Pile of watercolor and sketch journals, Leuchtturm, Fabriano, Stillman and Birn, travelogue, handbook journal, Moleskine, Canson

DOODLEWASH REVIEW: Watercolor/Art Journals Part II

This series of posts features watercolor/art journals, with a focus on some that are suitable for wet media- Stillman & Birn, Seawhite of Brighton, Leuchtturm 1917, Derwent, Moleskine, Handbook Journal, Leda Art Supply, Pentalic, Fabriano, Canson, Strathmore, Bee Paper Company, Arches, and Tomoe River paper.

Here in Part II, we will look at Moleskine, HandBook Travelogue Journals, Fabriano, Canson, Strathmore, Bee Paper Company, Arches, and Tomoe River paper.  A few brands are reviewed in more detail, because I have more experience with them. General info will be offered on some.

Pile of journals, sketch, watercolor, Pocket Moleskin Art Plus Watercolor, moleskine, travelogue, handbook, fabriano Venezia , strathmore Montval, bee paper compnays super deluxe, canson XL

The good thing about Part II, is that most of my initial rambling got done in Part I.  So, we can get straight down to some journal reviewing business!  If you happened upon this post first, please see Watercolor/Art Journals Part I.  This is a long one, a lot of products are presented.

I want to say again, that a journal choice is a personal preference, and people like what they like for different reasons.  I hope that the info presented helps you to find your watercolor/sketch journal love, or avoid some that might not be right for you.

Sit back, relax and enjoy the Tour de Journals…

Moleskine Watercolor, Moleskine Art Plus journals
Moleskine Watercolor & Art Plus

This is a brand loved by a lot of people, but there is something fishy going on with the labeling of the Moleskine Art Plus Watercolor Journal.  The paper does not feel like the 135lbs it’s labeled as.  Am I the only one that thinks this?  Then I got to looking at the labels on three different watercolor journals- the Moleskin Art Plus Watercolor- 200 gsm/135lb, the Hand Book Travelogue Watercolor– 200gsm/95lb, and the Fabriano Watercolour Book– 200gsm/90lb paper.  All 140lb  non-journal watercolor papers that I see are 300gsm, I’ve never seen a brand that has said anything different. Then why are the 200gsm watercolor papers varying so much in how many pounds they are?  Maybe I’m missing something?  I’ve been trying to find other blogs that talk about it, but I haven’t found anything helpful. I’ve also looked up watercolor paper converters, none of them convert 200gsm to 135lbs.  There must be something I’m not getting.  I know I’m not the only one though.  It can be a confusing paper world out there.  In the US, many of us look at the LBS. over GSM.  I’m going to start paying attention to the GSM. over LBS. to better understand the actual thickness of paper.

Labels for comparison

Fabriano, Travelogue Watercolor, Moleskine Watercolor Labels

Paper color comparison- Moleskine Watercolor on top, Travelogue Watercolor on bottom.

Moleskine watercolor journal and travelogue handbook journal paper comparisons
Travelogue and Moleskine Watercolor Journals Paper Comparison

Moleskine watercolor paper is slightly textured and ivory or light beige, it’s also 25% cotton with 30 sheets/60 pages. Both sides of the sheet can be used.  Use too much water and some buckling will happen.  I’ve used the pocket size and I like that little journal. These all lay flat, have an elastic strap, and a pocket in the back.  There is something inviting about the feel to them, nice, sleek, and sturdy.

Below- Pocket Moleskine Watercolor and Moleskine Art Plus.

Moleskine Art Plus– this thing can take some multi-media abuse!  Acrylic, markers, pastels, all kinds of things, but it’s not good for watercolor.  The paint will bead on the surface, and then the surface will deteriorate if blending is attempted.  I’ve been able to “color” with more opaque watercolor in it. Lots of sumi ink, acrylic ink, acrylic paint, and marker in the example above.  I’ve made these layered muti-media pieces on both sides of the paper with no bleed through.  Copics will bleed through, but they do that with most journals. The bird sketch a few photos up is also the Art Plus.

Global Art Materials distributes the Handbook Journal Travelogue Series.  One classified for sketching, and the other for watercolors.  Both types of journals have linen covers, an elastic closure, and a clear envelope inside the back cover.

