A Notebook Book

I’ve enjoyed planning out one or two projects using notebooks and thought it would be quite fun to try to design a notebook that I can use to project plan.

Now I prefer to use A5 notebooks that i can carry around in my bag and I also prefer to have all the pages numbered, so that I can refer to a specific page for a specific element of the project. So, I knew I wanted at least those elements present.

But my approach has been a little topsy-turvy; rather than simply designing a notebook cover and then selecting a style of line for the interior pages, I instead opted for a fish-mash of different paper styles for the interior pages.

So each left-hand page is roughly blank, or at least doesn’t really have lined paper, and the right-hand pages have a selection of different lined papers. But the whole thing is presented as if you’ve already collected this diverse range of different papers and stuffed them into a notebook.

So here on the pages 32-33 spread you’ve got boxes which echo Instant Camera photos and a page from a diary with a bunch of page markers.


and on the pages 62-63 spread you’ve got the back of an envelope and a different diary page, with what looks like some kind of grocery list page.


So, every page is a different selection of hand-drawn papers for you to collect your thoughts on.

All the pages are numbered and the first page can be used as a contents page should you so wish.

It’s like some crazy scrapbook of a notebook – that seems to encourage sticking in of found articles and scrapes of additional paper.

New Sketchbook from Palma Rea

One of the constant curses/delights of this sketching hobby is the fun of finding, and trying out, new materials; whether it be pens, sketchbooks or paints. It’s always fun to something new. And there always seems to be something new, waiting to be discovered too.

A cyber-friend on Facebook, Palma Rea, makes and sells handmade sketchbooks on her Etsy site.

How could I resist!

I ordered one a short ago …

Yesterday Palma messaged me, asking whether it had arrived yet.

It hadn’t.

But it arrived today. All neatly wrapped in vivid blue tissue paper.

Palma Rea parcel smWith a lovely little thank you card and a couple of extra goodies; a nice, grippy HB pencil and a Faber Castell waterproof gel pen.

My sketchbook is a bright red faux leather (which is why I used acrylics to paint it up).

Palma Rea sketchbook smIt has a couple of handy plastic pockets inside and 300gsm fabriano paper.

From Palma’s Etsy site:

The corners are protected and embellished with 2 ornate metal corners in antique silver colour.
The cover has been lined to add support and its thickness is approx 5 mm. It is soft to touch and the surface can be easily wiped clean with a damp cloth.
There is an added pocket folder with a closure is handy for containing charts, ephemera , notes, pens etc

Measurements of journal : 8.5 inches x 6.5 inches

This journal is a comfortable size to take anywhere and fits easily into most bags for outdoor sketching. It contains heavy weight paper that you can also use for other mediums such as pen, ink, graphite, acrylic etc The pages do NOT curl!

I’m looking forward to starting it tomorrow.

Cafe Roxanne – Painting Breakfast

Watercolour Paints

Generally I use Winsor and Newton paints.

Cafe Roxanne - Breakfast 2 smI have a little metal palette which can hold about eighteen half-pans.But some of the colours I have in there are full pans (because they get used more than the others). Food painting seems to use more yellow ochre and I also have a full pan of neutral grey)

Some of the colours are from an old Daler Rowney set, most are Winsor and Newton. I tend to pick from these two companies (just because they’re the most available in the UK)

As far as actual colours go I’ve just gone with what I like.

I’ve got three different yellows (one of which is Aureoline – a fab transparent), an orange, a red (I’m still trying to find a transparent or translucent red!), Opera Rose (which I find essential to produce dazzling purples and pinks), a couple of blues, three greens (one of which is a really light green – for salad leaves), then a range of browns from Naples Yellow to Van Dyke Brown.


I don’t use black at all. Instead I used to mainly use Winsor and Newton’s Payne’s Grey, but have recently started to use the Neutral Grey colour instead, as it is more translucent.

I tend to prefer translucent over opaque.

I sometimes use Koh-I-Noor‘s stackable pure pigments (the colours of which really op out!); these are what I used for this breakfast sketch.

Just recently I’ve been hearing good things about Schmincke; so might have to try some of theirs out :/


A Pocket Full of Coins

I left the Sketchcrawl Sheffield meetup, a couple of weeks ago, with a pocket full of pound coins and a head full of ideas.

Here are the main things I’m trying to focus on in my current sketchbook (Book 18 for those of you who would like to keep a count)

– Work in other sketch books other than my ongoing ‘day book’; having a sketchbook with a theme. I have one or two ideas already, but I’m keeping those under wraps for the moment.

