Canson Art Book: Inspiration – A New Cahier


Yesterday I discovered a new cahier journal at Swain’s Art Supplies. It’s from Canson and not only does it work for light water media, it is good for fountain pens, too.

Canson is a very old French company that offers paper for artists under the Arches and Canson banners. This past year one of their Mix Media spiral notebooks became my testing ground for watercolors and brushes. Fountain pen ink works in it, too. I had high expectations for the Canson Art Book: Inspiration and was not disappointed.

Canson Art Book: Inspiration

Canson Art Book: Inspiration

The cover is bendable and unadorned except for an unobtrusive logo embossed at the bottom of the back cover. The interior of the cover could hold a lot of data including contact info or an index. The paper is acid-free and fine grained though with an almost imperceptible tooth. It works beautifully with pencil and erases easily. This may well be its first and best use.

Canson Art Book: Inspiration Writing Samples

Canson Art Book: Inspiration Writing Samples

Other writing instruments performed well with only a few exceptions. The Sharpie Ultra Fine Point demonstrated mild show-through with the Copic and Tombow showing even more. The Copics also bled-through but a blotter (a doubled sheet of printer paper in this case) prevented damage to the succeeding page.

Canson Art Book: Inspiration Fountain Pen Samples

Canson Art Book: Inspiration Fountain Pen Samples

Just because a paper is good with a variety of media doesn’t mean fountain pens will take to it. But even writing with wide, free-flowing nibs turned out well except for the Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses that suffered a smear. There was no feathering, no bleed-through, and only the faintest hint of writing visible on the reverse. The paper might be a bit dry but that control makes this journal good for two-sided use.

There is only an unlined version so it won’t suit all writers. I tried a sheet of Rhodia with its lavender lines as a guide beneath the Art Book paper and that worked well enough under good lighting. Something with darker lines would be even better.

Canson Art Book: Inspiration Watercolor Swatches

Canson Art Book: Inspiration Watercolor Swatches

I used a fairly wet, #8 round synthetic brush for the watercolor samples using straight Daniel Smith and American Journey paints. The colors turned out suitably rich and very bright. The paper did wrinkle slightly but much less than I expected. There was no bleed-through and the blotter prevented any moisture from seeping though to the next page. Each remained pristine and ready for immediate use.

If you are a Moleskine fan, this is a fair competitor should you need a different grade of paper. It isn’t a substitute for a specific Moleskine product but rather an additional journal for certain uses.

Canson Art Book: Inspiration is targeted at artists but good for anyone. A blotter sheet between pages for tools that are very wet like the Copic brush pen tip or watercolor media is essential. That really is the only caveat.

The minimalist form and quality paper make this cahier a real treat for an urban artist. Just tuck in a small box of watercolors and a tiny bottle of water and you can discreetly catch any subject. If you are a writer, especially one who uses fountain pens, anything in your kit should work just fine. No need to match pen to paper since the paper handles most every ink and pen equally well.

Do I sound enthusiastic? Well I am. Nothing since I was introduced to Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks has hit the mark for my paper needs so well. Now there is a very portable cahier to complement my S&B hardcover journals. Color me very happy indeed.

Canson Art Book: Inspiration specifications:

Comes in a package of two journals

Sizes: 8.3″ x 11.7″, 3.4″ x 5/5″, 5.5″ x 8.5″

Contains 30 sheets of 65lb/96gsm, acid-free, heavyweight Mi-Teintes paper

Simple sewn binding

Flexible cover in four colors:

  • Cover: Indigo, inside cover: Lavender
  • Cover: Black, inside cover: Grey
  • Cover: Tobacco, inside cover: Oyster
  • Cover: Wine, inside cover: Red


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  2. Wish you had the DeAtramentis in the broader nibs to check the performance. It’s a brand that tends to soak through and/or feather.

    I prefer a smoother paper without that texture for my FPs, tho’ I can see it’s perfect for pencils.


    • Beth, I’m not overly fond of paper with even a hint of tooth when it comes to fountain pen use. The best of my wide nibs wielded with a light touch didn’t flinch at all. The Safari nibs have less flow and weren’t quite as smooth but still performed in an acceptable range. The Masuyama stub with ku-jaku was the best of the lot. The custom fine cursive italic with De Atramentis Aubergine was the most stingy pen so your point is well-taken. The only pens with wide nibs that aren’t already in rotation are also stingy. Acquiring another good stub is on my list but not in my budget. Someday I’ll own enough of them to make reviews cover all the ink bases. Someday…



  3. Thanks! This might be the solution to my “wants to draw with wet pens/likes moleskine portability/moleskine paper sucks” problem.

    Have you tried using Semikolon books? They’re in a similar vein.


    • Rhodia tolerates wet nibs and is another alternative to Moleskine. No, I haven’t tried Semikolon journals. One of these days…


      • I didn’t think Rhodia made books with blank pages?

        Oh, it also does to mention that anyone concerned about archival qualities shouldn’t be using sharpies; the solvent-based ink is quick to deteriorate and fades your paper too.


        • Rhodia does offer some products with blank paper but it may not be heavy enough to handle anything more demanding than pencil sketching. I haven’t tried it with washes or brush style pens and so can’t give you a more definitive answer. However, it should be good with fountain pens.


  4. I recently found a display of these new Inspiration Art Books at my local art supply store. Based on your review, I purchased a package to sample. I have to say, I am really enjoying it and found that I prefer it over the Hand.Book journal that I have been using thus far. The paper is a bit smoother than the Hand.Book, and it makes doodling with FPs a pleasure. While I do enjoy the Hand.Book journal that I’m currently using, I am finding that it’s better suited to Pigma Micron and Steadtler pens; using FPs can be hit or miss. The thing I do like about Hand.Book is that you can buy a square size, which is a nice change of pace, and fun for zentangle. Altogether, I think the Canson Art Book is a better buy as far as paper quality, and a little bit better value for the money than the Hand.Book, too. This was a nice surprise, and when it comes time, I’ll likely replace the Hand.Book with the Canson Art Book. =) Thanks for putting this on my radar screen.


    • That’s good news. I’m so glad the Canson Art Book worked out for you. Feedback from users is always good to hear. 🙂


  5. […] Canson Art Book cahier – Surprisingly good performance for both pens and watercolors. […]


  6. […] Canson Art Book cahier – Surprisingly good performance for both pens and watercolors. […]


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