Global Art Materials Handbook Journal Travelogue series journals, sketchbooks, watercolors
Handbook Journal Travelogue Journals

I tried the Travelogue Watercolor after taking guest Doodlewasher Marc Taro Holmes‘ class Travel Sketching in Mixed Media on Craftsy, it’s a great class.  This is on the supply list. I’ve done a few paintings in it on both sides of the paper.  Even though I’ve only done a handful of paintings in it, mine looks a little bowed in the middle. Not overly excited about the journal, but I will continue to use it.  It seems to be a product that is widely distributed, so probably easy for folks to get.

The paper in the Travelogue Watercolor is white, not quite as absorbent, and stiffer than the Moleskine Watercolor paper.  I expected it to buckle more than it did.  Their site doesn’t say anything about fiber content other than the paper is made at a 400 year old European mill.  It’s 30 sheets/60 pages.   The Travelogue’s binding and overall cover quality isn’t as nice as Moleskine, it feels more flimsy.  I’m comparing it with the Moleskine Watercolor because they seem more similar than other papers/journals being reviewed here.  Below is the Grand Portrait size 10.5″x 8.25,” There are two other sizes, Large Landscape and Pocket Panorama.

Travelogue Sketch Journals, the description states- “128 acid-free sheets of heavyweight buff drawing paper, available in 5 formats and 4 colors, accepts light watercolor washes without buckling.”  I like that they come in square. It’s a surprisingly durable little journal and comes with a lot of pages.  Okay for light wash, but go too far and the paper will start to deteriorate.  It does better “coloring” with watercolor over painting with it.  The green one pictured in the middle of the stack below is filled with a lot of different media.  As you can see, the pages look similar in flatness to the other two, which are not filled. These are sturdy with a lot of pages and good for multi-media use. The entire Travelogue line is available at many local art stores and online retailers.

Travelogue Sketch in three different sizes- Pocket Portrait 5.5″x 3.5,”, Square 5.5″x 5.5,” and Large Landscape 5.5″x 8.25.” Ink mandala painting in the square size.

Fabriano– This Italian company that has been making paper since the dark ages:

“The cradle of papermaking in the western world is found in the city of Fabriano. For more than seven centuries, Fabriano has been famous the world over for its production of the finest art and writing papers that embody the perfect marriage of innovation and tradition. Papermaking at Fabriano mills began in 1283 and the remaining examples of paper that exist from this time indicate the advanced state of papermaking at the mills.”

Fabriano Venezia and Fabriano Watercolour books, sketchbooks
Fabriano Venezia, Fabriano Watercolour

Fabriano Watercolour Book top right in photo-“Watercolour hardcover book… The thread sewn have 30 sheets of 200 gsm paper. Acid free paper, FSC certified, 25% cotton content. It is inside and surface sized for optimal painting results.”  The paper cotton content, color and feel is similar to the Moleskine Watercolor.  I don’t know where I got this book from. I have not painted in it, but added it in so you know of its existence.

Fabriano Venezia, sometimes “Art Book,” or “Drawing Paper” is added to the name.  This says drawing paper, but you can totally watercolor on it, and on both sides of the page.  It’s a 48 page sturdy journal with a distinct cover.  The paper is nice, sturdy, minimal buckling with a wet wash.  Doesn’t quite open flat, but with some use, it might. I couldn’t find the LBS/GSM info.  I did a few paintings in it and one pen and wash sketch.  The paper holds up well, but the paint dries slightly flat looking compared to other papers.  Description from Cheap Joes– “Fabriano Venezia Art Books feature heavyweight Fabriano Accademia acid-free white fine art drawing paper with a very alluring texture. The stylish cover print recalls the Venetian mosaic pattern from the Piazza San Marco, and the Ingres flyleaf print displays Fabriano watermarks from over the centuries. Each art book includes a red Bordeaux linen binding and satin ribbon bookmark.” They come in three sizes, 4″x 6″, 6″x 9″, 9″x 12,” might not be super easy to get all sizes available if you are in North America.  I got this on Amazon in the summer of 2015 for $21.  That’s a lot for a 6”x 9” sketchbook. Below- watercolor.

