|The pencil box I bought in Lisbon.|
When I was a little girl, I had a small, transparent plastic box that I filled with the kinds of things little girls like to collect: polished rocks, shells, a penny with my birth year, a foreign coin from someone’s exotic holiday, a blue eraser shaped like an elephant (with glued-on googly eyes). It was that wondrous, simple time of life when all of one’s most valued possessions would fit in a small plastic box.
Now that I’m at the age when I not only don’t need any new possessions but I’m also working hard to get rid of the ones I own, I look back on that time wistfully. Of course, you know how much I love my art materials and having lots and lots of choices; I’m not ready to give up all of that. But you also know how often I think about which sketch supplies I would (hypothetically) take to Gilligan’s Island. And you know how I enjoy challenging myself each winter by paring down my sketch kit to the bare minimum. Despite how much joy my art materials spark, some part of me still has the desire to fit all my most valued possessions in a small box.
When I was in Portugal last summer, I bought a wooden, slide-top pencil box from a stationery shop in Lisbon. It’s been empty since I brought it home because I couldn’t decide what to put in it. I don’t have a collection or set of anything small enough to fit, and I didn’t like the idea of simply filling it with a bunch of random pencils or pens, so I left it empty, thinking that I would eventually find the right thing.
On a recent rainy morning, just after we had given to charity another load of stuff from our house, I started looking around my studio with the perpetual question: What is the absolute smallest sketch kit I could have and still be happy? A kit so small that it would fit in the box from Portugal?
Shown here is that morning’s answer: One Blackwing pencil, one Zebra waterproof brush pen, a Kuretake waterbrush, three Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle pencils (primary colors), an M+R pencil sharpener, and a kneadable eraser.
As you might guess, each item was very carefully considered, but since I had only recently ended my month-long minimalism challenge, the lessons learned were still fresh in my mind, so it didn’t take long. The biggest difference compared to that challenge was that I chose a primary palette instead of secondary (which is visually exciting but more limiting).
I’m sure I could have jammed a few more items into the box, but as an act of discipline, I allowed myself only a single layer of implements. Everything is visible and fully accessible without removing anything else first. This small pencil box of my most essential tools sparks endless joy. I’m keeping it on my desk as a visual reminder that it doesn’t take much to keep me artistically happy.
But wait – what about a sketchbook? The fact is, the world (and certainly my house) is full of paper of all kinds without ever opening a sketchbook. In tomorrow’s post, I’ll show you the results of my sketchbookless experiments and also show my primary palette at work.
|Sparking much joy!|