I love college bookstores.
I don't know what it is about them, specifically. Way back when, when I was young and my brothers were going to school, I loved going with them to buy stuff at the University Bookstore. It's not just the books; it's the "other stuff." School supplies, art supplies, random crap...it's all good.
There it is...it's the art supplies. I love books, don't get me wrong. But most of the non-esoteric books can be found elsewhere, cheaper. The cool art supplies, however, and school supplies, these aren't things you can find at your local Michael's or Office Max.
One example: I love writing with pencils. There's just something basic and visceral about using a good, old-fashioned lead pencil. And the best pencil sharpener I've ever owned? A handheld sharpener that I found at the University Bookstore. Since finding the first one 20+ years ago, I've bought several more. Glass-bodied, they're made to resemble an old-fashioned inkwell. And they sharpen pencils like nobody's business.
It's not just pencil sharpeners; pencils, pens, all sorts of supplies. I found a sweet, solid metal mechanical pencil that's got sufficient heft to make it great to write and sketch with. Perhaps my favorite thing, however, is to raid the architecture aisles for templates.
Not just circles, squares, and ovals, although I have plenty of those. I've got some that are 40+ years old that I inherited (read: sneaked out of his desk because he no longer used them) from my father. I'm always on the lookout for a new one.
That's right: a Landscape Template. Oddly, just a few months ago I was complaining to myself about my inability to draw a tree on a map. They all looked like clouds. Puffy clouds. With dots in the center.
This, I think, is going to help. Look: three different sizes, plus a palm tree. Some shrubs and bushes that will serve as some smaller trees too. French curves built in. and I think there are some pond/pool stencils there too, although those aren't as difficult for me to draw.
I couldn't wait to get the plastic off and start