Tag Archives: Sketchbook

Midori Notebook Refill Review – #012 Sketchbook Paper

When I received my new fauxdori from Jot, I immediately ordered four Midori Traveler’s Notebook refills from Amazon to fully test it out. My series of reviews consists of:

The last refill I’m reviewing in the #012 drawing or sketchbook paper refill, available from Goulet Pens and JetPens. I’d heard rumors it behaved reasonably well with watercolors too, so I decided to give it a go.

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First impressions, it’s thick, heavy paper. Neither Goulet nor JetPens lists the paper weight. From JetPens, “The pages are a smooth, heavyweight drawing paper, perfect for sketching, drawing, and watercolors.”

The stapled notebook itself is noticeably fatter but only contains 24 sheets (48 pages). In this pic from top to bottom: #019 Weekly Planner, #002 Grid Paper, #013 Lightweight Paper, and #012 Drawing Paper.

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The paper has a heavy cardstock feel, with a slight tooth – definitely not as silky smooth as my beloved Stillman and Birn Zeta Series sketchbooks, but not as textured as Moleskine Watercolor Sketchbooks. I tested with pencil first, using my favored clutch lead holder with 3.2mm 6B lead from Kaweco. The soft lead blends really well with just a finger, and just feels good with the pencil.

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Next up, how do fountain pens write on this paper! Tests using my usual currently inked pens. Immediate first impressions – no pretty red sheen OR glitter effects with Emerald of Chivor. It just looks dark green, which BOOO. And you can see some slight feathering in close-up too depending on the ink.

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Continued close-ups.

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Full page, with waterbrush tests at the bottom of the page.

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Close-up of waterbrush and FP ink tests.

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Did I mention all the pages in this notebook are PERFORATED!? How cool is that? The paper handled the waterbrush well enough – it didn’t start to disintegrate or pill like I’ve had other papers do, but it also wasn’t perfect either – it made the page get all ripply.

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The waterbrush also caused some bleedthrough – and you can really see the ripples it caused in this pic.

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Next up, testing some Peerless Watercolors.

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Close up on the paint tests I did on the same backside of the fountain pen samples page.

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The paints don’t bleed through or show anything on the other side of the page, but they did make it all rippled, as described earlier.

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Conclusions. I like it a lot, I think with markers and light washes it will probably be fantastic. It definitely loves pencil sketches too. More comprehensive watercolor sketches might benefit from a heavier weight paper – this feels almost like a 180gsm paper or so, definitely not as heavy as the 270 gsm Stillman and Birn Zeta. But overall I like it – I’m sure I can find a use for it in the future.

Tombow Marker Color Chart, New and Improved

A different approach to the color charts I so love to make. This time as colored blocks done with a waterbrush to see how the colors blend with water, and with minimal white space, on the front cover and first page of my new hardbound Stillman and Birn 5.5 x 8.5 hardbound Zeta series sketchbook. Now every time I open this sketchbook I’ll see bright, glorious color.

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Tombow Color Chart in Stillman and Birn Gamma Sketchbook

Because I have color charts in most every sketchbook, I thought I’d see how my new Tombow markers worked on my Stillman and Birn Gamma Series paper. Results? It took the marker pretty well, although the streak lines from the marker are more evident on this thinner, rougher paper.

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Stillman and Birn Beta Series Sketchbook

I have been a big fan of Stillman and Birn sketchbooks ever since getting my first Zeta Series 7×7 sketchbook. So recently decided to branch out and try the Beta series 7×10 spiral-bound since I’m getting into watercolors more. I was so excited, I even used the inside cover and first pages, which is rare for me as I usually make a few tentative scribbles in the back first.

On the inside front cover I decided to make a color chart of the watercolor tube paints I have in my Altoids tin sketch kit, using my Noodlers Ahab inked with Platinum Carbon Black.

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And on the inside back cover, I created another color chart of my Koi Watercolors Pocket Field Sketch Box.

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First Impressions? I’m really like the Beta paper, it is a nice thick paper that handles watercolor beautifully. I am eager to continue my experiments with it.

Fountain Pen Ink and Stillman and Birn Beta Sketchbook

Experimenting with how fountain pen ink and a waterbrush works in my new Stillman & Birn Beta series sketchbook.

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REALLY loving how these colors blend together!

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Art Journaling or Daily Planning?

I’ve been in love with planners and organizers for a long time now. But in all my planner geek experiments, I’ve never really considered combining planner functions with bullet journals, notebooks, journals, and art journals too carefully. I started to give it some thought after being asked to write a guest post about it, and realized that over time I’ve been trying to combine lots of different elements into my planner. And maybe that’s why lately my planners never seem to quite “fit” what I want them to do? It’s hard to put my finger on what that is exactly, but something is missing. I’ve been trying to carry around quotes notebooks, planners, art journals, sketchbooks, notebooks for ink samples and fountain pen tests …. and it’s so hard to pick and choose each morning what to take with, when I might want any, all or none of the above that particular day!

