Custom-Made Watercolor Journal

While planning a recent trip to England and France, I knew I wouldn’t have time to paint but I hoped to sketch. I prefer to use pen and ink with watercolor washes on hot-pressed paper to sketch. None of the sketchbooks or journals in my local art supply store offered the paper I wanted and most were too large or bulky.

To get exactly what I wanted, I made my own journal by cutting one large sheet of hot-pressed paper into several 6 x 7-inch sheets. I made a cover and backing out of scraps of cardboard and heavy paper. Finally I took the whole thing to the local copy shop where they punched holes through the journal and inserted a comb binding for $1.50.

The little journal fit perfectly into my tote bag, along with a compact watercolor set and all the other travel essentials including my wallet, camera, passport, guidebooks and maps. It worked so well that I’m making a purse-size one out of leftover scraps of watercolor paper to carry with me everyday.

After a long and successful career as a high school art teacher, James Brantley, of Opelika, Alabama, became a full-time artist in 1998. He’s a signature member of both the National Watercolor Society and the American Watercolor Society, and he’s won many awards, including third prize for portraits in The Artist’s Magazine‘s 2000 Art Competition. His paintings can be found in private and public collections in several countries and across the United States, including the permanent collections of several Alabama Museums.

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