Here’s one simple idea for an ultra-lightweight plein air sketching kit.
I recently took just these few items with me as I travelled around the Mediterranean and sketched and painted all over the place. For me it was important to carry only the smallest and lightest of kits, so I honed everything down and left behind the kitchen sink!
I was trying not to take an easel or pochade box with me, so I came up with what I think is the simplest and lightest device that anyone can make at home and that makes sketching a real joy. I can set up the kit in less than a minute and it all packs away into a small bag.
Take a look at the video below to find out what it is, and how to make one yourself!
My must-have materials
- Mechanical pencil (always stays sharp!)
- Black waterproof fineliner pen
- Travel Brush – Escoda Versatil #12 round. This holds lots of paint yet has a fine tip for details. It folds away for easy transporting.
- Titanium white gouache paint in a tube. I use this for making opaque colours and covering over darks (and mistakes!)
- Water bottle
- A couple of clips
- Hahnemühle A5 watercolour sketchbook
- Portable Painter Palette filled with my favourite colours ( https://www.portablepainter.com/ )
- Wooden board made from 3mm (1/8th inch) plywood. Mine is cut to 13.5 x 20cm size (5 1/4″ x 8″)
- Travel Brush – Escoda Optimo #4 round brush. This is a pure sable brush and is used for back-up (although to be fair I hardly ever use it, as I can do everything I want with the Escoda Versatil #12.
- Washi tape (or masking tape). I sometimes use this to tape off a border for the sketch, so that when it is peeled off it leaves a nice crisp edge to the painting.
- Orange watercolour pencil. I use this sometimes to draw out the sketch. The lines dissolve a little in the paint giving a pleasing effect.
- Pencil sharpener to sharpen the watercolour pencil. You could use a sharp knife for this, but the airplane companies don’t like it if you are flying!
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[…] have used the Portable Painter 12 pan watercolour palette for quite a while now and it has become my main palette. All my others […]
[…] So, Mel, for you and everyone else who is interested… here’s my colour palette (as of now) that I use for watercolour sketching. (See my portable sketching set-up here) […]
Andy, I would love it if you would talk about the paint colors you choose when you’re doing your landscapes. I see some greens…just wondering which you pick. Also, do you use a different palette for urban / city sketching? I see turquoise, peach tones …. some colors that dont seem possible with your recommended basic eight colors. I would love to hear what colors you use in your minimal kit and how that differs from your studio set up…
Hi Mel. You must have read my mind! I began to write my next blogpost last night and it is about the colours I use in my watercolour palette. I’ll try and address your specific colour mixing questions either in that post or in another. It should be ready to post in about a week.
Wendy, I think it’s the best too!
I have seen other artists make up travel kits, but this is by far the best! Thank you for sharing your ideas.
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