Getting Ready for the Minnesota State Fair—Which Journal? What’s Your Plan?

July 31, 2015

StateFair05Left: My 2005 Minnesota State Fair Journal. 8 x 8 inch journal cards made from 300 lb. Hot Press Fabriano Artistico Watercolor paper, prepainted with acrylic washes. The portfolio was made to size after the Fair, when the thickness of the stack of journal cards (and the CD of photos I took) was known.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about which journal I should take with me to the Minnesota State Fair for sketching. By "which journal" I of course mean, which paper, size, and format.

I'm still having shoulder problems so I'm not binding much. There are journals like the soft-covered, sewn-signature Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media journal, that I've taken to the Fair before. That's a good standby.

But I think what's holding me up is that I haven't come up with a plan for this year's Fair. Each year I think about which media I want to work in, and that somewhat dictates which paper I'll work on, and that tells me whether I'll be binding a book, and so on.

This year there will be no BIRDS at the Fair (except for the resident pigeons hunting for scraps of Fair food). Bird flu in Minnesota has been devastating to the farmers. Bird exhibits have been banned this year to prevent further spread of the disease.

I'm trying to think of what I'll focus on in my sketching. Goats and sheep leap to mind. Of course there are people. Lots and lots of people.

What will I enjoy taking with me?

It might be that this year would be another great year to take journal cards. I simply can't decide. I am going to have a couple options available. Next week I'll case in a Japanese Lined journal of the type I love to work in while in the studio. They have paper covers so they need support if I'm going to carry them around the Fair. I'll also prepare some journal cards. Then I can go either way.

How many cards to prepare? Well I look at past sketching numbers and work out how many sketches I get done in an average day at the Fair and then I prep that many cards for each day of the Fair I'll attend (I usually go 4 or 5 times). Then I add in another day's worth of cards for extras, in case I get into speed sketching. I always end up with exactly the right number of cards. (I think I have an internal switch control or something.)

If you are wondering which journal you need to take to the Fair (or other event) and want to read more about how I pick a journal, you can read the following post "Journal Size Matters."

There's another post I quite like about "Choosing a Journal Size" and I recommend you read that.

The image for that post seems to be broken, and I might not be able to find it and fix it before this posts, but it's just a series of books that are the different sizes I use. Here is a post which shows some of the different sizes of journals I make, so you can get a visual idea if you are new to the blog. I don't use the landscape journals. They end up with landscape artists. 

I like to test papers before I make a Fair journal. You can read about my approach to Paper Selection, here.

Now I really better go and think about what I'm going to use at this year's Fair!

Remember the Fair opens on August 27 and the Seventh Minnesota State Fair Sketch Out is on Tuesday, September 1. Come out and sketch!

  1. Reply

    Much thanks for your very helpful analysis of papers! I bought some FOLIO recently to do some large figure drawings and would never have known about the paper but for your blog. It suited all my needs and really responded so nicely to both wet and dry media, that as soon as I finish my small cache I will be on the lookout for sales to LOAD UP!

  2. Reply

    Ellen, glad the paper really worked for you. I wish we still had the old Folio, now that was one of the best papers EVER!

    I almost chose a book with Folio for the Fair, but I’m going with a different approach. We’ll see.


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