– Experimenting a little more with hatching and shading.  Just to add a bit more texture.

– Not getting hung up on ‘having’ to start a new page every day. Weekdays/workdays I think I’ll try and concentrate on revisiting work I’ve already started, but not finished. Otherwise my sketchbooks end up being full of unfinished scribbles.

– Trying to use a wider range of materials – I’ve already got in mind a bunch of materials that languish, unused, in a box at home. It’s time to break them out of semi-retirement!

– Focusing more on adding text to my drawings, or at least somewhere on the page. To add description and, ironically, colour, to my drawings.


The weather’s really beginning to draw in here, and while I love the Autumn and Winter months, I’m not so ken on freezing my fingers whilst trying to sketch! This morning I bought myself a pair of inner gloves to wear. Super thin – they don’t feel like I’m wearing boxing gloves to sketch with! But, I don’t really think that they’re up to the job of actually keeping my hands warm. Does anyone know of some sort of ultra-thin glove that will allow me to sketch freely and still keep me warm?


I’m not sure where my aversion to using pencil in my drawings started. Maybe because pencil marks are not permament. Using ink means I have to live with any mistakes which I make.

In fact I’ve come to embrace the errors in my work.

Isn’t that what art is about? Making an image of something and adding personality and changes. If I produce a perfect reproduction of something, for example, where is the personality?

I think I’ll continue to use ink and wash.

Local art shop closed down

Calder Graphics closed down this week.

An old-fashioned art shop which catered for the general, but aimed a lot at the local student population. Okay, I didn’t particularly like that they only stocked a couple of sketchbook brands, but it was always useful for popping in to pick up some fresh pens and watercolours.

Mind you, I suppose I can’t grumble too much as I have pretty much migrated towards the internet for buying materials now. It’s nice to browse , though isn’t it? But that’s always tricky with art materials; a tube of paint in a shop pretty much looks like a tube of paint in a catalogue.

70% discount off marked prices meant I was able to pick up a good bunch of Acrylic paints – just picking up colours I liked the look of, and a couple of sets of Kuretake water pens.

The Sketchbook Project 2012

I’ve just signed up to the Art-House Co-op’s Sketchbook Project 2012.

They send me a blank sketchbook on a theme that I’ve chosen.

When I have filled it in I send it back to them, before next February, and it gets included in a World tour of other sketchbooks submitted into the project this year. A lot of the tour dates are in America, but there are a few locations around the world, including London.

I’ve chosen the theme of ‘Encyclopaedia of’, which I thought could be about myself or about West Yorkshire.

Things I keep with me

I keep the pens in my trouser pocket; so I’m good to go any time I want to draw.

The water pen and paint palette are kept in my bag (A half-sized messenger bag)


I tend to work my way through a book once I’ve started it; rather than have several on the go. I’m onto my sixth book since starting drawing again last July, and I’ve found it’s a fantastic picture diary of the place we’ve been , good and bad times passing by, good drawings and terrible ones. As I work through a book I’ve sometimes found that the paper doesn’t really suit my style. Well, I just stick with it and look forward to the end when I can move on to a book with paper I enjoy working on more.
I’ve tried some of the moleskines (I prefer the water colour ones, rather than the sketchbooks) but at the moment I’m enjoying using some cheap A5 sketchbooks I found in an art shop on holiday.
I tend to prefer A5, hardback (definitely NOT spiral bound) I like the feel of a hard, bound book in my hands.
Only recently have I started up other sketchbooks running at the same time;
1 – An A4 sized book for life drawings (I work in a junior school and wanted to keep my life drawing work seperate from the regular drawings in my daily sketches)
2 – An A5 book which I am labelling up to start sketching every house on my street (I like the idea of having a sketchbook with a theme, but didn’t want to restrict myself to have to sketch each and every house on a daily basis in order – there are over 400 houses on my street!)

I would say go with what you enjoy doing and what works for you; try out a few different sketchbooks and see whether they ‘fit’ your drawing lifestyle (I’ve a japanese folded moleskine on a shelf which I’m looking forward to using, but I don’t quite know when, and a fabriano book with coloured paper which I sent off for because it looked interesting, but I know I’ll hate using it because the pages won’t open out flat – another pet peeve I’ve discovered I seem to have!)

Have fun exploring! 😀