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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Sketchbook Review: Field Artist 4" Square Watercolor Journal

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Every once in a while, I spot a new art toy that I just know is going to recharge my flagging art energies and it happened when I saw the Field Artist 4" Square Watercolor Art Journal!

I just knew I was going to love it because:

  • It's small. At only four inches, it fits in the palm of my hand when closed. 
  • It's square. I've been having a love affair with squares for many long years and I am almost always captivated by something squared, especially if it is not usually found in that shape!
  • It's a watercolor journal and that always makes me happy. 
Upon receiving the art journal from Amazon (no affiliate links), I immediately pulled out my stamps and embossing powder and decorated the front cover. The journal does have an elastic band to keep it closed that cannot be seen in the image. 

While I adore the effect, I don't recommend doing this as the embossing is not holding up well. My journals are well traveled. They go everywhere I do and that means they typically tumble around in whatever bag I am carrying. The cover itself is a "PU leather-like fabric" and is holding up just fine. It's the embossing I added that is not. 

My first piece of art is on the inside of the cover. The paper used as the endpaper is not the same as the journal pages. It's much lighter in weight so I opted to use markers to create my design. The paper didn't hold up well even under marker so I caution you about using any kind of wet media on it.  

The endpaper on the inside right sports the sketchbook branding and is oriented so that the logo only reads correctly when the book is opened top to bottom with the fold of the journal above the logo. You can also see the yellow ribbon page marker in the image below. 

I'm thinking I'm going to be gluing an additional piece of watercolor paper over the branding page and using the space as a place to put my "if lost, please return" info:

Eventually, I worked my way to my first page. Since the book is small and I knew I wanted it to record "everyday adventures" that seemed to fit as the title page as well as the theme. I think we often have far many more adventures than we realize. It takes paying attention to notice them though. 

Those adventures can be as simple as having to take a detour due to construction and seeing something new or it may be notice a pretty bloom on your way to the mail box (even if it's a weed!). 

By elevating the ordinary by paying attention, we can make it extraordinary!

The page has ink from a Faber-Castell Artist PITT Pen as well as watercolors on it. There was no bleed through from the pen or paint. The pen performed very well on the paper with no skipping or bulking. 

There is a slight textural difference between the two sides of the pages and they don't always match up. Sometimes you have two different textures across a spread. There doesn't seem to be a pattern to where the difference will show and where it will not. It's slight enough that it can be ignored even if it is visible. 

I found the time to capture a family of wrens that have been visiting our backyard in the evenings. The babies had just fledged and were a little clumsy the first time we spotted them. Four days later and the only way to tell the parents from the babies was the fact that the babies were still following mom and dad around with their mouths open waiting to be fed!

There is a stamp in the upper corner that did not bleed through to the other side even when I painted over the stamped area. Again, pen and watercolor were used in the piece.

One last little surprise was the long accordion-fold, panorama page that is attached in the very back of the book in place of a pocket. It is four panels wide, but the fourth panel is partially glued to the back cover giving you only three panels to be painted on the back. I have to admit a pocket at less than four inches in width probably wouldn't have been very useful! 

The paper is marketed under the Chinese brand, Image. I was not able to find further information on the maker or the paper. 

So here are my pros on this adorable little journal:
  • It's small and very portable. 
  • The size is perfect for capturing a quick sketch. 
  • The paper is acid-free and dries flat without having to be weighted or dried with a blow dryer. 
  • The paper has hard sizing which makes it very forgiving when you want to pick up paint to get back to the white of the paper. 
  • It lies flat making it easy to work across the spread. 

My cons:
  • The sketchbook is very small and it takes some adjusting to getting used to working in it. It's hard to rest the heel of your hand on the page and draw at the same time! It is not difficult to adjust to the size challenges, but I'm thinking folks with big hands would really be challenged. 
  • The paper is not archival. Chances are good it is made from wood pulp instead of cotton or linen and they have removed the acids. However, this is not a deal breaker for me as I'm using this to play in rather than creating works I expect to wind up in a museum!
  • The paper has a hard sizing which makes it way too easy to lift color unexpectedly and it seems to take a bit longer to dry than other papers. While I put this down as a con because speed is important to working on location, it's not a huge problem. It just means I need to alter my approach a bit to fit with the paper of the journal.  
  • The fact that the paper textures do not match up across the pages. It's a minor thing to fix and because it wasn't, it speaks to rather shoddy workmanship or a lack of pride in their journals, especially given the last point... 
  • For the size, I find it a bit pricey at $12.95 (I guess we're paying for that extra dose of cuteness!).
So far, I've been very pleased with the journal and I've thoroughly enjoyed using it! I look forward to finding more little everyday adventures to record on its pages!

What new art toys have you found lately?


  1. Hi there, Beautiful Work.
    If you are looking for a new type of art journal, my Mom makes Interactive Art Journals where each page is a series of work surfaces that unfold and expand. They are quite unique and fun to work with.
    her website is http://crimsoncricket.ca
    Thanks. Have a great week!

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