Thursday, June 25, 2020

Pandemic Sketch Kit Update: More Colors!

More colors! (That's not hand sanitizer... it's my water spritzer.)

A while back, I showed you the pandemic edition of my sketch kit – the bare essentials to serve my somewhat furtive, hasty sketch opportunities. Initially, I think my spartan kit was also intended to represent some kind of austere stoicism – cutting back on sugar for the war effort, as it were. At the very least, I figured it was another opportunity for the minimalism I challenge myself with each year.

Now, two months later, I realize that’s nonsense. The main reason I want to continue keeping my sketch kit small and light is that I often sketch as a reward for my fitness walks (a program that I had initiated last winter). I’m still using a mini-size Rickshaw Zero messenger bag instead of my former larger daily-carry, but minimalism is not my current goal. Carrying a few more pencils never hurt anyone! Every time I make a sketch and feel frustrated by not having a color I want, I go home and put another pencil in. And with so few places to “go to,” this slim bag is now my only-carry – I might as well get the most of it.

I’m sure the kit will continue to change over time, but it currently contains 11 colored pencils, including two Caran d’Ache Bicolors (which are convenient for floral colors I use infrequently but feel disappointed when I’m without). That’s about half the number of colored pencils I used to carry regularly, so it’s still a compact kit. It’s interesting to build a palette based on needs as they arise rather than anticipating those needs.
Judiciously selected palette and other essential tools for specific needs

The other materials and tools also meet specific needs:

Although the kit has expanded, the materials still fit in two flat rows using all compartments of the Rickshaw bag organizer I have been using (the larger compartment is intended for a small sketchbook, but I store that separately). As seen from the top, it’s still svelte and tidy – and there’s room to spare for maybe a couple more pencils.
A few more pencils, but still slim and tidy.
Clockwise from top: Stillman & Birn Beta, Field Notes
Expedition, Field Notes Sweet Tooth (with a hacked cover),
Field Notes Signature

Speaking of sketchbooks, that may be the part that has changed the most to accommodate my corona-conscious fitness walk/sketch outings. A 5 ½-by-8 ½-inch softcover Stillman & Birn used to be my daily-carry. I still grab it occasionally, especially now that the weather is improving and I stay out longer, but I also rely on simpler, smaller sketchbooks. The 4 ¼-by-6 ½-inch Field Notes Signature is now the daily-carry. Sometimes I grab a red Field Notes for a change. And when it’s drizzling? A waterproof Field Notes Expedition and a soft graphite pencil (which feels so good on the Expeditions Yupo pages) are all I need.

Different sizes and formats for different needs

My revised kit reflects my new attitude. I’ve waited all winter and spring for the best sketching weather, which is right now and doesn’t last long; I’m not going to waste it. As long as I’m safe and have consideration for others, I see no reason to be furtive or hasty. While my perimeter has gotten smaller, I still find plenty to sketch. And I refuse to let fear and anxiety keep me from it.

Everyone knows that a new attitude requires a new bag. My red Rickshaw mini-bag wasn’t bright enough – I got a new one in eye-searing neon pink with a neon green lining! After a couple of months of pandemic-required closure, my favorite San Francisco bag maker is open again and fulfilling orders. (They were making masks only during the closure, which I also bought.) I was happy to welcome them back with my order.

Mini-size Rickshaw and sketch kit: Grab and go! (The pin is from Draplin Design Co.)

Like I said -- more color!


  1. Love your new bag Tina, it's got an attitude. Enjoying your posts as always. Continue to stay safe out there.

    1. Thanks so much, Blanche! Good to hear from you... you stay safe, too!

  2. I love the snazzy colors of the new bag!!! I can easily understand how the collection has grown a bit through the pandemic. I think you have probably relaxed a bit outside and are taking a few more minutes to do your sketching. Keep it up and stay safe out there!

    1. Glad you like my bag! And thanks for the encouragement! I'm doing both -- staying safe and still sketching!

  3. Thanks for all the detail about your kit - inspiring! Please keep sharing!

    1. Glad to hear you enjoyed the post! I'll definitely keep sharing. ;-)

  4. LMAO - austere stoicism – cutting back on sugar for the war effort . . . You're a top notch sketch supply writer, 'Pinkie!' Beautifully written and helpful as I have one of those waterproof Field Notes books which I can now hardly wait to rush outside in the next downpour and attack with a pencil!

    1. Do let me know when you head for that downpour -- I'll join you! ;-)


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