Saturday, March 1, 2014

K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Supplies)


Nothing makes my heart go a flutter more than visiting art supply store in the towns and countries I visit. I love the smell of oil paints, the texture of different papers and the excitement of trying a new brush, pen or paint. I've been hooked since I was a kid. When I was all of 8 years old I'd save my allowance in hopes of going to town with my mom. If I was lucky she would take me to the art supply store. I still have the colored pencils I bought.

I also know some of my favorite sketching experiences have been with nothing more than a small sketchbook and a pen. My most memorable sketch was on the back of a 9x11 envelope drawn with a ball point pen while sitting at the end of a hospital corridor. What I am trying to say is... the experience is what's important. Whether you have meager art supplies or an entire studio filled with supplies, your art supplies aren't going to dictate the type of experience you have…You are!

 

Here’s my small watercolor sketch kit. It’s small enough to carry in my purse or on my morning walks.

Sketchbook: Stillman & Birn, Beta Series 5.5 x 8.5 Hardbound LINK

Palette: Winsor & Newton Cotman Box. I removed the student grade paint pans and fill with my tube colors. LINK  
List of  paint colors:
When I list two brands it means I use either brand of paint.

Water Dish: Sea to Summit.  I love these light weight collapsible containers. The size shown is the, X Shot. LINK 

Waterbrush: Niji size large LINK 

Pen: Lamy Fountain Pen,  Nib size is your choice. I am currently using the 1.1mm. The nice thing about this pen is you can easily change nibs for very little money. LINK  
Ink for Pen: Noodler's Ink Lexington Gray LINK

Brush: Two options here. da Vinci Travel Brush, Size 8. LINK 
Less expensive brush option: LINK 

Pencil: Any inexpensive mechanical pencil

Misc: Clips to hold sketchbook open. Paper towel for clean up. All my supplies (minus sketchbook) fit into a small clear bag.

Sketching on an airplane!

No more excuses...get out and make some art. 

Happy Sketching! 
Brenda
 

30 comments:

  1. Could we see that "most memorable sketch" and maybe a few more memorable/significant ones?

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    1. Sorry...the most memorable sketch was from a very difficult time in a hospital. Some things I need to keep private. My blog is FILLED with memorable/significant sketches. Please scroll through post posts =)

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  2. Thanks for this informative, encouraging article. Next stop...the nearest art store!

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  3. Kristy...we do love our art supplies. And I'm guilty as the next! Happy shopping!

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  4. Love your set up, it inspires me to "keep it simple sweetheart".

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  5. This is SO cool, Brenda! I have that same little palette, also retrofitted, but mine is full of my gouache paints.

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    1. Kate, The little palette is he best deal around and sturdy, too! I love to play with palettes, paints, pens...so many wonderful "tools" out there.

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  6. Thank you, Brenda! This is SO helpful! My heart used to go all aflutter buying school supplies, then it was office supplies, and now it's art supplies. There's just something about collecting and experiencing the tools of our trades. But you're right, we are the most important factor--what an encouraging reminder!

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  7. Have you, by chance, had the opportunity to compare Escoda travel brushes with the DaVinci travel brush in your kit? I ask because when I lost my watercolor kit last summer, I lost a couple Escoda travel brushes. I need to replace them and wonder about choices. Opinions?

    Cheers --- Larry

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    1. Larry, I've never tried the Escoda travel brushes. I like many of their other brushes though. Hate to lose a favorite brush...heart breaking!

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  8. How did you get the tube paints in your palette so neatly? LOL! I squeeze mine in, then use a toothpick to stir out the air bubbles, but almost always have to clean up the edges

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  9. Thanks for sharing your helpful tips! Great organization...there are no excuses to not sketch with your set up!

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  10. Brenda, I heard of you through a friend, she is a very good artist as you are. I'm just starting out and this is great to get me going. I'm from Pasadena, CA and love the City Hall, Library, and Huntington Library, and several other places to draw. We live in Ridgecrest, Ca. The high desert. I'll keep in touch.
    Charylene

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    1. Charylene, It's nice to know your friend shared my name. Pasadena is a lovely city and filled with lots of beautiful places to sketch. I'm a lucky gal! Hopefully we'll meet in the near future.
      Happy Sketching!

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  11. Thanks for that. Looks similar to what I carry when I travel. So much fun.

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  12. Hi Brenda, thanks for sharing and inspiring us all to keep sketching supplies simple (no excuses then!). I too have a Lamy pen and Noodlers Ink Lexington Gray, however, when I first used this combination in my Stillman and Birn journal on a hot summers day, it bled when I added watercolour. I wondered whether you'd had a similar experience or had any secrets to prevent ruining a good sketch with ink bleeding? I wondered whether watercolour first and then ink over the top might be the best option? Is this what you do? For now, I've put my beautiful Lamy away in favour of my favourite Micron Pigmas. Your thoughts? Michelle F, Perth

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    1. Michelle, I'm not sure what happen... Did you have another ink in the pen before? Lexington Gray and Polar Brown are my "go to" inks by Noodler's when I want waterproof. I use a broader tip in most of my fountain pens and the ink doesn't lift at all. Larry comments are correct about waiting long enough for the ink to dry. Don't give up on your pen just yet!

