A student asked me recently...
"How do I become better at drawing?" I told them "You have to draw every day." They then asked "How can I do that? When I draw it has to be at a table, with all of my drawing tools around me. It's an occasion. I mean, I draw in my notebooks when I'm taking notes, but...how do you do it? How do you have the time?" So I pulled the following items from my computer bag and showed them what I use.
First, why carry anything with you? What's the point? Whether you're a draftsperson or a photographer, the same credo applies: If you don't have the tools with you at ALL times you can't make art when a free moment arises, so carry the tools with you.
For some people this is settled by drawing in the margins of a piece of paper while in class or during a meeting. For others it's with the camera in their phones. While that's admirable, it's not serious. You have to commit to whatever it is you choose as your visual art. That's where these tools come into play.
What I carry with me every day.
The two items I carry with me everywhere is the Moleskine Classic Notebook and the Derwent Pocket wrap. Together they are about the size of a small Apple or Android tablet. They're both light and pretty rugged. I've been carrying examples with me for months in a variety of backpacks, briefcases, or just thrown in the car, and they look exactly as you see in the photo.
There are a lot of Moleskine copies, but there is really only one brand you should buy, and that's Moleskine. Locally this 5"x 8.25" example would probably have set me back $20, but it can be readily had on Amazon for around $15 in a variety of colors. The advantage of the Moleskine is the thickness and quality of the pages. I use ink on the pages of this particular book, and it doesn't come close to bleeding through.
One of the advantages of the way the book is constructed is that it lays flat so that both facing pages may be drawn across as if it was one 10"x 8.25" surface. Additionally, the inside of the back cover includes a small pouch, and each Moleskine comes with a restraining strap to keep the book closed when not in use to prevent damage to your work.
The Derwent Khaki Canvas Pocket Wrap is a really useful carry pouch for your drawing implements. Derwent makes a variety of different sizes of these pouches, from this smaller pouch to one that hold in excess of 30 pencils/pens. I use mine for a variety of different tools that I've experienced through trial-and-error that I need.
Here's what's in the pocket wrap:
- A variety of graphite pencils - The pencils I currently carry with me range from 2B to 8B. I've been carrying an F (two in this case), 2B (again two of them), a 6B, and an 8B. I prefer Derwent pencils (the black pencils), but will use General's (the blue ones) if I'm in a pinch. The turquoise pencil is a Prismacolor. While I prefer Prismacolor markers to other brands, their pencils have a lot to be desired in my opinion, and I'll only use them if I must.
- Sanford Peel-Off Magic Rub 1960 Eraser - These erasers are my best friends. Unlike other white erasers, these vinyl erasers work like pencils. They are FAR better than the mechanical erasers that you load strips of eraser into, mainly because the erasers in the Sanford Peel-Offs are more rigid. They cost about $1/each, and are worth every penny. They may be used with any media which uses erasing as part of the process.
- Box Cutter - These box cutters may be found in virtually any hardware or school supply store for a dollar or two. I use them to sharpen my pencils/erasers. A must have for these types of kits.
- Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pens - I use these pens for general sketching in these types of mobile kits. There are a variety of sizes, but the ones I use are simply S, M, and B. The B stands for brush. The pen works like an artist brush, and has a nib that resembles one. They cost around $2/piece online through sites like DickBlick.
- Sakura Pigma Micron Pen - These pens are generally used for high-end detailed ink work. Microns cost more on average than the Faber-Castell (around $2.50-$3.50), but in my opinion the precision is worth it. I carry a #8 in this kit. I tend not to carry more because of the cost and how fragile they tend to be. The majority of the Sakura Pigma Microns that I have are reserved for use in a more controlled environment, and usually in conjunction with Prismacolor Markers.
So there you go! These are the tools I bring with me every day. If I'm meeting someone at a restaurant I'll show up a few minutes early and draw people in the crowd, or if I'm picking my kids up from school I'll sit in the line and draw the area around the school. However, the most important thing is, I draw every day. You'll never get better at any art form, be it drawing, photography, writing, etc., if you don't do it as much a possible, and preferably, every day.
Here are a few of the items outlines in this article. I've linked to Amazon, but these may be found at a variety of dealers both around the web and locally. As always, this site is not responsible for any issues you may have with any retailer, and these links are supplied as an easy reference/purchase point.