The ChallengeI like to carry a backpack when I go out sketching, so that, in addition to my art supplies, I can carry a water bottle, a jacket, and my camera. Usually I just stash my art supplies in the various outside pockets of the pack and put my sketchbook, palette, and tube brush holder in the large interior compartment. But it wasn't always easy to remember which of six different pockets held a particular item, and trying to fish around in the interior to find my sketchbook underneath my jacket and behind my lunch just wasn't cutting it anymore.
The IdeaI needed an organizer that I could use in conjunction with my backpack - something with space for my sketchbook and palette, along with a built-in brush holder, a pencil and pen holder, and pockets for various other items.
The Everyday Artist Sketch Kit
|Exterior view of 9" x 12" x 2" sketch kit|
The outside of the kit features pockets to store items which need to be readily accessible.
|Open outside pockets|
The handles are short because they will only be used to pull the kit out of the backpack. I don't plan to carry it anywhere on its own.
My 10" x 7" sketchbook and Heritage palette rest in slots which are accessible without opening the kit, so I can quickly reach into the backpack and grab the sketchbook without taking the whole kit out.
|Top view showing palette and sketchbook slots|
The kit has internal stiffening to allow it to stand on its own, as shown above. I can sit and sketch with all my supplies at my side. The kit can stand on the ground, on a chair next to me in a restaurant, or on a table top.
|Another standing option|
The kit can be doubled back on itself and still stand, saving space, as shown above.
Now let's take a closer look at what goes where. The idea of the open outside pockets is to stash the most basic supplies where I can reach in and grab them without removing the kit from my backpack. The upper pocket holds a pen, pencil, and eraser while the lower pocket has folded paper towels and tissues which I use when painting.
|Outside easy-access pockets|
On the other side of the kit, there is a large elongated pocket with a flap. This is for odds and ends that I may want to take along such as a value finder and spatter screens.
|Large outside pocket|
To stiffen the spine of the kit, I made a slot to hold a 1" wide plastic ruler which sometimes comes in handy when I'm laying out a gridded page.
The left inside is for paintbrushes in a wide range of sizes. I like to have a good selection even when I'm on the road.
I stitched down a piece of heavy vinyl in the area behind the brushes to protect the base fabric from water and paint, then added an additional flap of vinyl over the brushes to protect the brushes themselves. It simply folds back out of the way when I need to pull out a brush. There's plenty of air circulation around the sides and bottom to allow the bristles to dry.
|Paintbrush protector flap|
On the right inside I made slots for water brushes, pens and pencils. I think I'll add a few more pens and a couple of water-soluble colored pencils for my trip. The pocket at the top holds odd-shaped items such as a small water sprayer, pencil sharpener, kneaded eraser, and a tube of white gouache. A collapsible water cup would be a good addition here.
|Inside pocket and pen storage|
A nice feature of the pocket is that it's actually two pockets in one. There's a foldover flap on the main pocket to hold the contents securely, but the top is not sewn down. This makes another open pocket behind the first one, where I can store additional pens or pencils.
Here's the whole shebang, ready to roll. Isn't it adorable? :)
This was my prototype, and I'm already working on a second design which will offer a few improvements. I'll try that one out on my Italy trip and report back. So far, the kit seems very convenient. I love having everything organized and accessible. It's great being able to pull the sketchbook out from the top, grab a pen from the outside pocket, and start sketching. I can keep it simple if I like, but everything I might need is readily available. Seems like taking matters into my own hands was the best solution to my eternal search for the perfect sketching organizer!