Thursday, February 18, 2016

Update On My Sketch Kits

My current kit for sketch outings and travel
Sketch kits tend to evolve over time, and mine is no exception.  You get new tools, realize certain preferences, and things change.

A little bit has changed since I last blogged about my kit.  While I do like having a series of 4x6" sketches of my travels, I really do like having everything bound in a sketchbook better.  My current sketchbook of choice is the Global Arts Handbook Drawing Book (Travelogue Series), in the large portrait size (5.5x8.5").  For relatively thin paper, it holds up to even the wettest watercolor washes quite well, and never bleeds through.  There is a tiny bit of wave to the paper, but the elastic closure helps flatten the pages out.  The book has lots of pages and this helps me feel comfortable in it, freeing me to play.  I stay away from books of actual 140lb watercolor paper for this reason.

My palette has been upgraded from the Altoids tin.  I purchased an empty Schmincke tin from Sarnoff's, but I think they can also be purchased online.  I like that some of my most-used colors are full pans, yet I can also fill the pallet with several half-pan colors too.  It's nice that it has the fold-out mixing area.

I've upgraded my brushes too.  My favorite is the Black Velvet Voyage brush by Silver Brush.  I love the blend of synthetic and squirrel hairs, I really love how it handles watercolor.  I have two brushes in my kit, size 8 and size 2.  My gripe with the all-synthetic brush I used to travel with (DaVinci Cosmotop) is that synthetic hairs tend to dump water too quickly onto the paper.  This has been my experience, anyway.  The Silver Black Velvet brush is my go-to brush at home, too.

My sketch outing and travel kit
I recently got a new Lamy Safari fountain pen in the Neon Lime color, with an F (fine) nib.  I figure with such a bright fun color there would be less chance of leaving the pen when I walk away.  I hope so, anyway!  I also bought a converter and keep the pen filled up with my favorite ink, Platinum Carbon Black.  I never have issues with the ink bleeding when I add watercolors after inking.

I include a pencil because I like to start a drawing by blocking out the basic shapes or angles when I am struggling with perspective or composition.  I also have a kneaded erasure in one well of a compact lens case.  (The other well contains white gouache for any highlights I need to add).

A mini-mister spray bottle is great for moistening my paints before using them, and keeping them moist.  I live and sketch in a dry climate and this is a necessity for me.

To always have water handy I have a 2 oz Nalgene wide-mouth cup & lid.  All of this fits into an XS Eagle Creek Pack-it Sac.

My purse kit is very minimal
I also have a mini-kit that is always in my purse.  It is the bare-bones minimum kit for sketching anywhere.  It contains a 3.5x5.5" version of the Global Arts Handbook I normally use.  My paint palette is a tiny Altoids Smalls tin, containing 5 paints:  1) Hansa Yellow Medium, 2) Quinacridone Rose, 3) Ultramarine, 4) Pthalo Green, and 5) Burnt Sienna.  With these 5 paints I can make a huge variety of colors.

I have a little water brush, a Pentel Aquash Compact.  A piece of paper towel to wipe the brush on, and a Sharpie Pen completes the kit.

I hope this helps!

My purse kit


Kelly said...

It's all amazing.
And just five colors in your mini-kit! And one is pthalo green? Wow, I see that burger car so I see you have range. Thank you!

Shirley Covey said...

Always amazing to read your blogs, Stacy! So infomative!

Kelly said...

I pulled out these five colors to see how you can possibly get such range! I had fun playing and the ah HA moment came when I looked at my cleaning rag and saw the pure colors of red, yellow and green. Each so happy and pure.

Stacy said...

That sounds great, Kelly! Have fun!

Stacy said...

Thank you, Shirley! I'm glad you find the blog helpful!

Dory R. said...

Hi Stacy,
I notice you are back to using a Lamy Safari after having two you didn't like. Could you share your current pen thoughts?

Do you still like the TSWB mini? And how is the 3 sketchbook system working out now that you've done it for a while?

Thanks, your blog is great!


Stacy said...

Hi Dory, thanks for reading my blog and your questions! Yes, my initial trial of the Lamy Safari didn't work out so well. The first pen was returned and Goulet Pens found that nib to be defective. The second Lamy didn't flow very well, until I did a little surgery on it to carefully enlarge the feed channel. Now it works like a champ and has become my most dependable fountain pen. I bought the next Lamy, the neon lime one, and right now it's my #1 sketch pen, flows great right off the shelf. I like the F nib actually, because I get a nice solid line holding the pen normal, but I can get a finer line by sketching on the backside of the nib. I find having two line thickness in one pen really nice. I keep Platinum Carbon Black in it, my go-to sketching ink.

I still have the TWSBI Mini, currently filled with Lexington Gray, but I don't use it very much. Nothing wrong with that pen, I'm just enjoying my latest Lamy I guess!

I don't use my landscape-oriented sketchbook that much. I do most of my sketching in my 5.5x8.5" portrait-oriented Global Arts Handbook. When I want to do a landscape-oriented sketch I turn the book sideways for that. And having a small 3.5x5.5" version of the Handbook in my purse is also great. So a 2-book system is working great for me.


Stacy said...

Correction: my TWSBI Mini does in fact have something wrong with it. I tried using it today and I realized I had forgotten that it broke at a join and leaks. If I care to, I am sure I can inform the manufacturer and get it fixed. They are very responsive at TWSBI. I had the cap break and they sent a replacement cap free of charge.

But after two breaks on my TWSBI I am losing heart about that pen. My Lamy Safaris have been so sturdy and dependable!

Joan Tavolott said...

Great to see your sketching setup. I go back and forth trying to decide if I'd rather use a sketchbook or loose small wc papers when I travel. I'll be heading off to Venice next month and will probably use loose 5 x 7 and 8 x 10 watercolor papers like I did the last time I was there...but maybe I need to bring along another sketchbook for smaller things.

I've been searching for one of my Lamy pens that is currently lost and I'm rather upset. It is a silver colored one and doesn't stand out like my red one. I think they are great pens, although when I travel I tend to leave them home and take my Preppy pens instead.

Stacy said...

Hi Joan! Thank you for stopping by my blog sharing your experience. I hope you have a wonderful trip to Venice! It sounds wonderful; I was there before I was a sketcher and I would have loved to sketch there. It's always a challenge to decide on what to bring for travel sketching. I am leaving soon on a month-long train trip to visit a lot of cities in the eastern US and decided on traveling light. I'll be taking a fresh 3.5x5.5" Global Arts Handbook and some loose 4x6" sheets. And I plan to use waterbrushes rather than regular for convenience. And my Neon Lime Lamy. I'm so sorry to hear you lost your silver Lamy, I hope you find it!