Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ready for Chicago!

Weather Bunny is flying the official Chicago city flag!
I’m on my way to the 8th International Urban Sketchers Symposium in Chicago!

Compared to the prep for every other USk symposium I’ve attended (Manchester, Paraty and Barcelona), this one was a piece of cake. Planning for domestic travel is always less work than for international. In addition, I’m neither taking workshops nor serving as correspondent this year, so I have much less materials to bring (or worry about whether I should bring). What’s more, it was only a couple of months ago that I was in Italy, so my sketch kit is already in pretty good shape.

I don’t have a strong sense of Chicago’s urban palette, so I left my colored pencil palette unchanged. I’ve been using a Gekkoso pencil a lot lately, so I kept that in. Heeding my own advice in my post-travel follow-up from Italy, I took out the Sailor Cross Point pen and put back my second Sailor fude. I stitched up my usual Canson XL 140-pound paper into several sketchbook signatures. In other words, everything is the same as my daily-carry here at home. And although it’s not part of my daily-carry, I learned in Italy that my landscape-format softcover Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook is now an essential – not optional – part of my travel kit.

So – almost everything is identical to what I took to Italy and that I’ve been using ever since; no new sketch materials to show here (sorry to disappoint!).

All sketch materials now live in these three organizers: the Tran Portfolio for my colored pencils and two Lihit Lab Slim Pen Cases.
Jettisoned: the extra-small Grid-it.

What is new is one of the organizers in my usual Rickshaw bag (see above). You may recall that about a month ago I replaced my previously beloved Kutsuwa Dr. Ion bag organizer with a combination of a Grid-it and a Lihit Lab Slim Pen Case. After a few weeks of use, I decided that while the Grid-it’s elastic bands are very handy in concept, they are also so tight that I was constantly fighting with them when removing or replacing implements. I recently replaced the Grid-it with a second Lihit Lab Slim Pen Case, whose two streamlined pockets are just enough to hold all the implements that were in the Grid-it in a single row with no room to spare (which prevents me from shoving in more).

Together with the Tran Portfolio Pencil Case housing my colored pencils, everything is fully upright and accessible. Since the Lihit Lab cases are separate units, I can keep them from bunching up into one bulky lump. A major improvement in these three units over the Dr. Ion is that I cannot add a single item without taking something else out! For those of us who lack discipline, it’s a continually self-enforced, self-limiting system! I knew I could trick myself into efficiency somehow!
The extra-small Grid-it now holds my usual "purse" stuff.

Incidentally, the Grid-it is not being wasted. Other than my sketch materials, my daily-carry bag contains very little in the way of actual “purse” stuff, but I do occasionally need ibuprofen, lip balm, ear plugs, spare key – that sort of thing. I used to throw them into a basic zipped cosmetic bag, but that added unnecessary bulk, and I hate unzipping anyway. So I put all those items neatly in the slim Grid-it and chucked the zip bag. Since I don’t use them frequently, I don’t mind tugging to get them out (and, in fact, I appreciate how securely they’re held in place). Here’s the top view – everything in its place:

From top: Tran Portfolio Pencil Case, Grid-it, two Lihit Lab Slim Pen Cases

After the symposium, we’ll be making a short visit to Minneapolis. Stay tuned for the full report on my Midwestern travels when I return, or keep up with me on Instagram and Flickr!


  1. I know you will all have a great time!

  2. It's so exciting that you're going to your 4th symposium!! I hope you have a wonderful time, and that the weather is cooperative. Out of curiosity, what other activities are available to symposium goers who are not taking a class or acting as a correspondent?

    1. The main activities besides workshops are sketchcrawls with lots and lots of people, demos, lectures plus social activities like drink & draws! 😉


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