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Old 05-12-2011, 12:21 AM
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Re: John's May Journal - Pen and Wash

Hi folks,

Here's another installment for this month, but with a twist. It is a different sketchbook (I can hear the gasps of surprise that I bought another one - ) than the Venezia. I stopped into a very nice stationer store this morning that I hadn't been in, figuring I'd look at their fountain pens (in a shocking development, I didn't buy another pen - ). However, on the never-ending quest for the perfect journal, I spied a display of sketchbooks which of course I had to look at. And what I found had to be tried.

This sketch of an Evening Grosbeak, was done with pen (Noodler's Violet) and then the wash was done on Faber Castell watercolor pencil. The paper is about 6 inches high x 5 inches wide, the cover of the book of course somewhat bigger. The paper and book is very nice. I bought it because it is handmade with archival paper and looked really nice. The covers are individually made as well, with a wide variety of design papers of various types. The books are actually individually signed on the last page by one of the owners. Another factor was that the little company that makes these is in the Pacific Northwest (Port Townsend, WA) and had been in business since 1973. The stationers that I bought the book from have been in business since 1977 and have done business with the bookmakers for 30 years.

Being handmade, the books are spendy - this size is $22 for 44 sheets (if I counted correctly). But they lay flat because of the hand binding and the quality of the paper, cover and workmanship seems excellent. I decided to use this book for recording goings-on in our back yard and be selective about using it since it is expensive.

The website for the company that makes the books is - http://www.thewatermarkbindery.com/index.htm. It's not a particularly sophisticated website and doesn't have images that do the appearance of the books justice, but it does talk about the bookmaking process for those of you who know about those things. They do sell directly, but also have a number of stores which carry their books. They also sell on Etsy with a variety of blank and lined books with a variety of cover styles. None of the cover styles on their site or Etsy look like the ones I bought, so I suspect they make those uniquely for the store I went to, which is one of their top retailers according to their website.

So below is the Evening Grosbeak quick sketch, and a shot of the full sketchbook, both open and closed. Oh yes, since the paper is hand cut, the edges of the book are deckled.








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Old 05-12-2011, 12:49 AM
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Re: John's May Journal - Pen and Wash

John, that is a beautiful book. . . and the bird is lovely also. Really like how you are using your ink colors. The violet in the bird and branch washed so lovely! I am loving to see all these you are coming up with and being motivated to try different colors!
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Old 05-12-2011, 02:01 AM
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Re: John's May Journal - Pen and Wash

Beautiful Grosbeak, and a nice book too! Nice ink work.
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Old 05-12-2011, 09:56 AM
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Re: John's May Journal - Pen and Wash

John, that's a wonderful sketch that brings back so many memories. When I was a teenager, we used to feed the birds at my parents' house. One winter we were treated to flocks of Evening Grosbeaks --- such unusual-looking birds, I will never forget!

Thank you for the info on these gorgeous journals! How do you like the paper you got? Do you know what kind of paper it is?

Jamie
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Old 05-12-2011, 11:40 AM
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Re: John's May Journal - Pen and Wash

Thanks Rainy, Candace and Jamie!

Jamie - The paper according to their website is 80# Teton text, archival grade. They don't give a gsm number, and to me it seems nicely robust but definitely not as thick as watercolor papers. It is definitely thinner than the Venezia paper. It is an ivory or cream off-white and has a texture whose 'grain' runs vertically. It has the look and feel of high-quality paper you would expect to see in a nice wedding announcement letter, or something of that nature. In the photo I took, you can see some ghosting from the writing I did on the other side, but the photoshop work I did to balance levels and color balance accentuated that - it is barely noticeable in actuality. I had no bleed-through of any of the three inks I used - Lamy 'factory cartridge' blue, Caran d'Ache 'Grand Canyon' and Noodler's Violet. I'm really liking the Noodler's Violet by the way - writes very nicely in a medium nib Cross that I have it in and washes well also. My goal was to use up all the cartridge blue with the Lamy's before switching to the converter's and trying the other colors, but I don't know if I have enough self-discipline to do that - . Right now the only two colors I have in actual pens are the Grand Canyon and the Noodler's Violet. The experiments I've done with the other colors are dip pens so far.

On the Evening Grosbeaks, they are really wonderful birds. Unfortunately they have declined dramatically across the country over the last couple decades - some people believe to about 10% of their historical levels. The reasons for this aren't fully known, but in 99% of the species in decline, the primary culprit is habitat loss. These birds are highly gregarious - I don't think I've ever seen less than four or five at one time, and we once had a flock of 31 at our backyard feeders. They eat seed like avian vacuum cleaners, by the way. They often are heard before being seen (out here anyway) - chatting away in the tops of tall Douglas Firs, with their loud CHHEEEERRPP and CHUURRRRR's carrying a long way through the forest.
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Last edited by JTMB : 05-12-2011 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 05-12-2011, 06:12 PM
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Re: John's May Journal - Pen and Wash

What a lovely bird.

