Elroy's Travel Sketching Kits

When I'm out on tour I usually have to work for portability and flexibility.  Most of the watercolor sketches that you see that I've done in France have been done in twenty minutes with a few taking as much as an hour.   I normally don't have a lot of time because I'm usually trying to help out others on the tour with their problems.  

Winsor-newton kit
One handed holding operation of WN Kit. 
Other hand for using the brush.

 I have two primary kits that I bring along.

Winsor-Newton Kit
Winsor & Newton Kit with travel brushes

The Winsor & Newton Kit
three travel brushes with caps -  different sizes
6" x 8"  spiral sketch book (not shown)
bound block of watercolor paper in postcard sizes.
large rubber band or metal clip for holding the sketchbook pages together.

The Winsor & Newton travel kit
The Winsor & Newton small sketch box collapses to a small 2.5" x 5" x 1.5" size.  Not much bigger than a cigarette package, I can easily put it into my shirt pocket.   It contains a set of colors that can be customized, fold out palettes, a container for water, and an attachable water cup/cap for the kit.  It is easy to hold since it also has a finger hold on the bottom.   I put the kit on my thumb while with the same hand holding my 6 x 8" spiral sketch pad, the other hand is busy drawing and painting.  I can easily stand in a corner of crowded market and capture the scene.

Annecy Market

The kit comes with one small sponge and a small travel brush (aluminum handle shown) but I found I need more choices.  The travel brushes I dearly love come with black plastic screw on caps.  The bristles are made of nylon and therefore don't rot when capped and have an especially nice point.  I have three of different sizes (usually about $15 -$25 a piece).

The sketch above with first drawn with a permanent fine point marker then colored in on location. 

Elroy's More Complete Set-up
The other kit I carry is for longer studies.   I usually bring along enough supplies so that folks who forgot theirs will have something to work with until we find an art supply store.   Don't count on me having everything or supplying you for the whole trip.

The John Pike palette is for those "serious artists" who expect to do larger works.   This palette is two parts, one with the colors the other, the lid, that also serves as palette. It is more difficult to carry but I have canvas brief case with a shoulder strap that I can put the palette, 11" x 14" spiral  sketchbook, a block of d'Arches watercolor paper, a flat toolbox with extra supplies and brushes, pens, etc.  I  clip the collapsible water bucket to the outside, carry a small bottle of water for drinking and painting (buy it in France or use white wine).  I even have an extra pocket for the WN kit and brushes above.  One miscellaneous item is a 10 ft. light-weight cord that I can tie to my water bucket to retrieve water from a stream or canal without climbing down the bank.  My bag is pretty heavy when full but it works.

A small digital camera is almost a must.  If you don't have time to finish the scene you can take a picture for later finishing. I take two 1 gig chips if I don't have the ability to down load.  Bring your camera charger.  You will need an adapter plug for the camera transformer but all modern cameras can sense 110 or 220 current so no other attachment is required.

Expect to have your bags opened for security at the airport because of the lead tubes and liquids.  Putting it in your "checked luggage" may speed up the process and make it possible to not have it confiscated at the gate.

John Pike kit
John Pike palette, flat tool carrier, water bucket and brushes.

the minimal list I bring
John Pike Palette (if you can find it, very ridged and compact)
1" broad flat nylon watercolor brush
1/2" broad flat nylon watercolor brush
#10 round pointed nylon watercolor brush
#6 round pointed nylon watercolor brush
     (I usually bring more than a dozen brushes of different sizes)
3" natural sponge
#05  &  08  permanent fine marking pens ,"Micron" brand
kneaded eraser
white plastic gum eraser
collapsible water container
10' nylon cord
extra tubes of colors
11" x 14" spiral bound and/or glue bound block of heavy watercolor paper

Some artists would probably find this list very limiting.  If I were home I could have a portfolio of 30 x 40" paper that I could cut to size.  On the road I have to leave that at home.   It just get to be too much stuff to lug around. 

Additionally all outside sketching needs to consider the whimsy of the weather. 
          long sleeved shirt
broad brimmed soft hat
chap stick
suntan lotion
thin foam cushion to sit on.

The Most basic Art Supplies you should have.
You should minimally have 2B and 4B soft lead pencils
White plastic gum eraser
sketchbook 6 x 9"  (minimum) of heavier weight paper (I carry a couple of different sizes and weights)
cheap box of watercolors or for my choice a Winsor-Newton watercolor collapsible box (about $55)
collapsible water cup or container
two to three brushes (collapsible with protective handle/cover is my choice)
Pilot V5 or V7 Precise pen (they're watersoluable and I love them)
Pigma Micron .02 - .05  or .07(permanent pen)
something to carry it in. 

Where to buy?
Most of these supplies you can get at any good art supply store.   Crafts stores don't usually handle the high end products. Winsor-Newton offers a couple of models with cheaper paints they sell under the name of Cotman. Stay with major brands for paints and paper - d'Arches (is French and one of the best) or Strathmore.  The just work better and more consistently.

If you have other questions on what to bring, email me or telephone. 
bag packed
Bag packed except for the small stuff.

For more information elroy@next1000.com
Photos of previous S & E Tours   ||   S & E Tour LLC home page

Elroy's France Watercolors


web page by Elroy Christenson 7/05/08