23 other sketchbooks

23 other sketchbooks

One of the things that lowers my barrier to sitting down to paint often is having one sketchbook for everything, though, it's really two for me: I have my Midori MD (I use the cotton line now, but also love the regular ones) and an Etchr watercolor sketchbook.

I know I've written about these little treasures several times, but here's a quick recap. The Midori notebook homes everything that wants to tumble out of me: daily task lists, short and long journal writing, recipes, bits of math, funny things I heard, and of course, sketches and swatches galore. The paper is thin and starts to warp and crinkle if you even breathe on it. The notebook has no rules, and I use several pages a day. I use all mediums here, including the wet stuff, though I expect the water to immediately change the shape and lay of the paper. I also always have one Etchr watercolor sketchbook on hand. These are 100% cotton paper and my favorite for wet media, particularly watercolor, that I want to stay flat and vibrant.

For each of these lines of notebooks, I start a new one the day I finish the last one and organize them by numbering one after the next – I am currently on Midori #36 and Etcher #19. This numbering system is important because I use it to reference and keep track of where my art is. For example, if I want to rework an old sketch, it helps to be able to make a note on the page of the new version that the original idea is, for example, in volume 34, page 149.

But in truth I have a whole giant pile of other sketchbooks with marks in them – 23 to be exact – that I rarely mention. I recently went sorting through my collection, gathering up all the incomplete ones. Many were left behind years ago, half empty, and I'm working now to become reacquainted with them and hopefully fill them up.

Many of these sketchbooks I bought and started (and quit) on my way to finding my two favorites. Others I collected and kept around because they have unique paper qualities. And recently there are some Talens Art Creation sketchbooks, which I tried for the first time last year and kind of fell in love with. As much I like to keep things simple, I have found myself keeping one of these out on my desk with my Midori and Etchr books most of the time. So lately, it's really been three sketchbooks at hand.

I don't fill these other sketchbooks sequentially – since they each have unique qualities but aren't my favorites, I tend to reach for them just every now and then. I number them by start date, and only 9 of the 23 are currently complete. Each one has taught me something though, and pushes me think about mark making in a different way. I value them as places to play. So, for those of you exploring what kinds of sketchbooks might be perfect for you, let me introduce you to my vast collection and the kinds of variety and spark they bring to my practice.