That is a gorgeous sketchbook. Have to check them out.
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Old 05-12-2011, 08:10 PM
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Re: John's May Journal - Pen and Wash

Thanks, Debby!

Here is the next page in the Watermark Bindery 6 x 5 inch journal. This afternoon after I got back from a morning hike, I looked out to find a new 'yard bird' species for the yard life list. This bird was a male, breeding plumaged Chipping Sparrow. He was the 91st species for our yard life list, and the 130th species for the neighborhood in which we live. This species is pretty common across the country, but on the west side of the Cascades where I live, they are not very common (though not rare either). So of course I had to sketch one. 'My' bird flew right away when I tried to get a picture, so I used my memory and a reference photo for this sketch.

So here it is - the sketch was quickly done in pen with Noodler's Violet ink, then watercolor pencil and wash added for the additional colors.

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Old 05-12-2011, 09:01 PM
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Re: John's May Journal - Pen and Wash

Your new journal looks great!!! Love the sketches of the birds...as always they are so well done!
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Old 05-13-2011, 12:22 AM
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Re: John's May Journal - Pen and Wash

Great sketch of the Chipping Sparrow.

New journals, new ink, new pens, new birds! How cool is that!
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Old 05-13-2011, 10:36 AM
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Re: John's May Journal - Pen and Wash

Congrats on the new bird to your list, John. Love the painting. . . colors are great and esp. like the shading on the white feather area. He looks so cheerful, and I like how you laid out the page, too.

Do you like this journal better than the Venezia? Or how do you think it compares?
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Old 05-13-2011, 04:43 PM
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Re: John's May Journal - Pen and Wash

Thanks Joan, Michelle and Rainy!

Here are three more sketches - these are from this month's scavenger hunt list. The first two (pencil sharpener and landscape) are in the Venezia journal. The sharpener is done with Noodler's Bulletproof Black by mistake - I thought it was Noodler's Violet, and so it's mostly pen and very little wash! The landscape (a piece of our garden) is Noodler's Violet, with Noodler's Bulletproof Black for the trunks and branches.

The last one, the hat, was done with Caran d'Ache Grand Canyon ink and is in a landscape format Pentalic aqua journal - 5" H x 8" W.





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Old 05-13-2011, 04:51 PM
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Re: John's May Journal - Pen and Wash

Rainy - as to the new (Watermark Bindery) journal vs. the Venezia, I like them both. It's kind of an apples to oranges comparison. The Venezia paper is heavier and therefore better for really wet work, but it does bow a bit anyway, so the journal is going to be somewhat jammed looking when it's done because of the thick paper. The Watermark is great for writing with the fountain pen and overall I think that journal has a much nicer look than the Venezia. The Watermark lays out flat better, due to the hand binding, and I like the deckled edges, and the high quality paper used in the cover.

I'm kind of approaching it like the Watermark's are the books I'll use for more serious sketching when I have the time to get a good result. Or, I'll use them as 'themed' books for various situations. When volume and quickness is the intent, I'll use other sketchbooks (not necessarily the Venezia). I agree with Jamie that so far of all the books I've tried, I think that I would rank the Venezia paper the best overall performer.
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Old 05-13-2011, 05:14 PM
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Re: John's May Journal - Pen and Wash

I tested and like the Venezia, too, but am tending to think that I may like a couple of the Stillman & Birn a bit better because of better/different saturation of the inks. The thickness and sizing of the Venezia is great though and I wish I had ordered the larger one rather than the 4x6 size i got.

Still need to do full page sketches in each book before final decision. . .
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Last edited by RainySea : 05-13-2011 at 05:17 PM.
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Old 05-13-2011, 05:47 PM
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Re: John's May Journal - Pen and Wash

Hi Rainy - I have yet to try the Stillman and Birn, but given the reviews, I will have to do so. I mean, after all, my sketchbook supply is probably down to about five or six years and needs to be replenished.

My Venezia is the 9 x 5.5 inch version, and the one they have (or maybe had by now) left at the UW bookstore was a bigger version yet - not sure what size that one was.
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Old 05-13-2011, 05:49 PM
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Re: John's May Journal - Pen and Wash

John, I really needed you here today to assist with some small bird identifications! So many are coming through now that the trees have leafed out. Love that Chipping Sparrow sketch. He's a charmer.

I like the way you used the violet ink for the trees. So far, I think Grand Canyon is my favorite washable brown.

Here's a trick for the Venezia: I use two very large metal binder clips on along the open side when the book is not in use. That presses the pages flat. When I'm painting, I use those same clips to hold the book open flat against a foamcore backing board.

Rainy, yeah, I wondered how the 4x6" Venezia would work out. I think that the larger books probably open a little flatter. There was a point at the beginning of the book where I thought the gutter was just too deep and I almost gave up on it. But then I got past that point and it seemed to start lying flatter for some reason.

Jamie
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