Make you own Accordion Fold Travel Journals for watercolor sketching
For a while now, I’ve been wanting try making my own accordion fold watercolor sketchbooks.
We are doing the last minute planning before our Portugal workshop – so this seemed like the perfect time to decide if I’ll be bringing these with me.
So I quickly bashed one together, and took it to a local life drawing workshop. This was a terrific three model costume drawing event hosted by the CCGV for Montreal’s Nuit Blanche festival.
I didn’t go as far as making a fancy binding or rigid cover for this – that’s certainly an option if you’re a craftsy type – this booklet is literally just a single sheet of watercolor paper, cut and folded following a pattern. (See below). It only takes 5 minutes to make one, and that’s the kind of convenience I’m looking for.
To me, the main advantage of this process is choosing your own paper. I made this 5.5×7.5″ booklet out of a 22×30″ full sheet of 80lb cold press Strathmore Aquarius II.
This paper uses a synthetic fiber, which has the amazing ability to stay flat when wet. It simply doesn’t ripple when you paint on it. (Here’s my first test painting done – wow! – back in 2013).
I can say, it really does work. You can paint directly into this little sketchbook, and not worry about stretching or taping the paper. Exactly what I want for a field sketching notebook. You can see you get plenty of wet-in-wet wash effects. And even though the paper is only 80lbs, it stays perfectly flat.
As with any book, you still have to leave it face open to dry – so I did clip it to a drawing board while working. But overall, I think this will suit perfectly for the days we’ll be touring the Algarve.
I’ll still be bringing an easel for the ‘stand and deliver’ painting days. But when we’re walking about, I hope to take advantage of this flexible format. You have the option to sketch either single pages, double page facing spreads, or to fold out four consecutive pages to make a 7.5×22″ panorama.
After finishing the book, you have the option to flip it over and keep drawing on the backs of the pages – giving you 30 pages total. You can also unfold the spreads back to the full sheet size -so if you were painting panoramas, you can easily trim them out and be ready for framing.
Here’s a PDF of the pattern for these booklets. Feel free to share it with anyone, or use it in your classes. If you’re like me and prefer to buy your paper in full sheets, this fast and easy folding pattern means you’ll never have to buy a commercial sketchbook again!
Oh yes! and here’s a few other articles on sketching panoramas – in case you want to try out the four page spreads on a nice city skyline or 360 degree view!
My ArtistNetwork.tv video on Sketching Panoramas (paid content).