For years I used to carry tiny sketchbooks around with me – A6, they were. Fine for drawing a surreptitious portrait of another passenger on the train, and great for fitting into any bag or pocket, but there’s no denying they were limiting in some ways.
I do tend to draw tight, but there’s nothing like a tiny page to make sure you never challenge your own boundaries, say, by sweeping an ink-laden brush with great abandon.
A few months ago, I picked up an 8″ square sketchbook from Paperchase. Actually, I don’t think it’s even branded a sketchbook; they call it a notebook. The inner pages are cream, with a bonus centre section of several unbleached brown kraft paper. I’ve been back for several since, and I’m now in that precarious position of someone who has a favourite sketchbook and fears the manufacturer will discontinue it one day.
It’s not exactly enormous, but one way or another it has vastly multiplied the amount of sketchbook work I now do. (Also, it still fits perfectly well into my bag; I’ve never been one for dainty clutches).
I don’t know why this sketchbook has been the one to change my habits – I have plenty of one-off books in all shapes and sizes where I’ve only drawn a few pages. Maybe it just happened to coincide with an upturn in my drawing; maybe it’s just uninitimidating: I didn’t buy it, as I sometimes do, because it’s so beautiful and perfect and OMG I can never sully its pages what if my drawing goes wrong. Nope, it’s easy to pick up and start drawing in this workaday book.
These days, it’s my go-to for trying things out. It’s never going to be one of those sketchbooks that you proudly show round, or god forbid, publish in a book form. There’s lots of failed drawings in there – if they really start to irk me, I stick something over the top or draw right over it.
So – that’s my sketchbook these days. If you: draw in pen a lot; find Moleskinnes too expensive, too thin-paged or too intimidating; want a good chunky book that will last a while but will still fit nicely into a medium-sized bag, I recommend it.
But just in case they *do* stop making them, I’d be interested to hear what your favourite is.