Stephanie Bower

Stephanie Bower | Architectural Illustration: | Sketching Workshops: | Sketches: on Instagram at @stephanieabower & | Urban Sketchers Blog Correspondent | Signature member of the Northwest Watercolor Society

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Travel Sketching Essentials--the supplies I use

One week ago, I gave a talk at the Seattle Daniel Smith artist supply store here in Seattle. My thanks to the folks at DS for this opportunity! It was very last minute, wasn't listed in any of the literature that DS sends out, so I was afraid the turnout would be very small, but amazingly, between 40-50 people gave up their sunny Sunday afternoon and showed up! Thanks to all~~
Sketching at Angkor Wat in Cambodia last summer.  Thanks Laurel Holmes for this photo of me drenched in sweat,
using my supplies and favorite 1" angled brush (sadly, no longer made by Daniel Smith).
It's such great fun talking about the materials we use on the road. The name of the game is SMALL and LIGHT, and it's hard to find good supplies that fit both those parameters. I started by showing my suitcase--a carry on spinner (4 wheels) by TravelPro, as that is all I take with me these days, in addition to a backpack. Yep, I've pared things down so much, as I quickly learned what a mistake it is to haul heavy, large suitcases on planes, buses, trains, up stairs, and over bumpy cobblestone streets.  

I could talk/write forever about this!  One of my recent Good Bones workshops folks said, 
"Hello, my name is Kay, and I buy art supplies..."  where is our twelve step program?  I suppose there are worse habits... :)

Here is the list of supplies I use (underlined) that I gave to everyone. I'll post info on my easel, tripod, and the palette I make (that you can make too) tomorrow!

Blocks: Fluid Watercolor blocks, any size but I use 8” x 16. They have a lot of sizes, square ones are great too.
Sketchbooks: Pentalic Aqua Journal 5 ”x 8 (true 140lb. CP paper), Stillman & Birn Alpha or Beta series, Handbook 5” x 8" journal, Moleskine 5” x 8” or 8.5” x 12
Postcards: any set is fine

Pencils and Pens
Mechanical Pencil, .5mm or .7mm with B or 2B lead--this way, you can avoid bad pencil sharpeners (there is not one that makes a good point), and get crisp lines always!  
Pens: Lamy Safary fountain pens or Sailor Bent Nib pen with Carbon Platinum black ink (permanent ink) with cartridges or a converter
(I don't draw with pen much anymore, but I carry all this with me...just in case!)
Markers: Pitt Artist pens, in black and brown—a variety of sizes and colors (permanent lines I can watercolor over.)
Small kneaded eraser

Palette: Winsor & Newton Sketchers’ Pocket Box (replace the Cotman paints with artist or professional grade paints. I love this little set), Daniel Smith metal travel box, or Heritage 18-well Sealing palette or others

Paints: DS and Winsor & Newton tube paint, W&N ½ pans, or DS watercolor sticks                 
                  Blues: Ultramarine Blue (WN), Cobalt Blue, Manganese Blue or Cerulean Blue
                  Reds:  Burnt Sienna, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, DS Quinacridone Burnt Orange
                  Yellows:  New Gamboge, Yellow Ochre, Aureolin
                  Also:  Pyrrol Orange, Sap Green
                  For France: Indigo
                  For Italy:  Raw Umber (Winsor & Newton)
                  For Tropical Water: Cobalt Turquoise Light

Kolinsky Sable:  Escoda Reserva travel brush, size 10 round and size 12
Synthetic (use synthetic brushes for mixing paints):
                  Richeson Plein Air Travel watercolor brush set, assorted sizes
                  1” Angled brush
                  Pentel Aquash Water brushes (great for mixing paints on your paper)

Also (I use all these)
Small 6” triangle or straight edge (for snapping quick, straight lines at the beginning of a sketch)
3 Binder Clips (to hold down paper--important, don't forget these!)
Nichiban masking tape (from New York Central Art Supply and online at Amazon) (This tape is amazing, I highly recommend it, I use it when I want crisp edges on the permiter of my sketches--don't paint or sketch off your page!)
Paper Towels
Water container--Faber-Castel Clic and Go or small Rx bottle with homemade palette
Tiny Spray Bottle, (Thanks, Ellie, for this tip!)
Hat and Sunscreen and snack

Book:  The Urban Sketching Handbook Understanding Perspective  :)

Seattle sketcher Kate Buike did a wonderful write up of the talk, including photos (I didn't even see her taking these pics!).  Thanks, Kate!


  1. thanks for posting this. Excellent photo of you and your kit... but of course it's by Laurel! And now I understand why my blog views have spiked in the past couple days!

    1. Thanks to you, Kate, for attending the talk and for the amazing write up you did--it was a nice surprise to see!!

  2. Do you protect your 1" angle brush when traveling or just throw it in with the wet supplies bag you carry?

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