Field Notes

2018: My Favourite Tools.

I’ve reviewed my 2018 planners and explained what I have lined up for 2019 in my recent posts and this got me thinking about all the tools I have used this year. 2018 feels like a year of consolidation. I’ve acquired less stationery and tried to focus on using what I have stored in my drawers and cupboards. Today’s post is reflective and about sharing my year in stationery.

My paper use.

I use a lot of paper and I always feel like I have too much paper on the go. I enjoy trying out new notebooks and paper stock but I also like what I like.

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Baron Fig notebooks have become a staple in 2018. I use one Baron Fig Confidant as a journal, at the moment this happens to be the big Fig, or the Baron Fig Plus (small side note, I really wish Baron Fig had called this the big Fig). I also use one of the Confidants or the Vanguards for work because the paper works so well with pencils, ballpoint or rollerballs as well as fountain pens. I like that I don't have to consider my writing tools at work.

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I thoroughly enjoy using the Travelers Company notebooks. Their paper is high quality and is perfect for pairing with fountain pens. I enjoy the cream paper, which is not to everyone's taste.

That is supposed to look like an ‘18’.

That is supposed to look like an ‘18’.

I have used a lot of Field Notes notebooks this year but this is because I have a lot to get through and not because I am a super fan. My love of Field Notes has waned over recent years. I buy what I like, the Coastal edition was a favourite of mine this year, but I am no longer concerned with acquiring any notebook that they release.

Finally my exploration into sketchbooks has expanded my experience with paper. Finding what I like to sketch on, what paper works best with watercolour and coloured pencils has all been part of the journey. Currently I am using a pocket Baron Fig Confidant as I am mainly sketching with pencil and black pen and I was interested to see how I fared with a small sketchbook. I think as I go into 2019 I will only increase my knowledge in my sketching materials and really find what works well for me.

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2018, the year of pencils?

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My pencil use has increased a lot in recent months. I use these mostly with my pocket notebooks for daily note taking but there is also sketching use in there too. I tend to use one pencil for a while and then rotate when I fancy a change. Lately I have been really enjoying the Tombow Mono 100 2B. The softer graphite is not usually a pencil I am drawn to but this pencil is so smooth to write with.

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I have loved using the Blackwing 54 in part because of the colour choices with this pencil and the hard graphite that makes it a great note taking pencil.

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The Craft Design Technology pencil has been another favourite. The mint coloured barrel is just beautiful. And finally the Staedtler Mars Lumograph in H, I love this pencil for its simplicity and its ability to hold a point. It’s an old reliable.

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Fountain Pens and Ink.

This is one category where I’m happy with what I’m using. Unusually, I don't feel a pull to acquire more pens or inks and find joy in using the pens I have.

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The Lamy LX with Sailor Blue Black is my go to fountain pen. I have been using this combination for most of the year, it just works.

The Pelikan M400 and Sailor Wagu-Uguisu is a great match. The gold nib, and the softness when writing means I get a good view of the green Sailor ink and can appreciate the shading. It’s so much fun writing with this pen and I usually admire my scrawl once complete.

Finally the Kaweco ART Sport inked with Pilot Iroshizuku Ina-Ho. I love this combination as the colours work so well together.

Drawing Pens.

The final category that I felt was worth a mention was drawing pens. In my effort to learn how to draw, drawing pens have been vital tool that I now use more than I ever have. They are so versatile and useful to have as part of any stationery nerds toolkit, but for drawing they are a dream. I have used fine tip drawing pens and brush pens to experiment. The Tombow brush pen has been a personal favourite and the Faber-Castell PITT Artist pen continues to be my preferred sketching pen. Recently I have tried a Pentel marker and the Pilot Finerliner to experiment with line width.

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Overall thoughts.

My tools of choice have changed a bit this year which is down to a shift in the way I use my analogue tools. I used to be fully immersed in fountain pens and ink and couldn't get enough, but now I happily use other tools alongside my fountain pens. They all have a certain purpose. I’ve been most surprised by how much I have used pencils and that’s in part as I am sketching more now, but also because they’re so easy to use with a pocket notebook. It makes my daily carry easy.

2018 has been less about acquiring new things, although I have done a bit of that, but more about finding what I like and using it more and more. In 2019 I want to continue this and really hone down the tools I enjoy using.

Finally I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who reads, shares, likes and comments on my posts. I really enjoy sharing my thoughts on stationery and hope you enjoy the content. I'm looking forward to sharing even more in 2019!

Mid-Week Mini: My First Inktober Completed.

Today is the last day of Inktober and I have drawn everyday this month. I am really pleased with what I have produced, that I was able to stay focused and to complete a drawing each day.

In this post I have included each drawing I completed, the good, the bad and the ugly.

My Inktober drawings.

Things I have learnt from Inktober.

I have enjoyed drawing with a Tombow brush pen. I like the line width variation from using one pen. It’s handy to just have one pen to use, rather than several drawing pens with different nib sizes. I had never considered using a brush pen to draw with but it works really well.

I restricted myself to using pen and pencil only. I didn’t want to distract myself with anything else. This has made me start venturing into line work but I really have no idea what I am doing. I have looked at a lot of other sketchers trying to see where and how they use their line work to guide my own drawings.

