However little has been said in my circuit of artists, I am not alone in this observation. I notice the nod of head while gingerly warming fine pages between index and thumb, or the telltale “twitch” as fingers cross the spine of a coveted folio. A fine sketchbook found is a friend indeed, and is worthy of worship within the quiet kind.
I have been through over 15 years of cheap, spiral bound floozies. I loved each one, despite paper cuts, rings caught on bags, paper fiercer than a morning after, and the infuriatingly flaky covers whose only purpose was just to let others know I was a corner lurking kind of gal wanting a good time on a cheap dime. Tho I treasured the memories on those pages, I tired of their lack of support as the only way I could sketch was finding a table to lay them over. Or, as it seemed always on the coldest days without a table in sight, I lay belly down on the dirt, snow, or pavement to emblazon our shared vision on the rough pages. My commitment was always greater than theirs, their interest thinning in what we were accomplishing together.
I watched enviously as some of my dearest friends produced glorious art with their Moleskin Escorts. Classic, svelte, expensive, but worth every dime. These are the gold-diggers who make sure you never regret the money you drop on their pretty heads. For my high roller friends, these beauties are an addiction, and nothing can compare. Every curve, every page: the ideal. The Moleskin paper takes all matter of media: paint, pencil, charcoal…all my favorite artists date this model.
No matter how much I wanted to copy their refined taste, their texture makes my skin crawl. Their small sizes infuriate me into irrationality. I like a page with some meat for my broad thoughts, one I can take on a ride, ya know? A Moleskin is the diva who saunters into the bar and breaks her own spell with her screeching voice. So, once day, when my hands get rougher, or my skin thicker, I might be able to show these dames my world without wanting to toss them back on that shelf where I found them.
But here I was, my roving eye lusting after what could be. I knew, I had to leave my dimestore past behind me. I squeezed my pockets and expanded my taste, sampling bits from all over, all types. I wasn’t discerning. I was trying to find the “one”, the peanut butter to my jelly. Each one I met, I wondered: Will you be the cheap fling that falls apart after a dusty tousle in the farm field? Or the sexy siren whose frail pages dent beneath my zealous pressure after leaving its own dent in my bank account?
My star crossed journey gave me hardbound, softbound, home bound, recycled, stapled, draped and drowned, tinted, painted, blacks and browns, fabrics, paper, short and fat, slim and light or tall and slight. I made them, I traded them, I shared them and painted them. I paid a lot, and a little, and would take in the free straggler beneath my wing.
Then by chance at a Borders Books Bargain Sale. . . Hark! What light from yonder window breaks! Whats this? A size that fits into a bag, but fits my broad and greedy ways as well? Hardcover, with smooth paper…durable but wont break my back with its weight…and ohhhhh goodness, that cover: a Bound in linen or similar cloth, soothing to run my hands across, a fine grip to toss about, resistant to all matter of airborne grimy or wet nasty crumb, a pleasure to hold and caress, to keep nearby if muse arrive.
I present my peanut butter, my linen bound lover found. I have my sketchbook.
For those who would like to purchase such a linen sketchbook for their own trial and maybe not so much error, click here for studio goods, and here for fineartstore. I am sorry if you thought me a Moleskin type. Feel free to comment on what you prefer, and I would love to know why!