Paper comparisons between the Venezia on the left and the Fabriano Watercolour Book on the left.

Fabriano Venezia and Fabriano Watercolour books, sketchbooks paper comparisons
Fabriano Venezia, Fabriano Watercolour

The next three- Bee Paper, Strathmore and Canson XL are in a sort of a category.  These are the journals that I do all the stuff in that I don’t want to do to the others.  Like glitter, testing out media, messy and strange swatches, and singed them- that’s the Ghost sketch below, or whatever it is. Stuff gets interesting during Inktober.

Second picture- top is the Aquabee Deluxe Sketchbook with gouache and Gelly Roll and Strathmore Visual Journal below with Neocolor II.  Ghosts- ink, pen, pencil, colored pencil, Bic lighter, in the Aquabee Super Deluxe.

Bee Paper Company has an assortment of journals.  I’ll comment on the Aquabee Super Deluxe Journal.  This paper buckles more than anything I’ve ever used.   I have a filled 9”x 9” journal and the cute little 6”x 6.”  It will flatten out some in the end, but during, it’s a buckler.  See how fat they become from the side view below.  From their site:

“The only sketchbook you’ll ever need! Don’t be confused by the name of Aquabee’s exquisitely well-rounded paper for mixed media! Our 808 Deluxe Heavyweight Sketch is 93 lb, (150 gsm) NpH archival quality drawing paper. This natural white sheet has two distinct surfaces. The top side of the sheet has tooth for dry media and works well as a cold pressed watercolor sheet. The bottom side is fabulous with pen and ink and works well as a hot pressed sheet for watercolor and other mixed media.”

I like that they come in square. I keep saying that about square journals.  Last year I participated in a 100 Mandala Challenge, the square journals are handy for symmetry. This is the journal that I did all those strange swatches in for the Daniel Smith and M. Graham posts. After I filled up the larger 9”x 9,” I switched to the Canson XL because I had one, and that paper is nicer and buckles less.

This isn’t a journal, but worth a mention.  Bee Paper Company Aquabee 100% Cotton Watercolor Paper.  50 6”x 9” sheets for $20 on Blick or $18 on Amazon.  I got this from my local art store for about $18.  It isn’t the best watercolor paper, but with 50 sheets in a non-threatening small size, it is so worth the buy.  Ink and watercolor used in the example on the right.

Strathmore makes a lot of different types of papers and journals.  If you’ve read some of my watercolor paint review posts, I use the student grade 400 Series Watercolor 140lb/300gsm paper to do swatches on.  I have a large 11” x 15” spiral bound that I do the swatches in so that they are all in one place.   But you’ve probably also read that I don’t like painting on this paper, so I use it for swatches only.  This feels like the same paper in the Strathmore Visual Journal.  There is nothing wrong with this paper, it’s sturdy, doesn’t buckle much, and can take a lot of media.  There is a smoothness to it good for sketching.  For whatever reason, I don’t like painting on it.  They have a 500 Series Imperial Watercolor professional grade paper that I have not tried.

Strathmore Series 400 watercolor paper and visual journal

Canson Paper– Another company that’s been around forever.

“Canson® was founded in 1557 by the Montgolfier family. Its development and destiny are intertwined with the history of France and the history of Art. Rooted in tradition, Canson® respects this heritage and its duty to always provide consumers with outstanding paper.”

I will choose any of their varieties of paper over Strathmore.  Canson manufactures a ton of different papers and is the maker of Montval and Moulin du Roy, as well as other varieties of watercolor paper.  This review will focus mostly on their XL Series, which is their student grade line, and specifically the Mix Media.  They also have a watercolor paper in the XL Series. Example above- gouache, watercolor, and Gelly Roll.

Canson XL Mix Media Pads contain more sheets at a comparable or better price than other value pads in the marketplace. The 98 lb (160 gsm) paper features heavy sizing, making it excellent for watercolor and acrylics, as well as dry media. The fine tooth paper erases well and blends easily. The true size sheets are micro-perforated.”

