The Small Kit.

26 June, 2016. My small kit has evolved again. The most dramatic change I’ve made is to put away my tried and true Winsor Newton Travel Palette in lieu of a smaller, lighter kit I’ve had my eye on for a while. And when I read that The Pocket Palette (pictured above) had been updated, I figured this summer was the right time to give it a go.

I’d long since replaced the pigments in my travel kit with colors of my own selection. And out of those hues, I really only relied upon a couple of them. Having to learn to use a new palette anyway, it seems like a good time to play around with some new colors as well. This selection of pigments comes close to representing a full range of color and chromatics:

  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Pthalo Blue
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Cobalt Turquoise Light
  • Perylene Green
  • Pthalo Green YS
  • Sap Green
  • Nickel Titanium Yellow
  • Windsor Yellow Deep
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Cadmium Red Light
  • Quinacridone
  • Quinacridone Magenta

Of these, I quickly realized that Cobalt Blue is simply redundant. And I think the Quinacridone Magenta, which I reasoned would be a nice addition for mixing with Ultramarine, may be entirely unnecessary. I’ve also added the earth color of Burnt Sienna which plays nicely with Quinacridone for rendering flesh colors. New to me is Perylene Green, which I am already enjoying for its ability to tone down or neutralize bright colors.

My drawing tools vary depending upon what I feel like doing at the moment. I’ve been using my Kuretake No. 40 brush pen a lot recently, but have found the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen to work better with watercolor when I work with Strathmore Aquarius II watercolor paper. Washes of water and paint don’t reactivate the Pentel ink as they do the Kuretake ink.

In any event, my drawing tools rotate out at the moment. I carry a water brush only if I am also carrying paint. I always carry my lead holder for lightly blocking in shapes. (Except when I forget. Then I have to track down a pencil…) For ink, I’m rotating between a Lamy Safari medium nib fountain pen, a Kuretake No. 40 brush pen, or the Pentel Pocket brush pen I used in these examples.

The brush pen yields a bolder line on this paper, so I generally find myself saving the Lamy for when I’m carrying a sketchbook.

I sometimes think back to the days of carrying a plein air oil kit around: Easel, paints, brushes, solvents, etc. Even a “small” kit was never particularly small (or light.) It’s refreshing – not to mention energizing – to work with such limited artistic means. I encourage my students to rely on their own version of a small kit. The process of finding one’s favorite tools is as much a process of discovery as it is pragmatic.


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