Minimising my kit

August 22, 2019 | 11 Comments

Tomorrow I’m going out for another filming day for my upcoming course – SketchingNow Watercolour On Location. The idea for this day is to look over my shoulder for a crazy non-stop day of sketching. I’m really looking forward to it especially as it’s relatively unplanned. So I’m simply getting my supplies together and cleaning my watercolour palette.

After my big trip and seeing my collection of tools in my kit grow over time (funny that!) I have decided to pair it down to the essentials. You can see the full kit here.

So this is what I have got left.

  • Lamy Joy pen (white and red) with a gold nib (once was EF but now more like a M in thickness) filled with De Atramentis Document Ink black. More about permanent inks for Fountain Pens here. Please note the Joy is a calligraphy pen and comes with a stub nib. I replaced that with a normal nib for drawing.
  • Green Sailor fountain pen with 55 degree fude nib filled with De Atramentis Document Ink Black.
  • Green Sailor fountain pen with 55 degree fude nib filled with De Atramentis Document Ink Urban Grey (I’m debating whether to remove this pen at the moment!)
  • TWSBI Eco (white) with a F nib with De Atramentis Document Ink Black which I use for all my writing. The rationale for this is that it preserves the ink in the White Joy so I don’t have to fill up the ink in that pen as much. Plus the F nib suits my handwriting better – I prefer writing with a thinner line than I do for drawing.
  • TWSBI Eco (turquoise) with a F nib filled with J Herbin Diabolo Menthe ink (water soluble). I use this pen for the guidelines for my writing.
  • Uni-ball Signo Gel pen in Angelic Blue – an alternative coloured pen for text. Just something random I found in my travels.
  • Pentel Aquash Waterbrush in large. I don’t like the results from a waterbrush (washes are flat with little granulation) so I rarely paint with it. The main use is as a clean water supply for pre-wetting skies.
  • Ecoline Brush Pen (water soluble) in Warm Grey #718. I use this for quick sketches when I want to add some tone.
  • White Gel Pen: Uniball Signo Broad.
  • Rosemary & Co Series 772 1/2 ” sable blend dagger. I use this brush for 99% of my sketches. It has a sharpened end so that it fits into a toothbrush container.

Not shown

  • Two small water containers attached to either my palette or my support board (or anything) with Blu Tack. The Blu Tack on the bottom of the containers is a little messy (comes off in my bag and gets on everything else!) but it is the most versatile fixing means (more so than using velcro or magnets). I bought these containers at a $2 shop a number of years ago and haven’t seen them for a while now.
  • UHU Glue stick.
  • Black wrist band for wiping my brush (Note: I mainly use napkins, but the wristband is still in my kit for occasional use if I run out of napkins)

As for my palette….

I was testing a lot of different Aquarius paints during my trip, but I have now returned to my standard palette (more or less).

DS Hansa Yellow Medium PY97
DS Transparent Pyrrol Orange PO71
DS Quinacridone Rose PV19
SCH French Ultramarine PB29
DS Cerulean Blue Chromium PB36
DS Indanthrone Blue PB60
WN Cobalt Turquoise Light PG50
DS Cobalt Blue PB28

DS Lavender PW6, PV15, PB29
WN Potters Pink PR233
WN Naples Yellow PW6,PBr24
DS Sap Green PO48 PG7 PY150
DS Monte Amiata Natural Sienna PBr7
DS Transparent Red Oxide PR101
DS Van Dyke Brown PBr7
Steels Grey III (a pre mix of WN Cobalt Deep Blue with a little DS Quin Burnt Orange and a touch of DS Quin Rose)

So what has changed:

  • I have taken out Buff Titanium and Quinacridone Gold.
  • I’m playing with Lavender – just for fun as it came up a lot in my discussions with fellow sketchers and suppliers at the USK Symposium. I haven’t worked out exactly when to use it yet and I’m not sure how long it will remain in my palette.
  • I’m also using Naples Yellow a quite bit – I love how creamy and buttery it is. This colour has been in and out of my palette a lot over the years.
  • I took Quin Gold out when I was testing the Aquarius paints and was surprised that I didn’t miss it much. I still have it in my bag in a separate little box with three colours.
  • As for Buff I never used it much so taking it out freed me up to play with Lavender.

So there you have it. I’m only posting this update on my kit so

  1. I have documented what I will be using on my bonus filming day
  2. I have a record of when I paired my kit down so I can see how long it takes for my pen, pencil and brush collection to grow back to its usual size.

I’m definitely not posting this because I think you should all rush out and buy the colours in my palette!?!

Do you periodically minimise your kit?



  • Yvonne Carpenter says:

    Hi Liz! Yes, I think I trim down every 2 month or so, but my trimmed down version is probably 3 times bigger than your full kit, lol! I think it is mostly sketching insecurity – what if I am out there and the perfect pen/tool is not with me and I really need it? I can rationalize almost anything in my kit, but when I am out there, more often than not I use a fraction of what I brought along! I am aware I carry too much though, so I am making a conscious effort to leave more behind. I think the more I sketch the better I will understand what tools matter to me, until then, my back and feet pay for it, lol!

  • Astrid Kahane-Seefeld says:

    Hi Liz!
    I have signed up for your Watercolour on Location course and am super excited. I have noticed that you do not use the travel version of brushes but seem to have shortened the handle of some instead. I think this is a brilliant idea, and would like to do the same for one or 2 of my brushes in order to be able to use a toothbrush case too. How did you proceed ? (I hope this not a too stupid question…).

    • Astrid Kahane-Seefeld says:

      Oh, and yes I permanently revise my kit. I am trying to keep it as lean as possible, and to stop carrying around stuff I am not using. Also, I have different handbags with various forms and depending on the occasion, I would take only the so called minimal kit (A6 sketchbook with a Bic Cristal, a mini watercolor palette and a water brush) or the normal one. But transferring from one bag to the other makes me insecure and I tend to add this or that (which of course I never use…). I am a lost cause !

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Astrid – I simply just sharpening it with a pencil sharpener…. a very low tech way of shortening the length but it works as they are short handles brushes to start with. I would use a small handsaw if it was a longer brush.

      • Elaine Magliacane says:

        I used an old dog toe nail clipper to snip off the ends and the dipped the raw wood in finger nail polish to seal it.

  • Mathilde Wolterman says:

    Hi Liz – I see that you are using the TWSBI Eco fountain pen without the barrel. Why is that?
    You swapped the Buff Titanium for Lavender, do you use Lavender more or do you like Lavender more?
    I have a minimal kit, almost everything fits in a waist pouch, the sketchbooks are carried in a small shoulder bag.
    For now I try not to buy too many items because I am not a seasoned sketcher – yet.

  • Mathilde Wolterman says:

    Hi – Liz
    I should have checked out before asking you the question about the TWSBI fountain pen. I really thought you had the barrel removed. Sorry about that.

  • Karen Colson says:

    HI Liz…im sure you’ve answered this question somewhere…but i am wondering if you draw your text guideline freehand and without measuring the spacing between lines?

Leave a Reply