Art Alternatives Pen & Ink Sketchbooks: They’ve Changed!

I have mentioned the Pen & Ink Sketchbooks from Art Alternatives many times on this blog. Their pocket size sketchbook with the heavyweight paper is the closest alternative I’ve found to a Moleskine Sketchbook, for those who prefer creamy smooth paper, as opposed to the brighter white, toothier paper found in many other competitors’ pocket sketchbooks (such as Hahnemuhle, HandBook Artist Journals, Leuchtturm, and Art Alternatives’ Sketch & Draw). Check out my “Four Notebooks Reviewed” series from several years ago for a detailed comparison.

I’ve used a few of the Pen & Ink sketchbooks over the years and they never seemed to change much– even their packaging was the same… until now. While trying to meet a minimum for free shipping at Blick, I decided to throw in a couple of these sketchbooks, but I got a bit of a surprise!

Here’s the image for what I ordered:

 

But here’s what I got:

I couldn’t care less if they change the design of the paper band, and in fact the new branding is quite attractive, but I was horrified to see that they’ve changed the construction of the notebook itself to the diagonal elastic that Art Alternatives has used on their Sketch & Draw line for a while. (See my Sketch & Draw review).

I didn’t like the diagonal elastic on the Sketch & Draw, and I don’t like it on the Pen & Ink. Very disappointing update– I wonder if they’ve changed anything else about the notebook, but I haven’t even taken the shrinkwrap off to investigate.

Jet Pens has updated their product image, so they are selling the new version. Amazon still has the product images with the orange bands, but like Blick, they may actually have stock with the new design, since the UPC codes are the same. If you order from them, you’re taking your chances, but since the listing says there are only a few units left, maybe it’s from older stock with the orange band and vertical elastic? (The product descriptions have been wonky on Amazon for years– there is a disconnect between the image and the actual paper weight. This listing seems to be the medium weight sketchbook with 192 pages of 54lb paper– don’t buy it unless you want the lighter weight paper comparable to a regular Moleskine. This listing has the same product image, and references 54lb paper, but the title says “heavy weight” and the customer Q&A indicates that the description is wrong and the product is actually 92 pages of 110 lb paper, similar to the Moleskine Sketchbook paper weight.)

The price on these at Blick is just fantastic– currently $5.69 for the pocket size sketchbook. And their customer service department was great about resolving my issue of not wanting this version of the product. It’s not like I desperately need more sketchbooks anyway, but I can’t help being sad that they changed these! I’ve ordered one on eBay that seems to be the old design, just because, well, you know…

Let us know in the comments if you’ve recently seen stock of the old design, or if you’ve tried the new ones!

Sue Bulmer Interviews Anne Davies About Her Sketchbooks

I came across some wonderful sketchbook images, plus an interview with Anne Davies, the artist who created them, at the website of Sue Bulmer, a UK artist.

How do you feel about the prospect of starting a new sketchbook?

I love it, maybe that’s why I have so many on the go at once! I’m not one of those people who has fear of a blank sheet of paper, I love a fresh start.

When/where do you get your inspiration for your sketchbook pages and how would you describe your creative process?

My main inspiration comes from the landscape. I’m also fascinated by colour. Working in a sketchbook is very liberating because no-one else is necessarily going to see it so for me it is a place where I can work very freely and experiment with colour and shape. A lot of my work is about memories of landscape rather than about re-creating a particular view and so the landscapes in my sketchbooks are often created out of my imagination. In some ways my painting sketchbooks are a place to ‘limber up’ before I start on my other work. I don’t recreate work from my sketchbook into a finished painting but some of the colour or composition ideas will find their way in along the way. When I’m drawing I will sometimes draw from life. Even then the drawing is filtered through my own way of seeing and won’t be a technically accurate depiction of the scene in front of me. I’m more interested in the way a place feels and the memory it evokes than trying to produce a photographic representation of it. I see the landscape in terms of line, shape and colour and the stories behind the buildings held in it.

 

Read more at: sue bulmer – artist: Sketchbook Peeks – Anne Davies

Save

Save

A Pattern Book from the V&A Museum

The notebook image below is from an interested blog post from the V&A Museum in London. It’s an example of a pattern book:

“They are reference guides for production. Maybe they show things made by the company in the past, maybe images by competitors, maybe historic objects – all intended to aid in further design. Though they serve the same purposes as an artist’s sketchbook, often the pictures are not drawn, but rather are pasted in and then perhaps annotated or marked-up. Here’s a spread from a book kept by the Leeds ceramic firm Hartley, Greens & Co, which shows the collage-like approach typical of such pattern books.”

The rest of the post talks about other examples of notebooks from their exhibits, including some by Leonardo da Vinci.

Read more at : Duly Noted | Victoria and Albert Museum

Save

Worst Notebook Story Ever!

I love notebooks a lot, but there’s no notebook worth fighting over to the point of pulling out a gun! Some Walmart shoppers got a little too aggressive looking for back to school bargains in the notebook aisle!

 

Read more: Gun pulled in fight between back to school shoppers at Walmart in Michigan