Why Acrylic Ink is Perfect for Moleskine Sketchbooks

End of 2017, I decided to start working in a sketchbook. I was in Scotland at the time, and picked up a Moleskine at a sweet little art store in St Andrews.

Now, I have never used a Moleskine for art before, since I thought it was a little too overrated and I had an arsenal of blank and half-used sketchbooks sitting on my shelves, collecting dust. Since my college days, I haven’t really been practicing my sketchbook habits. For some reason, I decided to pick up the habit again (after more than 10 years) while in Scotland.

So, I picked up an Art Plus Large-sized sketchbook – their sizings confuse me, Large is typically the standard 13X21cm book that’s larger than the pocket-size but smaller than the A4-size – and was pleasantly surprised by their relatively thick and smooth paper that’s great with pencils, inks and even acrylics. But it’s terrible with watercolors, so I picked up the Large-sized Watercolor Notebook which works so much better for that medium, but is only available in a horizontal format.

Initially, I wanted to use the sketchbook for random sketches and WIPs, I found that regular acrylic paints are too rough and dull for the pages. And since I was in the middle of my Scotland and Amsterdam trip, I wanted to turn this book into one of drawn memories of the best, most ordinary things only I or my travel companions can recognise (like when we fed those cute highland cows).

I started by painting only one page, but eventually I realised that it makes for a more remarkable art album when I paint each image across a spread. After all, a large-sized notebook isn’t very large.

Because acrylic paints are dull and watercolors don’t work so well in my Moleskine, I found out about Daler Rowney FW Acrylic Inks and decided to try them out by purchasing 3 primary colors and white. I FELL IN LOVE! ❤

Acrylic inks are so bright and vibrant! The colors are so concentrated and amazing, and they flow so effortlessly on the smooth Moleskine pages. The great thing is that even with a large amount of ink, the Moleskine pages still hold strong and doesn’t thin out and break. And the ink mixes into a different color effortlessly almost immediately, so I sometimes mix them directly on the pages.

They dry at a pretty good pace too, longer than watercolors but slower than conventional acrylic paints. So that quickens the drying time to lay down a thin layer of sketching before painting, and enough time to dry as I mix different colors to make a sunset or rippling ocean.

The one issue is that since I paint in a Moleskine, the pages WILL stick to one another when you close the book. I’ve since found another way to deal with this – but it takes a little sacrifice. After painting, I would leave the pages open to dry overnight, or at least for 5 hours. I would then photograph the artwork or scan it in immediately.

After I’ve taken all the photos I need, I lightly dust baby powder over the pages and sweep it over the entire page with a brush, lightly. Blow any excess powder off the pages and that’s it, the pages will not stick anymore once closed. The sacrifice here is that powder dulls the shine and saturation of the artwork. That’s something I’m willing to live with since it’s an unavoidable result of painting in a sketchbook.

Here’s a time lapse video of a simple painting I did of the Mayfield Lavender Farm:

Have you tried painting with acrylic ink in a sketchbook before? Let me know what you think! 🎨


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