Sketchbook Love - part two

Some of my favorite sketching supplies.

Some of my favorite sketching supplies.

Last week I wrote about why I think a commitment to working in a sketchbook is so important (if you missed that post, you can read it here.) Today, I'll show you some of my favorite sketching supplies, and I'll give you some prompts to help you get started.

The most important part of a sketchbook practice is the book itself. This is a very personal decision, and I have a number of different books going at any given time. There is some value in picking a very cheap sketchbook when you begin. If you don't spend a lot of money on it, then you don't feel like you have to make every page a perfect piece of art. You are freer to make mistakes, and have a messy page that didn't work out quite the way you wanted it to.

A few of my many sketchbooks.

A few of my many sketchbooks.

At the moment, I am using 5 different sketchbooks in different sizes. I have two Moleskeins, one tiny one that I carry around with me all the time, and another that I use at home. I like the heavyweight paper, and it takes gouache very well. The Strathmore 300 series Mixed media paper sketchbooks are also nice to work with. The spiral binding and smooth paper makes them easy to scan. Sometimes, its nice to have a sturdier cover, and for those days, I like the Canson Mixed media sketchbooks. The hardcover makes it a little heavier, but the cover won't tear and is a sturdy support if you are sketching outdoors. 

My favorite material to sketch with is gouache. I love it for its ability to be both transparent and opaque.. My favorite brands are Holbein and Windsor Newton. I like Holbein's clean, vibrant colors, and creamy texture. But sometimes the Windsor Newton version of a color is just nicer. I use the Masterson Stay Wet palette, and it keeps my paints fresh for quite a long time. My brush of choice changes with the seasons, but at the moment I always reach for my Escoda Barrocos.

I often go out with a local sketching club, and sometimes the location is not conducive to gouache painting. On those occasions, I use my Sakura Koi watercolor set with my Pentel water brushes. The nice thing about these brushes, is that the water is in the handle, so when you are sketching outdoors, you don't have to worry about toting water to rinse your brush. Squeezing the handle to get just the right amount of water takes a bit of getting used to, but once you do, these are pretty handy tools.

Pens fit into your pocket so they are handy to have when you are sketching outdoors. My absolute favorite is the Pentel Brush pen. I just think better with a brush in my hand, and I love the way the tip of these pens work just like a regular brush. I keep a little pencil pouch filled with different pens for sketching ready to go at any given moment. My black ink pens of choice are Microns, and Faber-Castille PITT pens. I also like to have white pens with me for adding pattern to solid black areas, and the brands I like are the Gelly Roll, Uni-ball Signo and Posca.

The hardest part of getting started with a sketchbook project is deciding what to draw or paint every day. Here are some prompts to get you started:

- Get out of your studio. Bring either your sketchbook or camera with you. Even better - bring both, and use the sketchbook for quick studies, and the camera for more detailed sketching when you get back home. Keep your eyes and mind open to the possibilities. It doesn't have to be a complicated drawing, a leaf or wildflower that catches your eye can make a great sketchbook page.

-Join a sketchbook challenge on social media. Its really fun to see how different people approach the same prompt, and you will be challenged to draw things you wouldn't have thought of on your own.

- Draw your food - everyone loves to show photos of what they are eating, wouldn't it be more interesting if you drew it instead?

- Draw your kids or pets while they are sleeping, reading, playing video games or watching TV. They stay remarkably still a lot longer when they are engaged in something.

- Draw from old family photos. Vintage clothing is really interesting to draw.

- Jennifer Orkin Lewis has written a book called  Draw Every Day, Draw Every Way, filled with prompts and ideas to help you kick off your sketchbook project. 

I hope that will help you get started on your own sketchbook project! Once you make a habit of it, keeping a sketchbook becomes easier. You will find you have more ideas than time to sketch them out.


Happy Sketching Everyone!!