Travel Sketchbook Tips – Number Two: What to Bring

I’m leaving in a few days to travel to Vietnam and Cambodia (want to come with and share the experience? learn more here). Note that since I live in remote Alaska, it is going to take me a few days to get there. Before I leave, I wanted to write a post about what I’m bringing with me.

First of all, there is nothing wrong with keeping your sketch kit simple and affordable. A notebook with unlined paper and pen or pencil will suffice! Really lined paper would be fine too. However as a professional artist I have lots of art supplies, and I wanted to share a few of my favorites for taking on the go.

One thing I’ve learned that can be helpful is actually not to give yourself too many choices. It’s already hard enough to pick what you want to draw with the whole fresh and beautiful world out there in front of you. I find that if I have to spend time figuring out which paper and paints I want to use, sometimes I am making so many decisions that I actually don’t even get to sketching. SO it’s hard, but I’m going to try to limit myself (maybe just a bit…) and save my mental energy for the sketching.

 Here are all my supplies ready to go. Did I follow my advice and limit myself? Maybe a little. I tried!

Here are all my supplies ready to go. Did I follow my advice and limit myself? Maybe a little. I tried!

 What's inside the green bag above? I managed to fit all this fun stuff!

What's inside the green bag above? I managed to fit all this fun stuff!

Note: I am going to link to some products I like, but I don't monetize this blog. There is no incentive for me to link to a certain product/ site, beyond that I enjoy using it and want to share it with you.

Drawing and Painting Supplies:

 My favorite basic supplies

My favorite basic supplies

This is my simple sketch kit. Watercolors are the most portable way to add color to large areas quickly. I have an old Cotman student grade set that I have filled with professional level watercolors from tubes, once the paints ran out. If you’re looking for a good starter set, my recommendation is the Sakura Koi watercolor set because the paints are small, but they have good pigment. I can’t use watercolor without my water brush. These are so easy to travel with, just fill it with water and paint! I bring a paper towel or sock to clean it with in between colors.

For drawing I like using the cheap Bic mechanical pencils because they always have a sharp point. I bring a pen with permanent ink that I can draw with and then use water on top of. I love drawing with Rapidograph or Pigma Micron pens but I have problems taking them on airplanes. I’ve become a fan of the Sharpie fine point pen because they are durable and don’t explode.

Finally I bring a few things for adding white on top of my watercolors or for working on toned paper (which I like to do sometimes). These include a white pen (Gelly Roll and Uniball Signo are the best), a pan of white gouache, and a white colored pencil.

A few things not pictured here that I am taking. Some Tombow dual tip brush pens in grey tones for adding shadows, a Pilot Razor Point pen with water-soluble ink, a few brush pens, a big eraser, a ruler, and some colored pencils. I may also throw in a roll of painter’s tape and a glue stick. Even though this sounds like a lot, they are all supplies I use often, enjoy using together, and they all fit in one pretty small bag:

 Favorite pens, pencils, and brushes

Favorite pens, pencils, and brushes

Paper:

This is really where I have to control myself and not bring everything! I’ve written before about my sketchbook issues. Having a formal bound sketchbook scares me, and I don’t think I’ve ever been able to start at the beginning of a book and work my way through a whole book. I also like to use different kinds of paper, especially a mix of watercolor paper and toned paper. I started making my own books, which helps, but I also really like the Komtrak system of using a spiral bound notebook with removable paper. I think for this trip I’m actually going to ditch the whole sketchbook idea and just bring a clipboard and some different paper. It will make it easier for me to scan in my drawings when I’m home. I’ll let you know how this treats me when I get home.

The paper I am bringing includes: watercolor paper, 110 lb or higher. Some mixed media paper that is pretty thin but good for drawing on. Some Canson Mi Teintes pastel paper.

I’m also bringing two accordion sketchbooks in case I want to have one small book to bring with me. I got this one from Pentalic, but also made one from cutting and folding a large sheet of watercolor paper so that it is roughly the same size. I wanted to bring two, because I am bring some supplies to share…

Bring some supplies to share:

I am traveling with my family, and also open to sharing what I’m doing with new people. I’ll bring along two extra watercolor sets and brushes to share. I might leave them there as gifts, as they aren’t very expensive for me to make. I’m also going to get a pack or two of pencils to give out to people. Everyone recommends not giving anything to people who are begging, and there are lots of children begging in Cambodia especially. I figured I can give pencils to kids who are interested in what I’m doing, and might want to draw with me. I don’t know how this is going to work out in practice, but I’m bringing along some extra supplies to share and I’ll report back. I am also bringing an extra accordion sketchbook and hope to fill it with other peoples’ drawings. Will people sketch with me? We shall see.

 Supplies I am brining to share: Two little watercolor kits where I put some dabs of watercolor paint from tubes into these cheap, plastic mixing pallettes; water brushes; and an accordion sketchbook I made from folding  a big piece of watercolor paper. 

Supplies I am brining to share: Two little watercolor kits where I put some dabs of watercolor paint from tubes into these cheap, plastic mixing pallettes; water brushes; and an accordion sketchbook I made from folding  a big piece of watercolor paper. 

Final Thoughts:

I’m excited about keeping this series going and adding posts from Vietnam and Cambodia. My next post is going to be about some fun things you can do on a long plane flight. I have a 13 hour flight…I don’t know exactly how it’s going to work out posting to my blog while traveling, but I hope to get a few posts up for you in the next few weeks and then catch up when I get home in March. You can always follow me on Instragram, where I plan to post more regularly:

https://www.instagram.com/linkkristin/

I’m still offering the “travel with me” package, which includes a copy of my sketchbook, postcards from my travels, and some treats for your senses. I’m pretty excited about putting these together. The cut off date to order is going to be February 17th. After that only the sketchbooks will be available.