Thursday, 28 March 2013

Testing the Beta Sketchbook




The choice and quality of drawing tools is very important for an artist.  Last year I was given the opportunity to work with a number of the exciting Derwent drawing pencils and Artbars. So, too, the paper used has a big part to play in the final result of a drawing or painting.

I have discussed various sketchbooks on Art Matters as my search continues for the perfect book. There are a number of criteria - the quality of the paper; the responsiveness to a variety of media - i.e. is it suitable for pencil, ink and watercolour; the size of the book; the robust quality of the binding and the cover.

I am definitely prejudiced in favour of bound books, never having liked the mechanical feel of a ring-bound book. I like to have the freedom to paint and draw across the gutter and, moreover, I just love a proper book. However, Stillman & Birn books come in both Hardbound and Wire-bound formats so everyone can be satisfied.

The new journals produced by Stillman & Birn have been in the news on drawing and sketching blogs all over the world. These sketchbooks are now available here in Australia. I have been given one of the Beta 14.0 x 21.6cm sketchbooks to try.

The Specs:
The paper in the Beta is 180Lb./270 GSM;
Natural White
Cold Press surface
For Multi-media work
There are a number of different sizes in each of the series. I haven’t tested any of the others yet so I will confine my comments to the Beta series.

The binding is extremely strong and if broken in correctly (yes, it’s recommended that you are tough with the book when you get it) will open completely flat. The cover has a good surface that will stand up to being thrown around without starting to look shabby.

I started off with a simple pencil drawing, and then tried the same subject in watercolour only.



A spray of bougainvillea from my early morning walk provided the subject for trying ink with watercolour. This I followed with a detailed drawing of a Chinese Dragon vase using a very fine pen - the Platinum Carbon pen. 

The final sketch in the first series of tests was a plein air drawing of The Old Windmill in Spring Hill, Brisbane. For this drawing I used a Pigma Micron 005 and watercolour.

The Old Windmill in Spring Hill, Brisbane.

Although I have done only a few sketches to date, I found that the paper responded very well to all types of media with good results. I’m looking forward to more drawing fun over the long weekend.

A Blessed and Peaceful Easter to all who will celebrate this special time.