It is not a secret that I love art journals and can never have enough. So in this series I am reviewing all the art journals that I have used over the years. Some are firm favourites that I buy again and again, some have their quirks and some are straight up don’t-buys. Keep reading to find out more about:
Roberson Watercolour Sketch Books
This is currently my go-to art journal when I want to work big (A4 or A3). You may have heard of this journal via Tamara Laporte from Willowing.org who also recommends this as one of her favourite art journals.
Look & Feel
This feels like a serious art journal and is quite heavy. It’s quite no-frills with no indication anywhere on it what brand it is or what it is made of! For a few years I didn’t even know the name of this elusive journal. The colour of the covers and spine indicates what type and weight the paper is. This journal comes in A5 (landscape), A4 & A3 (portrait).
It has a robust thick cardboard cover with a linen strip on the spine. The binding is really solid: I am a heavy mixed media user in my journals and it stays together really nicely. When you open it the pages don’t quite lie flat and once you get to the final pages there can be a bit of a ‘drop’ between the left and the right page. There is some bleeding through the binding from one page to the other corresponding page in the same signature if you use very wet media.
This journal comes in different paper types and weights. I really like hot pressed (smooth) watercolour paper so I have used the 300gsm (black cover with green spine) and 190gsm (green cover with black spine). The thicker paper is excellent for heavy mixed media use, but it is very rigid. The thinner paper also stands up extremely well to mixed media and lends itself a bit more to leafing through the book. The 190gsm version has more pages than the 300gsm (54 vs 34) so by the time the journal is full the one with more pages will probably ‘fan out’ quite a bit wider.
I have been told that these journals are made from Saunders Waterford paper. This paper is quite smooth (not as smooth as some other HP watercolour paper I’ve used) and extremely robust. It takes all sorts of media very well, there is some curling while working wet but it can be straightened/pressed when dry. It also stands up to more abrasive application of paint: brayering, scrubbing etc. The paper stays put and doesn’t rub off.
So far I have only heard of this this journal being sold in the UK and it’s a bit hit & miss with regards to where you will find it locally. Smaller (fine) art shops are more likely to stock it than bigger stores. In London you can buy it at Cornelissen (Bloomsbury) and Shepherds (Victoria), they also sell them online. You can do a Google search for ‘Roberson Watercolour Book‘ to find more options to buy.
In terms of absolute cost this is an extremely expensive art journal. Prices range from approx £22 ($34) for the A5 book to nearly £50 ($78) for the A3. However, they are definitely worth that money due to the good binding and absolutely superb paper quality.
I love this art journal. It is probably one of my favourites ever. The fact that I have filled one and have bought the same one again should be a testament to that. For me the only places it is not ideal is in terms of format (I’d love an A5 portrait orientation one – unfortunately the A5 only comes in landscape) and price. If you can/want to afford this journal you will not be disappointed.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned.