Tools: Favorite Journals

NOTE: This is about my preferences and why.
Other artists will have other preferences, so reading what they like and
what they say about this or that journal is good.
The only negatives I will write are very bad experiences….
and note I am mostly an
ink (sketched and painted) and watercolor artist.

Okay, so cutting to the chase, my favorite journal is STILL the A4 Moleskin
Folio Watercolor Landscape journal
, above. Closer to 8.5 x 11.5-inches,
I can sketch one large drawing, many smaller drawings, or I can cross over the pages.
I can divide the pages up graphically or run the images over each other willy-nilly.
I like the 200g/m or 135lb  paper: it can take a huge amount of wet thrown at it and no bleeding, and the texture is nice on both sides, consistently.
I can also lift color without pilling.
I prefer clipping the pages to keep them from blowing; no clip marks.
The BIG PAPER envelope at the back is mighty nice too.

W16 5 20 USk PORTLAND UNION STATION 005W16 5 20 USk PORTLAND UNION STATION 006w16 5 fabriano sketchbookSadly, I have SIX Fabriano A4 Landscape, 200g/m. The paper has more tooth, so not as smooth as Moleskin.  It doesn’t have the rubber band to close the book nor the nifty flap to store bits of this or that, yet is priced comparatively.  The most important item is the paper.  Meh.  Inks feathered.  Watercolors floated due to sizing,
I assume.  The paper does not perform well if two+ layers of watercolor are applied.  I cannot lift watercolor without pilling and lifting paper even with a soft watercolor brush.  I often use a brush to lightly “scrub” skies around; this paper does not like that and pills.  THAT is a deal-breaker for me.  Great watercolorists overseas are horrified as they love Fabriano.  Could it be on this side of the pond we get an inferior paper?  Fabriano expressed and sent me replacements; unfortunately more of the same!

w16-11-journals-travel-tote-02I finally realized the big A4 journal can be unwieldy in bed at 3am,
and I like to paint in the middle of the night (insomnia), which is what made me
fall in love with the smaller A5, or 5 x 8-inch landscape journal.
I also can discretely slip the smaller journal in my purse with just a pen,
and that can be nice in hectic situations.

w16-9-30-pentalic-sammy-01I wrote a bad review of the Pentalic (above dark blue, with Jai on the cover) a while back when two journal covers fell apart within a few pages of me working in them.
I wrote them and received no answer, both times, before I wrote the bad review.
My update is that out of the blue they responded to a letter from ages ago, and said they worked on the books and now feel the problem is solved, and comped me two books.
I told them they should’ve said that they realized there were problems early on and the bad review would not have been written…  The book is just a bit bigger *yay* than before
(blue book bottom right) and I have opened it fully and yes, they might have fixed it.
If so, it will be one of my favorite books, despite its conservative dark blue cover,
which I will cover with stickers.  300 g/m and 140lbs.
We will see after I move to that book.

In the meantime, I will talk about other books,
even some not yet tried.

w16-11-journals-travel-tote-01*BTW, the waxed paper tip-in (top) I use to keep paint from transferring
if I get the other side sopping wet… thin and it works!
I don’t do it all the time but if I have a bright image next to a muted image, yesh…*

Moleskin comes in the A5 size (bottom left), and I know I will be happy with it for all the reasons I love the A4.  I didn’t know that this A5 was landscape, so only just bought them.

The green book center left above is the Hand•Book Journal Trav•e•logue series.  I did my first review, and have a bit more to add.  I bought this via mail so didn’t feel the paper.
I don’t like the feel of the slightly off-white paper but my pens liked it.w16-0-handbk-review-03Hand•Book advertises it can take light watercolors, doesn’t say the weight *hmmm*
Hand•Book’s paper took a wet ink buildup shown left, without badly buckling.
However, the ink washes show the color on the revers side —
it is not quite a bleed-through but it isn’t what I want in a sketchbook.
My Aquabee Super Deluxe Journals with 150 gms paper can take watercolor.
I’ve decided to use only one side of the paper, in any event.
And, Hand•Book’s paper is ?soft? so every time I use a clip it leaves a mark —
not true on any of my other sketchbooks.
For this price I can get a Moleskin, which can take anything I throw at it.
*oh the back has a plastic flap and i hate it*
Also, note this is not Hand•Book’s 200gm book,
which I may try unless people tell me that it is the same…..

A totally virgin *exciting* book center right is the Nostalgic by Hahnemühle.
190 g/m 90 lbs, I am curious to see what it can take.  Roz Stendahl says it is a good ink journal, and with my recent intoxication with ink painting, I had to buy to try!
Smooth paper, nice feel to the cover, no envelope, no rubber-band.
Priced to compete with Moleskin.

w16-watercolor-sq   w15-inks-sq  w16-8-10-pentalic-middle-night-03-sq  w16-9-24-pens-color-3-sq  w15-ds-paints-sq

©D. Katie Powell.
My images/blog posts may be reposted; please link back  to dkatiepowellart.

About dkatiepowellart

hollywood baby turned beach gurl turned steel&glass city gurl turned cowgurl turned herb gurl turned green city gurl. . . artist writer photographer. . . cat lover but misses our big dogs, gone to heaven. . . buddhist and interested in the study of spiritual traditions. . . foodie, organic, lover of all things mik, partner in conservation business mpfconservation, consummate blogger, making a dream happen, insomniac who is either reading buddhist teachings or not-so-bloody mysteries or autobio journal thangs early in the morning when i can't sleep
This entry was posted in acrylic, art journal, color, journal, paper, sketchbook, tools and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Tools: Favorite Journals

  1. Chris Shaw says:

    Hi Kate, this is the first time I’ve visited your blog, and it was your post about different journals which led me here. I’ve tried many different kinds myself, some OK, some awesome, and some dreadful and bin fodder! Recently I tried a Stillman and Burn zeta sketchbook, which was lovely to use for almost anything. And I’m trying an A4 wire bound book, with wonderful 300gsm Bockingford watercolour paper in it. It only has 15 leaves (30 sides) but it seems great to work on so far? I have only used a few pages so far, as I want to finish the A4 moleskin I am currently on, first. I love the moleskin A4, but I like the Pink Pig because it’s easier to use with the spiral binding, so I can fold it back on it’s self. I don’t know if you’ll be able to get the Pink Pig in the USA my friend, but I’ll let you know how it goes with it when I’ve used it some more later, OK?
    Take care, and I’ll see you back on Facebook!


  2. Thank you for the great reviews. I tend to use individual sheets of watercolour paper for my ink and watercolour work and sometimes my spiral bound Canson mixed media art journal. I have not yet purchased a dedicated watercolour sketchbook and part of that is because they are (for me and my budget anyway) quite the investment. Reviews like this are, therefore, very welcome and very useful in the guidance they provide as to value for money.


  3. Lara/Trace says:

    Every time I visit your blog, I feel GREEAAAT afterwards…. thank you! ❤


  4. Thanks for the info. I will be looking into some of these journals. And your sketches are lovely! 😀


  5. bikerchick57 says:

    I suppose it’s no surprise that I love the cat drawings. I do. As for the journals, I don’t have a clue about them other than I recently bought one for my boss’s retirement party…so the guests can write notes, doodle and draw in it as a keepsake for the honoree. I’m hoping they fill up the pages.


  6. bikerchick57 says:

    Come along? I’ll be at the crazy door to welcome you… :-p


  7. Happy sketching, Kate! Hugs.


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