Monday, March 19, 2012

My Homemade Sketch Kit for Painting On the Go

On my way to the grocery store this afternoon, I decided to dawdle a bit and stop to sketch this hot pink house that I pass every time I go to town.

Watercolor, pen & ink, 3-1/2" x 5"

I did a light pencil sketch first, just to make sure I had the proportions right, then I inked the lines and added some details...


I used a sketch kit that I keep in a tote bag that I take in the car when I run errands. I made it from the cardboard box that my wonderful set of sable brushes from Cheap Joe's came in. Here it is, set up on my lap in the van, with a Moleskine sketchbook and my Winsor Newton travel watercolor set attached.


Here's how it works. The box measures 4-3/4" x 12" x 1-1/4" and has a hinged lid. Just about everything I need for sketching fits inside...


I keep the small sketchbook in a Ziploc bag, just in case a bit of paint leaks out of the palette. For tools, I carry a couple of mechanical pencils, two Pitt pens, a click eraser and a kneaded eraser, a small ruler, a waterbrush, and a couple of rubber bands to hold down sketchbook pages on a windy day. (I always have a water bottle with me to refill the brush.)


On the top of the box, I put four strips of adhesive backed Velcro.


I used two strips of Velcro on the bottom of the paint set to fasten it to the box.


The back of the sketchbook got two more strips of Velcro.


The box functions as a mini desk, with the sketchbook and paints securely attached. The lid can still be opened to access my tools, or it can be kept closed with another strip of Velcro.


The sketchbook can be fastened horizontally or vertically.


I stapled a wide elastic strap to the inside of the box and wrapped it around the bottom to hold a supply of paper towels and tissues used when painting.



Two more Velcro straps wrap around the box to close it up tight and hold everything in place.


Having a sketch kit with me in the van means I can stop whenever the mood strikes and capture a scene. But having it available, and making use of it, are two different things. (Confession: I hadn't added a sketch to this sketchbook since last October.) Too often I'm rushing here and there, feeling the pressure to accomplish everything on that endless to-do list, and I don't allow myself the "luxury" of a half hour to sketch. Today I realized just how foolish that is. Doing this little painting was so much fun and took so little time. I'm promising myself that I'll take the time to do more like it. Those half hours of happiness are important, and I'll get everything checked off that to-do list eventually. I need to remember to ask myself, "What's the rush?"


Or, as that sage philosopher, Ferris Bueller, once said...

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around
once in awhile, you could miss it. 


27 comments:

  1. This is great. Love the sketch and Love the set up. I have that watercolor set.

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  2. What a great thing to share! Thank you for posting.

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  3. WOW...this is absolutely awesome! Very clever and great sketch too ~ :)

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  4. what a great little kit, I could do with that in my van, and the lesson about the 1/2 hour of joy :)

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  5. You are so clever! Love the velcro idea.

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  6. This post is so great and makes me want to make a New Spring's resolution, "Sketch at least one day a week." I love making kits that make it easy to take art supplies wherever I go. I've made several mint tin palettes ( http://wp.me/ptWtY-eJ ), but I love your box idea with velcro. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  7. Good for you Leslie! Thanks for the great tips - The pink house is awesome!

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  8. Love lyour siste and the watercolor sketch kit. Loving Strathmore and glad to find yalls blogs xo

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  9. Hello there, I arrived here via Strathmore to check out your blog. Your work is great. The pink house is super. As for your painting kit WOW! what a great idea. Will be following from now on.

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  10. A great big welcome to all the new visitors! So glad you stopped by!

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  11. Wow, Leslie! This is so compact but so together! What a great idea. I've been using a zip cover from an old daily planner but this holds so much more.
    And I have to tell you that I like your sketch of the house much better than the actual house! You make it look so cute and quaint.
    I'm definately going to consider using this type of moblie art studio in the future.

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  12. Katiejane, I'm always amazed at how a sketch can magically turn something ugly or mundane into something beautiful, and when you're starting with a bright pink house, it's bound to turn out cute!

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  13. Pretty nifty sketching setup that you've put together. Also fun to see how your sketch on the road.

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  14. Wow, the Velcro strips is a brilliant, brilliant idea!!!

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  15. Amazing work, like it all. The way you work really wonderful.

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  16. what a great little kit, I could do with that in my van, and the lesson about the 1/2 hour of joy :)

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  17. This is genius!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! =)

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  18. Congratulations! You did a really good job. This is a very beautiful watercolor sketch kit.

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  19. I like very much the pink house. The watercolor paint is my son's hobby. I'd love to see it in my house because it brings light inside.

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  20. are you a genius? what a great idea! and lovely sketch too.

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  21. This is genius!!! So love your blog! Just caught up on some amazing posts!

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  22. You stapled a wide elastic strap to the inside of the box and wrapped it around the bottom to hold a supply of paper towels and tissues used when painting. So BRILLIANT, i admire you.

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  23. I love this! I think this is something my niece would love to bring to art class with her. Where did you buy the water colors by the way to fit inside?

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    1. It's a Winsor and Newton travel set, available from any online art supply retailer.

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  24. Good job there, pretty simple and good looking !

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