Monday, May 21, 2018

Brick and Stucco

5/16/18 Maple Leaf neighborhood

If I had to guess, I’d say that this house on Roosevelt Way is another Tudor, yet it’s unique in one distinct way: The upper part seems to be made of a type of smooth stucco, and the rest is brick.

On this day, the sun was ducking in and out of fast-moving clouds. After doing most of my sketching in the shade, suddenly the sun broke free, so I quickly put in all the shadows just in time for the sun to hide again.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Product Review: Faber-Castell Goldfaber Aqua Colored Pencils (Albrecht Durer Comparison)

Faber-Castell's Goldfaber Aqua pencils

The last time I poked around at the Daniel Smith Seattle store, I spotted a new line of colored pencils from Faber-Castell called Goldfaber (available in both traditional and water-soluble). Based on their pricing, I could see that they were on the low end compared to F-C’s premier pencil lines, oil-based Polychromos and water-soluble Albrecht Durer, but I was curious about how different they might be. Following my own sage wisdom about trying new colored pencils, I resisted buying all the colors and instead got the smallest assortment – 12 colors of water-soluble Goldfaber Aqua Pencils. (Unfortunately, I can’t provide a link to Daniel Smith because the paint manufacturer no longer sells products online except for paints, so the link will take you to I intended to put them head-to-head with Albrecht Durer pencils to see how they compared.

Goldfaber cores and barrels (left) are slightly smaller than Durer's
The Goldfaber pencils come in a typical hinged tin. The standard-diameter hexagonal barrel is a matte-finish gray with a glossy end cap indicating the core’s color. The core is 3.3mm, while Durer’s core is 3.8mm (and the entire Durer barrel is slightly larger). The Goldfaber wood is a lighter color and slightly speckled compared to Durer’s.

Although I tend to use Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelles more often now than Albrecht Durer, Faber-Castell’s Durer line is still one of my favorites, and I’m familiar with how these excellent pencils apply, blend and activate. When I made swatches of the Goldfaber colors, I was immediately taken by how similar they feel in softness and texture to the Durer pencils. At least these particular 12 hues changed very little when activated with water (some water-soluble pencils change dramatically after water is added).

I decided to swatch the same hues in the Durer line, and Faber-Castell made that task very easy: It uses the same color numbers on both lines. Strangely, one color in the Goldfaber line – 147 (light blue) – is not available in the Durer line. At first I thought I had lost No. 147 in my complete Durer set (and you can imagine how annoyed I became at that possibility!). I even got on my hands and knees to see if that pencil had fallen out of its “vase” and onto the floor behind my desk. But then I checked Blick’s open-stock inventory, and I realized the Durer line simply doesn’t include 147. The other 11 hues, however, match exactly.

I admit I was surprised to see how similar – identical, in fact – all the colors are, including the way they wash. The Goldfabers seemed equally rich in pigment – yet the Durers cost nearly twice as much. Hmmm, now things were getting interesting!   

At this point I checked Goldfaber’s lightfastness to see how it compared to Durer’s (the latter has artist-quality pigments, most of which have a high lightfast rating). According to the Goldfaber insert, the Aqua line “is available in 48 bright and ultra-lightfast colours.” On Blick’s site, the Goldfabers are described as having “a high degree of lightfastness,” but each hue’s lightfast rating is not indicated as it is on the Durers. F-C says Goldfaber is intended for “both aspiring and hobby artists,” and Blick describes the line as “created for students and hobby artists,” which are clues that the pigments aren’t artist quality.

5/16/18 Faber-Castell Goldfaber Aqua pencils, Stillman & Birn Beta
Now it was time for the rubber to hit the road. Using colors 107, 120, 121, 163 and 166, I first made a test sketch of an apple with the Goldfaber Aqua pencils on Stillman & Birn Beta paper. Initially I was impressed that the pigments applied as easily as Durer pencils on toothy Beta paper. I activated the first layer with water and let it dry, and I was pleased by how fully the pigments dissolved. They seemed very similar to Durer in that way, too. I applied a second layer of pigment, and that’s when I started noticing a difference. The pencil application felt a bit “sticky” over the previous layer, and the colors weren’t blending without
5/17/18 Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer pencils, Stillman & Birn Beta
some effort.

Next I sketched the same apple on the same paper using the same color numbers of Albrecht Durer pencils (this is about as apple-to-apple a comparison as I’ve ever made 😉). Making this sketch confirmed that the biggest difference between the two lines of pencils comes with the second and successive applications of pigment. It’s much easier to blend with Durer pencils, they apply more smoothly over previously activated layers, and I was able to achieve richer hues in less time (30 minutes, compared to 45 for the Goldfaber sketch).

