I sketch every day when I travel. I draw on the backs of postcards I send to my family, and I draw in sketchbooks.
I have particular preferences. I want paper of sufficient weight (so pen and ink won’t bleed through), and a bit of texture, or tooth. I like spiral binding, so each page can lay flat, not bowed up. Toned paper in a warm tan works best with a variety of mediums – graphite, ink pens, charcoal, earth toned Conté crayons, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cont%C3%A9 and white chalk for highlights.
I can fit stubs of pencils, Conté and chalk, a small sharpener and a kneaded eraser http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kneaded_eraser inside an old plastic cassette tape cover. It slips under the heavy rubber band that keeps the sketchbook closed.Compact, handy and works like a charm. In years past the other requirement is that the dimension of the sketchbook be small enough to fit into my Longchamps mini-backpack.
The sketchbooks that get the most use are made by Cachet. http://www.bindersart.com/paper-pads/sketch-paper-pads/xl-sketch-pads.html I’ve tried other variations, but I’m the Goldilocks of sketchbooks; they are too big/too small/too hard/too soft – or just right. See below.
Clockwise from top 1. Bought in Vienna – love that red and a nice elastic closure, but the paper is so thin you can see a pencil mark through it and blindingly while. 2. Lovely gift book with heavy, handmade, deckle-edged paper, hand stitched in a leather cover, but it’s unwieldy and weighs a ton. 3. My first sketchbook, a classic moleskine, well used and well-loved, but teeny tiny. 4.Toned paper, a comfortable size, but the spine has to be cracked for it to lie flat.
My favorite sketchbooks (postcards on left for scale). Toned paper with a hint of texture, spiral binding, sturdy and lightweight. Note cassette tape box with pencils, crayons, eraser and sharpener.
This trip I wanted to try a larger sketchbook. What held me back was the transportation issue. I considered tying cord to the ends of the wire spiral so I could sling it over my shoulder, until Robert pointed out it would bend the wire. Then I came across a lightweight, waterproof, sturdy satchel with adjustable shoulder strap and a single pocket inside that perfectly fits a 9×12″ toned, spiral bound sketchbook. I felt like I had struck gold. The graphic pattern works with the wardrobe I have planned for this trip (black and pewter with pops of Schiaparelli pink) . Eureka!