Sunday, 29 March 2009

Sketching Kits

My small watercolour sketch kit

Since doing the coloured pencil course last week I have been pondering on a kit to take out and about for plein air sketching in coloured pencil. Up until now I have generally used pen and ink and watercolour in a small Winsor and Newton sketchbook. I very much like this minimalist approach, and can take this small kit in the smallest of handbags or even a coat pocket so it is always to hand.

A coloured pencil kit takes a little more thinking about. Which colours for example? With watercolour it is possible to mix most colours from a basic set of primaries and perhaps a few earth colours, but when I start to look at my cp collection I find it almost impossible to limit myself to just a pencil roll full! During the class I took 120 Prismacolours, 72 Coloursofts, 40 Polychromos and various other Pablos and Derwent Artists and still had to borrow from the teacher because I didn't have the right shade that I needed.
And then what about accessories - sharpener, eraser blender etc? I normally use an electric sharpenern at home as I find the handheld sharpeners don't give such a good point and tend to break the leads (especially the Prismacolors).

Where to start? I decided to have a look at what other artists do. By far the most informative blog posts on this subject (and many others) are those of Katherine Tyrrell.

Katherine Tyrrell's everyday sketching kit

She has written about plein air sketching and sketching in general on her Pastels and Pencils site. There is also a great post about plein air sketching on her Travels with a Sketchbook blog.
Another good source of ideas is the Flickr sketch kits group, but most of the images are of watercolour kits. It seems that there aren't that many artists doing plein air coloured pencil!

I will try putting a kit together and take it for a test run later this week.


Nel said...

My first visit to your blog, and what a treat. I especially liked your shoe sketch. I'll be interested to see what you come up with for your sketch kit. Nice little roam around here, thanks!

Sue said...

Thanks for your kind comments Nel

Anonymous said...

I use colored pencil more often than watercolor to sketch, and I don't understand why many artists use so many colours. I suppose it depends on individual style, but somehow people forget that coloured pencil is easily blended.

Even when doing a drawing, I blend layers of coloured pencil in the same way I would layer paint- the layers are transparent, you can create any colour you want. Since you are obviously a colourist, you may not enjoy that approach for a full scale drawing, but sketching is supposed to be swift, portable, and experimental- try cutting down the number of pencils you carry.

I have seven coloured pencils in my sketch kit and sometimes less, a sharpener, and a kneadable eraser. Oh, and a pencil. I find it more than adequate, and layer colour as I go. Try it- you might like it- and save your back in the process:) Remember to bring primaries, and you'll be all set.