Sunday on the dock

Before a sketchbook gets to come along with me to a workshop, it needs to go through my rigorous testing process. Sketchbooks are heavy and I don’t want to bring one that won’t get used. The big questions are: does it work well with ink AND does it take the paint well. For the past few months, I’ve been testing out the new Hahnemuhle 100% cotton sketchbooks in both landscape and portrait A4 size. I’ve drawn Alice in ink, I’ve painted several florals including this one in grey ink and wash, and yesterday I took it out to sketch at the boat club.

It’s starting to get a little cool in Montreal, and I was out there late in the day, so my sketching session was a bit frantic. There’s no attempt at good composition here. Just a basic workout to see how saturated the colours are, how many washes I can layer and how the texture of the paper feels (this is smoother paper than in an Etchr sketchbook), etc. I am liking this book more and more. As with every new paper or sketchbook I try, it takes some getting used to. For example, a more textured paper will require a wetter brush, and a thicker pen. But I like the smoother feel of this paper, and it can sure take a beating. I think it will take graphite really well too, if I decide to do some pencil drawings. This book, in both formats, will definitely be in my bag the next time I teach.

15 Comments on “Sunday on the dock”

  1. Lori says:

    Just SOOO beautiful!!!


  2. Iona says:

    As always, I am stunned by how much you can suggest in these busy boat/marina scenes, very inspiring. Love the colours! Can I ask how long this took you please?
    I have been using the etchr sketchbooks for a while now, both cold press and the hot press. The hot press is very nice for ink and seems to be quite up to lots of layers, I wonder if you have tried that one? I’m talking about the regular etchr, not the Signature or Perfect versions. I will have to try the Hanhemuhle next – oh oh more art supplies! 🙂


    • HI Iona, Thanks for having a look. I think this took about an hour. I was painting quickly because I was so cold. As for sketchbooks, I have tried both the hot press and the cold press books with the white cover. I love the HP for gouache, and the paper is nice for watercolour in the CP too but a bit too textured for me. Now that I have used it often I prefer the Perfect Sketchbook but it is expensive! I really like the Hahnemuhle too. If you’re going to give it a try, maybe start with a smaller book just to see. It is available at Wet Paint in the US.


  3. Ah, the basic workout…..Fantastic! You are exceptionally fit :).
    Interesting to hear about the Hahnemuhle 100% cotton……Which would you say is your hands-down favourite sketchbook these days?


    • Thanks Mary. Good question about the sketchbooks. I realize that I need to carry at least two different ones. I still like the Handbook Watercolour Journal for ink and wash. I find the Etchr book a little too textured for ink, unless I use a thicker pen. I guess that’s why I am enjoying the Hahnemuhle. It seems to be the perfect balance between the two. Have you tried the Hahnemuhle cotton book yet?


      • Hi Shari. No I haven’t tried the HMLE cotton sketchbook yet – I like to carry only one book, so am excited about your comment on the perfect balance. Am still using mostly the Stillman & Birn Delta series – good for watercolour AND gouache, tho’ doesn’t really hold up to multiple washes.


  4. annelitimmerbacka says:

    Good to hear! Hahnemühle 100 % watercolor sketchbook is the one I’m going to take with me in your workshop (Spain) See you soon😊


  5. Peri Nilan says:

    Just curious how you like the A4 size. I have a Fabriano 5: Fat spiral pad in that size. While I like the paper (50%cotton) for practice ink and watercolour, I find the narrow side at about 8.3” to be somewhat narrow for some compositions, especially portrait. I keep going back to my 9”x12” watercolour blocks (100%cotton) both cold press and hot press for plein air.


    • Hi Peri. Good question about size. I have used so many A4 books, especially in landscape format that I am used to this. I like the horizontal page for most urban sketches, and of course Iike to use both pages in a spread for a panoramic sketch. I am off to teach in Spain and Greece soon, and I have a feeling I may be doing some panoramas. But I can see why you prefer a little bigger size.


  6. Donna says:

    Your basic workout is awesome. Love all the color you managed to get into in your rush to do this! I’ve seen this paper around and will get some soon. Thanks for the critique.


  7. You really picked a busy scene to test out the book. Nicely done!! Looks like the colors stay nice and bright, and the smoother paper must be nice to use with ink.


  8. mcammeehan says:

    my observations are the colour, the paper seems to really pick it up, or maybe it’s just your talent !?! 🙂


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