|The most minimal sketch kit I've ever used for daily-carry!
For the past month or more, I’ve been thinking about streamlining my sketch kit (at least temporarily). My goal was to begin in January when I was done with festive holiday colors, but I finished filling a signature of my usual DIY sketchbook at Swanson’s last Friday, so I dumped out my bag the next day.
As I mentioned in last month’s post, I think my sketch kit always begins with the sketchbook, which guides all the other choices. Without much expectation for color in these wet and gray months, it’s a good opportunity to give toned paper the solid trial I have been wanting to give it, so a 5 ½-by-8 ½ inch Stillman & Birn Nova is my sketchbook of choice. A few months ago I gave the gray one a shot for urban sketches, but I really enjoyed using the tan one for life drawing at Drawing Jam a few weeks ago (and more recently at Zoka Coffee). I’m starting this personal challenge with the tan one, but I may switch to gray if I feel like it, just for a change (all other tools would remain the same).
In the past when I’ve experimented with using a S&B softcover sketchbook as my daily-carry, I’ve found it to be bulkier than I like (especially compared to a single signature of paper, which is my usual daily-carry). But with all my colored pencils and other materials taken out, my bag has plenty of room for it.
In addition to a Nova as my primary sketchbook, I’m also carrying a small Field Notes notebook as always. Normally I prefer a red one, but since that’s basically toned paper too, it seems redundant during this challenge. I’m starting with a white one, which would give me different options while using the same tools.
As for those tools, here’s my carefully considered selection (from top):
- My usual Kum portable pencil sharpener.
- Viarco ArtGraf 6B water-soluble graphite pencil. I was tempted to put in a Gekkoso 8B or some other super-soft graphite to go with the Blackwing’s medium softness (the two together are a good pairing for value studies). But since the ArtGraf is water-soluble in addition to being dark and soft, it works double-duty, giving me more bang for the slim sketch kit buck.
- Chinese white Derwent drawing pencil – for soft highlights, especially on skin.
- White Gelly Roll gel pen – for shiny-bright highlights.
- Blackwing graphite pencil with the softest core (ungraded, but about 4B).
- Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen in a medium warm gray.
- Caran D’Ache Bicolor red/blue combo pencil. This combo pencil is my only color medium during this challenge! With two colors, it’s as compact and streamlined as I can get – and the cores are even water-soluble! While I’ve tried several novelty double-sided colored pencils, none have cores worth using. Intended for editing, this Caran d’Ache, however, contains the same high-quality water-soluble cores as its Supracolor line. (I sure wish Caran d’Ache would come out with a small set of double-sided pencils using Supracolor cores! That would be my colored pencil dream come true! See tomorrow’s post for more dreams.)
- Mini-size Kuretake waterbrush – to use with the water-soluble pencils.
- My favorite Sailor fountain pen with fude nib with water-soluble ink.
- Zebra (non-hairy) brush pen with waterproof ink.
My intention is to stick to this basic set of tools, but as with the sketchbook, I reserve the right to switch out one implement for another if something isn’t working as I had hoped. But I want to avoid thinking about the kit and switching materials every time I go out, because that would defeat my guiding principle of keeping things low-maintenance.
|A prototype sketch kit case made by my favorite bag manufacturer.
Although bag weight is not a primary concern or motivator for this challenge, I have had shoulder issues in the past, so I do try to minimize the weight of my daily-carry in general (and especially when I travel). I weighed my bag with all my usual gear, and it came in at just under 4 pounds (1.78 kg). With my slimmed-down kit, my bag now weighs about 3 ¼ pounds (1.49 kg). I’m a bit surprised that it doesn’t weigh even less, but the S&B sketchbook weighs quite a bit more than a single DIY signature.
That’s it – my super-minimal, daily-carry kit! I am committed to it until the S&B Nova sketchbook is full. And just because I know you’re curious, shown below are all the things I took out of my bag!
|Ejected: 25 water-soluble colored pencils, 4 pens, 1 pencil, water spritzer, 4 brushes. The two black cases hold the implements upright inside my bag.
Will I miss all my colors and other materials and regret this challenge? Or will I realize I can do without a lot of stuff permanently? We’ll both find out! Anyone want to join me in this quest for minimalism? (Don’t worry – it’s just temporary. 😉)
Edited 2/19/18: Find out about the results of my two-month minimalism challenge!