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  13. MIchelle, for what it's worth, I do almost all of my sketching with Lex Gray on S&B paper and don't have problems. You didn't mention what nib you have in your Lamy, however. All of my pens have fine nibs in them and I suspect there would be a bit of smearing if I were using a medium nib.

    The reason is that Noodler's inks are 'waterproof' only when they are in contact with cellulose. If your line thickness (build up on the paper, not their width) is too great, the ink on top of the line will smear. This problem is a bit greater when you use paper that is sized like S&B papers as the sizing can get in the way of the ink becoming waterproof.

    I suspect that you may have simply started your watercolor too soon, thinking that the ink was dry when it was not. There are so many people using Lex Gray in Lamys that the combination is well-proven, probably more than any other combination.

    Cheers --- Larry

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    1. Larry, Good solid information on Noodler's inks, and Stillman & Birn sketchbooks...Thanks!

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  14. Just a follow up, different people have different results with Noodler's 'bulletproof' inks and I've come to believe that part of it has to do with artist approach. Clearly the paper/ink/pen triad is the most important thing but...

    1) Some people don't mind a small amount of smearing. This allows some to even use Noodler's Black, which is notorious for smearing.

    2) The rate at which your pen moves on the paper affects how much ink is laid down. If you draw quickly, you'll have less problems with smearing of Noodler's inks.

    3) A lot of smearing problems occur at the end of lines, where many (me included) tend to slow the pen before picking it up. I suspecct some pick up as they near the end of the line and thus no extra ink is deposited at the ends of lines.

    These are obvious things once you think about them but we don't tend to do so :-)
    For the longest time I couldn't figure out how Liz Steel was using Noodler's Black with success until she wrote a blog post about why she sketches quickly. Careful examination of her sketches will show a bit of 1) going on there as well but Liz's pen strokes are lightning fast and you can actually see some of them thinning towards the end - the opposite of my own lines.

    Cheers --- Larry

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    1. Larry, You're a wealth of knowledge! I love the deposit of ink at the ink of a line. The less uniform appearance adds to the feeling of a sketch.
      Thanks for your input!

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    2. The line variety from fountain pens is addictive. Every once in a while I use a nylon-tipped pen and their absolutely constant line seems so sterile somehow.

      In the case of the artist's style, though, you get variation regardless. Those who slow at the end of line like myself end up with lines that are a bit thicker at the end than the middle while those who pick up at the end of the line have lines that are thicker in the middle - thinner at the ends. I guess if you're really good you use both techniques to your advantage as I've noticed that Rembrandt did this :-)

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    3. Larry, Pens...a subject close to your heart? I'd say so. You're a wealth of knowledge!

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  15. Just ordered my Lamy pen with the gray ink. Can't wait! Thanks, Brenda, for all your tips which have helped me tremendously.

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    1. Ardy, You're gonna love the Lamy pen!! Now that I've gotten use to fountain pens I don't enjoy the normal pens as much. I enjoy the variety of the lines, color choices in inks...
      Happy Sketching!

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  16. Brenda! Thank you so much for this post. Seeing the colors has been a huge help. Recently, after having taken too long a hiatus from sketching, I've been getting really hung up on choosing a palette and the colors it want/need to fill it with. I was thinking that I "had to" have a warm, cool, and earth tone of each primary, at least two greens, two violets, and orange, a grey, and a brown, but could not find a small enough palette to hold all 16-18 colors I felt I "HAD TO" have to carry with me. Seeing your basic palette of 12 really made realize how much I was just over complicating everything!

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  17. I have fountain pens , my question is can you use waterproof ink without damage to the pen or must it be an artist pen ? Thank You : ) Earl

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    1. Earl, if I might be so bold as to jump in here, inks are not simply 'waterproof vs water-soluble.' The ink world is divided into fountain pen and dip pen inks. NEVER use dip pen inks in your fountain pens. These include most of the inks you'll find in an art store.

      And most fountain pen inks are NOT waterproof. Those few that are seem divided into those that chemically bond with cellulose to become "waterproof" as Noodler's 'bulletproof' inks do. These are waterproof only to the extent that ink and cellulose molecules come in contact with each other. Thick lines and/or lots of sizing in the paper (eg - watercolor paper) and they become less than optimally waterproof.

      The other form of waterproof fountain pen inks are those with so-called 'nano-pigments' in them. These are pigmented inks that are formulated for use in fountain pens but even so you have to be a bit careful not to allow the ink to evaporate and/or dry out. Some pens work better than others with these inks but because they are pigmented inks, they are very waterproof. Platinum makes a black and sepia ink that are waterproof. Sailor makes a couple waterproof inks as well. While it seems hard to find in North America D'Artemis (sp?) makes a waterproof fountain pen ink. It's rumored that Faber-Castell has a black ink that's waterproof but I have yet to see it and the internet info is ambiguous and dependent upon which language you read it in :-)

      Hope this helps --- Larry Marshall

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    2. Earl, Some say you can and some say you can't. I use Lexington Gray and Polar Brown by Noodler's ink in my fountain pens...they are waterproof. If you are concerned or if the pens are too precious to you...don't. To me it's worth the risk. Happy Sketching!

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  18. Thank You Brenda and Larry, I will try those inks. I tried water soluble ink and had to be careful adding water color as the ink would run . Thanks again and I will avoid the dip pen ink . Earl

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