On Nôtre-Dame

I’ve been looking for a new, inexpensive sketchbook for very quick sketches. I tried painting in my Robert Bateman sketchbook (which is really for pencil drawing) while I was out in Lachine today (sketching this poor flower vendor who tried — most unsuccessfully — to sell bouquets on a really cold day). As you can see, the paper is too thin for even the lightest washes.


I don’t usually add ink after wash but I did that today to see if it would help the sketch. People often ask what goes on first, the paint or the ink, and my answer is always this: I put the ink on first and paint second because if I do it the other way around I end up just outlining the colour areas (see below).


My second sketch was done a little further down the road on Nôtre-Dame, and this time I used a Sharpie first and then added colour. With a stronger structure of black line, I don’t mind the faded washes. Not an ideal solution, but I like the 6″ x 9″ format so I’ll make my way through the book and then look for an alternative.


37 Comments on “On Nôtre-Dame”

  1. Terry Krysak says:

    After being frustrated with Moleskine watercolor journals, I just bought a Pentalic Aqua Journal on sale at my local art store… 140LB cold press……..and I love it. 5″ x 8″..24pages single, 48 pages double.


  2. Soni says:

    I was disappointed with WC washes in this sketchbook too but you’ve given me inspiration to try it with sharpie & WC ; like final of first one a lot too
    Nice ones !


  3. A really cheap sketchbook that surprised me is the one from Seawhite paper.
    I have the spiral pads

    I have a small movie from this sketchbook on FB. sorry for the quality!

    Fabriano Venezia are also not to expensive. But it getting pricey when you sketch a lot like you do of course!

    S&B are very good, but…

    best wishes Edo


    • It’s funny — I can see the link on my phone but not when I go to answer comments. I will try to post it myself. Thanks for the recommendations Edo!
      S&B are good but they can get pricey when you sketch a lot. I will look at the Seawhite and see if they are available here.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe because it’s a Facebook link…
      Stunning sketches. Thanks for showing me these. Wish I could share them.
      And I can see that the paper takes very wet washes. I like the way it looks and I’ll see if it is available here. Thanks again Edo.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Shari, my link I put in disappeared? Maybe anti spam from Alkismet?


  5. Absolutely super little pictures, problematic or not!


  6. Judy Sopher says:

    What size Sharpie can you use that gives that fine of a line? Love the last sketch.


  7. monique says:

    I always love your art..even if you aren’t always thriled:)
    Just signed up for People in motion 🙂


  8. rosjenke says:

    I still love your sketches even on unsuitable paper. I worked my way through a journal with unfriendly paper, challenging but good learning for me. I have trouble sourcing suitable affordable journals too so I often make (sew) my own. Here is a pic of the process. https://rosjenke.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/fb_img_1457343816342.jpg. If that link didn’t work it is at the bottom of this page.


    • I think your books are great. Of course one would need a sewing machine to make this, right? But I can see why this works perfectly for you. It’s fast, it doesn’t require a lot of cutting and the binding process is really easy. Have you tried it with thicker paper? I guess that would be too difficult to sew through. Thanks for sharing the links Ros!


      • rosjenke says:

        Shari, I used 98lb paper for these little books. I have made some larger ones with 300gsm watercolour paper but only half the amount of pages so I could still sew them with the sewing machine.
        Originally I handstitched the signatures with a pamphlet stitch before discovering the faster option.


    • Judy Sopher says:

      This is interesting as I sew and have a machine that should go thru several sheets–have to try this. What do you suggest for the cover?

      Shari-no sewing machine? I am down to only 3. Just gave one away. (Yes, I do have time for sewing and art–I am retired. )


  9. Hi Shari !

    So, you didn’t like the paper because the washes faded? Is it that?

    I am currently using the Daler Rowney Graduate sketchbooks (they have a black cover) and I really love them for watercolor. 🙂 The paper is 160 gms so the same, I think, that the sketchbook you used today, and it buckles a bit if you use a lot of water but it handles the water amazingly well and the colors are bright and clean. I like that! 🙂
    They are really really cheap and I find it nice.

    I could add a link towards a flip through on my YouTube account or towards my blog for you to see the result but I think it would disappear like Watercolorsfromholland one. I guess you will be able to find it clicking on my name. 🙂

    Thank you, always, for the inspiration and tips! 😉


    • Hi Anne-Laure.

      It’s so nice to read your comments after hearing so much about you from Marc and Laurel. I love your sketches and it is thrilling that you will be able to take over for Marc in India. How exciting!!
      Lately I have found that so many of the art supply recommendations I get from people are not available in Canada. I just looked at the Daler Rowney book but it seems to be only available in the UK, and France too, I guess. If that is what you are using for most of your sketches, then it works really well because your work is amazing and the colours are so vibrant. I also tried looking into the Seawhite paper but that is not available her either!

      I hope we will be able to meet someday and sketch together. In the meantime I will follow your beautiful sketches online.



      • Judy Sopher says:

        I am surprised that supplies available in the US are not so in Canada. Is it too expensive to buy from Amazon or isn’t that available? I am also surprised at how many sketchbooks are made. I never heard of several of them but being tempted to try them, I now have a pile and love it.


  10. I don’t know if you’ve tried them, but I find the Strathmore Mixed Media Visual Journals very good; spiral bound 190gsm paper in a vellum finish. I’ve done pencil, pen and watercolour in these and really like them!


  11. Judy Sopher says:

    I did get the RB sketchbook and I do like it. Not my favorite tho. The color is lighter and I am not sure why. Is there an explanation related to the type of paper?


    • Hi Judy. I think that book is best for pencil drawings. That’s about it. Or ink. It’s poor paper for watercolours. I’m not sure what you mean by an explanation about the paper. Do you mean why do your watercolours look lighter on it?


      • Judy Sopher says:

        Exactly. I have another sketchbook that also does that. I guess I’m just curious as to the reason the same amount of paint will be taken up differently. Its not important as to the result.


  12. Lynn Holbein says:

    These sketches are so wonderful they make me drool. What a treat to get them in my inbox!


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