Stools and seats for urban sketching

July 22, 2020 | 20 Comments

 I recently realised that I haven’t formally shared here on my blog the two seats I use when I’m urban sketching. So here at the two that I currently use.

My urban sketching stool

The best stool I’ve used to date is the Walkstool Comfort 45cm/18in which is compact and relatively lightweight (640g). It has a good size seat which is comfortable. (Note: I showed a number of different stools to my physio and this was her favourite. She was not a fan of any that were closer to the ground.) The Walkstool is expensive but it’s worth it IMHO.

My urban sketching seat

I rarely carry a stool these days as it is extra weight and I’m always trying to reduce my load. Instead I prefer to sit on the ground on my Backjoy. This is designed to improve posture in an office chair, but is great for sitting on hard ground as it relieves pressure points and enables me to rock quietly while I’m sitting. Most of all it is lightweight (435g) so I don’t mind carrying it around all day.

I prefer sitting on the ground as it means I don’t need to balance everything on my lap – instead I spread out my art supplies around me. But yes! it’s not always the best view (a long way below a normal standing viewpoint) and it is hard to get up at times. I know that sitting on the ground is not for everyone but it works for me and some of my friends too!

Note: Normally I try to have my bag on my lap and rest my book on that as it improves my posture.. but I didn’t seem to be doing that in any of these photos.

For more details: I explain my urban sketching kit and everything I carry in two videos which are part of the few intro lessons for SketchingNow Watercolour On Location – you can sign up for these free lessons here.

To make this blogpost really useful for others who read it in the future…

Please share the stool/seat you use in the comment section below. I know that many of you use different stools so I’d love to know why!

Thank you so much in advance!

You might also want to check out the responses on Instagram.



  • Fiona Campbell says:

    Thanks Liz, and fellow painters for a great livestream with lots of ideas and insights. The whole sketching seat thing is raising its head with me as it’s more difficult to sit down & get up (after 20 mins totally still !!) since I injured a knee.
    I inherited my mother’s lovely vintage mini sketching chair – Child-size and made of folding wooden slats !! Totally comfortable but not hugely practical for the wild places I go ? so still looking. . . .
    Best wishes
    Fiona Campbell
    See @wildplacespainter on IG for images

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Fiona – was great to see you on the livestream again. And yes, a big part of urban sketching is experimenting and figuring out what will work you for in terms of the logistics of sketching onlocation.

  • Alan Barbour says:

    I experimented with several types of stools and settled on the WalkStool. It is strong, stable, and fits into my backpack; I found a very slightly used one at a significant discount. Sitting at ground level or on hard surfaces doesn’t work with my old body.

  • Dineke Romeijn says:

    For people with sore backs or that have trouble getting up from the ground I can highly recommend the Helinox chair 2. Really comfortable to sit and draw and paint in! Sitting the way you sit in Liz will give me a back pain in about 30 minutes but with this chair I can draw all day! It is not cheap but well made and well worth the investment. Thanks by the way for your wonderful blog Liz.

  • Tina Koyama says:

    All those times I’ve seen you sitting on the ground, I didn’t realize you were actually sitting on the Backjoy! What a great use of that!

    I prefer to stand most of the time, but in workshops or if I plan to sketch for a long time, I use a Daiso stool made for kids, I think (and very low to the ground… your physio would not approve! 😉 ). I’ve brought it to several symposiums, and unbelievably, it cost $2! Here’s a post on my blog about it:

  • Sandra James-Talbot says:

    I just have a super cheap camping stool (less than £10) which is light enough to carry all day, but it’s a bit bulky. In the countryside I just sit on a sheet on the ground, but I wouldn’t want to do that on the street. I’m always worried about sitting on dirty pavements ?. Really helpful to read about everyone’s options.

  • Ginny Stiles says:

    No sitting cross legged. No on the ground. I am 80 years old and have had knee replacement surgery. I carry a 3 legged foldable cloth/metal stool (quite light) with a back support.

  • Suzanne McVetty says:

    My favorite stool, one I have been using for 15 years, is made by Camptime (, called Roll a Chair. The beauty is that is has a back that fits perfectly. I can sit in it all day, and have at workshops. It is very light and comes with an attached strap. I’ve even put the chairstrap over my head (cross body) and taken the chair with me while riding my bike. Here is the link It comes in a few sizes now and different materials. Looks like the company has invested more in a winner.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Suzanne – I’ve seen my Californian sketching friends with a chair like that, but never seen one in Australia. Thanks for sharing!

  • Elisabeth W. says:

    I use a small folding chair. Folded it is less then DIN4 which fits easily into my bag. About 900g.
    My goal is to have the smallest, most lightweight, packable solution. I do not want to have to carry it separate from my bag. 3-leg stools just don’t work for me as tehy feel uncomfortable, unbalanced and any legs sticking out of my bag (or a backpack) are no option. I do not need a back on my stool (yet).
    Here is an example

  • Becky V says:

    Thanks to everyone who shared their options.

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