I like these journals, perforated pages, paint looks vibrant on the paper, a few size options and the large 12”x 9” is only around $8 or $9! It’s not so pricey and “special” that anyone would hesitate to be as expressive as possible or mix paints or go crazy in it.  The Aquabee Super Deluxe of the same size is at few more dollars. Available at local art stores and many online retailers.

Montval Watercolor Paper– “Canson Montval is a fine quality, acid-free, natural white, mildew resistant student watercolor paper. Prized for its texture and resistance to repeated washing, this Cold Press paper is suitable for all wet media techniques, including watercolor, gouache, wash, and acrylic painting.”  On the right is a comparison of the Canson XL on the bottom and the Montval on top. Haven’t used it, but showing it as an option.

Arches– Most people know this company for their professional grade watercolor papers.

“1492, a historic year, memorable for two special events: the discovery of America by Christopher Colombus and the founding of the ARCHES® paper mill, which has endured through the centuries, to the pleasure and satisfaction of numerous renowned artists, art publishers and printers who have remained attached to its outstanding qualities.”

Arches field sketch journal

Arches Field Watercolor Book– I’m adding this in because I have one, but as you can see, it remains wrapped.  Must be saving it for something special.  Mentioning it in case some people don’t know of its existence. “15 sheets of 140lb cold press watercolor paper, natural white, 10-x-7-inch, double wire binding allows book to open flat.”  My reflection in the plastic looks like I’m assuming the pose in the airport security line.

Honorable mention- Hobonichi Techo Planner or any journal with Tomoe River paper. I’ve seen some stunning things painted on the magically thin 52gsm Japanese paper. This might seem like a strange thing to sketch and paint in, but it has a cult following. Guest Doodlewasher Yukari Bromfield almost exclusively sketches and paints on this paper and she introduced me to it. Thanks Yukari!  Most fountain pen enthusiasts have heard of this paper. Many fountain pen retailers like Goulet Pens and Vanness1938 sell loose sheets and small jot books with the paper. JetPens sells all that, plus the Hobonichi Techo Planner.  Nanami Paper sells large journals full of it, but you have to keep your eye out to score one. Have an interest in the paper- there is some serious ink porn, and info here in this 3:42 minute video. Below- the Hobonochi Techo with watercolor and a loose sheet of Tomoe River with pen and ink wash.

In closing- the man, the hair, the happy trees, the encouraging PBS legend- Bob Ross, episodes now on Netflix!  One season at least.  He’s so soothing. I’ve been watching it before I go to bed. Bob Ross: 13 Happy Little Facts About the Iconic PBS Painter.

Helpful links:

All about paper.

Paper weight– LBS. and GSM. conversion and explanation.

How to choose the right watercolor paper.

Paper sizes explained.

Did you get enough here?! 😉

I’m working to finish up June with a post on brushes. Next month is all watercolors.  To kick off World Watercolor Month, and to raise awareness of art education, we will take a look at watercolors suitable for children.  Then we will be going on a world tour of watercolors- Japan, Russia, France, Germany, and the UK!  This is an ongoing Saturday series of watercolor and art supply posts.

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Art Supply Reviews

51 thoughts on “DOODLEWASH REVIEW: Watercolor/Art Journals Part II

  1. Thank you so much for this blog, it is very helpfull and good! I work my whole life with paper, and sometimes a paper just feel different and lighter. you can test it yourself. if you cut out a piece of paper from 10×10 cm and it says 220 grams, the piece you cut out should be weighing 22 grams!
    In Lbs it is more difficult to measure!

    1. Hi Edo, glad you are finding the blog helpful! Thanks for sharing your paper expertise. From your descriptions, it sounds like going with the GSM measurement is the best way to go over the LBS. Happy painting!

  2. Another great review Jessica. One thing I especially love about your reviews, I feel like we are sitting around just yakking about these things 😄. I always learn something from you.
    I totally agree on the Handbook Journal. I also bought it because of MTH’s review. I don’t like it all but I continue to use it because I spent the money and I do like the size.
    I have a quite a few journals to use up but my fav is still Arches 140# CP that I make my journals with.
    Thanks for all the research you put into your reviews.

