Monday, November 30, 2015

Post-Travel Follow-up, Part 2: Sketch Kit

Items most-often used in Japan.

As is my personal tradition, here is my post-travel follow-up reporting on how accurately my sketch kit met my needs during my trip to Japan. To see everything I brought, please refer to my travel prep post (and photo at the bottom of this page).
  • Looking back on that post now, I see that much of my kit prep was based on all the fall color I anticipated seeing in Kyoto, which turned out to be disappointing. Unlike five years ago when we went at the very same time of year, many trees were still green, and the main color we saw was in the Fuji foothills, where we spent very little time. I had brought a waterbrush filled with a custom ink mix of Diamine Poppy and Diamine Red Dragon to quickly paint the red Japanese maples we had hoped to see; alas, I hardly used it. Same for the Pilot Parallel filled with an orange mix of Diamine Autumn Oak and Iroshizuku Yu-yake.
  •  The rainbow pencil got used once, and the Koh-i-Noor Tri-Tones not at all. Surprisingly, I didn’t use watercolors much, either. If I had seen as much fall color as I’d hoped to, I’m sure I would have pulled the paints out more often; as it was, colored pencils and the Pilot Parallel with orange ink were sufficient for most sketches.
  •  The rest of my over-prep was due to my usual anxiety about running out of ink; I didn’t come close to emptying any of my fountain pens, even the one filled with waterproof Platinum Carbon Black, so I needn’t have worried. And OK, I did bring along a couple more pens than I really needed (but if I hadn’t brought and used them, I would have gone through the ink in the remaining pens more quickly!). I guess this is just general carryover from my day-to-day need to carry more pens than I “need”!

Shown above are the items I used most frequently during my 19 days in Japan:
  1. My Sailor “grail” fude pen with Sailor Doyou ink (an easy pen to reach for when I sketched people on trains and subways because I’m so comfortable with it)
  2. A Sailor fude pen with Diamine Chocolate Brown ink (for the same reason as the other Sailor, above)
  3. A waterbrush filled with cool-gray Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun for shadows (I use that brush a lot, whether I’m traveling or not).
  4. Pilot pen with Posting nib filled with waterproof Platinum Carbon Black ink. I had initially planned to bring the Pilot with the Waverly nib, which I’ve recently grown so fond of. But at the last minute I switched to the Posting nib because its very fine nib uses so little ink (an ink-shortage anxiety reaction).
  5. A Zebra double-ended brush pen, which I had discovered as a favorite for life drawing only a couple weeks before I left for Japan. I wasn’t sure whether it was going to make the final cut, since I was also bringing my usual Kuretake brush pen along, but I ended up taking it after all. And what a dark horse that Zebra turned out to be! I discovered almost immediately that the Zebra’s strangely spongy (and annoyingly squeaky) brush tips are ideal for making quick sketches of architecture, trees, wide urban landscapes, people – anything. I learned in Himeji that while my first sketch of the castle using the fine-point Posting nib felt constrained and rigid, my second try with the Zebra felt much more expressive (though perhaps less accurate). While I’ve always loved the organic look of the brush strokes I get with the Kuretake brush pen’s real bristles, the Zebra’s spongy felt tips gave me just enough additional control that the pen turned out to be extremely versatile. And having both fine and broad tips in one pen makes it all the more versatile.
  6. And finally the best packing choice of all: the vermilion colored pencil! Selected specifically because I knew from experience and photos that Japan is full of torii gates and pagodas, that Caran d’Ache Supracolor II water-soluble pencil gave me quick, convenient swipes of bright red-orange many times without having to pull out watercolors. A little color research about the place I’m visiting goes a long way toward helping me select the right colored pencils, which save time and make standing sketches easier.

My ongoing travel successes included:
  • My usual Stefano sketchbook (I filled seven signatures again, just like I did in France and Brazil).
  • My usual Rickshaw Bagworks Zero messenger bag (both the sketchbook and the bag have been with me on four continents so far!), with one weather-related issue (see yesterday's post).
  • A simple tote to carry daily essentials that don’t fit in the Rickshaw. In Japan I had fewer things to carry than in most locations, because things like bottled water (and just about any other beverage you could want, including canned hot coffee and beer!) are so easily available from vending machines on literally every street corner. Conversely, I always had to carry my own small hand towel (most Japanese residents do), because public restrooms generally do not supply paper towels (or even hand dryers in some places).
  • A Rhodia Rhodiarama pocket notebook, which served as my writing/collage travel journal, memo pad, vocabulary reminder and catch-all sketchbook.
The above four things have consistently worked so well for me on all my travels the past few years that I’m happy not to have to consider changes (maybe ever!).

The complete sketch kit I took to Japan.

1 comment:

  1. I think you did well with your materials. Who would have guessed that the autumnal colors wouldn't be on the trees yet? Their autumn colors must have been very slow in appearing just like they were here. I still haven't stopped thinking about that organizer you showed yesterday. lol


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