Still, if lightfastness isn’t an issue (I haven’t found clear information one way or another as to whether the Goldfabers have the same degree of lightfastness as Durers, though I suspect they don’t), considering the significantly lower cost, I’d say these Goldfaber pencils aren’t too shabby. I am impressed by how closely F-C matched the pigments in these two lines as well as the degree of water-solubility. If Goldfaber is Faber-Castell’s low-end line, it’s pretty darn good.

As I started thinking about this, I recalled another low-end F-C watercolor pencil: the Art Grip Aquarelle line. I don’t have them anymore, so I can’t compare them directly, but I remember them as being much harder and containing less pigment. The grippy, textured surface and triangular barrel seemed to be designed for younger students. Surprisingly, Blick’s price for them is higher than for Goldfabers. I don’t know why Faber-Castell would need two low-end watercolor pencils, but for my money, Goldfabers are far better. I certainly wouldn’t replace my beloved Albrecht Durer collection with them, but I would definitely recommend them to someone who wanted to give watercolor pencils a try without making a huge investment.

Incidentally, the name Goldfaber isn’t new; it turns out to be the name that F-C used for a line of colored pencils at least several decades ago (as noted on a set for sale on eBay). I wonder how they would compare to contemporary Goldfabers . . . ? (You knew I would wonder about that, didn’t you!)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Bell Harbor Pier (Plus Two Bucket List Items Checked)

5/15/18 Space Needle from Bell Harbor

Located on the north end of the waterfront, Bell Harbor Pier might be one of Seattle’s last remaining secrets. Connected to the Bell Harbor Conference Center by a pedestrian bridge, it probably attracts event attendees between seminars and buffet lunches, but it’s also always open to the public. On a gorgeous Tuesday afternoon, the waterfront was crowded with tourists and other pedestrians on the street level, yet just a few flights of stairs up, I had the pier nearly to myself.

I almost sketched the city skyline (see photo at bottom of page), and the moored boats were also tempting. But when I swiveled around to look to the north, I spotted the Space Needle peek-a-booing from behind a stack of buildings. The Needle is still wearing its ugly hat while renovation continues on new features intended to lure more tourists and their money (yawn).

Now that I know how beautiful and undiscovered the Bell Harbor Pier is, I’ll probably be going there more often just to sketch. On that day, however, I had another motive:

The name Aaron Draplin became familiar to me after I started using Field Notes and discovered that he is the designer of the little notebooks that I have grown fond of using as pocket sketchbooks. But it wasn’t until I had viewed several video recordings of the motivational talks he gives to designers that I became a fan – not specifically of his design work but more of his philosophy toward design and freelance business. I’m not a designer nor an entrepreneur (anymore), yet he was inspiring even to me. I imagine that he is very motivating to young people just getting started in their design careers.

Aaron, Aaron and me!
I’d heard that Aaron was coming to town to give a seminar at a Drbbble design conference, which was to be followed by a party that was open to the public. I decided I would go meet him there. After sketching the Space Needle, I waited in a long line of other people for the party to begin. In the distance, I could see Aaron in the middle of a crowd, and he seemed to be waving to me! Although he knew that I followed him on Instagram and hung out in the Field Nuts Facebook group, we’d never met before. . . was he really waving to me? In fact, he was, and came right over to talk to me! Here’s how he described it on Facebook the next day:

A-ha – so my shirt turned out to be a very good investment! 😉 (That’s the same shirt I wore when I made my pilgrimage to Field Notes headquarters in Chicago last year.) He’s a very cool guy, and I was thrilled to meet him.

Even more thrilling than meeting him? Sketching him! So that’s two things I checked off on my life list that day.

Skyline and Elliott Bay from Bell Harbor Pier

Friday, May 18, 2018

Craftsman with Rhodies

5/14/18 Maple Leaf neighborhood

What caught my eye and brought me to an immediate stop in front of this Craftsman was the brilliant rhododendron bush. Seduced by that color, I later kicked myself for choosing a house with all those fussy dormers.

