Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Watercolour travel kit

I've been feeling a need to add colour to my sketchbook, so I went looking for a small neat folding watercolour kit. Pastels are fine except for smudging, and I do use them outside, but not in a standard sketchbook with white pages. Gouache would be good too, didn't think of it at the time. Coloured pencils are too slow and need too much pressure. Watercolour pencils aren't bad. Markers -- well, it's no harm to have them but I don't use them much. Watercolour it would be.

I found dozens of watercolour kits in all price ranges, some quite elaborate costing over US$100, but I was looking for something simple and inexpensive. I settled on the little box shown here and am very happy with it, except that the brush is hopeless. The box, along with a much smaller sketchbook than the one shown*, and a tiny water bottle (a reclaimed airline rum sample bottle), fits in a zipper pencil case, good to go.

The kit performs well in actual use (apart from the brush) -- the pans have body and moisture and you can work up a good thick brush-load of colour. Actually, the brush isn't hopeless, it has good spring, it's just very small and thin. One of the things I like about this particular kit is that the colours are mostly permanent except for Viridian and Alizarin. Not that permanence is an issue in a sketchbook, but even so.

As for the brush -- I'll get a thicker one as well and cut the handle down to fit in the pencil case.

A selection of travel kits:

This kit is by Winsor & Newton and is called the Cotman mini watercolour set -- US$23.59, item No. 00325-1039 at Dick Blick, http://www.dickblick.com/items/00325-1039/

The kit closed. The silvery thing is the brush slotting neatly into the cover.

*The sketchbook in the picture is hardcover, 8.5 x 11".


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