For several years, I challenged myself annually for a month or so to slim down my sketch kit to the bare essentials. The purpose of this exercise was to lighten my daily-carry load and see how little I could take with me and still sketch without feeling deprived or frustrated. Readers have told me (and shown me with their page hits) that seeing my minimal sketch kits is one of their favorite things on my blog. Something about attempts at minimizing seems to inspire many sketchers.
When the pandemic hit, I found myself doing most of my urban sketching during neighborhood fitness walks, which meant that I didn’t want to carry my entire, full-size sketch bag. Since my pandemic-edition sketch kit had become my daily-carry, my usual minimal challenge seemed unnecessary. By 2021, I was sketching beyond the neighborhood again, but I continued the habit of sketching during my fitness walks (a habit that continues to this day – one of the best things to come out of the pandemic). Again, I didn’t feel like a minimal challenge was necessary.
The primary triad palettes I used during the summer and now the secondary triads I am using this fall have given me a new twist on minimalism. Even when I’m working with a minimal palette, I usually still carry the other colors as a security blanket. My bag shakeout a month ago made me commit to the minimal secondary palette and take out the security colors. The kit was slim enough that I could fit everything into my mini Sendak instead of the full-size Sendak I had been using.
|My minimal pencil palette fits easily in the outer slash pocket.|
Here’s the next step in my bag diet program: Everything in my current kit fits into my new Rickshaw Bags Sinclair Model R pen case! Launched at the San Francisco Pen Show in August, the Model R was offered for a discounted intro price. A collaboration between Brad Dowdy of the former Nock Co. and Rickshaw, the new Sinclair is a clear improvement over its previous design – cushier interior, a new outer pocket and, most important to me, more fabric choices. I chose the Ink Dots fabric pattern because it includes colors that would coordinate with any of my Rickshaw bags (so far, I have bags in purple, another purple, black, pink, neon pink and red). I just switched from my pink spring/summer bag to my fall/winter waterproof purple bag, which has a bright yellow lining.
Although it most often appears in marketing and social media photos filled with fountain pens (the cushy lining is meant to protect them), the Sinclair Model R is not just for precious fountain pens – it’s a great little sketch kit organizer! That new slash pocket is just right for my minimal pencil palette, and the inner compartments hold the rest of my kit comfortably. With such a small kit, the entire bag is lighter and slimmer.
An essential characteristic of any bag organizer I would use is that the Model R can stand upright inside my bag, giving me immediate, single-handed access to my tools while sketching as I stand. If I’m sketching at the comfort of a café table, I can pull the whole thing out, and it takes up little tabletop space.
|Two cushy inner compartments easily contain the rest of my sketch materials and tools, and everything stands upright and accessible in my bag.|
|A compact kit for a cafe table.|
I’m sure it’s not a permanent change. As has always happened in the past, more tools and colors will creep back in over time, and one day I’ll decide it’s time to get out the fat pants again (in this case, that’s one of the Sendaks, which, unlike fat pants, are a welcome pleasure). But for now, my personal minimalism challenge is back on – with my smallest tool organizer yet.