It has suddenly jumped from almost-too-cold to almost-too-hot to be sketching outdoors, which means there’s no time to waste in fine-tuning my art-supply travel kit. I say “travel,” but in truth for me, “travel” usually means leaving my third-floor loft apartment! I was sitting outside in the park today, enjoying all the tree flower buds falling onto my hair as I sat reading my book. Then I glanced up, looked around, noticed the kids and families enjoying the day.
It was time for a quick sketch, so out came the tools. My kit doesn’t change much from year to year, how about you? I’m sure fishermen, kayakers, and all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts are always comparing their latest tools and toys, why not us too? 🙂
Here’s the tiny bundle of supplies that lives in my purse:
Moleskine sketchbook, Pocket size, 3.5″ x 5.5″ (soon to be replaced by the next size up, an A5)
Wrist sock, well-used, more on that later
Look at That! pen pouch, full and beautifully self-limiting so I don’t carry too much. It usually contains my Lamy fountain pen, my fude fountain pen, a felt-tip pen, a water brush, a pencil (which I almost never use), and just a few watercolor pencils (blue, green, brown, tan) for preliminary linework (instead of using pencil.)
Expeditionary Art palette (see first picture) tucked into a customized ziplock bag so post-sketching leaks stay contained (Note: the stickers on the palette and sketchbook are all thanks to my friends at Goulet Pen Company. )
The latest additions to my kit are worth their weight in gold, and are so simple! A medium and a small binder clip (see below).
This is a tight close-up, hope you can see it. First I clip a medium size binder clip right over the spine of the book, so the book stays open easily. Then I used a small binder clip to fasten the Expeditionary Art palette right to the “wings” of the larger clip. It’s surprisingly stable, and solves that ever-present challenge of how to hold a book open and a palette stable, all with one hand! Of course this trick only works with that compact Expeditionary Art palette.
I was in my usual haunt of Bicentennial Square in Concord NH, the centerpiece of which is a marvelous stone sculpture garden that has delighted childen of all ages for years.
Start with simple, expressive lines made with the fude pen. I could have stopped here and been pleased with my day. (I was sitting in the shadow of a tree so the pictures are a little dark.)
Then clip on the palette and discover moment-to-moment how far I want to go. Again, just these dashes of greens would have been enough. Note: I’m learning how to create what Liz Steel calls “Watercolor Magic” by under-mixing the paint, and getting it onto the paper with as few strokes as possible.
Close enough! Many inaccuracies, but it works as a stand-alone example of several minutes well spent. Finally, time to pack up.
That’s the joy of having an every-day, rarely-changes, always-with-you sketch kit. Like Goldilocks says, it’s not too small, not too big, always just right.
As a final note, don’t forget to remove the wrist sock you’ve been using as a convenient rag to wipe your brush on. If, like me, you go out for coffee after you’ve been sketching, you too may get to hear a wait person say, “Oh my goodness, what happened to your wrist!” It does look like a bandage that’s been through the war. I just smile, wearing it with pride, and say, “No worries, I’m just an artist. . . “
What’s in your art kit nowadays? Have you discovered a way to make it both tiny and adequate? Share your answer in the comments below, or on our Facebook page at “Look at That! Sketchbook Adventure Club.” All of us look forward to hearing from you!