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All you really need is a pencil and paper!  But there are other tools that will add dimension and make your life easier.  Let me share a few of the art supplies I use -- but remember, YOU choose what is comfortable for your skills and your budget.

When it comes to paper and color media, opt for a better grade when possible.  

An artist or professional grade of watercolor or colored pencils typically means a higher pigment ratio, so you can enjoy rich color with less work.  A better paper grade means color will absorb better and make washes easier. 

Your journaling will love you for it!

It really depends on your purpose, but consider that field sketching means your art supplies travel with you -- so keep it manageable AND portable.  

my current kit

Throughout the years I've gathered a LOT of art supplies!  However I periodically have to change out my kit to lighten the load.  Let me share a list of what's in my field-sketching bag, listing brands only for the purpose of education.  On one hand, you can see the media that's created many of my nature journal pages -- but on the other hand, be aware that I have several brands of the same type media!  What I pack reflects what's working best for me right now and is open to change.  I do not receive reimbursement for supplies.  Fieldwork carries the possibility of loss, so I don't carry my very best supplies, but I DO carry what I consider to be a professional grade.  Here we go:

Sketchbook: spiral-bound Aquabee Super Deluxe 93 lb. paper, 6 x 9 inch, suitable for drawing or wet media with light washes.  This sturdy paper has a light texture that works well with watercolor pencil.  An all-purpose working sketchbook at a good price.

Pencil:  an inexpensive mechanical pencil (.7 mm preferred), comparable to a No. 2 or HB pencil.  I do very few pencil sketches in the field as they tend to smudge over time  -- I use this for guidelines or finding my way with tricky shapes.

Ink pen: a waterproof archival black ink artist's pen, Micron Pigma 01 size.

Watercolor pencils:  Mondeluz 12-pencil tin (Carmine, Vermillion, 
Orange, Yellow, Grass and Dark Green, Light and Dark Blue, Violet, Indian Red, Brown and Black).  These have a good pigment load, dissolve easily and aren't grainy.  The color selection is good as a base -- add single pencil colors as needed.

Brush:  I have a round Niji waterbrush, large size, that's several years old and still going strong.  Waterbrushes carry water in the handle so they're very portable.

Zip-lock plastic bags with paper towels, trash bag:  I carry paper towel and terry remnants for controlling water from my brush.  The trash bag is good for sitting on damp ground or as an impromptu raincoat.  Or for picking up litter!

Personal items such as a water bottle, keys, cell phone, snack, magnifying lens, pencil bag with extra supplies.  Sometimes I throw in a small watercolor palette of half-pan Daniel Smith watercolors and a small travel-sized spray bottle.

Carry bag:  a while ago I found a thrift-store gear bag by Joe Boxer.  It's well-built and has several pockets inside and out, some with zippers.  I was lucky to find such a great buy that's lasted me for almost ten years.  Select what works for you, just remember to keep it lightweight!

  • Paper

  • Pencil or pen

  • Eraser

  • Pencil sharpener

  • Carry bag

bare Basics

Some fun additions!

  • Extra sketchbook

  • Color media (colored pencils, watercolor pencils, watercolor paints)

  • Brush or waterbrush

  • Ruler

  • Magnifying glass

  • Binder clips

  • Pocket field guide

  • Binoculars

  • Water bottle (for hydration and color media)

  • Paper towel scraps

  • Compass, whistle

add more

Past supplies

Sketchcrawl, Naples Preserve.jpg

Shown above: Daniel Smith watercolor tube paint; 18-well palette with watertight grommet and hinged lid; Arches hot-press paper, 140 lb.; flat and round Niji waterbrushes, sepia Pitt pen. 

Shown above: Strathmore 400 series Toned Tan, 80 lb. paper; Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils, 12 pencil set; Niji waterbrush, medium round.

A Nature Art Journal


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