During this challenge I have found that I have no imagination and need to copy or follow something. Finding the time to sketch is tricky and means I am mostly drawing in the evenings. I have found Instagram and Pinterest the best tools and I have been drawing things that I find interesting. I make a note of where the drawing has come from and found this really helpful in developing my skills. Getting my perspectives right is still a major challenge and I just can't seem to wrap my head around this.

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Overall thoughts.

I am really pleased to have taken part in Inktober. I have found drawing extremely calming and a good way to keep myself occupied especially at times where I normally waste time. In some instances my daily drawings have linked back to my day and my Inktober sketchbook has almost become a mini journal. I didn't plan that but I have drawn about things I have on my mind and things I have done. As always the test now is whether I can continue to draw regularly. Every day may be tricky, but finding a balance and routine is where I need to be.

Plus I already have my next sketchbook lined up, so I need to make sure I carry it with my and sketch whenever I can.

Mid-Week Mini: Field Notes End Papers: Initial Thoughts.

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The latest Field Notes quarterly release,End Papers, was another example of Field Notes pushing the boundaries of what they do with a pocket notebook. It seems like once a year Field Notes try something different with the quarterly release and this time we get a new size and the recurrence of the signature binding.

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End Papers is a little taller than the Signature Field Notes but the same width as a normal standard Field Notes pocket notebook. This makes it a little odd in size. Let me explain what I mean.

Binding.

Signature binding feels too burdensome on a pocket notebook. With small notebooks I don’t like or think signature binding is needed. Staples are easier and makes the notebook easier to use. Pushing against signature binding to just be able to use it is not a challenge I really want.

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Size.

The size of this notebook feels strange. It feels too tall and slim and too bulky with the additional pages - 68 pages versus the 48 found in a standard Field Notes.

Ruling.

Their is a mixed page rulings within this release, left hand page is blank and the right ruled. This mixed ruling makes me want to write on the right hand side and then leave the left unused. I don’t think a mixed ruling works within a pocket notebook, it feels like a waste of pages. On an A5 sized notebook there could be an argument of why this is useful and how it could be used, but for me on a pocket notebook it doesn’t work.

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Switching to a little positivity within this release the design of the End Papers is classic and simple with dark covers and debossed logo on the cover.

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The marbled papers on the inside covers are pretty and I really liked seeing the process video that accompanied this release. The colours are a little muted, it would have been nice to have a little bit of colour. I like the combinations used on the Timber Green notebook the most.

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Overall thoughts.

The signature binding makes me think of Write notepads and the more Field Notes use this binding on their notebooks the less inclined I am to use them. On the Field Note Signature series of notebooks the binding doesn’t inhibit how you use the notebook because of its larger size. With End Papers I don’t think this binding style works.

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I like that Field Notes try different things but this release isn’t for me. The marbling process was obviously the main goal with this release but I think it could have been implemented in lots of different, cool and impactful ways.

My Sketching Update

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I wrote a post not too long ago about my experiences sketching while on holiday. Finding the time to sketch, using the scenery and people around me to document our trip gave me ample opportunities and enough inspiration to sketch a lot. I wanted to continue with this when I returned home to normal life and unsurprisingly this proved challenging.

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Taking up any task at home is always hard to do with life and work commitments eating in on your time. Sketching the everyday is tricky and finding something that peaks my interest is difficult.

In the past few months I have found inspiration in some of the old English villages close to where I live. I often take photos when out and then sketch in the evenings. The time and confidence to urban sketch have not fully aligned (yet).

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My sketches are mostly in ink and watercolour. My technique isn’t great and I still can’t quite wrap my head around how watercolours work and the best ways to mimic what I am seeing. My painting feels childlike and simple, but I’m working on it.

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I have been using two sketchbooks, my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook and the new(ish) Field Notes Signature sketchbook. The Field Notes sketchbook worked as something small and lightweight. I drew rough outlines of things, sometimes in person, or just doodled. The Moleskine was where I then put a little more effort in, used my watercolours and took some time to do improve on things.

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Recently I’ve started playing around with coloured pencils as an alternative medium. I can quickly grab a coloured pencil to add some accents to a pencil or ink sketch or to use this as the dominant medium. I try to not be concerned about replicating the same colours and just use the palette of pencils I have with me, but this doesn’t quite feel natural yet.

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Inktober starts tomorrow and I have had floating thoughts about taking part this year. A conversation with an old friend got me thinking about my drawings and gave me some encouragement to re-focus. Inktober is a great opportunity to commit to drawing everyday. There will be an abundance of moral support and ideas. I have a new Field Notes sketchbook ready as I am almost done with the old one, and plan on keeping everything simple, pencil and drawing pen. From there I’ll see where the month takes me.

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I want to focus on the everyday as I think this will help make sketching more of a habit but also make me observe the things around me a lot more. I will try and find the inspiration and beauty in the everyday things.

I will share as much as I can through my Instagram account but also will commit to a follow up post at the end of the month to share my thoughts and learnings from this exercise. A month should be sufficient to make sketching a real habit and help me find a routine.

I’d love to hear about your sketching journey and if you’re taking part in Inktober so please feel free to share.