    1. Hi Terry, I’m glad the posts seem friendly and like we are chatting it up. Hehehe, I love that! We are usually on the same page, figuratively, and literally it seems, as we are sketching and painting in the same stuff. Ha! Thank you for your comment 🙂

  3. Awesome information, Jessica! I am officially searching for a new watercolor sketchbook. Not s huge fan of spiral bound, but maybe I hive it a go?

    My go to has-been Moleskine. The Moleskine Arts + is my go to for pencil drawings/sketches. I like it’s size format and is well constructed. I have washed watercolors in this book with s degree of mixed results. The Neptune quill brush works wonderfully on the paper that us all too easy to pill up and sluff layers off. Buckles horribly.

    I also use the Moleskine watercolor sketch notebook. While it has nice paper that takes many washes. I hate it’s horizontal portrait landscape format. Also, maybe it’s my paints but the colors seem dull ad compared to painting on s Strathmore tablet paper.

    Thank you, time for me to move on and discover better watercolor notebooks and leave my moleskineart to pencil art.

    1. Hi Rob, I like bound books better too. Have you tried a Stillman & Birn? I went over those in Part I if you want to take a peek, or just check out their website. Maybe we will see some boat sketches?! That one you built is awesome! Thank you for your comment 🙂

  4. This is the shorter post of the two paper posts?? LOL! A wealth of info, as always, Jessica…thank you! Your airport security comment cracked me up; I wouldn’t have even noticed your reflection. 😉

    I’m quite fond of the Strathmore 140lb Visual Journals myself but I’m going to get a Canson XL Mix Media Pad on your recommendation and give that a try to compare!

    1. Ahaha, did I say it would be shorter last time? I think I might have. They have a life of their own! I honestly thought that this one would be shorter. Let me know how you like the Canson XL if you end up with one. It’s good to try new, but I also think if you have something that you like, stick with it if it’s working for you. Thanks for your lovely comment Teresa!

  5. Great reviews, Jessica! Had to laugh because I also have that Arches Field Watercolor book untouched, awaiting some momentous occasion to break it in. I also have a Pentalic Field Watercolor book (7″x 10″) in the same condition!

    1. Hehehe Marion, you know how it is, saving this one or that one for something “special,” like a taking trip. That’s totally what’s going on with that Arches book I have, I wouldn’t even unwrap it to take a picture of the paper. One day the inside will see the light of day, and some paint! Thanks for your comment 🙂

  6. Great reviews in part two as well. Canson XL is my go to for experimenting with all types of media and I agree that it’s not only a great value but an excellent paper. Their Moulin Du Roy is quickly becoming one of my favorite watercolor papers and I’m finding myself using it over my Fabriano Artistico Extra White quite often. The watercolor reacts a little differently in a good way. Thanks for the information, I need to try out that Arches book very soon. Can’t wait for your brush reviews.

    1. Hi Peter, thanks for sharing about your experience with the papers you are using. I have a sample packet of a variety of Canson papers. After reading your comment I’m going to pull a sheet of the Moulin du Roy and pay closer attention to it. Some of the papers in the packet aren’t labeled, so I haven’t been able to figure out what some are. But I think the MDR are labeled. Ahh, and this made me remember some that I think I have stashed somewhere! Thanks Peter for your comment, the supply share, and the memory jog. 🙂 Happy Painting!

  7. Another great review, very useful. I tried a Moleskine many years ago now and didn’t like it. The paper warped too much. It annoyed me that I had spent so much money on something I liked and that then put me off buying Moleskine again. So many people seem to love them though. Maybe I had one bad experience or maybe things have improved in 20+ years. I use a Canson mixed media journal as my standard art journal and I really like it. It holds up well against all sorts of media and can take quite a battering from ink and watercolour. I find their watercolour paper to be good value for money too and it’s what I use for all my “just for me” art. Funnily enough, I also have an unwrapped Arches field journal. What’s that about? I’m going to check out some of your other recommendations too when I can check the feel of the paper. Thanks again.

