A bear I painted in my sketchbook a few weeks ago. I’m thinking of making more drawings of animals in knitwear and more animals in general. Are there any animals in particular that you’d like to see me draw/paint?
This week I started a new kourse with Sketchbook Skool. I haven’t taken one of their multi-teacher kourses in a long time and this one – called The Whimsical Sketchbook – looked like fun so I signed up.
The first teacher was illustrator Rebecca Green and the assignment was to illustrate a character or scene from one of your favourite books. I chose to illustrate a short story from a book by Tove Jansson called Letters From Klara. I didn’t feel confident enough to draw a character so I decided to draw all the details mentioned in the first short story of the book – also called Letters From Klara.
I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out and I felt slightly out of my comfort zone but I was pleased with the finished drawing, although I feel like I could keep tweaking this one for ages.
Earlier this month I met with the London Urban Sketchers at Leadenhall Market in the City of London. Leadenhall market is one of the oldest covered markets in London and was designed by the same architect behind Smithfield Market and Tower Bridge. It’s also been the backdrop for many films, perhaps the most famous one being Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone.
I spent the first part of the day inside the market sketching the Lamb Tavern pub and after the lunchtime sketchbook sharing, I ventured outside.
Leadenhall Market sits alongside some of the City’s modern skyscrapers, including the iconic Lloyds of London building. I couldn’t get too close the the Lloyds building because the Pokemon movie was being filmed that day but I did manage to find one spot where there was a partial view of it and got a sketch done before we all met up at the end of the day to share the rest of our sketches.
You can find work from other sketchers and more photos on the London Urban Sketchers Blog.
Someone asked me recently what’s in my urban sketching kit so I thought I’d share that with you today. I don’t carry all these things with me every day. I have a small sketchbook, pen, pencil and a tiny watercolour set that I sometimes keep in my bag in case I want to sketch while I’m out doing other things. This bigger kit is what I take when I go out for a full day’s sketching.
This is a black quilted zip pouch that I got from Paperchase and it’s actually an iPad case. When I bought this one I also bought one that’s about half this size, which I use to carry my smaller, day-to-day sketching kit. I’m able to fit almost everything in here – minus the stool and the big sketchbook – and it keeps everything together inside my bag so it’s easier for me to find what I need.
It also means that when I get home I can take the whole thing out of my bag easily and store it so it’s ready to go when I next need it. It’s kind of my portable studio.
I usually have one dedicated urban sketching sketchbook on the go and until recently that was the big A4 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook that’s at the bottom of this stack. I’ve just finished that one and I already have my next sketchbook lined up. It’s a spiral bound Daler Rowney sketchbook which is 7 x 10 inches and has a sturdy hard cover.
I don’t usually go for spiral bound sketchbooks because they’re difficult to scan but for urban sketching I think this could be a good choice because it’s not too cumbersome and should sit nicely on my lap.
The smaller black sketchbook on top is a Hahnemuhle sketchbook with grey paper which fits easily inside the zip pouch and is quite lightweight so I sometimes take that with me for quicker pen/pencil sketches or to use in places where paints aren’t allowed.
This is a pocket chair which folds flat and has its own storage pouch so it fits neatly in my bag. I usually take this out with me but it’s surprisingly heavy for its size so if I’m going somewhere where I know there’ll be plenty of seating I don’t always bother packing it.
This is my small Schmincke watercolour palette which contains a mixture of Schmincke, Winsor and Newton, and Daniel Smith watercolours. They’re slightly different colours from what I use when I’m drawing at home and I’ll share more information about what specific colours I use some other time.
This is a Neo Kritz pencil-case which is durable, holds a lot and stands vertically on a flat surface if you need it to.
Pens, Pencils and Brushes
The contents of my pencil-case vary a little bit but this is what I carry most of the time:
- A black Uniball pen, which is waterproof and glides easily over coloured pencil
- My Lamy Safari which is filled with waterproof carbon ink. If it runs out the Uniball is an excellent back-up
- A fine Unipin pen which works well for basic ink sketches
- A white Gelly Roll pen to use in my grey sketchbook
- A while pencil to use in my grey sketchbook
- A few watercolour pencils to use for my initial sketches. These blend in with the paints so there aren’t too many visible pencil lines.
- A size 10 Escoda travel brush. It’s a decent size brush for washes but also has a fine point and the handle detaches and acts as a cap to protect the bristles
My current water container is a dipper for oil painting and it’s a bit on the small side but it clips onto my sketchbook which is handy. A spray bottle for reactivating my paints can be useful, clips are a necessity on windy days for holding sketchbook pages down and paper towels are always part of my sketching kit too.
So that’s my comprehensive urban sketching kit and it can be heavy so I don’t like to carry all of it around with me very often. My smaller, pared down kit is much simpler and obviously, the bare minimum I’d need is a pen or pencil and a piece of paper.
Do you ever sketch on location? What do you take with you?
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been testing out the Back Pocket Notebook. Although it’s not specifically a sketchbook, I’ve been using it for some lettering and drawings to see how it compares to sketch specific books.
To summarise, if you’re looking for a good quality, robust little notebook to carry around, I would definitely recommend the Back Pocket Notebooks.
I have a set of 3 Kraft Plain Notebooks, each of which contain 18 sheets or 36 pages of 120gsm paper and a stapled spine.
At first glance they reminded me of the A6 Eco Starter Sketchbooks from Seawhite of Brighton. The Back Pocket Notebooks are slightly smaller, measuring 9 x 14 cm. The paper isn’t quite as thick as the Seawhite cartridge paper but there are more pages than the Eco Starter and the paper has a nice smooth surface, which I really appreciated when using fine liners and markers.
Although it’s described as a ‘plain’ notebook, I think that refers to the cover because it’s pointed out on the band holding the 3 notebooks together that the paper inside is actually cross grid. It’s similar to dotted paper but each ‘dot’ is a tiny cross. I’d never used that kind of paper before but it was kind of handy for keeping my hand lettering straight!
The paper in the Back Pocket Notebook is perfect for either pen or pencil. I used a few different fine liners and felt tip pens, and the only pen that bled through to the other side of the page was the Copic marker. But Copic markers seem to bleed through almost all paper in my experience so this wasn’t a surprise or a big deal. I covered some large areas with Koi brush pens and even with the darker colours the dots on the paper do show but that may or may not be a problem for you. It didn’t bother me because I wasn’t trying to create a finished piece of artwork.
I was able to apply a light wash of watercolour in the Back Pocket Notebook without any problems and the paper took gouache quite well too. The paper does buckle with both watercolour and gouache but even some dedicated watercolour paper does that so, again, this wasn’t a surprise or a problem for me.
I’ve carried the Back Pocket Notebook around in my bag and it’s stood up well to that without getting damaged so far. I wonder if rounded corners might make it a bit more robust in that respect if you were carrying it around in your bag or pocket every day.
The Back Pocket Notebooks are excellent quality, and the size means that they’re really easy to carry around without adding lots of extra weight or bulk. I wouldn’t use them to replace a dedicated sketchbook but as somewhere to keep notes and ideas, make simple line drawings and practise hand lettering, the Back Pocket Notebook is an excellent option and, as the name implies, highly portable too!
Thank you to Justin at Back Pocket Notebooks who gave me this set of Kraft Notebooks to test in exchange for an honest review.