Saturday, June 25, 2005

My Sketch Kit

When I sketch, I’m usually on a hike somewhere or walking around looking at sights as a tourist, so I like to keep my sketch kit very small, light, and portable. I like to draw and add color to the drawing and my drawings are loose and gestural, so the contents of my sketch kit reflect that. Here they are:

1 pencil with very fat lead. It’s a mechanical pencil that I got from Levenger’s.
1 eraser. My preference is a soft white eraser in a mechanical holder that’s long and narrow like a pencil. You can find them at most office supply stores.
1 watercolor box. There are several on the market to choose from, but I chose Daler-Rowney’s based on size and availability and I got it at Meininger’s. I stuck with the colors that come standard in the set, but you can easily customize the choices by buying individual Daler-Rowney half pans. Please be aware that when you choose your watercolor box you need to see if replacement half pans are available in that brand. Each brand is slightly different in size. I also recommend buying the artist grade rather than the student grade because you will be much happier with your results. Student grade paints have a lot of fillers that water down the intensity of the color.
2 portable, synthetic watercolor brushes. A #6 round and a #0 round. They are both Raphael Impressions by Kaërell. The brush handle becomes the lid for the brush when you aren’t using them. Unfortunately, I don’t think they are available anymore, but other companies have their own versions of portable brushes. If necessary, you can cut the excess length off the brush handle and save the plastic tubes that come on the brush to protect the bristles.
1 small piece of natural sponge. It’s handy for absorbing excess water or making texture with the paint.
1 small water bottle. It’s a small, plastic bottle for carrying liquid that you can find at backpacking supply stores. I got mine at REI.
1 water holder with a lid. It’s a large, plastic, “pill” bottle that can also be found at backpacking supply stores. I also got it at REI. The lid was attached when I bought it, but I found it inconvenient to use that way, so I cut off the attachment.
1 water based pencil. It’s a General’s Sketch & Wash #588 and draws like a pencil, but you can use water and a brush to activate the lead and create washes. I also got this at Meininger’s.
1 small Moleskine unlined notebook. These are available at Barnes and Noble or Meininger’s. I’ve chosen the unlined notebook over the sketchbook, because it has more pages, and the paper doesn’t have the coating on it that the sketchbook does. I also write in it, so the unlined notebook just makes more sense for me. I prefer a Moleskine to spiral bound sketchpads because spiral binding always gets in my way. Moleskines open flat unlike other similarly bound sketchbooks and the pages are acid free. If you like to remove your sketches from your sketchbook when you’re done, than you’re going to be better off sticking with a spiral binding or a notepad binding.
1 mesh zippered bag that is about 6 inches by 9 inches to hold it all. I added a couple of end snaps onto the top two corners so that I can hook it onto my belt loops when I’m hiking.
1 set of colored pencils in a zippered pencil holder. If I’m doing sketching in very cold weather, I trade out the watercolors for the colored pencils. Watercolors tend to freeze when it gets too cold and then you lose your painting when they thaw.

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