    1. Hi Laura- “just for me” art, I love it! I was just commenting to Art We Wonderful about saving that Arches for something special because she is doing the same thing we are! Ha! We are birds of a feather. I wouldn’t even take the wrapping off to take a picture of the paper. One day we will rip that wrapping off and use it! Sounds like you are good at exploring journal options. The Canson XL is such a good deal, especially for how nice the paper is! I have a sample packet from Canson somewhere, and I’m going to see if it came with the XL Watercolor paper and try it out. Thanks so much for your comment and happy painting 🙂

  8. Jessica thank you for two really informative posts! Although I’m not a big fan of spiral notebooks, I got over it and continue to go with my favorite, Stillman & Birn. I love their paper. I’m a very wet painter and love Beta. I also love the white paper, although I’m giving ivory a try. As a company I find they are easy to get a hold of and get information. I did buy their soft cover version last year (version 1.0) and the cover did pop off but it worked well for traveling and I filled the book.
    I love seeing your experiments with each product. You are doing a great job exposing us to so many great products and tricks. Thank you for doing such extensive homework and sharing with us!

    1. Hi Cathe, we feel the same about the spirals. I found that I like the ivory paper of the Gamma. I got one of those soft overs with the issues and sent it back. The co-owner reached out to me and even had me talk to the book binder in the warehouse. I was really surprised by that. They were really concerned and wanted to figure out what was going on. I think Larry Marshal got some of the newer version to test, so maybe we will see them soon :). Thank you so much for your wonderful comment! Happy painting and sketching!

  9. Exclent posts!thank you so much. I just got the arches book as,a gift and i put my name in it and put it away. Lol. I have a flat file drawer filled with many of the papers you have reviewed here. I have used the S&B zeta and dont love it. My daniel smiths come out sort of chalky. I am interested in trying the Beta. I like the global paper ( mine has not warped), and i find the moleskine,.. fine. My new favorite is one made in India; Khadi paper. Its totally different. I never realized the “lb-age”, difference. very very intetesting! I am looking forward to the brushes, i hope you do one on travel brushes as well. Please keep them comming. The informatiin is intetesting and your “tone”, or voice is enjoyable to read.

    1. You are in good company here, a few others are saving their Arches book too ;). That’s interesting about the Zeta, I wonder if it’s because the paper is so smooth? I have a Khadi journal that I’m treating like the Arches-ha! Saving it for something. Maybe I’ll use it next month for World Watercolor Month. I am adding in a few travel brushes for that post. Thanks so much for your comment! Happy painting to you!

  10. I’m so grateful for your detailed descriptions of so many journals. Now I just have to choose – yikes!
    I keep saying I’m going to travel with a journal and a set of paints, but never do. You’ve provided motivation for me to try some of these.
    Really love all the sketches you show – give me an idea of how the paper actually works.

    1. Hi Sharon, I really appreciate the feedback! Yes, choosing can be a challenge, but I wish you luck with it! Maybe it’s like Field of Dreams, remember that movie? If you bring them, the paintings will come 😉 hehe.

  11. Your posts are chock a block full of thoughtful information. I save them all as great reference – and I have sent them on to a number of people!

  12. Were you testing the new “more absorbent” Moleskine Art Plus or the original version? I’m much happier with the overall performance of the new version of the Moleskine Art Plus sketchbook. It takes liquid media better than the original. Not great, but MUCH much better than the original.

    Thanks for the great reviews!

    1. Mine must be the old one. I’ve had it for a while. That’s great that they made some improvements and thanks for sharing! Do you know when they came out?

    1. Carsten, I was just looking at your paintings on FB in the World Watercolor Month group! All so beautiful! It’s fun to see everyone from here over there 😀. Thanks so much for your comment!

  13. Such a comprehensive list and I bet there are so many more out there! I use Strathmore for swatches also. And I actually don’t mind using them for art. I’ve used their visual journal for mixed media stuff. And thanks for the mention.. I am very much in love with Tomoe River paper for daily journaling with watercolors so I will stick with it. I’m checking the Nanami site for the Crossfield daily! I’m going to order both the Crossfield and the Standard! I really enjoy the crinkly paper after I paint! Great review! And I can’t wait for the brushes!!

