Toward the end of April, 2018, I gave myself the challenge of filling a 4.5″x5.5″ sketchbook filled with Strathmore Aquarious II watercolor paper that I had made quite a while before. After I made the sketchbook I discovered I was not happy with the paper when using my old method of working, which included pencil drawing before inking and finally adding watercolor. The paper’s surface is soft, and I found it impossible to use a pencil without making grooves in the surface, and that also made it impossible to erase pencil lines completely. So the sketchbook sat unused for quite a while.
Later I began using fountain pens, which transformed my drawing process. I was using less pencil predrawing and focusing more on ink drawing. Finally I decided to take the plunge and fill the little sketchbook with ink-only sketches. If they all flopped, it would be no great loss because I didn’t plan to use the sketchbook for anything else anyway. I ended up surprising myself by enjoying the freedom of drawing with just ink, and filled the little sketchbook in about a month. I was hooked, and now I knew I could at least draw with ink on Strathmore Aquarious II paper. The lines were not as crisp as I would prefer, but it was manageable.
So I made a 5.5″x 7.5″ sketchbook with the same paper for a daily life journal. I used fountain pen and sometimes a light, loose watercolor pencil predrawing. Then I started adding watercolor to some sketches. I discovered that colors ended up “duller” on this paper when they dried, but I could do simple washes with a bit of depth. About two layers is all it would handle. A little watercolor pencil as a final touch helped make the images pop a little more. But the fine surface texture did not hold a really juicy wash in place. As the wash dried, it would “leak” around the edges sometimes.
As long as I kept the washes light and simple, going back after they were dry to add a few shadows and accents, I could work on the paper.
I have made a new 4.5″x 5.5″ Strathmore Aquarious II sketchbook to carry in my purse along with my compact watercolor palette. Now that I know how to work on this paper, I feel comfortable using it for “right here, right now” sketching.
This palette is made from an old mirror compact, but you can find the pans over at Expeditionary Art Took Kit.
Thank you for stopping by and stay creative!