In Search of Sketch Tools

I like sketching. In my explorations to keep it fun and simple, there are a few technical issues I'm trying to resolve. Part of the "issues" have to do with personal preference for comfort, ease of use, and immediacy of art making. Plus exploring different options and combinations of tools is fun for me.

  • I want to be able to grab my sketch kit and just go. All the stuff in one place, ready to go. Not a lot of prep time to get out the door and sketch.
  • I want to have the option of making mini paintings or just playing around. If I like how they turn out I can sell them. If I don't like how they turn out I can just flip over the paper and take another crack at it. Personal preference: I don't like the idea of cutting a sheet out of a sketchbook.
  • Pages not laying flat in a bound journal. I could solve that by using a spiral bound journal, but for me the spiral interrupts the page too much.
  • Not having a sketchbook/journal that can handle gouache. There are some nice ones out there now, but I'm not quite willing to shell out $15-$20 just yet.

Several things came together for my current sketch kit to solve some of these "issues". I rediscovered this blue pack I had laying around. It's from the North Light Book Club (got it years ago). The paper pack a friend gave me fits perfectly in it (thanks Roz!). I just needed a surface to put the paper on. I did some brainstorming and kept my eyes open when I was out and about in case I came across something that might be a solution.

Here's where a trip to a local second hand shop came in handy. I was so excited! I found a coated, cardboard clipboard for just $0.79. The clip part is a flat design so it fits in the pack. Since it's cardboard I was easily able to trim it down with my utility knife to a size that would accommodate the paper and fit in the pack. Excellent.

My Sketch Pack as of June 2015

  1. Whiskey Painters Standard Palette filled with M. Graham and Schmincke gouache (bought the palette from Wet Paint in St. Paul, MN). Colors left to right, top to bottom: Quinacridone Violet; Naphthol Red; Gamboge; Hansa Yellow;  Sap Green; Cerulean Blue; Ultramarine Blue; Dark Blue Indigo PB60 (Schmincke); Burnt Sienna (Schmincke); Quinacridone Rose; empty space; Titanium White.
  2. Viva paper towels or something equally sturdy and absorbent
  3. Plastic water cup with screw on lid
  4. 2 oz. tube of M. Graham Titanium White Gouache
  5. Niji Waterbrush (flat and medium round)
  6. Pencil and sharpener
  7. Flat synthetic brushes (1/4", 1/2", 1")
  8. Round Utrecht Traveler Brushes (size 1, 5, 8). The brushes are in 2 parts. To store them, the brushes and handles separate and then you tuck the bristle end inside the handle.
  9. Pack of paper just a bit larger than 5"x7". I've been liking the Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media paper. I'm also trying out the Richeson Recycled paper with gouache.
  10. Cardboard clipboard trimmed down

So far I like the set-up. I'll give it another try this weekend at the MetroSketchers meetup at Coldwater Spring.