The Strathmore watercolor sketchbook that I was using was the soft bound cover in the 7.5 by 9.5 inch size. This Stillman & Birn Beta is a hard bound cover 5.5 x 8.5 inch sketchbook. They both lay flat when opened, which is important to me. Now the soft cover of the Strathmore was a treasure to hold and the 7.5 x 9.5 inch was a very comfortable format for me to work in, even if it didn't fit my scanner bed. The 5.5 x 8.5 inch size of the Beta does fit my scanner (yay!) and you get a nice 8.5 x 11 inch format when working across the page spread. Yet I do wish Stillman & Birn had more size options in the hardcover Beta sketchbook. Something a little less rectangular, more of a square sized format, but that's just my personal preference. I know they have a square format in the spiral bound but I can never warm up to a spiral bound sketchbook the way I do with a hard (or soft) bound book.
Now I know I can always return to making my own sketchbooks. And by doing so I can choose a paper I like and make a format that I prefer. And I just may do that again at some point. But my book binding skills are not so great and there always remains a gap where the signatures come together. Plus I tend to treat my hand made sketchbooks as being a little too precious, approaching every sketch as I would a finished painting. I needed a break from that mindset. For some reason, when using a commercially made sketchbook I feel more free to have messy unresolved pages right along with a few nice sketches. So I will see where this Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook takes me.
The squash pictured above were sketched with watercolor only and are on the menu for tonight's dinner.