Just like packing a suitcase, packing a sketching bag is a matter of weighing options over bulk.
A heavy bag is simply not an option for me. I am mindful of shoulder strain and carry-on bag restrictions. And yet… I get bored quickly! A lot of sketchers can make do with one pad of paper, 1 brush and 6 pans of colour. But to me, those restrictions spoil the fun.
I’ve come up with my own system that packs up in under a kilo. The game-changer for me is the roll of water-soluble pencils in graphite, watercolour and ink. It adds about another 250 grams to the kit, and I can definitely live with that!
Here’s my packing list…
- Lightweight carrier: I found this lightweight, completely collapsable laptop bag on one of my travels. It has a convenient A4-size rectangular shape perfect for carrying pads of paper, and it is small enough to fit into other small luggage. Another small pouch like a pencil case is also really handy.
- Something to sit on: Here’s a life-saver! In the photo you see a spongy green kneeling pad that I picked up in my local hardware store for under €5. It weighs next to nothing and it’s waterproof. It’s awesome.
- A variety of small sheets of paper: Sometimes I carry a block, but these can be expensive. Most times I carry a variety of small sheets in a file folder and clip them to a light clipboard. I love to work in miniature, so for me a little block of postcards is a must. You can also use them to send notes with your work on it! And it’s always good to have a sketchbook – this one I bought at a local hobby shop for under €3.
- A pan of watercolour paints: That’s the black rectangular tin in the photo. My tin has 24 colours which is excessive for most people, but the bigger tin gives you more mixing trays and room for a small brush and a tube of titanium white. I don’t mind carrying that bit extra.
- A selection of water-soluble pencils: I never go anywhere without a range of my favourites in primary colours in watercolour pencils, Derwent Inktense and water-soluble graphite.
- Pens: I love fine lines so I have a few very fine technical drawing pens in waterproof ink. These come in black or sepia and various widths. Sometimes I make an ink drawing and cover it in a light wash with my watercolours, other times I splash on the colour first and then add in the line.
- Basic drawing supplies: pencils, sharpeners and erasers – my preference here is for the technical drawing pencil because I don’t have to sharpen it! I just use it for a very light under-drawing and bring extra leads. A sharpener should have a barrel for collecting shavings, and the best eraser for watercolour paper is the soft, kneadable kind.
- An assortment of brushes: I use cheap synthetic brushes when traveling, and I love my water-cartridge brushes for blending my water soluble pencil marks.
- Water containers: a refillable water bottle with a retractable nozzle is great for squirting drops of water into your paint tray and refreshing yourself with a cool drink! A small jar with a tight-fitting cover for the water I rinse my brushes in.
- Cleaning supplies: a roll of paper kitchen towel will help mop up any unused paint on your paint tray and dry your brushes, and you’ll be glad of a small waterproof bag to hold your wet rubbish until you can get it to a bin.
Outdoor sketching is such a great way to enjoy being in an amazing place, soaking up the atmosphere and really seeing a place. — Marie S.