A Sketching Jacket and Kit Belt

At least once a year I find myself launch  again into a major mending session on my indispensable twill working waistcoat (this type of thing!) – a boon for a sketching addict like me, and armed with masses of soft scrap leather (discovered on the internet, of course) ,short crewel needles and a thimble! An exact duplicate may just possibly not be obtainable any more, so these operations are all the more necessary!
I would recommend that anyone looking for something similar should look at fishing vests, and be VERY fussy about the size and number of large pockets in reachable places….!
A quick internet search found this example – promising –https://www.fruugo.co.uk/multi-pocket-…/p-10420857-21930051…

In mine, large exterior ‘bellows’ pockets hold pocket sketchbooks, such as these lovely Hahnemuhle A6 “Sketch and Note” booklets (very handy, and the creamy good quality paper will take anything, and is a joy to work on)


plus various essential notebooks etc.

Interior pockets house passport, wallet etc etc.  A working waistcoat is more versatile than a jacket, as I can add or remove various layers of clothing! Here’s me in action – not terribly elegant, but who cares?

Dun Flodigary Me sketching

I usually wear a  photographer’s  belt when out sketching, which enables me to carry around lots of kit easily.  One of these items is a capacious double-zipped pouch … (http://www.ebay.co.uk/…/Universal-Army-Black-B…/381611453231) …one of the best purchases I’ve ever made!

This is what I manage to put in mine…

A slight grumble is that the zips provided with this article are not marvellous quality, resulting in my needing to replace the whole thing fairly regularly.  They are low priced, however – a fraction of the cost of a professional repair!

I’ve drawn and pictured this excellent item on my Facebook page before , but it’s interesting just to see and review the list of stuff it can hold for me to have ready to hand when working in the field…really amazing! The picture is of a previous ‘incarnation’, as this is an inexpensive item, and gets a great deal of hard wear! As you might be able to see in the photograph, the pouch sports two generous zipped compartments, plus bands and slots added at front and back to hold yet more useful things!

So – starting from the back of the pouch, and working forwards through the various sections of the pouch, here is a list of the items it is holding today…:-
Disposable craft knife
Packet of Cartridge refills for Pentel Brushpen
Two Papermate disposable mechanical pencils (with small attached erasers)
Three ‘Derwent’ water soluble drawing graphite pencils, in Light Wash, Medium wash, Dark wash.
Nine Kuretake ‘CleanColor’ watercolour brushpens, in Light Violet, Brown, Blue, Light Blue, Emerald Green, Lemon Yellow, Ochre, Orange,Light Grey, Red.
Ten ‘Aquarelle’ water-soluble coloured pencils, in Sanguine, Indian Red, Scarlet, Empire Green, Light Ochre, Cinnamon, Ultramarine, Naples Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Sky Blue. (These colours may vary very slightly, according to the range of single colours available when I need to make a replacement).
Mitsubishi ‘Posca ‘ Fibre tip markers in white and black.
Two piston-filled fountain pens, pre-filled with brown and grey drawing ink
Sailor Bent-nib calligraphy pen (lacks a clip, so this is a safe way of carrying this item)
‘Signo’ rollerball white gel pens, broad guage

The above, combined with a large jacket pocket containing a tiny leakproof container, such as a film canister or ‘Nalgene’ bottle, pre filled with clean water, and/or a brushpen, with converter pre-filled with clear water, plus a tiny ‘pill’ box or tin, for sharpenings, and a small pocket sketchbook, are easy to pick up in a hurry, and provide all I need if travelling light, or trying to draw somewhere such as the Natural History Museum in Manchester(http://www.museum.manchester.ac.uk/collection/animallife/) , which doesn’t allow painting, as such, on the premises, but are very helpful and encouraging to anyone who wants to draw the wonderful exhibits!

So…..getting on to about forty items in all – Phew !


“Wet Materials”, a travel palette

Moving on now to wet materials….

One of the joys of Urban Sketching I’ve discovered relatively recently is the sheer pleasure of wlelding a paintbrush in the open air, and often at the drop of a hat!

Not all situations lend themselves to actually getting out a full kit, and setting up an easel, however, so this year, after experimenting a lot with gouache, which can also be used with watercolour techniques, I’m concentrating on travelling with just a mini pocket travel set of watercolours, refilling separately – bought empty pans from spare tube colours when necessary!


I can just slip this little set into one of my capacious working waistcoat pockets, although I will be taking the precaution of wrapping it in a re-sealable sandwich bag together with a piece of kitchen paper or similar!

The colour range I like is similar to recommendations by David Curtis http://www.djcurtis.co.uk/, a brilliant plein air painter, whose preferred palette in watercolour is :- cobalt green; viridian; French Ultramarine; Cerulean Blue; Cobalt Blue; Cobalt Violet; Raw Sienna; Permanent Rose; Cadmium Orange; Burnt Sienna; Gamboge; Indian Red; Cadmium Red.
I LOVE drawing and painting sketchkits…my own and those of other people – and here are a couple of quick sketches of my enamelled mixing palette, in use, as you can see, and two of my fountain pens.


I’m a firm fan of chinese brushes, which travel well and are very robust, often made with more than one type of hair and which are wonderfully versatile to use.
Nevertheless, I travel with a range of simple brushes in a standard pencil case….eventually I’d LOVE to splash out on a set of Da Vinci travel sables https://www.jacksonsart.com/da-vinci-maestro-kolinsky-sable…, of course, but meanwhile these’ll have to do!


This stage of my kit review covers sketchbooks, and more to the point , as I’m compiling packing lists for the summer, what will fit into my National Express baggage allowance!
I’ll try to keep it simple, and plan to include two hardbacked spiral 12″ x 12″ Seawhite display books…hardwearing and delicious to work on…one black and one containing brown Kraft paper https://www.jacksonsart.com/seawhite-jackson-s-a3-brown-pap…
I do have bigger ones, but the size I quote fits well into my sketching backpack!

I’m particularly fond of this range of sketchbooks, as the paper is very good quality, so is lovely to work on, and an added bonus is the extra – stout covers and hard working spiral binding, which together dispense with the need for a drawing board altogether!

IMG_0528. 11th June sketching the sketchers - birmingham JPGIMG_9977 MacLeods Tables from Berneray
I then plan to make some concertina books https://www.wordsandpics.org/…/making-concertina-sketchbook…
from lightweight NOT watercolour paper, lovely to draw and paint on….probably around 12″ x 12″ in size, so that I can use them in conjunction with large bulldog clips , with my Seawhite pads as backing!
This is a bigger size than shown in the link, but as ever, I’m experimenting!
There will of course be several pocket sketchbooks, especially my favourite Hahnemuhle “Sketch and Note” A6 cartridge booklets (lovely quality paper) , and a Strathmore Toned Gray A5 hardback, which is very handy!
I also mustn’t forget a pot of Daler/Rowney ‘opaque white’ watercolourhttps://www.dickblick.com/products/daler-rowney-pro-inks/, which I find SO useful when sketching!
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