(I’m hardly one to complain, though. We have been having an unbelievably beautiful streak of sunshine and comfortable temperatures! I hope youre having great sketching weather, too!)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Tudor Shadow Play

5/12/18 Maple Leaf neighborhood

This classic Tudor is another house across the street (it’s just west of the house I showed a couple of days ago). In the early morning and late afternoon, I like watching the interesting shadow play on its rooftop – so much so that a few years ago, I sketched studies of it at both times of day. This time I sketched it around 9:30 a.m., so I missed the illumination on part of the front.

In addition to learning about Maple Leaf’s architectural styles as I sketch this series, I find I’m also becoming familiar with which side of the street to focus on to take advantage of light and shadow patterns.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Junction

5/10/18 West Seattle Junction

Every now and then I tag along with Greg when he has an appointment in West Seattle. I pick a café or corner in the Junction and kill an hour with a sketch. The first time was exactly four years ago today (what weird synchronicity! I had no idea of the date until I searched my blog for that post), when I sketched from an outdoor table at Easy Street.

This time I sat outside Starbucks across the street to sketch the same busy intersection of Southwest Alaska and California Southwest; Easy Street is on the corner. With all the changes going on all over Seattle – new buildings popping up, others crumbling down – it’s comforting to know that four years went by and this building is still the same.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


5/8/18 Maple Leaf neighborhood

The small house directly across the street from ours is probably a simple Craftsman of the same era as our own. In the three decades that we’ve lived here, we’ve seen several couples move in, start a family, and then move out when they realize they’ve outgrown it after one or two children. I sympathize with young families who want to stay in the city but eventually have to move to the ‘burbs to find houses that are both affordable and large enough. (It’s a growing problem in these parts, where the Seattle Times just reported that the cost of living is now worse than the traffic.) The family that lives there now just had their second child, and I’m wondering how long they will be there.

I sketched this from our upstairs bedroom window, where the high vantage point gives me an especially difficult perspective challenge. I took on this same view six years ago (at right) when I was just starting to slay the architectural nemesis. I ended that blog post with this: “Let’s just call this a baseline against which I’ll evaluate my progress.” I hope you can see that I’ve progressed (the trees and shrubs have grown, too!), but I’m not sure it was any easier now than it was then. Practice may have made my results better, but it hasn’t necessarily made the process less challenging.

Rereading that post from 2012 reminded me that I’ve declared several sketching nemeses over time. First it was architecture; then it was cars; and then trees. The only way to conquer any nemesis is to simply practice regularly (avoidance never works; I’ve tried that, too), and I’ve made that effort with both cars and trees. Until I started my current series on neighborhood architectural styles, architecture as subject matter just hasn’t engaged my attention enough to get the practice I need. I’m happy that I finally found an entryway to work on slaying this long-standing nemesis at last.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Vintage Colored Pencils, Part 12: Empire Sunset Dual-Kolor

Sunset Dual-Kolor pencils

I admit I bought these purely for nostalgia.

It had been so many decades since I last saw Dual-Kolor pencils that I didn’t even know they were still part of my psyche. But as soon as I saw the thumbnail image on Etsy of their triple-striped barrels, I instantly recognized them from my childhood. They may very well have been my first colored pencils ever. I was endlessly impressed that each pencil had a different color on either end!

In particular, I remember an orange and green one that had a string tied around the middle; the other end of the string was attached to the kitchen telephone cord. My mom used it to jot notes and grocery lists with some kind of color code (I’m a color-coded notetaker too, so I obviously got that gene from her).

Made by the US pencil manufacturer Empire, Sunset Dual-Kolor pencils were probably considered more of a novelty than a high-quality product even back in the ‘60s. Now, with my vast familiarity with a huge number of colored pencil brands and obvious higher level of sophistication, I can confidently state that these are the coolest colored pencils I have ever owned – at age 6 or nearly 60. They are also among the worst colored pencils I have ever used. Dry, hard, practically unpigmented, they will remain in a vase where I can reminisce about the utter coolness of bicolored pencils.

A bouquet of nostalgia

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Another Storybook Tudor (Plus Grisaille Demo)

5/7/18 Maple Leaf neighborhood

Whenever I’m out walking in the ‘hood, this brick Tudor catches my eye. Although it was too small to show the details, the tiny window in front stands out from the wall in a pyramid shape and has its own little roof. In addition, the brick façade in front of the porch has an interesting stair-stepped shape sloping down from the roof. This house is straight out of a storybook.

Grisaille demo

Recently during lunch with a few other sketchers, I was asked about the shading method I’ve been using on my series of house sketches. As I explained it, I realized it might make an informative demo. While sketching this Tudor, I finally remembered to take a few process photos.

