A week or two ago I began working through a Fabriano Venezia in the small (10 x 15 cm) size. It was a Christmas present from my wife almost four years ago, and it’s been on the shelf waiting for its big day ever since. It’s not that I didn’t want to use it, it’s that it was too nice and I didn’t want to ruin it. Really, it just feels nice.
The first thing I noticed is that color actually sticks to the paper. My last sketchbook was a typical Moleskine large sketchbook. The paper on that is just fine for drawing, but watercolor takes a bit of work to get past the coating. The first time I painted this book, I instinctively went back to get more color, then was surprised when I didn’t need it. It makes for a lot faster (and more colorful) painting experience. Good paper.
I was also worried about the size coming in; it’s a lot smaller than what I’m used to. That makes it more portable, obviously, but I run out of room pretty fast. But on the flip side of the coin, filling an entire spread a day isn’t nearly as intimidating. (Side note: as a Vikings fan with kids, the whole Adrian Peterson thing is hitting me pretty hard. I used to believe in things. Like two weeks ago, I used to believe in things.)
The third big thing about the new sketchbook is the gutter. I’m not sure if this is advertised as a lay-flat binding, but it does not lay flat. Perhaps as I get closer to the middle it will work a bit better, but for right now the gutter is extremely hard to get through. I need to start planning out my spreads a little better to avoid it as much as possible.
So there you have it. Paper good, size is a push, gutter bad. Of course there is no perfect sketchbook out there. I could never stay with the same style or process for a hundred pages, so it’s silly to think a sketchbook would meet all my needs time and time again. But I suppose this one’s pretty good overall, and a good gift.