|Downsized! Here's the sketcher's-eye-view of my extremely slimmed-down sketch kit.|
Every winter since 2018 I’ve challenged myself to minimize and simplify my sketch kit (here are reports from other years: 2019, 2020). Not intended as a permanent kit change, the challenge usually lasts about a month during the most colorless time of year. Though it is occasionally frustrating, I enjoy the opportunity to clean out my kit and remove inessentials. With fewer materials to choose from, I look at my sketch opportunities with a fresh eye. Of course, after the end of each challenge, more materials inevitably creep back in, but not without a critical evaluation of whether they would earn their long-term keep in my bag.
This year, because my pandemic edition sketch kit is already smaller and pared down, I was tempted to skip the challenge – how much slimmer could my sketch kit possibly be? But then I looked at it critically one day, and I had to admit that quite a few things kept appearing over the summer and fall during the best color months. The kit could certainly stand to lose a few tools. It was time for a minimalism challenge after all.
|A bit over-stuffed.|
|Before: Everything that was in my daily-carry kit.|
|After (from left): Bic 4-Color, Caran d'Ache Bicolor, Uni Pin brush pen, Gelly Roll, Derwent|
Drawing Pencil, all contained in Rickshaw Waldo field case.
I thought very carefully about color. Of course, I always want all hues, but which colors would be important in conveying meaning in an otherwise monochrome sketch? In my limited geographic sketching area, the only colors I felt that way about are heavy equipment yellow and traffic cone orange. I judiciously picked out the yellow/orange Caran d’Ache Bicolor pencil and called it good.
The Uni Pin brush-tip marker, white Sakura Gelly Roll gel pen and white Derwent drawing pencil made the final cut because I use them whenever I sketch in a red Sweet Tooth Field Notes, which is still one of my favorite fast-sketch approaches.
|Slim and trim.|
To keep myself honest, I went through my stash of bag accessories and found a bright pink Rickshaw Bags Waldo field case that I had received as a gift a while back. It’s a slightly smaller version of the one I used all last year in my pandemic kit. There’s a bit of space to spare, but not much, so it will prevent too many tools from sneaking in. (I mostly live in yoga pants these days, but every couple weeks, I put on my jeans to make sure I still can. Same concept.)
A tough but significant decision was to use dry materials only. (The Caran d’Ache Bicolor is water-soluble, but I’m using it dry.) This simplifies the kit significantly: I could eliminate both the waterbrush and the spritzing bottle. This also means paper quality is no longer an issue, so I can use any simple sketchbook or notebook. I took out the pocket-size Stillman & Birn Beta book that had been my daily-carry in the fall and replaced it with a slimmer Field Notes Signature. Although the latter’s paper has let me down with light washes, I enjoy using its slightly larger page size with all dry materials. The red Field Notes is already a daily-carry alternative to any white paper book I carry.
|Sketchbooks: two Field Notes options|
|1/25/21 First sketch with the spartan kit|
Too spartan? Probably. But it will be fun to find out how long I last and what I can’t live without. I took my ultra-lite kit out for a trial run the other day. News flash: ballpoint ink doesn’t blend well with colored pencil. And I’d like to get a softer lead for the mechanical pencil. It’s an interesting combo, though. Stay tuned for updates.