Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Loony Over Lunacy

The crescent die-cut cover of Field Notes' Lunacy edition.
You’ve heard me whine about most of the papers in Field Notes. You’ve also heard me sing the praises of Field Notes’ Workshop Companion, the first edition to have paper I can use with all my favorite sketching media. And of course, my love for and use of the Sweet Tooth edition is practically legendary. :-)

I’ve come to learn that even notebook formats that seem unappealing at first glance turn out to be full of opportunities, as long as I’m open to them, so I’m no longer disappointed when these little notebooks don’t have exactly the right paper for my needs.

To my delight, Field Notes has come out with a limited edition that not only has sketch-friendly paper – its theme resonates deeply with me. It’s the Fall 2016 Lunacy edition, which celebrates the moon in all phases.

Even if the paper had been mediocre, I would have used these just because I love the die-cut covers exposing the moon’s image printed on the flysheet, its “dark side” embossed on the back cover, and the lunar factoids inside. So you can imagine my joy when, after testing the 60-pound paper with all my usual favorite sketching media, it turned out that it’s almost ideal for the kind of casual sketches I put into this type of notebook.

None of my juiciest fountain pens, brush pens or markers
feathered or bled through Lunacy's 60 lb. paper.
The reverse side shows no bleeding or ghosting,
even where I applied water.

Lunacy's sizing (left) is very similar to Workshop Companion's (right).

I say
almost because blank would have been better than the reticle graph ruling (but I know I’m in a very small minority of Field Notes users who prefer unruled pages; most use them for writing, not drawing). And white paper would be my preference over pale gray (too pale to use for toned drawings, which the red Sweet Tooth paper is excellent for). Still, the reticle marks are printed with such low contrast to the paper that they’re very easy to ignore; I hardly notice them at all (I’m not even sure how effective they would be in helping someone write straight).

Here's the reverse side of another Field Notes
edition with 60 lb. paper but a very different
sizing that allowed all my pens to bleed through.
When I first started InkTober, I used another Field Notes book containing a very smooth 60-pound paper, but all my markers bled right through (reverse side of paper shown at left). So it was with some trepidation on my first day with a Lunacy that I scribbled with my juiciest fountain pens, brush pens and other markers. Lunacy’s paper took all my inks well – none feathered or bled through. I’ve come to learn that a paper’s weight is not nearly as important as its sizing.

Then I gave it the ultimate test (for paper in simple notebooks like this, which obviously aren’t intended for wet media): I gave a few fountain pen lines a quick wash with a waterbrush. The ink not only washed beautifully – it still didn’t bleed through! The sizing compares favorably to Workshop Companion’s paper, which is actually an even heavier 70-pound weight.

Sailor fude fountain pen ink line washed lightly with water.

Lunacy's moderate tooth takes colored pencils beautifully.
Although some fountain pen users might find Lunacy’s surface toothier than would be ideal, I have no qualms with it. In fact, the bit of tooth takes colored pencils nicely (and probably graphite, though I’m not much of a graphite user).

Now that I’ve finished filling my first Lunacy, I’m convinced that it is as close to being the perfect pocket notebook for my needs as any I have tried. Let the hoarding begin.

My hacked "Sweet Companion" notebooks: alternating red
and cream pages!
In somewhat related Field Notes news, I was recently inspired by other creative Field Notes users who have disassembled and reassembled their notebooks to switch various covers and papers. I enjoy having both a toned (red) paper notebook and a white one, but I don’t want to have to carry two books. So I took apart a Workshop Companion and a red Sweet Tooth, and I reassembled them with alternating red and cream-colored pages. When I’m not using a Lunacy (or the elusive bright-orange-papered EEEK Field Notes, another favorite but much harder to come by), I’ll use one of my hacked “Sweet Companion” notebooks.

A couple of years ago I was ranting about how none of the Field Notes ever meets my sketching needs, and now I have several choices! My sketching life is indeed sweet.

Brush pen

I filled my first Lunacy with InkTober sketches and just started
a second one -- this time with a full moon!


  1. Good to hear Lunacy works with fountain pens. Maybe I'll buy some, though I'm not wild about covers with holes in them.

  2. Ok, now THAT is cool!! Dang it!! Now I HAVE TO try Field Notes.

  3. Glad the paper is to your liking...and combining the paper from the two books sounds like a good plan.

  4. The Lunacy note books are very fountain pen friendly even with very wet inks and HEAVY water brushing. I am into my third book already. They also work very well with fountain pens combined with Kuretake real brush water colors and Kuretake markers as well as Propus highlighters. This a a 70# paper as are the Companion series, Sweet Tooth, and Byline series, all of which work equally well with fountain pens. While I would love to have a white version of these, I am not sure they would work because the gray (Lunar) and wheat (Byline, Companion) backgrounds are dark enough to block show through but the yellow of the Sweet Tooth version is not. You might also want to explore the "landscape" NockCo notebooks. Only 60# paper but it works well although they combine white paper with bright grids. Your blog is amazing as are your sketches. I am a big fan.

    1. Thanks for your comments, George! I'm glad you're liking the Lunacy paper, too. The gray inner paper is actually 60#, and it's only the flyleaf with the moon printed on it that's 70#. That's why I was so surprised and delighted that the 60# paper stood up to ink washes as well as the 70# Workshop Companion paper does.

  5. I've done a few inktober sketches in mine and I love it.

  6. Well, it's the end of December 2017 and a lot of Field Notebooks have come and gone. If you like graph paper in ultra-white, the Utility Graph edition is exceptional for sketching. In addition to everything else, the paper has a great slightly toothy feel (try a Pilot FA nib on it). The notebook I was surprised about was a series of notebooks produced by Word. Notebooks, with a contemporary artist cover on them. Most have BLANK paper (but check individual descriptions)rand are at a sale price of %7.95 for 3 on Amazon. Finally, the Haxley very limited edition of Field Notes is great as a paper notebook and it is great fun to extend a professional artist's sketches with your own context.

    1. Great suggestions, George -- I've tried them all! :-) I avoid graph paper, and while I like Word.'s option for blank paper, I find the paper to be less than optimal for some pens (I've gotten bleed-through). As for Haxley, I ADORE the illustrations! Unfortunately, the binding is a deal-breaker for me. I like to fold the side I'm not using backward to hold the book easily with one hand (sketching while standing), and the binding is too stiff for that. I tried it with Black Ice, and that was bad enough, but Haxley's cover feels even stiffer. I do love the story, though, and I'm happy that FN collaborated with a local artist that way.

  7. So happy to learn about Lunacy-- it will be in my trials for a good small sketch and journal book for portability and the use of ink pens I'm in love with! Will work to put inside my grandsons'zippered CastleArts drawing kits ! -- I'm really becoming addicted to your blog! Well done! Thanks, Marcia of Windsor, WI .

    1. Marcia, thanks so much for your comments! The Lunacy edition is long out of print, so if you want them, you would have to go on eBay and pay a pretty penny! Instead, I recommend using the Field Notes Signature edition, which is available anytime because it's not a limited edition. It's a bit larger than Lunacy, but the paper is actually better. You can find a review on my blog. If you want that smaller size, then I recommend Stillman & Birn's smallest-size softcover sketchbook, which has better paper still. You can find reviews of all the different S&B papers on my blog, too (look on the top tabs for the "Graphite & Sketchbooks" section). Have fun!


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