I made myself a sketchbook to take on our trip. The original plan was to buy one of Stillman & Burns' new Gamma series landscape-format sketchbooks; they're lovely, and the paper is heavy enough to take light washes. But they aren't cheap, nor are they carried anywhere in Montreal, and as a result I left the task of ordering from Toronto undone too long. What to do? Then it occurred to me that I could make my own sketchbook and fill it with whatever combination of papers I wanted! What a revelation! I've made a lot of small notebooksbefore, but never a sketchbook. The other advantage was that I could choose a size that was light and easy to carry. The binding itself is reversible; I can take pages out or add more anytime.
It helps to have a big papercutter and a heavy-duty adjustable binding punch and comb binder; we used to use it for binding reports for our design clients.
I already had these handpainted covers, waiting for a binding, so that part was easy. The next task was to cut up a sheet of a favorite drawing/mixed-media paper, Stonehenge, and another one of Arches 140-lb watercolor paper. It was enough for two books, one slightly larger and longer than this, with plain black covers, and this one. The binding here a flat leather thong; the other book has a black plastic comb binding.
Now I just need to make the time, and pluck up my courage, to do some sketches rather than being on-the-go every minute while we're away. The work of the Urban Sketchers, a growing international movement, both inspires and daunts me, because sketching buildings and urban scenes has never been my forté. What I'm most interested in isn't accuracy, but conveying the feeling of a place or scene.
On the other hand, having this blog, and you, my kind and generous readers, is a great incentive, though I admit that every single time I put pen or brush to paper, a little voice in my head worries about making a disastrous mess! Just do it, I tell myself, as all my teachers have told me too: sketch every day. Some drawings will be a mess, and some will come out all right. No matter what, you'll learn and improve through constant practice.
Funny, isn't it -- after all this time, and all this making-of-things, we are still fragile! I think that this beautiful bright color will help.