Sketchbooks – Moleskine

Sketchbooks, much like other materials that I use, came about as favourites purely by trial and error.
Well, actually I have to admit, not entirely.
I realise that many people prefer spiral bound sketchbooks, but I prefer hard bound. Which, unfortunately, makes finding a decent sketchbook Materials - Sketchbooks - Moleskine sm(which can lie flat whilst open) nigh on impossible.

Moleskine produces a Watercolour Notebook, which has 72 pages of archive quality (fairly) stiff paper. But only comes in landscape format. Goodness only knows why this is so, there certainly seems to be enough of a market for a portrait version of this notebook. But I fear that it is merely to distinguish this notebook from the Sketch Notebook (Which conversely, only comes in portrait, but which has smooth, ivory pages – rather too smooth to take watercolour)

The paper takes paint well and has a nice tooth for pen work.
I particularly like the versatility of the Watercolour Notebook which, when opened fully, gives a possible canvas of 41cm x 13cm (Actually I’ve recently been adapting the pages to add an extra fold out leaf to give me a 61cm width!)
It’s also fairly easy to turn 90 to work in portrait. (Although a portrait-orientated Notebook could give a canvas size of 20cm x 26cm – which would be fun)

Liz Steel recently road tested Moleskine’s newer model of their Watercolour Notebook
Read her review Here.

This is the third part of my travels through my sketching kit. Read about the other bits at these links:

Part 1: Pens

Part2: Waterbrushes

or read the whole lot, so far, on my Materials page.


These certainly are a valuable addition to any painters outdoor kit. Eliminating the need for cumbersome and fiddly pots of water whilst working out of studio.

Materials - Brushes - waterbrush smThey provide convenience and ease; only requiring a slight squeeze of the handle to express water from the bristles.
Cleaning the brushes is just as easy – squeezing the reservoir and wiping the brush head with a tissue.

Many companies produce these handy devices now, but I would recommend finding ones with a filter behind the nib – to stop colour washing back into the reservoir (Although i know of some artists who actually prefer the colour to wash back into the reservoir!)

The brand I currently use is by Kuretake.

They are available in Fine, Medium, Large and Broad heads and being fairly cheap it’s useful to have all four types.

One thing that I find particularly useful is that, carrying all four water brushes means that should you empty one water brush reservoir it’s fairly strait forward to swap reservoirs with one of the others.


This is the second part of my review of my Sketchkit materials.

Read about my Pens here.

Uni Pin fine line pens

After much trial and error I discovered Uni Pin fine liner pens. These are produced by Mitsubishi.
These are the ones that I use the most. I do use other pens for more specific tasks, But Uni Pin are the ones I prefer for both studio work and urban sketching.
I tend to favour    0.05    0.1    0.2    0.3    0.8             But 0.4 and 0.5 are also available. As well as all 7 nib sizes being available in Black, Red and Blue.

Materials - Pens - Unipin smLines are consistent. And there are no problems with ink flow.
The ink dries very quickly on contact with a suitable surface, which needs to be porous, but not on waxed or plasticised surfaces.
The pens work well on the paper of both the Moleskine watercolour and sketch books.
The ink is waterproof, after a second or two, and doesn’t show any bleeding when washed with watercolour

I would say that the lifespan of the pens is fairly lengthy; allowing for pretty much heavy use over about three weeks. But, of course this will vary with the amount of pen work that you do.
As the pen nears it’s, fairly lengthy, lifespan, and the ink begins to run out, lines and ink flow become less defined and the pens can be used for lighter shading work.

They can be bought individually and in packs of five (0.1,   0.2,   0.3,   0.5,  0.8)

At the moment I tend to use specific sizes of pen for specific jobs.

0.8 – For initial outlining
0.3 – For titles
0.2 – For general writing
0.1 – For internal lines and hatching and shading
0.05 – For additional hatching and shading; usually over the top of water colouring.


This post is part of a longer series about the materials that I use.

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 :/