Review and Giveaway: Canson XL Mix Media Sketchbook

I think I first came across this notebook on the Blick website. It comes in several sizes, and I was excited to see that one of them was 3.5 x 5.5″, a rare size for sketchbooks. I went to the Blick retail store in Manhattan to see if I could check one out in person, but they only had other sizes, so I ended up placing an order online. Here’s what I got:


Here’s the Canson sketchbook next to a pocket size Moleskine for comparison:


The notebook is a pleasing shape and heft– a sharp-cornered rectangle, with a soft cover.  (The item photo at Blick shows rounded corners, so this may have changed since I bought mine.) The cover is fairly thick and substantial, with a faux-leather texture. On the back is a label with price and brand info– fortunately it peels off very easily.


The paper is heavy enough that the whole notebook only bends slightly. The square spine reveals the stitched binding underneath.



When you open the notebook, there’s a space to write your name on the inside front cover, but otherwise it’s completely plain inside– no ribbon marker or pocket, no other branding. The pages open quite flat.



Given that this sketchbook is marketed as being suitable for mixed media work, I would hope it had substantial paper that could stand up to most pens, and happily, this does turn out to be the case! While the 160 GSM paper has a bit of tooth to it, it feels ok with fine rollerball pens, and really shines on showthrough and bleedthrough, with only the toughest pens showing through. I also tested it with watercolor paint after these photos were taken, and found that it held up well, with minimal buckling.



I think this is a fantastic little sketchbook for artists on the go. It will slip right into your pocket, with no annoying hard cover or wire binding. Some people might want to protect the outside and corners by using it with some sort of notebook cover, but I think it should hold up pretty well as is. And at $4.49 for a 48-page 3.5 x 5.5″ sketchbook of this quality, it’s a great bargain at Blick. It also comes in 5.5 x 8.5″ for those who prefer larger pages, at only $7.99. (The manufacturer’s list prices are $7.70 and $14.35 respectively, but they are 41% off at Blick.)

Canson XL Mix Media Journal
If you want a chance to try the Canson Mix Media Journal for free, I’m giving one away! I’ll select 3 lucky winners from entries received in these ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Canson XL Mix Media Journal” and “@NotebookStories”, and follow @NotebookStories.

On Facebook, “like” the Notebook Stories page, and post something containing the words “Canson XL Mix Media Journal” on the Notebook Stories wall.

On your blog, post something containing the words “Canson XL Mix Media Journal” and “Notebook Stories” and link back to this blog.

The deadline for entry is Friday March 1 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner.

More Good Stuff from Our Readers

From Jennie, a link to an article with some more great reasons to favor paper over digital note-taking:

“The notebook has an immediate tactile advantage over phones: they aren’t connected to the Internet. It’s intimate in a way computers aren’t. A notebook has never interrupted me with a screen that says, “Wuz up?” Notebooks are easy to use without thinking. I know where I have everything I’ve written on-the-go over the last eight years: in the same stack. It’s easy to draw on paper. I don’t have to manage files and have yet to delete something important. The only way to “accidentally delete” something is to leave the notebook submerged in water.”

Read more at  Why little black books instead of phones and computers | The Story’s Story.


Matt Jackson invites you to take a look at his Etsy shop featuring handmade leather journals:

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Paul sends this photo of the best vending machine concept I’ve ever seen. I love the idea of being able to pump in some coins and grab an emergency notebook:


David sends a link to some funky looking notebooks at Animi Causa, including this one, which comes with a LED pen so you can write in the dark:\
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Anke tips us off to the Envelope Book notebook, whose pages are made of recycled envelopes:
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Thanks for the info, everyone! Keep the tips coming!

Moleskine Monday: What’s in the Back?

What do you keep in the back pocket of your notebook? Here’s one person’s look at the things he’d tucked into his:

Read more at SketchBuch: In The Back Pocket of My Moleskine.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Marc Johns

This week’s addict is addicted to making his own sketchbooks, and lots of them:

On his blog, Marc says

“I’ve been making my own sketchbooks for at least six years now. I’ve filled up dozens and dozens of them. Most are made from lettersized paper, cut in three, then folded over. This is the ideal size to fit inside my back pocket.”

He also goes on to point out that it’s great to have sketchbooks that are cheap enough that you aren’t afraid to mistakes. There are lots more images of the covers and insides, full of wonderfully scratchy, scrappy, awesome art!

See more at Marc Johns: I make my own sketchbooks.

How Small Is Your Sketchbook?

What’s your preferred sketchbook size? I do often draw in 3.5 x 5.5″ sketchbooks, but I often worry that it’s constraining. It’s harder to be “loose” sometimes when you’re working in a small bound book– but maybe that’s just my issue! Gabi Campanario of Urban Sketchers is working in an even smaller sketchbook and it’s very loose and spontaneous, with a sense of space on the page.

See more small sketches at Urban Sketchers: Small sketchbook, great action.

Handkerchief Notebook

The perfect notebook to tuck in a chest pocket!


Read more at Hankie Pocketbook – Mini Notebooks • Selectism.

Moleskine Monday: Stuffed Reporter Notebooks

How’s this for some super-stuffed notebooks!


Via En Alaska avec Heimstone | Café Mode, l’oeil d’une parisienne (presque) à la page – Lexpress Styles.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Fred

I came across this week’s addict on Flickr, where he posted this photo of about a year’s worth of filled sketchbooks:

See more of the art within on Flicker at Completed Moleskines. That is except for color. | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.

Random Notebooks from My Collection

Here’s a few things I pulled out of one of my storage boxes, about half of which is filled with childhood notebooks from the late ’70s to mid-’80s.

First, a small orange looseleaf notebook. I was probably in about 6th grade when I decided to devote it to Astronomy and colored the cover with a metallic marker, which I guess I thought might look kind of futuristic and space-y. I pasted in a few pages worth of astronomy pictures, but didn’t get very far with it. Instead of using looseleaf paper, I filled the binder with pages from two spiral notebooks, including the back cover of one of them.

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This 1981 diary was used over a period of several years, when I went from having no idea how to fill a page other than with doodles to at least writing some little lists and comments about my friends and homework I had to do. I loved this kind of diary, which always included extra pages with useful info. Note how I amended the list of US presidents with the newly-elected Ronald Reagan.

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I made this fabric notebook cover myself, gluing it together as best I could, probably because my mother didn’t want to sew it for me. She used to do a lot of sewing, so there were always fabric scraps for me to turn into notebook covers, but most of them didn’t turn out very well, as I tended to have overly complicated ideas about secret pockets and pen holders. This one contains a stapled pad I made out of some sort of billing forms from Harvard, which one of my relatives used to bring home from the office for me to scribble on. I never wrote anything more than this one thing on the first page of the notebook.

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That’s it for today, but there’s plenty more where these came from:
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Weather Notebook

A neat little article in the New York Times about amateur weather trackers. You can read it online here, but the photos only appear in print:

nyt weather notebook

That is quite a dense page of notes!