Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tree-Free and other Green Sketchbook Options

The sad, sorry state of affairs for the ecologically (and economically)-minded artist like myself is that there were never that many good green Sketchbook options. Thankfully, most chain arts and crafts stores have recently started carry at least one tree-friendly Sketchbook brand. Still, it's much easier to find a wide variety of green Sketchbooks in specialty stores (ie, locally, Dick Blick and Bob Smith Stationers). Here are a few that I've used over the years.

Aquabee Tree-Free Hempdraw. I got this for under ten dollars at Dick Blick. It was an absolute joy to draw in. Great texture, loved watercolors and colored pencils, and it scanned nicely. Here's an example:
3.16.09 - Male Downy Woodpecker sketch
There's a noticeable texture with some natural fibers showing in the pages.
The only thing that bugs me actually isn't the book's fault, but the fact that certain people may freak out at the giant pot plant on the cover (seen on newer versions of the Hempdraw). Methinks Aquabee should have taken a few more things into consideration when choosing the cover art. Most of the people us art-types hang out with wouldn't care, but we all have to deal with the "Hey, are you drawing?!" crowd once in a while.

Pentalic Nature Sketch and Cachet Earthbound. Nature Sketch (after heavily modifying the cover) has great, heavy paper for watercolors. The large size does not play well with scanners, and I'm not sure if it's recycled. You'd think it would be. A percentage goes to the American Wildlife Fund so... there's that. Here's an example of what mine looks like inside:
8.31.09 - Lake Ossipee
The Cachet Earthbound is practically iconic by now. It's got unbleached, natural fiber, brown recycled paper that's durable as hell. It'd be perfect for outdoor sketching... if I could ever find a spiral-bound version. That said, the standard hardbound Earthbound can be found at WallMart and the like. Here's a drawing from mine:
9.26.09 - Chickadee on Morning Glory

Canson (and others) Recycled wire-bound Sketchbooks.
I won't get too detailed here. This is the first Sketchbook I ever drew in. I get all sentimental about it.

Lokta paper:
This is paper made out of a variety of natural and recycled fibers. That means you've got a weird variety of textures to draw on. Now, if you're the kind of artist who just draws for the sake of drawing, then this is fine. If, however, you ever want to look at your sketches a second time for reference -- or you want to not have to break out the hair dryer every time your Sketchbook gets mildly damp (seriously), it's not the best choice.
Which brings us, inevitably, to...

Elephant Poo Paper!
Take a minute. Let it all sink in.
Now, I may have mentioned before that I have a bit of the OCD. So my reaction to this is, "no. Just no."
But for those of you who aren't big babies who go 😱 at animal feces, knock yourselves out. Just remember what I said about natural fiber papers. You don't get much more natural fiber-y than this. I like how there's the option of Panda poo, cow poo, and horse poo.
That's a good place to end this; horse poo.
Out of nowhere, there is an excellent Onion AV Club Blog post that takes the announcement of the long-in-development-limbo "Mighty Mouse" movie as an incentive to make some wonderfully astute comments on this "Lets turn every animated series into a movie" thing. Or as they describe them, "remaking of some childhood cartoon into a disingenuously winking, cacophonous, computer-sculpted hybrid that neither satisfies nostalgic adults nor placates their mewling, ADD-afflicted children." True that.

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