturer changes what was a good thing. I switched to the Jasart on your suggestion and now will have to start searching again. I'm hoping the S & B will be readily available in Australia soon. My sketch books have always been the untidy kind with all sorts going on – I was thinking of starting a new "perfect" one!

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