And the winner is…

I needed a large hat for this draw. There was such an overwhelming response and so many kind words from last week’s anniversary post. I have been reading all of them over the past several days, enjoying each and every one of them. Thanks to everyone who responded.

And now you are probably curious to know who won the wheelbarrow painting. Congratulations to Claire Russell, whose name was picked out of that big sombrero! As soon as I receive your address, I’ll send you the watercolour.

Of course picking a name out of a hat wasn’t my only activity today. I received a sample sketchbook from Etchr_Lab, so I had to get out there to try it. The A4 format book is made with 230g acid-free, artist grade 100% cold press cotton paper. I was anxious to try it since I’ve been looking for a better quality hardcover watercolour sketchbook. To date the only book that has worked perfectly is the handmade one I received as a gift this summer.

Fortunately it was a clear day and the boats are still in the water at the Pointe Claire Yacht Club. When I try new paper, I find it’s always better to sketch something I’m familiar with, and I’ve painted this grouping of boats plenty of times. The added bonus was that the owners of the red boat were working on it today, so I even got to add in some figures.

There are many qualities that I look for in a good sketchbook. After today’s sketch, I think this comes close to being a perfect book for me. The paper is beautiful to draw on, meaning that its creamy texture yields to soft pencil lines. It’s also really gorgeous to paint on. The washes stay wet for a long time, allowing you to charge in with more paint in large areas. That is, in fact, quite rare in sketchbook paper. Also, the colours remain bright after they dry, and can be layered and lifted. There’s enough texture on the cold press paper to take advantage of granulating pigments, yet the edges of brushstrokes remain sharp. All in all, great results for a first try.

Full disclosure: Even though this was a free sample that was sent to me to try, I was under no obligation to review it. Of course manufacturers hope artists will do this if they like the product, but I have received lots of stuff that I have tried and would never use in my daily sketching. I just don’t write about it. I took the time to write about this one today because, as you can see, I really liked it. Maybe you are in the same boat (no pun intended) and have been looking for a great watercolour sketchbook too. Maybe you’ve even been considering this one. If so, I hope this helps.

16 Comments on “And the winner is…”

  1. claire russell says:

    Honestt!!! Claire Russell! I am so excited, so honored!
    1452 NW 185 St.
    Shoreline, WA 98177-3321

    Claire Russell

    Creative projects and paintings:


  2. Another Gem, Shari. Congratulations and love the paper you used, how it kept the colours. Looking forward to your next blog.


  3. Bernadette says:

    Simply gorgeous! The colors are fresh, clean and crisp. Love the the boaters, it adds so much to the painting. Thanks for sharing and congratulations Claire!


  4. Laurie Murray says:

    Gorgeous painting Shari! I admire your style so much, and it’s no wonder you get to travel all over the world and share your talent with so many others. One day I hope to be able to attend one of your workshops.


  5. loisajay says:

    Ha! I love your pun! You really put that paper through its paces, but a thorough is important. The picture is lovely. I especially like the lighter blue of the water.


  6. Wow! What a luscious surface, the paint comes alive. I, too haven’t been really happy with any sketchbooks in particular, I think I’ll try this one (and of course take under consideration your amazing ability to make lovely paintings). Thanks so much for the tip!
    Laurie Paci


  7. monique says:


    Liked by 1 person

  8. Shari,
    I love your sailboats. Your compositions are so good. When I visit our marina all I see is continuous boats. Interesting to hear your comments on the sketchbook from Etchr.Lab. I have not tried the cold press but fell in love with the hot press..230 gsm. I don’t normally like hot press. It is really nice especially for sketching people.


  9. melissa van ness says:

    Hi Shari,
    I just took a look at those Etchr sketchbooks. I thought I’d spent a lot of money for a sketchbook I recently got from Poland, but it was less than these. I highly recommend the Koval company. I heard about them on the Parka blog. I ordered the silver, hardbound 8 1/2×11. It’s gorgeous! 140 lb. Fabriano paper, white & cold press.

    Your sketches are beautiful, as always. I’m sorry I wasn’t here for your Anacortes workshop this summer.


  10. joantav says:

    Your colors in this are so vibrant, so the paper is obviously great quality. So often the pigment sinks into the paper and the color ends up being much duller when it drys. I will have to check out their website.


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