In March I took part in a Meet the Maker thread on Instagram.
I’m usually really particular about what sort of social media activities I participate in – many of them are dressed up as networking, but in fact just generate spam in your notifications. I especially loathe anything that ends up becoming a sort of modern day chain letter affair – who the heck has time for all that?
Anyhow…..Meet the Maker is this neat idea where you are given a topic every day for a month, and you base your Instagram posts around it, with an accompanying photo. The idea is that your followers gain more insight into you and your work. I also like that you can pick and choose. I did three or four I think, and one of them was “Sketchbook”.
And what better topic for a blog post too!
So. I have a feeling I should probably use my sketchbooks more than I should, but I do what works for me. Here’s my current kit:
It probably would help if I did an inventory:
- my Staedler Mars Technico mechanical pencil. At the moment I have a HB lead in it, but I probably should change it for a 2B. I tend to only use this for longer sketches at home.
- A black Pilot G-Tec-C4. This is a very fine liner, and I like how the ink flows
- A black Muji pen, 0.5 nib. This flows very nicely too, gives a thicker line than the Pilot.
- my Platinum Carbon fountain pen – lovely fine nib, and once dry is waterproof. Though I’m dismayed to find it now leaks. Bummer.
- my Lamy safari pen with a fine nib which can be too thick for small sketches, particularly if I add a wash. Ink and wash are my favourites.
These next three are in my pencil case but I not really into them – apart from they give a nice thick black for blocking in notan sketches. I bought them for practising modern calligraphy, but due to my lack of skill in this area, I’m not feeling it with them! They have various line thickness. The buff coloured one is by Kuretake, the other two are Tombow calligraphy pens.
Next up I have:
- warm grey III
- cold grey III
- warm grey IV
- cold grey IV
- warm grey V
- cold grey VI
All Faber-Castell Pitt artist pen. These are fantastic for quick blocking in of values, and mess free.
- this little Cotman watercolour travel palette is probably around 20 or so years old. Though it’s probably had more use in the last year than the preceding 20!
- Two Pentel water brushes, one is medium, the other fine. I cannot recommend these enough. You’d be surprised the amount of water in them goes a long way.
- this is almost brand new, a tin travel palette that cost far too much and is quite heavy, but I was swayed by the thumb ring on the underneath, which is brilliant for holding it. I filled it with gouache…though this hasn’t had as much use I as thought it would…
And now for the sketchbooks:
These are the three main ones of the several I own. At the top, this is my hard backed Moleskine watercolour – great shape, not too heavy. Bottom left is my large Moleskine, which freaks out if you so much as show it a paint brush, then last is a ring bound A4 size hard backed sketchbook, which I don’t actually do any sketching in. It’s my colour swatch book.
It’s taken some practice and trial and error to have a sketchbook system that works for me.
If I’m out and about in town, for example, I use a very small Moleskine notebook (not pictured) and a Muji pen. That’s generally always in my bag, and it’s what I pull out to sketch a doctors waiting room, or a coffee cup whilst waiting for a friend.
If I know I’m going somewhere I might want to sketch, with someone that might not mind me dithering about whilst I do it, I take the entire contents of my pencil case, and my hard backed water colour Moleskine. Plus either the water colours or the gouache, paper towel and a spray bottle of water.
Along with the water brushes, this is the most efficient way for me to use water based paints – I just spritz the crusty old paint nuggets before I start, then use the water brush, occasionally dabbing it on the paper towel. I’ve never run out of water this way, and it saves lugging a plastic bottle of water and jar around with you. I’m not too precious about the quality of my work on these sketches – I like them loose and splashy and for me it’s just an chance to journal my otherwise ordinary (but happy!) life. It’s also an opportunity to practice observation skills.
My studio sketchbook, the large Moleskine stays home. I tend to use it for thumbnail sketches, painting ideas and longer drawings.
My colour swatch sketchbook is just that – it’s like a library of all the colour palettes I’ve used. When I’m weary, and a little frayed round the edges, nothing soothes me more than taking three of four colours and seeing what I can mix up with them. Though my work is very colourful, I like there to be a degree of harmony. Using a limited palette achieves that.
So, being a curious sort, I’d love to know – what’s your sketching system? Do you even have one? What’s your favourite tools? I’m always ready for more supplies…..