So, I think I have a sketchbook addiction. I have no lack of sketchbooks and yet everytime I swear off buying them some magically end up coming home to me through well-intentioned friends and family…though also maybe a trip to the art store and a 75% off sale……
I’ve tried a lot of sketchbook papers over the years. I find that my favorites are definitely toned papers, but a good bristol is nice too. That said, the paper can’t be too nice. Otherwise I end up with white-page syndrome…the idea that the paper is so nice and pristine that I’d somehow be ruining it. One way to get around this is to draw on cheap paper. Another is to somehow destroy the paper. I admit, I have a plein-air sketchbook which got squished into a peach in my bag. I found that continuing to paint in it anyways actually resulted in much bolder paintings from me because (to quote my brain here) “eh, the paper is a mess anyways so it will never be a finished work.”
Oddly, the results have been quite satisfying.
My favorite papers take watercolor, but it wasn’t until I found cheap watercolor paper that I was able to dive in and use it. Bizarre, I know. But now I have found this mixed media paper that works great for plein airs, and is very easy to find on sale at Micheals for practically pennies (seriously, I don’t think I’ve spent more than $4 for a pad yet). I LOVE IT.
I also really like just using random paper on a clipboard. It’s great because nice paper stores often have remnants and it gives you a whole new world to try out. I’ve heard of making your own sketchbook before, never tried it but it’s on my bucket list. I kind-of find this the non-committal version.That said, I’ve had two issues with this method: one, it’s difficult to keep random sketches in an organized manner, though it’s great for organized projects; two…it’s really hard to blend in when you’re using a clipboard. People tend to think you must be evaluating them. In a coffee shop I seem to get treated as an inspector or secret shopper or something. I don’t think “artist” tends to be the first thing that comes to mind.
I’ve tried the much acclaimed moleskein. I’m going to be honest, while it has quite the following I didn’t find it anything special. I liked that you could fold it flat, and I like the covers…but that’s a feature of many sketchbooks. Ultimately I was left underwhelmed given the steep price. I have some, love getting them as gifts and I will continue to use them, but I wouldn’t buy one for myself. =X