Watercolor Sketch Kit Revealed

It’s a breath freshener! No, it’s a paint box! It’s two mints in one!

I wanted to show you what I took on the road to make pictures, on a trip with not enough time to make very many of them or space to put many extras. That car was tightly packed with everything a scientist needs to keep himself busy away from home for six months. I got to take a small overnight bag and whatever I could fit in my purse. And my banjo, which ain’t small (a Gibson Mastertone TB-2, made around 1929. It was a tenor when I bought it and became a glorious 5-string through the luthier’s magic. But I digress).


Waterpen. Holds about 1/2 an ounce of water refillable at a tap or stream near you.

Anyway, the barebones art kit that fits into my purse is this:

  • 1 rapidograph pen;
  • 1 waterbrush- a plastic handle contains water, which is squeezed into the bristles of the brush at the end. Ingenious. Has a cap to keep it from leaking. A gift from my friend Becky, where she found it only she can say;
  • 1 Moleskine sketchbook, 5×8;
  • 1 mint tin with empty half-pans (I bought them from Jerry’s Artarama) filled with dried tube watercolors. Double-stick tape holds them to the bottom of the tin;
  • 1 .5 mechanical pencil with extra leads;
  • A couple of pencils;
  • A sharpener;
  • an extra eraser;
  • 1 Sharpie ultra-fine felt tip pen;
  • a paper napkin to wipe excess paint or dab runny noses.

That’s it. Easy to take everywhere and forget you have it until you really want it, and then, there it’ll be.

Yes, it was cold outside- I put on gloves and warm coat and sketched until the waterbrush began to freeze.

24 thoughts on “Watercolor Sketch Kit Revealed

  1. caroline crayons says:

    Oh my gawd, I got to see your face! You are one of my movie stars. Thank you for this post. I really love the piece you did. I’m just now learning a bit about perspective. I’m also experimenting with the idea that I can break away from colored pencils. You inspire me so much.

  2. Max says:

    I store my travel watercolor small boxes used to hold fishing flies. My father in law works for a fly fishing shop, so he provides me with excess gear that I convert into multiple uses. Now I need to figure out how to make a waterbrush out of fly-tying equipment.

  3. Barry says:

    Hey, Deb!

    Enjoyed the narrative of your trip, and I like the ultra compact art kit! The waterpen soulds especially intriguing. I’ve never seen one for sale. It looks good for narrower brushstrokes, but not for broad washes(?)

    Looking doubtful that you’ll still see snow when you come back in Aptil – It’s been disappearing fast… but you never can tell!


  4. zeladoniac says:

    Thanks,Sherry! Maybe business will boom for Niji.
    Barry- the brush is no good for washes but it’s tough enough you can just scrub it around and squeeze the handle while you do so, the water floods out through the bristles. It’s a faux wash, messy but effective. I’m glad I got to see the snow when I did!

    Hugs to everyone!

  5. Janet Wilkins says:

    I love your travel watercolor kit. Years ago, I purchased one of those Winsor & Newton sets, costs an arm and a leg and that tiny flat bottle that you have to keep filling is a real pain in the rear! I was also checking out those Niji watercolor brushes, they are really neat too. I see that there are several sizes, including a large 15mm tip. That size may not be perfect for washes either but I would think it could be “worked?”

  6. bonnieluria says:

    Debby- you have now in addition to being one of my favorite artists and bloggers, become a great resource for ideas. I loved this compact watercolor kit and easy to follow visuals you presented. You just might have influenced me to try watercolor painting. I never know what I’m going to find when I view your site and I always leave with more. Thanks so much for showing us how to have a no excuses road trip!

  7. Sharon Griffith says:

    Sakura makes a very small waterbrush (Kathy Johnson shows one on her website) that even when broken apart has a stopper that still holds water. It will fit in the mint boxes! Three sizes and I found them at our local art store or on line at Sakura.

  8. BJ Hollenbeck says:

    You know, I’m almost 50 yrs old and I’d have NEVER thought of that myself. Thank you so much for making my creative traveling easier!

  9. zeladoniac says:

    Yes- I’ve heard that, too. It’s a wonderful idea on all levels. If the painting isn’t going well, you can have a tiny martini. Thanks for the great suggestion.

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