Jessica's Sketching Kit
I've tried on a lot of sketching kits for size and have whittled down my list to the bare necessities for traveling. This kit is not too large, not too small, and easy to stash away in a bag or suitcase. When sketching on location it doesn't require a lot of balancing or draw a lot of attention due to the size. I find that working smaller allows me to spend less time filling up the page and instead focusing on the moment. When I have less time to complete a sketch, I simply switch to my trusty water-soluble black pen and waterbrush to focus on the shapes and values, sketching in a basic road map and coming in with the waterbrush to add shadows and depth.
It's Blue Q baby! Made from 95% post consumer waste, these bags are perfect to keep all of your kit together. It's protected by the rain and if your sketch kit chooses to leak, it will be contained in this helpful pouch. Pick a bag to fit your materials. Mine is Blue Q Zipper Pouch however if you need larger, there's a Jumbo Pouch that can hold even more.
Right now I'm loving the Pro Art Premier Hardcover Watercolor Sketch Books. You can choose from wire binding or hardbound. For my trip to Japan I chose the 3.5 x 5.37" size that laid flat when open so I could choose to make long sketches or smaller sketches. The paper is 140lb watercolor paper that resists warping and bleeding.
I love my Metal Watercolor Tin Palette Paint Case with 12 Empty Half Pans since it's durable and has lots of room to mix paint. It's also just a bit smaller than my sketchbook so it's light and travels well.
Goodness I love traditional gouache (rhymes with wash). It looks like watercolor when watered down and can be opaque when you need dense pops of color. With practice it can layer (just don't scrub too hard or you can reactive the under layer). It has little to no waste since it is water soluble and can be reactivated after it has dried. And it dries quickly to a lovely matte finish. Can you tell that I adore it?
Note: Just don't get it confused with acrylic gouache that is not water soluble. They are two different paints.
My top picks are M. Graham Gouache Paints. You can start out with a basic list and add when you want to treat yourself. If you don't like mixing paint or don't want to spend time doing so, add more colors to your palette.
Other colors that I've added to my palette include:
- Naphthol Red (warm red)
- Raw Sienna (brown if you don't want to mix it yourself)
- Sap Green (green if you don't want to mix it yourself)
- Dioxazine Purple (purple if you don't want to mix it yourself)
- Gold (just for fun!)
- Pilot Varsity Fountain Pen, Water-soluble. The best pen for making sketches with juicey shadows and details.
- MONO Twin Permanent Marker, waterproof ink with two tips.
- White Signo Gel Impact Gel Pen, the best opaque white pen for adding finishing sparkle and highlights to sketches.
- Niji Waterbrushes, I use a medium for a small sketchbook. Perfect for dipping into the river to fill up and sketch while hiking or fill up at a water fountain or sink. I even use this to paint in bed when I'm feeling extra lazy.
Napkin for any extra spills.
Everything in this kit can be brought in as a carry on. I usually just pack mine in my carryon bag stored at my feet for easy access. The only thing you need to do is empty the water from the travel brush before you go through security. You can easily refill it in the restroom, water fountain, or sitting in the plane by dipping it into a glass of water. Make sure you know how to fill it (read the instructions). Waterbrushes are so easy to use after you know how and saves a lot of mess.