Urban Sketcher’s Kit Bag

This is a quick post in response to questions asked in the Artist Journal Workshop forum on Facebook that resulted from a photo I posted of my field gear.  They wanted to know about my field bag so here it is.

I bought it from Mountain Equipment CO-OP for $21CDN.  Before we get started, I should say that this bag is with me everywhere I go and thus it’s used as a general service bag as well as my art bag.  I’ve always got sketching materials with me but when I go out for a ‘serious’ sketching session I add the paints, water, brushes and larger sketchbooks.

The bag has five main areas as well as a small pen compartment.  All but the back compartment can be zippered shut but I rarely do this as the cover flap closes things up enough for me.

I use compartment A to hold several pens.  Which ones I carry changes at my whim but generally I’ve got half a dozen or so and I think I could clip at least 10 of them into this pocket.  If you look closely behind this compartment you’ll see a small, open pocket.  This is handy for carrying shopping lists and notes.  For instance, I’ve got lists of all the Tombow brush pen, colored pencils, etc. I own so when I’m in an art store, I have those lists with me.

Compartment B is large enough to hold a pencil box, a small writing notebook, watercolors (W&N artist watercolors in a Cotman sketcher box),and other stuff if need be.

Compartment C is the largest and the workhorse of the bag.  You can put a 9×12 sketchbook in it but you can’t zipper it as the sketchbook sticks out just a bit.  My Stillman & Birn 10x7s fit nicely, though.  Sometimes it also holds a 5.5×8 book.  This is where I put my camera, paper towels and a collapsible umbrella if I need it.  If I carry only one sketchbook and the camera, I can stick binoculars in here.

Compartment D is in the cover.  I’ve carried a small Moleskine there in the past but I haven’t used it much simply because I haven’t needed the space.  While there’s lots of room here, it’s best for light things as otherwise it makes the cover hard to flip up when you need access to the other compartments.

Looking at the bag from the back, there is a large, thin compartment with no zipper.  I have a couple thin, 5×8 homemade sketchbooks, made from toned paper, that live here.  I also have a fomecore backing board for these sketchbooks in this compartment.  Because this compartment is up against my side as I walk, I don’t put anything in here that’s lumpy but the sketchbooks seem happy there.

Here’s a photo of the typical contents of my bag when I’m out on a sketching session.  I stuff all the ‘wet’ things (marked D) in a large ziplock bag before dropping them into compartment C.

When I head out, the back looks like this, with my Walk Stool clipped under the cover.  It makes a compact rig and I’ve been very happy with it.


10 thoughts on “Urban Sketcher’s Kit Bag

  1. I need to get myself together a kit like this. I need to pluck up the courage to go out and sketch.

  2. The fear factor is real enough. I overcame mine, to the extent that I have, by taking a small (3×5) sketchbook and pencil to the local mall. I drew store window manikens. They don’t walk away or say anything. Most important, though, is that it made me realize that most people don’t know you’re there and the few that notice mostly never say anything to you.

    I guess you do become more obvious when you set up a stool, dump paints and stuff all around you but I’ve got to say that if not for my weak French, which scares me every day when I’m out in public, I actually enjoy the little interaction I get with people. Only the nice ones talk to you anyway 🙂

    Cheers — Larry

  3. I accept that challenge, Ruca. My art stuff seems in a constant state of flux. In fact, the only constant has been that bag. If I think back two months ago I was 1) using different sketchbooks, 2) using different pens, 3) using different waterbrushes, 4) using a different palette, etc., etc. I’m a fickle one I am.

    Cheers — Larry

  4. What a great bag – I love all the pockets and compartments! Thanks for a well-written and nicely photographed post.

    – Tina

  5. I love your urban sketching kit. I was always undecided if I have to take with me more than one or two sizes of sketchbook. Now I see you and I feel more comfortable in taking with me more and more… 🙂

    Cheers and thanks for sharing!

  6. It is a challenge. I can’t fit the kitchen sink into my bag so I’m somewhat limited 🙂 The contents of my bag seem to be forever changing. Some of this is because of changes in my sketching but some changes are more of the ‘hey, let’s try this’ type.

    As for multiple sketchbooks, I should point out that the sketchbooks are the heavy part. I generally only have one ‘heavy’ sketchbook (5×8 or 10×7). The others are small (16-20 pages) handmade sketchbooks that provide me with ‘cheap’ paper surfaces and toned paper surfaces. I may also have a small 3×5 sketchbook but often I leave that out because of the weight.

    Cheers — Larry

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