|5/28/16 watercolor, colored pencils|
I think my relationship with “my Stefano” is over.
I’m so sad that I can hardly write this. Spain, Germany, Brazil, France, Japan, many U.S. cities and of course at home, my leather sketchbook cover has been with me wherever I’ve sketched for the past three years. Reliable, sturdy and trustworthy like an old friend, handmade by a sketcher in Italy, it was the perfect support for my hand-stitched signatures – protecting the pages while providing a stable base for my clip-on watercolor setup. Although it always added a bit more bulk to my bag than I wanted, its benefits far outweighed that drawback.
Last year when I was packing for France was the first time I started having doubts. Ultimately I did bring the Stefano along, and it earned its keep many times, though I had to devise a different way to carry it to keep the weight and bulk manageable.
Now, a year later, as I start prepping for our trip to the U.K., I’m again thinking about ways to reduce the amount I carry, and I keep running into the same question: Do I need to bring the Stefano?
|Sketching with the Stefano in Barcelona in 2013, my first international |
The sad truth is that I haven’t used the Stefano at all the past few months. I implied as much when I talked about my last sketchbook binding process and how my four-sheet signatures are sufficiently thick and strong that I can easily carry and use them without a cover. A major role for the Stefano – being a stable base for my clip-on paint box – is mostly moot because the setup itself just isn’t very stable. I always seem to find a place to set the watercolors down while I paint, which works much better. And without its bulk in my bag, I even have room for a small water bottle in my everyday Rickshaw bag, which eliminates the need to carry a supplemental tote most of the time.
|Sketching with the Stefano in L.A.'s Venice neighborhood.|
I couldn’t bear to come out and say it earlier, despite my doubts, but I have to say it now: I don’t think I need the Stefano anymore. I don’t think it’s coming with me to the U.K.
Ahh, my heavy heart. Yes, I know it’s just a piece of leather and some elastic, and it makes no sense to continue using something that no longer meets my needs. I don’t know why I get so attached to “things.” In this case, it’s probably because the Stefano isn’t something I just bought off the shelf; it was custom-made to my exact specifications. Smooth and shiny when new, it now has scuffs, slightly worn corners and a beautiful patina from daily, well-loved use. On four continents, we’ve been through a lot of sketches together.
|Sketching with the Stefano at Cannon Beach, Ore.|
The only thing that lightens my heart (and bag) is knowing that what’s replacing the Stefano are refinements to my own sketchbook-making process and sketch kit, and my bag is less bulky as a result. As I’ve said before, it makes me very happy when a process I’ve developed with much trial and error over time continues to improve my sketching experience and serves my needs better. It means I can sketch more often, more easily or more enjoyably. I know that’s all that matters.
Good-bye, old friend.
|Sketching with the Stefano at Maple Leaf Park |
in my own neighborhood.