Friday, February 27, 2015

Impressions of the Monologue Basics Sketchbook + Random Sketches

A few months ago, the Monologue company sent me a few of their sketchbooks to try, and I decided to play around with the A5 hardcover to see how it handles the materials I normally use for sketching: ink, colored pencil, watercolor pencil, and watercolor paints. It measures around 5-1/2" x 8", and the paper is listed as 140 gsm "Italian heavyweight".

I've used this sketchbook as a casual practice book, one where I can fool around without worrying about the end result, but I would not use it as my primary sketchbook. The paper is too thin for watercolor - it wrinkles badly, and colors look much duller on it than what I'm used to with my Stillman and Birn sketchbooks. Some ink pens perform just fine, while others bleed on it. Lines show through on the paper, so I do not draw on both sides.

The spine opens flat, which is nice, but all of the pages are perforated about 5/16" in from the spine, and the perforations tear apart easily with normal wear and tear. I've had to put tape at the lower edge on the back side of most of the pages to keep them from tearing out. This is the one reason I would never buy this sketchbook. I don't like perforated pages. The perforations are unnecessary and they lessen the usable space on the page, making an already narrow vertical format even narrower.

So, although I don't love the Monologue Basics sketchbook, it has served me well over the past nine months as a secondary sketchbook that's not too precious to mess around in or mess up. I thought you might enjoy seeing some of my "messing around" sketches, so I'll be sharing them over the course of the next week. Here's the first batch.............

On page one I tried out a Lamy Safari fountain pen with Noodler's black ink. It worked well, with no feathering or bleeding on the Monologue paper.

I sketched this next one with a Noodler's Nib Creaper Flex Pen filled with Noodler's Lexington Gray ink. The ink bled quite a bit and the paper wrinkled when I applied the watercolor washes. Still, it's a sweet little sketch of a place I'd like to visit in Ireland. (I was watching a travel show on PBS and paused the DVR for a few minutes to sketch the scene.)

The Pitt Artist's Pen worked great for this next sketch - nice, clean lines with no bleeding or feathering.

I saw this quote online somewhere, and it really touched me. Taking the time to add it to my sketchbook ensures that I won't forget it.

I've had this tiny Winsor & Newton travel watercolor set since I was in my twenties, but I never liked the paint it came with, so I finally cleaned it out one day and put fresh paint in it. I've used it quite a bit since then and like it much better now.

Drawn with a Lamy Safari fountain pen with Lexington gray ink

My husband knows how much I love all things Italian, so he has taken to occasionally bringing me Italian chocolates when he comes home from a trip. The Venchi chocolates come in a beautiful multi-layered box that's almost too pretty to throw away, so I collaged part of it to a page in my sketchbook, along with one of the wrappers. (The candies are painted with watercolor.)

Brown Pigma Micron 01 pen and watercolor with collaged elements

This next page is the only sketch I managed to finish during our family beach vacation last August. I was too busy playing with my adorable grandkids to pick up my paints.

Sketched with a Koh-i-noor Magic Pencil

Here I tried out a green Bic Mark-It Ultra Fine Point permanent pen. It tends to soak into the Monologue paper and bleed through to the back side. It also bled whenever I paused in drawing a line.

Keeping a drawn food diary is a good way to be more mindful of what I eat. This day's diary was drawn with a Noodler's flex pen filled with Noodler's walnut ink, which gives a nice dark brown line. Gelly Roll gel pens were used for the other colors.

Don't judge me when you read that I ate pineapple upside-down cake twice in one day!

We live out in the country, and our mailbox is about a quarter mile from our house, out by the two-lane road. I often take a walk to the mailbox at lunchtime to stretch my legs and give Buckley, our golden retriever, a nice run. I've always enjoyed the view of the driveway curving through the shady woods, and finally one day I took my sketchbook along and stopped to draw it.

Drawn with a Faber-Castell watercolor pencil (color 192). Water added later to paint the shadow areas.

Looking at it now in the depths of winter brings back the feel of that sunny, warm, late August day. It may be going down to 1ยบ  tonight, but at least we have spring on the horizon and summer following soon after. 

Lots more sketches to come as soon as I get them scanned and uploaded!


  1. It's good that these companies give you the sketchbooks then ask for your remarks .saving you and us from making a big mistake. Last year I took your advice and bought the Stillman & Burn Beta series 5-1/2 x 8 '' hard bound and I love it. The thickness off the paper suits all the things I like to use & never buckles. So I thank you for giving your unbiased opinion on this one.

    1. You're welcome, Barbara. Yes, I think I've been spoiled by Stillman and Birn, too. The Monologue sketchbook really isn't intended for watercolor, I guess, but I love my watercolors and can't resist using them, even if the paper isn't ideal.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...