So I was reading this blog post from Hali Karla about keeping an everyday art journal, and these words really resonated with me:

I can say that deciding to carry an “everyday art journal” was a game-changer for me. It’s really just an art journal or sketchbook that goes with me everywhere… I actually broke up with my standard planner after getting to know my everyday art journal (it really never worked out between me and the conventional planner no matter how hard we tried anyway).

I use it to jot down ideas, sketch or doodle when I have time to kill or need to pause and be present, to tack in photos and fodder, or capture wise or inspiring words from others that may come my way. Sometimes I write prayers in it, or recipes. I even keep my lists in it. To-do lists, not-to-do lists, shopping lists, gratitude lists, travel itinerary details – all of which can be painted or glued over later if I feel the urge… It really isn’t just an everyday journal – it’s an everything journal for me.

The real beauty of it, though, is that having it all within one cover, over a period of time, makes it really easy to begin to see patterns in my life… I keep other art journals, too – and they often have a variety of styles and flavors within the pages. Yet, while the everyday journal isn’t the prettiest journal I keep, by any means, it’s one of the most precious to my journey.

So I think this might be the next step in my art journal/planner evolution – create an informal planner that’s an “everything journal” first, and a calendar second – instead of the other way around. It seems so revolutionary! But now I really want to try it. But it’s kind of an intimidating thought. I’d love to hear from someone who has done something similar – I can’t find many other examples online.

I’ll leave with this description of an Art Journal from Jane Davenport:

It’s a mix of diary, travel memoir, autobiography, art therapist, visual diary, notebook, scrapbook and sketchbook….plus more… It’s a place, YOUR space, to record and work through your life experience in images, words, colours and collage.

There are NO RULES.

Some links on other great blog posts about art journals, planners and commonplace journals:

“You may want to keep a commonplace book which is a notebook where you can copy parts of books you think are in code, or take notes on a series of events you may have observed that are suspicious, unfortunate, or very dull. Keep your commonplace book in a safe place, such as underneath your bed, or at a nearby dairy.”

Lemony Snicket, Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography

“In my Commonplace book, I jot down snippets, quotes, stanzas. They can be words from a novel, from a poem, from a picture book, from the side of a cereal box. Anything I read that causes me to pause and read again- to stop and savor the words or ponder the message- it all belongs in my book.

This is the heart of my book and what really makes it a treasure, I think.”

– Sarah Mackenzie , amongstlovelythings.com

“Their commonplace then became a kind of personal reading/life log, where they kept notes on anything they wished to remember.

What it’s not is a journal or diary. While some people did use their commonplace for both purposes, many kept them separate, and a commonplace tends to refer to a book of information, not daily logs.”

– Devon Henderson, Chirmer Graphics

“But writing original stuff is damn hard, and as if I needed another diversionary tactic I’ve found myself adopting a delicious little habit of collecting quotes from books and films, words, ideas, snippets from overheard conversations, phrases, epigrams and poems that I see around and about the place.”

Maz, Diving For Pearls

Somewhere, Beyond The Sea

I’ve been drawn to the Tombow marker medium over and over again in my Stillman & Birn 7×7 Zeta Series sketchbook. I love the bright white paper that gives my brightly colored markers that visual “pop” I’m looking for, cause I’m always about the color! I also like the smooth Zeta Series finish, as it works great with the markers and fountain pens I use, but is still sturdy enough to handle watercolor washes too, for whenever I get that urge. It’s really developing into the ideal combo for me, and as I do more of these sketches I feel like I’m developing a personal style – which is honestly kind of a cool feeling!

So this was last night’s creation. For this piece, I was inspired by artwork I saw that featured this idea of hiding fish in the curves of ocean waves, and thought it was so creative! I knew I had to do a similar theme in my sketchbook. But I had no idea what to do for the sky! So I just started making big random swirly clouds to fill up the space, adding color until it just seemed to complement the bottom half of the piece. I sketched a basic outline with my Lamy Safari fountain pen inked with Platinum Carbon Black ink, colored the areas in with layers upon layers of Tombow markers, and then outlined them with a black Micron brush pen. I’m never usually certain about the colors or when it’s “done” until I just decide I can’t do anything else with it. I quickly reached that point with the clouds after outlining them in, and was like that’s it! I’m calling it!

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Also, I’ve had the song “Beyond The Sea” stuck in my head EVER SINCE. I like the original Bobby Darin version best, but also my mind immediately thinks of Finding Nemo now too. Because, it is AWESOME.