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Feather (Creativity Matters Podcast 449)

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Episode 449 Feather

Episode 449 of the CMP, a Creativity Matters Podcast — a moment of unwanted “feather” and thoughts on being stuck in our ways with our tools…. or finding the just-right match for us, two sides of the same coin.

This episode hinges on trying a new sketchbook, something I completely didn’t plan to do because I’ve been so happy in my Moleskine Art Sketchook for the last two years. But I ended up trying something that “on paper” (e.g., the specs) sounded like it would be a great alternative and comparable to what I was using.

I knew it was a risk. But I thought maybe I’d stumbled over my next-favorite sketchbook, one that would be a good switch and have white paper. Unfortunately, it was similar to writing on a paper towel.

If I wasn’t using fountain pen ink (and lots of it) for my illustrated journal spreads and #illustrateyourweek, it probably would have been a great sketchbook. It was bright white, had sturdy paper, and offered a nice 8×8 or 10×10 size.

But with fountain pen ink as my main thing, whatever sketchbook I use has to take fountain pen ink well.

In this show, I talk through some of the issues with being complacent and content and not venturing out to try new things and, on the flip side, the reasons why we sometimes stay put.

A4 vs A3

There is some talk in this show of me thinking about the A3 vs the A4. I apparently was seriously confused in thinking A3 was “legal” size. After recording this show and thinking about the sketchbook that didn’t work and the confirmation it provided that “my” paper may be the “best” paper for the way I work with fountain pens, I decided that, really, now was the time to try the A3. I am ready to start my “next” book, which loosely coincides with the start of this new year, (though we are now on week 3).

So I ordered the A3.

When the box arrived, I thought it seemed unreasonably large. (Note: I had discovered that if I could cope with the navy cover instead of black, the A3 could be had for only a few dollars more than the A4. It was a really good option.)

I thought the box was large, but packaging and shipping waste is fairly common.

When I pulled the sketchbook out, I was floored. It is massive.

It is so much bigger than I thought it would be, laughably so. I’m not sure I could hold it and work on it. I am positive I couldn’t work on it in the car. (That might actually be the final straw, really, that makes me not try it.)

I haven’t taken it out of the plastic even because I think it probably is a really bad idea. I’ve recorded a quick video so you all can see it. That will go up in the next day or so.

It’s frustrating because I do need to start a new book. I do have one of my tried-and-true books. But I need to decide for sure about the A3 first. Whatever I start will be what I use for the next 3-6 months!

Facts (that I’ve looked up now to help explain my confusion)

  • I was using A4
  • I thought A3 sounded like legal paper size (which I’ve used in office settings and for a newsletter I produced when I was an undergraduate)
  • I don’t convert to A-paper sizes easily – these aren’t just things I “know”
  • had looked at the measurements for the A4 sketchbook, but I thought it was legal, so I just thought I knew what those measurements were in relation to my current book
  • I thought the “next size up” was a small jump
  • I also don’t do the metric system
  • And, I still cling to Pluto as a planet
  • A4 paper is: 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Legal paper is: 8.5 x 14.0 inches
  • A3 paper is: 11.7 x 16.5 inches

And now I see how really wrong I was. Yes, “legal paper” size might be exactly what I was hoping to find in a slightly larger sketchbook. A3 is another beast altogether.

You think I’m kidding, but it’s almost as big as the foldup table I’m using! It’s too big to fit in my video screen (because I have to keep the camera positioned so it isn’t a larger area than the small table).

What a strange thing.

Sometimes, when you know what works, you should just stick with it.

(But Episode 449 isn’t even about the A3, it’s about trying another sketchbook that bled and feathered and really threw my thinking about my creative “needs” into a tailspin.)


A quick review of Imaginaries by Emily Winfield Martin. This is a charming and whimsical, and slightly magical, book of illustrations, each accompanied by a slip of text that helps give you context. I see the book as an invitation to create your own stories around these images, a wonderful activity to do with children.

The artist also has books like: Snow and Rose, Oddfellow’s OrphanageDream Animals, Day Dreamers, and the Littlest Family’s Big Day.  (Note: Some of these are board books, so be sure to look at descriptions carefully – or check your library.)

The Tomoe River Mention

It is true. Reports are that Tomoe River (in the way you may know it) is going away. Many people are stocking up on their favorite Tomoe River blanks. One that is very popular is the Endless Recorder journal. I haven’t used it, but if you are a fan of Tomoe River paper, you might be interested.

Note: If you have not used Tomoe River paper, then disregard this conversation. It is a thin paper but incredibly durable. Writing does ghost, but doesn’t bleed through. It is not paper I would use for my illustrated journaling (although I have done that in my Hobonichi Techo before). It is, instead, a favorite paper by many for writing. Fountain pen ink just glides on it.

Support the CMP

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I will be moving the CMP site, hopefully in the next few weeks. I had hoped that the 15-year anniversary would help make clear to me that continuing is the right thing to do. That didn’t happen, but the simple fact is that I have to take the site down and relocate. It isn’t optional. I had thought things might come together to really put things in place properly, but given how the month went, I think the best bet is just to rehome the site and accept it for what it is – a pet project. The most cost-effective way to deal with it will require a 3-year setup though, and so I’m thinking it through. It will also, again, mean I will need to remove old shows. At any rate, this summer cleanup is part of my summer to-do list.

Thank you to those of you who have supported the CMP, just as you support other creators and sources of inspiration and guidance when you buy books, sign up for paid workshops and classes, and purchase small works of art from the artists you follow. Support from some of you through the years has made the show possible.

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Six Books that Played a Pivotal Role in the Last 15 Years

(Six of hundreds! It’s hard, but these five come to mind as important or much-loved.)


(Dear Data and Station Eleven should be there, too. But really, there are LOTS of books that should be there!)

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Listen to Episode 449

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Show Information:

Note: links provided to books, tools, and other resources on the Creativity Matters Podcast website may be affiliate links for which the podcast would make a (very) small amount of money if the item was purchased. The Creativity Matters Podcast is an affiliate. Links are provided for convenience to help you find/see/explore the books, tools, and resources I talk about. Using the library, when possible, is always my first recommendation for reviewing books firsthand.
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