Step 1: I use water-soluble colored pencils to lightly draw the contour of the house. If you look closely, you’ll see that I’ve restated a few lines, but I always leave the wrong ones in, just like I do when I’m sketching with ink. Colored pencil is difficult to erase without damaging the paper’s surface, and it’s easy to cover up any bad lines later. (Look at the finished sketch at the top of the page – the restated lines have disappeared, right?)
Step 1: Draw contour lines lightly with colored pencil.

Step 2: Here’s where the grisaille comes in. I learned this method of developing tone several years ago from Steve Reddy in his workshop on illustrative drawing. He uses diluted India ink, which he paints onto his drawing in one or more layers, building darker and darker values with each layer. While I certainly appreciated learning this eye-opening method (which is apparently a technique used by painters, especially working in oil), I could never get over the mess and fuss of trying to juggle small bottles of liquid ink (a permanently staining one, mind you), which is impossible to do without sitting, so I never used his ink method.

Instead, I started using various gray toned markers for the same effect. Markers do not flow as nicely as liquid ink, so I admit that the result isn’t quite as polished as Steve’s grisaille, but the tradeoff of ease and convenience is worth it to me. In the past, I’ve used Tombow Dual Brush Markers, Kuretake Zig Clean Color Real Brush Markers and many other brush pens and markers for this technique, but my favorite is Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Brush Pens because they’re waterproof after they’ve dried. And just like diluted India ink, Pitt marker ink can be layered to create increasingly darker tones. I’ve used Pitt pens on and off as a primary drawing tool, too (influenced by Pitt master Don Colley), but I get better use of them as a grisaille. I used to prefer the Pitt standard brush pens for portability, but lately I’ve been using the chunky Big Brush version because it’s so much easier to cover a large area. (And portability is less of an issue since I got my new sketch tool organizer with slots that accommodate them!)

So, once I’ve made the contour drawing, I use a relatively dark value (I like cool gray IV in the winter and warm gray IV the rest of the year) to put in all the shadows at the same time before the light shifts (that’s something I learned from Shari Blaukopf).

Step 2: Use Pitt Artist Big Brush Pen to put in shadows that serve as the grisaille.

Step 3: I start putting in color using water-soluble colored pencils (mostly Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelles), including right over the Pitt marker shading.

Step 3: Start putting in color with water-soluble colored pencils.

Step 4: If I activate the colored pencil with water, I can do it without worrying about inadvertently washing the grisaille because the Pitt ink is waterproof. (I’ve made some muddy messes attempting this with markers containing water-soluble inks.) I usually add another pass of colored pencil for deeper color and details.

Step 4: Activate pencil pigments

Step 5 (finished sketch at top of page): I finish by spritzing the trees and foliage and painting the sky (see how-to on both techniques). The very last thing is something I’ve only started doing with this house series: When I’ve done an entire sketch in nothing but colored pencil, sometimes the main subject seems to get lost in the background. To bring it forward again, I crisp up a few key lines (like the roofline and corners) with a fountain pen.

It’s kind of the reverse of what I’ve done for most of my time as a sketcher, which is to draw the contour lines in ink and then color them in afterwards (what I call the “coloring book” method). That’s a tried-and-true method used by many sketchers, and I still use it most of the time. But when I’m less confident about the linework (as I always am with architecture), it’s a lot easier to hide mistakes (like the ones I pointed out in Step 1) with pale colored pencils than with ink.

Who did I learn that technique from? Kumi Matsukawa, who follows this same principle when sketching with watercolor. She does her initial drawing with a brush and a pale wash of watercolor. She then adds successive passes of paint, and her final touch is to put in selective linework with ink. I had observed her doing this through process steps she had shown on social media, so I asked her why she did the linework last (which seemed “backward” to me). She explained that when she’s unsure of the line, it’s much easier to fudge it with a pale wash of watercolor. By the end of the sketch, she knows clearly where the line should be, so she can confidently put it in with black ink.

Her idea makes so much sense that I had to smack myself upside the head!

Sketching in the 'hood.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Magnolia United Church of Christ

5/11/18 Magnolia United Church of Christ

It was cold and cloudy as Seattle USk members gathered on the front lawn of Magnolia United Church of Christ, but inside it was warm and welcoming. The friendly church staff opened the sanctuary for us to sketch the stained glass, vaulted ceilings and other details. Along with the majority of sketchers, though, I opted to stay chilled so I could tackle the church’s exterior. Described as reminiscent of a Cotswold cottage, it has the kind of rustic, irregular masonry that was fun to try to capture. On this overcast morning, though, it was tough finding shadows to punch it up.