    1. Hi Kari, no kidding, grab them off Nanami when you can! If they have seconds, don’t hesitate to grab one because they are worth it, and $5-$6 cheaper. I’m not sure why the one I have is even a second, it looks perfectly fine. And those GFeller leather covers they sell- super nice feeling and soft. It made me laugh when I posted that pic of my desk and you said- where’s the supplies. A simple wooden table and a folding chair must of been a little bit of a let down…hehehe. Sometimes it gets so messy with clutter and things all over the floor. I had journals all over the floor for weeks doing these posts. I finally put them away yesterday. 🙂 Thanks so much for your comment!

  14. Thank you Jessica, great article. I have some new paper to try. Looks like I should revisit Canson paper. I have used it in the past for mixed media (layers and layers of acrylic) and I remember it pilling a lot. I need to try it with watercolor. I look forward to all of your future posts, thanks Nancy K.

    1. Hi Nancy, I’ve tried acrylic in the XL, but not tones of layers, so I didn’t experience the same issue. I’ve also done chalk pastels in it with a lot of rubbing and layers, and those were fine. Thanks for commenting on your experience with it! Pilling is frustrating! What did you switch to?

  15. What a great resource of information! Thank you Jessica! I thought you might be interested in knowing a bit more about the lbs vs. gsm: you were spot on about gsm being a more reliable indicator of a paper’s thickness. The lbs is taken from the weight of the original ream of paper which can vary WILDLY. So you could have 2 papers with the exact same thickness and because the size of the paper (and therefore the size of the ream) is different, the weight is different. The gsm (grams per square meter) will be the same no matter the size of the paper. Fortunately more and more companies in the US are starting to list the gsm on their papers!

  16. Thanks for both these posts on papers. Roz Stendahl has written about papers. According to her most recent posts about the Strathmore Visual Journals, the Mixed Media version has different paper than the Watercolor one. It has Series 500 Mixed Media. It has become my preferred paper and I buy it in sheets of 22×30 to tear down to make my own sketchbooks.

  17. Interesting post, very informative. I was yesterday in a book shop and saw something I had already seen: it was the Fabriano Venezia Book you wrote about!. So I soon bought it (small size) and now it sits on my desk. It s very nice, it’s so nice that I’m afraid with my very limited ability to ruin it attempting anything…
    But one of next days I?ll try something…or not? Ok, I’ll try 🙂
    robert, absolute beginner!

    1. Hi Robert! I know the first page intimidation you speak of! I usually go for a simple mountain scene with a sun first. For me, that’s an easy one- some paint pointing up and a round circle. I’ve seen a lot of people do their palette and/or palette colors. Go for it! I’m cheering you on from here!

  18. Hi, i know the white page fear so, wvery book i buy, i open the front cover andon the inside of the cover and sometimes on the first pg as well, i splatter paint. In my head, ithink: okay i cant ruin any pages more then this. It somehow makes it okay to go forward to the other pgs. Good luck!

  19. Well, I’m late to this party. I’ve procrastinated all summer. It’s autumn do time to get back to art.

    Thank you for this review. I love sketching in my moleskineart arts notebook. It can handle very light washes. It will buckle but that don’t bother me.

    What I dislike I’d the seam in the middle of my art. It’d problematic with ink and graphite and can be terrible with watercolor. Worse of all, my wife is displeased that she can not rip out s sketch of painting to frame.

    Do now the question to find the perfect notebook to draw, sketch and paint – test out and frame. I don’t care for spiral bound. But perhaps it would be best.

    Dangit, too many choices and decisions.


    1. My mom was saying the same thing recently about framing pages from a journal. Have you thought about taping watercolor paper to a board and traveling with that? Marc Taro Holmes has some examples and advice about that on his blog.


      I’ve been enjoying your sketches lately 🙂

  20. Hi! This post is really nice, but I simply don’t have time to read it all…
    Do you have an overview of the sketchbooks somewhere? Which one is your overall favorite?
    Or maybe you could recommen a specific one for me? I’m looking for a bound one in square or ‘normal’ size (not the wide ones), one that can take watercolor well with wet on wet technique possible, but also with smooth enough paper to do some linework with fineliners. And use of other media as well. Any thoughts?
    I hope you have a nice day! 🙂

  21. Thanks for the review. In the end I went with the Bee Paper. I just can’t stand the thought of anything but 100%cotton. Champagne taste on a beer budget.

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