Saturday, 18 June 2011

What's in your (sketching) bag?

I was hoping to put this and similar information in the future on a separate page but I have failed miserably with my blogger skills so I'll just have to post this here as normal :(.

In this first post I wanted to show you my basic watercolour sketching kit which I generally take out with me on full day trips or just shorter walks in the local countryside with my dog. I do change it or add to it occasionally but this really is the bare minimum.

The kit comprises an A6 Winsor and Newton heavyweight sketch book, a tiny 5x7 watercolour pad, a few graphite pencils for outline drawing and quick pencil sketches, a small W&N watercolour box with its own water supply and water cup, a water bottle and a few travelling brushes. The brushes in the case are both Escoda Kolinskys which are absolutely gorgeous brass brushes. They are exremely comfortable to hold and they keep their points even when completely dry. I also sometimes take the little wallet shown here which contains some lovely old W&N Sceptre brushes. These are a sable/synthetic blend and also brass. I found these in the bargain box at the local art supplies! The whole kit fits in a Cotman Sketcher's Case which is a lovely set just to start with, even if you don't later swap out the student watercolours for an artists quality set as I have done with mine. I also take a few sheets of kitchen roll and some anti-bacterial hand spray or gel - very useful for when you need to clean paint or animal by-products from your hands! The heavy oak gate leaf table, which has been in my family for well over a hundred years now, stays at home in my 'studio' you'll be glad to know!

The colours in the box are Winsor Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, Perylene Maroon, Permanent Mauve, French Ultramarine, Cerulean Blue, Winsor Green Blue Shade, Yellow Ochre, Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna and Venetian Red. The palette is a hybrid of a conventional split-primary and earth colours set with green and violet secondaries to give a better gamut of mixes around the colour wheel.

With the exception of Burnt Sienna, these are all single pigment colours so there's less chance of me making mud when I mix them! I generally don't use black and prefer to mix my own although I'm not a purist about it. I only use white when I work with opaque media i.e. oils, acrylics, pencils, pastels and gouache. I have these same colours in both half and whole pan sets as well as 14ml tubes. I use W&N for most of my work but I do have a handful of other colours and sets from other manufacturers like Schmincke and Maimeri but these are my favourites and my workhorses ... at the moment anyway :)

I hope you're all having better weather than we are here in the East of England. (Il pleut, es regnet, it's chucking it down). That's it for now. Back to the DIY again very soon - Have a lovely weekend everyone :)


  1. Very interesting to see what materials you use, what a gorgeous brass brushes!
    I struggled with this second page too. This page is not like the first, there is only room for one post and it doesn't appear on blogrolls.
    Oh and it's pouring here too, which translates to "het giet". Enjoy the weekend and the DIY!

  2. Thanks Judy. Those extra pages are a pain. They are really for about me and galleries where you just edit them as a whole but you can allow comments. Hope the rain stops for you so you can get out to paint those woods again:)

  3. I'm not a plein aire painter but still appreciate seeing what you have in your kit. I like your choice of palette.

  4. Interesting what you have in your kit. Nice and compact, but useful. Nice brushes.
    It's just autumn, rain and wind. Really back to home busy. Have a lovely weekend too.

  5. Last week I decided to splash out and buy a sketching watercolour kit instead of trekking about with all my tubes of paint and I looked at these bags. I was very torn but decided to just buy a little paint set that I could stick in my handbag or backpack as I tend to also carry camera and usually at least three lenses.

  6. John - you ought to give plein aire sketching a go - you'll absolutely love it :)

    Renske - glad you found it interesting. It was hailing here a couple of hours ago and the local DIY store was flooded (tee hee) but now it's just raining cats and dogs again:)

    Anita - this was a bit of a mad purchase but I got it super cheap on eBay! I not a driver so I have to travel really light. Enjoy your new watercolours - what did you get?

  7. Aha! I have the older version of the kit from W&N. Its in a square (ish) bag that is zipped all around. Same contents as yours. Fastens on a belt around your waist for when you're walking :) xx

  8. I really love posts like these. I was fascinated to see your sketching kit. I either have far too much or far too little and I have never yet managed to get it right!
    Hasn't the weather been baaaad!!!
    As I answer you at this very moment, here in the South-East we have TROPICAL rain and the sky is black!
    I have never tried adding a new page to my blog but had planned to one day. Hmm, maybe it will be harder than I thought!

  9. Pat - I have the bigger version too - I got it about ten years ago but I couldn't resist getting this. Me and my extravagant ways :)

    Sandra - glad you like the post. I plan to do a few more like this. I have way too much stuff too but now I try to minimise when I go out sketching. As for the weather - did you get pea-size hailstones ? Unbelievable for June :)

  10. much more minimalist than mine that I posted! It's interesting to see what others take. :>)

  11. I just love seeing other artists kits, gives me ideas on what to take in mine, which changes constantly! Nice to find someone from the same neck of the woods as me (Cambridgeshire)

  12. Vivien - thank you. Yes it is a bit minimalist but it is supposed to be a no-fuss grab-and-go bag. If I pack everytime I go out then it's usually dark by the time I've made up my mind what to take ;)

    Hi Sue, thank you for your kind comments and welcome! Yes it is nice to find someone else from the area. I did meet Anita Davies by chance in Houghton about a year ago but generally the area seems pretty void of artists. I do remember stumbling across your blog a while back - I remember Drummer the Beagle especially. I have a Beagle too called Louie (or just Lou for short) and he goes on many of my sketching trips around Huntingdon. Hope to see you back here again soon :)

    1. If you're ever in Cambridge please come and join us urban sketching with Cambridge Urban Sketchers. I've met lots of other artists through them.

  13. This bag is apparently unavailable now but I managed to score the bag only on eBay.

    I really like the compactness of it. Better than W&N's other cotman field bag.

    I like to work small so am quite comfortable with this size and it has a lot of pockets. It also forces you to only take the essentials so it keeps the weight down.

    It appears to be well made so I hope it lasts a long time.


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