5/11/18 Spotted in Magnolia Village
Magnolia Village, the neighborhood’s retail center, is just a few blocks away, so I walked briskly into town to warm up. I considered sketching Fire Station 41 with its bright red doors and Art Deco architecture. . . but what I really wanted was a fire engine! I walked back and forth for a while, hoping one would appear (and, you know, just park outside – not rush to a fire). Instead, I spotted a bright red Mack concrete pumper truck. OK, so it’s not a fire engine, but it would have to do.

Friday, May 11, 2018


5/6/18 male flicker (photo reference)

I finally got around to finishing a project I’d been thinking about for months. Back in January a pair of feisty flickers began trying to use our feeder, which is designed for much smaller birds. Although they managed to get some seeds, it was not without odd contortions and acrobatics. They’re too large to stand on the perches, so they would cling to the side of the feeder instead and bend over to peck the seeds. They were comical and entertaining, and their persistence gave me a chance to sketch them several times.

Over the course of several days in January and February, each time I saw the same male flicker I continue adding more and more detail to the same sketch.

Meanwhile, Greg was shooting photos of most of our avian diners, including the flicker, which gave me an idea. I thought it would be fun to do as many sketches as possible from life first and then eventually do a more finished drawing from a photo. As you know from my frequent complaints while I was taking classes in colored and graphite pencil drawing last year, I’m not a fan of drawing from photos. I do, however, understand the value of learning by using this method, and I know I have benefitted from working this way. Since I had done several sketches from life first, I felt that drawing from a photo would teach me more about the bird without taking away the freshness of life drawing. So that’s what I did: I used one of Greg’s photos of the same flicker I’d sketched as my reference.

1/7 and 1/28/18 (in progress; from life)
1/29/18 (in progress; from life)

2/2/18 (from life)

Indeed, the experience was as I’d hoped. Of course, I enjoyed sketching from life much more; I’m so much more engaged when my model is endlessly moving and, well, alive. But drawing from the photo taught me more about the flicker’s proportions, form and details, and my understanding will probably inform my sketches the next time I see it.

3/15/18 (from life)
2/2/18 (from life)

The last few weeks as the temperatures have warmed, we’ve seen fewer and fewer birds at our feeders as the grub gets tastier and more available from natural sources. We’ve enjoyed endless entertainment all winter and spring, but it’s time to take the feeders down until autumn. I’ll look forward to giving the flickers a shot again – from life, of course. Heck, we might even buy a feeder that will accommodate them better!

Female flicker
Male flicker (Photos by Greg Mullin)

Male flicker

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Ground Sloth


It’d been a good six months since I last sketched at the Burke Museum. It’s one of my favorite places to while away time when I bring my car in for servicing nearby, but I’d been long overdue (maybe I haven’t gotten my oil changed as often as I should?). At the end of this year, the Burke is going to close for nine months while it moves into its brand new digs right next door. I’m looking forward to eventually seeing all the artifacts that have been hidden in the archives because they don’t have space to exhibit them all in the old facility. In the meantime, I’m going to try to visit more often to get my skeleton fix before the long closure.

I’d seen photos on the Burke’s Instagram account indicating that the mastodon had been taken down for maintenance and replaced by something new. It’s the cast skeleton of an 11,000-year-old ground sloth. I wish another visitor had come by so that I could have included something in my sketch to show the scale (but I had the exhibit nearly to myself that day). Standing about as tall as the mastodon, the sloth has a teeny-tiny head and huge ribcage that make it look insect-like.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Pentel Multi 8 + Koh-i-Noor Leads = Win

Pentel Multi 8 colored lead holder

Several years ago I bought a Pentel Multi 8 colored lead holder. With slots for eight 2mm leads in one pen-like holder, it seemed like an ideal compact sketching tool for making small spots of color. The holder itself has a relatively chunky barrel that I find comfortable to use. You spin the mechanism around to choose the color you want and depress the knock to extend the clutch and selected lead. Sounds cool, right? Unfortunately, the leads it came with are hard and very unsaturated – downright wimpy in color. Disappointed, I put it aside and never took it out for road testing.

