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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sketchbook vs Journal

A quick update... I am still markering and using a moleskine cahier... Have just started my second one.

121016 Sketchbook vs Journal Book 1

Today I just had a light bulb moment (like all light bulb moment they seem very obvious afterwards...)

As much as I loved working through the first moleskine- drawing only on one side of the page – I never fully bonded with the book. (getting severe water damage didn’t help much either!)
It is because I wasn’t working across the spread that it feels more like a sketchbook (each page a separate image that don’t connect) rather than a journal (a record of my life) Even though I did do a few journal type pages the flow between the pages wasn’t there. What is interesting is that a single page of this sketchbook at A4 size is the same size as what I am used to with my normal A5 sketchbook working across the spread. It is not the size but this ‘book-like quality’ to turning pages that obviously is so important to me.

121016 Sketchbook vs Journal Book 2

The second moleskine cahier, that I using now, I am going to work every second spread (little I did with the smaller sketchbook in my last post) and I am immediately excited by the feel. Excited that I am now back to journal style but even more excited but the possibilities of working larger size. So even when I write a heap of text like I regularly do, I can still tie it together with an image on the next page. Also combining various images on a page (even over a few days...yet to do this) makes it feel more like a travel journal (ah! That is always a nice feeling isn’t it?) And just in case you are wondering, I am ALWAYS thinking about my next trip (whenever and wherever it might be and thinking about what I will do next time- very much like Alissa’s project recently)

This concept follows on from a discussion recently on facebook when someone asked why we don’t sketch on single pages... I replied
it is very important for me to work in a sketchbook since my sketching is all about the process of recording a moment and telling the story of my life. Individual sheets of paper is too disjointed for me- sure I could bind them later but I like seeing the narrative evolve through a book. I find that there is a lot more pressure to produce a perfect 'image' when all I really want to do is have fun and record the moment.

but since then I have realised that just being in a sketchbook isn’t enough – there has to be a narrative!
Current sketchbook and perhaps the next one

So, I think that by next adventure will be to try a large moleskine watercolour book (A4 landscape) I got one in the mail today. ... a little worried about whether it will fit on small cafe tables but excited by new adventures to come.
(the other sketchbook is the one I am currently using- my moleskine cahier with a cover by Paul Wang from Singapore) Ok... That's even rambling from me for today!!!


  1. Interesting to read your thoughts on this Liz. Your two page spreads are much nicer, I think and I love the text on pages, but the text-less sketch in your last photo is superb, too! I love how you fill the page.

  2. Everyone needs to take a look at Brenda Swenson's blog.
    http://brendaswenson.blogspot.com/ She's one of our more famous local artists, wonderful watercolor-er?-ist? She received a shipment of sketchbooks from a manufacturer as a "test case" and is absolutely raving about one of them. All of us sketchbook people should know about these books. Love this blog, love everyone's sketchbooks. Thanks for taking the time to manage this blog and to post for us!

  3. I'll bet it's Stillman & Birn journals...they ARE wonderful. I've had some to test, too...

    1. Yep, took time to check the link. Sure enough, S & B! Lovely...

  4. Liz, thanks for such a thought-provoking post! I agree wholeheartedly with the journal narrative idea. Your work is fascinating and I love hearing your thoughts on it.

  5. Oh my! What a huge visible difference! I recently splurged on a Stillman and Birne sketchbook.... started it and am immediately disappointed. Your post helps me understand why. I settled for an 'epsilon' (100 lb paper) instead of a beta or gamma (heavier...140, I think) because I didn't want to wait for those as they were out of stock. Everyone had raved so about the S&B's that I thought it wouldn't matter. The epsilon does not hold up to washes, after all, and I cannot use both sides of a page. Thanks for helping me 'see' why I was disappointed with the appearance of my spreads!

    1. Just now read the previous comments.. ha ha! Be sure if you use washes that you get a SB beta or gamma in the heavier paper!

  6. Can you please tell me how the paper quality terms for Stillman & Birnrelate to the uk terms of Rough, Hot Pressed, and Not? Over here Hot pressed is the smoothest, then NOT, I.e., not Hot Pressed is the usual watercolour paper, and Rough is the roughest grain for heavy work.
    Is Medium grain what we call Rough, or is that Cold Press?

  7. None of the S & B journals are what I would consider rough...Cold Press is about right, for most of them, especially the heavier papers. Hot Pressed would be the equivalent of their Epsilon and Zeta papers.

  8. Thank you Cathy. So is the medium grain between the Smooth and the Cold Press? I presume that's why it's called 'medium'!

  9. You know, I'm not sure! You could write them and ask!

  10. It's good to understand your process for the various sizes/ needs...I thought I was a little OCD about it, but I find I really like the expansion to both sides of the paper.


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