|Bound for Italy!
Whenever I prep for major travel (somewhere new or for longer than a week), I go through my everyday-carry Rickshaw Zero messenger bag and purge any sketch materials I haven’t been using much the past several months. With strict self-guidelines to manage bulk and weight, I also consider new things to put in. My personal tradition is to document those changes here. I also write a post-travel follow-up to review how well my sketch kit served me. Both posts are very useful in helping me further refine my kit (and they also seem to be popular posts among my readers!). For example, looking back at all that I brought to the UK last year and then thinking about what I actually used most made me slim down my daily haul by quite a bit.
|A slim signature of paper instead of a
heavy, bound sketchbook.
The past couple of years I’ve found that my sketch kit has been so well-honed from basic daily use that I’ve only needed to make minor tweaks. In some ways that’s still true for my trip to Italy that begins next week – items 2 – 8 in the photo above are all things I carry every day with no changes at all.
The most obvious change, though, is a significant one: the number of colored pencils – now housed in my fantastic Tran Portfolio Case (item No. 1). Before I got the Tran case, I could carry only about 15 because they got quite bulky and bunched up in the largest compartment of my Kutsuwa bag organizer. But in unfamiliar territory, I’ve sometimes felt frustrated that I brought the wrong or not enough colors. Not this time – the Tran case has slots for 25 pencils while also being less bulky! My carefully selected palette (see below) is made up of my usual “urban” colors plus the secondary triad palette I fell in love with in my colored pencil class last week. In addition, I always take a few “local” colors specific to the place I’m going. In this case, it’s the pastel peach, pink and turquoise for the candy-colored architecture of the Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast.
The rest of the items in my bag are as follows:
2. Two Sailor fountain pens (with Naginata fude and Cross Point nibs) – one with waterproof Platinum Carbon Black ink, one with water-soluble Sailor Jentle Doyou ink.
3. Three Kuretake waterbrushes in various sizes.
4. A two-hole Kum pencil sharpener that miraculously accommodates all the pencils I use (though it’s not ideal for any of them. . . the perfect portable sharpener remains my grail).
5. Four writing instruments specifically intended for use in a Field Notes notebook might seem like overkill. But often when I’m short on time (both at home and while traveling), a quick sketch – almost a visual notation, really – is all I can manage, and that’s what the Field Notes is for. A couple of brush pens, a white Gelly Roll and a white colored pencil all fill that quick but essential need. (OK, I might take out one of the brush pens.)
6. Two Kuretake waterbrushes filled with ink – diluted sky blue Iroshizuku Tsuyu-kusa and, for easy shadows, Iroshizuku Kiri-same (a warm gray). I call them cheater watercolors.
|For quick sketches on the fly.
8. Two graphite pencils – a Palomino Blackwing and a Mitsubishi Hi-Uni 8B.
9. Six hand-stitched sketchbook signatures of Canson XL 140-pound watercolor paper. I carry only one 16-page signature at a time. Although I treat it almost as a footnote now, carrying one signature of paper instead of a heavy, bound sketchbook or even one with a leather cover is my single best space-saving and shoulder-saving sketch kit improvement ever.
10. One Field Notes notebook (probably a brightly colored Sweet Tooth edition) for quick sketches on the run.
And finally there’s the one non-essential but hope-I-have-room-for new item: my Daiso Banquetta Leisure Chair! I won’t know until I fully pack my bag this weekend whether it can go with me, but I hope it can. It came in very handy last Saturday at David Chamness’s workshop.
|A closer look at the colors in my palette.