Luckily for me, I didn’t get rid of it. Fast-forward to a couple of weeks ago when I was writing a review for The Well-Appointed Desk on a set of Koh-i-Noor Diamond Drawing Pencils. Although I didn’t care for the form factor of the lead holders – the classic slender, hexagonal style that engineers used to favor – I was pleasantly surprised by the leads. Much softer than I expected, they are also relatively saturated in color. After I finished the review for the Desk, I even discovered that they are a bit water-soluble.
Koh-i-Noor Diamond Drawing lead holders with matching colored leads
Koh-i-Noor's 6 colors (slightly water-soluble)
Don’t get too excited – these leads will never replace any of my favorite colored pencils, and they only come in six colors. But here’s the interesting part. As I was working on the review, I pulled out a couple of other colored lead holders I had, including the Pentel Multi 8 – which, it turns out, holds 2mm leads! Yes – the proverbial light bulb moment. I popped all six Koh-i-Noor leads into the Pentel (I had to snap them in half first because they were too long), and now the Pentel Multi 8 contains at least six colors that are useable! (If you’re interested in this setup, skip the Koh-i-Noor lead holders and just buy the lead refills in an assorted color pack.)

The business end
I wish I’d had these parts assembled last winter when I was on my minimal sketch kit challenge. The solution would have been a much better compact color option than either the red/blue bicolor pencil or the rainbow pencil that I tried. I’m going to remember this for my next minimalism challenge. And I’d certainly take it with me to Gilligan’s Island.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Dutch Colonial

5/3/18 Maple Leaf neighborhood

Although this architectural style is common in Seattle as a whole, we don’t see too many Dutch Colonials in Maple Leaf. Amidst a long block of small, plain, nondescript houses on Northeast 85th, this one stands handsome, well-kept and surrounded by green.

I didn’t know the name of this style until I sketched it. Curious about what I was doing, a friendly contractor working inside emerged. When I showed him some previous sketches of neighborhood houses and said I was interested in the variety of architecture, he immediately told me what style I was sketching.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Wish List Item Fulfilled: Sketch Tool Organizer!

Wish list item fulfilled!

Shortly after Christmas last year, I drew up a wish list of sketching materials and accessories that still elude me. The last item on my list was an upright, slotted sketch tool case that would attach to the inside of my Rickshaw bag with Velcro. A supplement to my Tran Portfolio Pencil Case, which holds all my colored pencils upright, the case I was looking for would hold all the other tools that don’t fit in the Tran’s skinny elastic loops. I even designed it and drew the pattern – but I needed someone to make it for me. I finally found that someone – and serendipitously, it was through the Field Nuts Facebook group!

It all started with a Field Notes trucker hat that I had offered up for swap. While negotiating the trade, I learned that the woman I was chatting with had an Etsy shop – filled with handmade garments, bags and accessories with a charming sensibility. Hmmm, this woman is creative and can sew . . . ? I proposed my idea – and she accepted!
The front slots have small pleats to give them more dimensional space.
A few weeks later, I am the very pleased owner of a unique sketch tool organizer that was custom-made for me by Brynn James. Although she worked from the pattern I had designed, she improved my original concept by making the slots more dimensional so that the tools would fit together better. It also accommodates more types of tools now. Even a fat Faber-Castell Pitt Big Brush Marker fits easily. All my usual daily-carry implements – which stagger nicely to minimize bulk – fit comfortably with room to spare (and I’m trying hard not to keep filling the available slots!).

Attached to the Rickshaw bag with Velcro
All Rickshaw messenger bags come with a wide Velcro strip on one inner wall. When I designed the pattern, I hadn’t thought about how tall brand-new Blackwing pencils are, so I attach the organizer to the lower half of the strip. It’s still fully secure. Because it’s made of several layers of fabric, the organizer is sturdy but also flexible. It conforms to the bag’s natural curve when the outer pockets are filled with my glasses, keys and phone.

On the bag’s opposite wall is a sketchbook and the Tran, and in between is my “purse stuff” (held together with a Cocoon Grid-It).
Top view of bag with everything in place

The bonus? In addition to everything else she makes, Brynn is also a textile designer, and she designed the lovely floral fabric. It goes beautifully with both the neon lime lining of my waterproof Rickshaw and the orange lining of my “summer” Rickshaw. Seeing all that color inside my bag just makes me smile!

It looks beautiful in both bags!
I took it out for its first road test a few days ago, and it works exactly as I’d hoped – and intended! All the tools are visible, upright and in easy reach. Really, that’s not so much to ask for, right?

So – one wish list item fulfilled! And there’s more good news – Brynn may start carrying the sketch tool organizer in her Etsy shop!

Here's my original pattern that I sent to Brynn, which she improved in the final product.
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