in a way that only a new journal can get me excited! Yep, it's that time again. I started a new book today. But I'm kind of cheating...I still have 5 pages left in the old book! The crazy thing is that I've had only a handful of pages left in this book for 3 or 4 days, because I couldn't decide which book to use next, and I didn't want to finish one book and not have another that I could begin immediately.
I know that's a special kind of weird, but I have a feeling anyone reading this will know exactly what I mean. Journalers have this paranoia about their supplies. We're on an endless quest for the perfect items, and we have this irrational fear of using up items we already have and know we love, especially if there's no suitable replacement in sight.
I actually found the Holy Grail of journals (for me, since every person's HG book will be different!) when I was doing mixed media and collage. That's the book I talked about a while back when I was raiding every Barnes & Noble in town, because they've been discontinued. I have used this book since 2005, and it has served me well. In the past, my ideal journal features were that the book must lie flat, it must have sewn signatures, and the paper must be thick enough to handle acrylic paint and collage. I tried so, so many books before I found the one that suited me best.
But since my focus shifted to sketching and watercolors a while back, it quickly became apparent that my HG book is well, not so holy for this new way of journaling that I'm trying to explore. Watercolors just SIT on top of this paper...there's no nice blending out of the color, if that makes sense. I end up having to use a lot of the color and then it's very bold, and lacks that dreamy watercolor element. Also, my old HG journal is leather, and it has this flap that wraps around the journal, plus a leather tie that wraps around the book two times. I can't tell you how irritating it is to have that darned flap and tie in the way while I'm drawing. It never really bugged me when I was doing collage, but for some reason it makes me crazy these days. I actually thought about getting some heavy duty scissors and cutting it off!
The other thing that prompted me to search for a new type of journal is the realization that while the old journal style might not be a great sketchbook, it's still my Holy Grail for art journaling...and since I have only 4 of them left, I probably shouldn't use them as sketchbooks. I imagine at some point the collage bug will bite me again, and I will pulling out the acrylic paints and gel medium, and I'll need something to work in.
So I shelved the 4 remaining HG journals, and went in search of a new book. My criteria for this book was similar- I still wanted sewn signatures and a book that laid flat. But instead of pages that were thick enough for acrylic paint, this time I was looking for paper that would work well with watercolors. After much research, my first choice was the Fabriano Venezia . It gets good reviews and it's on sale (at the site linked) so I ordered one. Unfortunately, it was backordered. I will eventually get one, but I'm not sure how long it will be, so I had to look around for another book. (Remember, I'd been sitting around for days trying to decide on another journal, and I was just ready to get down to business!)
I went searching at a few of the art stores here, and I brought home the Fabriano Artist's Journal in the larger, 7x9 size. I have to admit, this book will probably present a challenge. The pages, despite their lovely texture, are much thinner than any I've ever worked with in an art journal. The journal doesn't lie as flat as I'm used to. Reviews say that this book will handle light watercolor washes, but it's definitely not built for watercolor. And then there's the cover, which is a thick paper, kind of a cardstock. It's not nearly as hardy as I'm used to. I mean, c'mon...I'm used to leather!
But this is the book that spoke to me. There was an unwrapped sample at the store, and I could see that the cover wasn't the best, that the pages were kind of thin, that I could surely find something else that would be more suitable for what I want to do. Despite all this, I kept coming back to this journal, running my fingers over the pages (which alternate between white and tan!), and feeling its heft in my hand. I had this urge to whip out a pen and start sketching right then and there! I could just see this sketchbook in my bag, on my art table, in my lap while I sketch in bed.
So that was that. I brought it home, stuck in my "if found, please return to..." label, and did some pages. (I was so excited to begin the new journal, that I just went ahead and abandoned the old one. Oops! I'm sure I'll go back and do a few quick sketches in there eventually, just to use up the last few pages.)
I think I made the right decision, both in choosing this journal and in abandoning the old one, with 5 pages left to fill. I'm looking forward to the challenges that working in a new book will surely bring. Sometimes you've just gotta go with your gut and follow your creative urges!