I recently discovered some nice little sketchbooks by Global Art Materials, Inc., called “Hand Book Journals.” They come in sizes ranging from 3.5” x 5” to about 8” x 10”, and have paper that will take washes with wet media.
Now, there are hundreds of kinds of sketchbooks out there, with a variety of papers. Most are more expensive than I want to pay, and many have paper I don’t care for. They’re either perfect-bound (pages glued in) so they don’t lie flat, or spiral bound, so the pages can rub against one another, smearing your graphite drawing.
The Hand Book Journals are different. The Hand Books are sewn bound and they lay flat when you open them. (Note: so do Moleskine sketchbooks [and it’s pronounced mol-a-skee-na].)
But what I really like about these Hand Books is the paper. They say you can use pen & ink, pencil, marker, and light watercolor washes. The paper is lighter than watercolor paper (they don’t give a weight), but it does take light washes very well, and doesn’t buckle.
The reason I like paper that will take water is that I like to sketch either with water-soluble pencils (I like General’s*) or pens (black Tombo pens are great, but I use watercolor paper for them). Now, most teachers will tell you that line is the basis for all painting. OK, fine. But I see masses, so I want to draw (or paint) masses—and pencil points just won’t do. (Yes, I know the arguments against what I’m saying.)
These little sketchbooks are easy to carry, and make it easy to do small, quick studies of whatever is nearby.
And really, isn’t the point to actually do the work? I’ve found that if I don’t like the materials, I’m not going to use them. Perhaps because I came to painting late, I’ve never developed the habit I see in some others of always sketching. I’m trying to become that single-minded, but it’s slow work! I really like these little sketchbooks, and if they get me to sketch more—that’s what’s important.
It turns out several of the on-line retailers carry them, but only in the smaller sizes. I’ve only seen the 8 x 10 at Johnson’s Paint in Boston.
What do you use to sketch with? How often do you sketch?
*General’s Pencils are made in the USA.