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Using a Pocket Sketchbook with Watercolor: Simple Tools and Tricks
Sketching on location, aka urban sketching — especially with a pocket sketchbook — can be one of the most powerful sources of information, joy and inspiration for an artist. At least painting in a pocket sketchbook feels that way for me.
I love to paint cityscapes — the buildings, roads, cars and people. To collect ideas for my paintings, I just walk around seeking nice views, great light and interesting compositions. And, I carry a small and simple set of tools that allow me to make quick sketches in minutes.
My set of urban sketching pocket tools consists just of six key items:
- Plastic box with watercolor
- Moleskine classic pocket sketchbook (3.5 x 5.5 inches)
- Pen with waterproof ink
- Piece of paper; napkin
The Benefits of Tiny but Mighty Tool Sets
A small tool set is sufficient for quick sketching. Clip your palette and a small paper napkin (if watercolor sketching) to your sketchbook and keep all this in one hand, while keeping your other hand free to hold your brush, pencil or pen (whatever you work with).
With this minimal amount of equipment, you can stand or sit almost anywhere comfortably and sketch. this means there’s no need for an easel or any other heavy supplies.
Quick Sketch Examples
Here are a few sketches I made on location. Every sketch took less than 10 minutes. Eventually, some of these sketches became important starters for paintings I created later in my home studio.
I take reference photos as well, in addition to sketching. I find they are important for details if you want to complete your painting in the studio as I often do. However, nothing can replace the impression and “feeling” you get while exploring, rendering and sketching a place you like.
Leave a comment, and share your best pocket sketching advice.
Article contributions and artwork by Vladimir Tuporshin
Go Out and Explore
Ready to start pocket sketching? Discover how to not only capture what you see around you when out-and-about but also the energy of the location you are trying to paint or draw with the Urban Sketching: The Marc Taro Holmes Digital Collection. In this urban sketching bundle, you will learn practical advice and tips for working in the field, choosing the perfect subjects, capturing people in motion and more.