Category Archives: pencil wrap

stocking up for travel sketching

I have I started thinking about my art gear for my upcoming three week holiday in the UK, and have purchased and ordered some supplies. Some had to be ordered online and I bought extras to stock up for home as well.


I am going to attend the Urban Sketching Symposium in Manchester for three days, and will I be continuously sketching for the entire time.  I sketch daily now and will have even more to draw when I am away.

I’ll be taking my current pencil wrap (same old one as my new one did not get made), filled with  new Faber Castell LONG pencils. I’ve bought new watercolours pencil and will take doubles of a few that I am prone to use/loose.  Payne Grey, Ivory, Light Yellow Ochre.

I also bought some new watercolour pencil colours that I have been advised for UK trees, buildings  – Sap Green, Hookers Green, Alizarin Crimson.


I am taking three Moleskine 13 x 19 cm Watercolour Sketchbooks. I have already started the first one by holiday sketching- drawing my new suitcase, some British pounds. I’ll sketch my clothes before I go. Then at the airport, on the plane ….


My eraser is specific – it fits in my pencilwrap in a pencil space. TOMBOW Mono Zero 2.5 x 5 mm


I’ll take two waterbrushes – one in use and one spare. I use ZIG Brush H20 Medium Tip. It has a filter that slows the flow of water. This suits my drawing style, as I don’t flood the page with water and colour and I like to work in small areas on the page.


And a spare sharpener.  Blunt pencils make for a bad drawing – so much of my drawing of objects relies on the hint of detail,  which a sharp, fine line provides.

Of course, this is just my usual sketching gear. I am enrolled in four workshops and four activities at Manchester Urban Sketching Symposium. They will all challenge me and build my techniques and skills but are all suited to my drawing based approach. I will buy some extra art gear in Manchester when I get there. I am sure to get ideas from the other 500 sketchers there !

The Blues

not THE blues , but colourful blues with strange names.

In my watercolour pencil wrap that I carry with me everyday I have 26 colours, three are blue .

(Read more about my watercolour pencil wrap here)

blues everyday

Over the last few weeks in the evenings I have been creating an entry for a local art show and have been using every blue pencil I own. These are pencils that I have been given, or acquired.


Almost all are watercolor pencils (except Bluish  Turquoise, which is a coloured pencil).

I have added water to a paintbrush and dragged it across the page to show the changes in colour that occur when water is added to the pigment. For this particular project it did not matter, but usually for my drawings I am trying to get the colour right . Over the last eight years that I have been using watercolour pencils I have become familiar with the colours and how they can be mixed and the effects. This is how I have chosen the three (above) for my everyday use .

Just to throw in something extra to the mix., the project is on brown card not white watercolour paper. The brown card changes the way the blue appears and it also soaks up the colour, leaving a dull surface, and making it difficult to draw fine, hard lines.

Airmail Parcel hint 2

Here is a hint. More will be revealed on Opening night in September



sketchbook travel journal : the practicalities

 Recently I reflected on my blog on the realities of sketching and drawing in a sketchbook while travelling, and on how and what/how I would draw. On my holiday in London and Barcelona, I could put my theories into practice and test them to see what happened in reality.
 I also had a chance to experience the realities of the act of sketching while travelling. I now have the opportunity to reflect on the practicalities of sketching . This is what I experienced and will be vastly different for everyone, but might give some insight.

                               PRACTICALITIES – MY PENCILS

I have a customised pencil wrap for my watercolour pencils. Read and see the story of its creation. This was my opportunity to test it out while travelling. I found that the design was great for all of my on the spot sketching, for example leaning up against a wall, at cafes or on the plane. I can have it out in front of me and see all colours at once.   I only lost three pencils in London. (Light Chrome Yellow had to be replaced twice – why was it jumping out??). But losing pencils (and erasers) proved an excellent excuse to visit two amazing art shops that I knew of. They are both traditional shops that are a joy to browse through – lots of wooden drawers with papers, paint pigment for grinding and other Cornelissen & Son Artists’ Colourmen in Bloomsbury and Green & Stone of Chelsea. Heaven


day before London- a lot dirtier and worn now

Sharpener pocket
I had asked for pockets for my eraser and my pencil sharpener.
Sharpener – worked brilliantly. I found that I did not take the sharpener out of the pocket, but put the pencil into the sharpener while it was in the pocket.  The pocket did fill up with pencil shavings, but it worked really well. I think we may make the next version using a sharpener with a container attached to it. I think Staedler make one

Eraser  – did not work. I broke my eraser into smaller pieces and would put one piece in the pocket. However, they fell out and I lost so many erasers throughout London in the first week. Very frustrating. But then, in Barcelona at the Urban Sketching Symposium, we were given lots of freebies by the sponsers. One was a mechanical eraser – It has solved all my problems. And I can put it one of the pencil slots in the wrap.

Tombow mechanical eraser

I slept with my sketch book next my bed (or is that in my bed ??), so that in early hours of the morning (we had long summertime hours in the UK) This was in London in the first few days.

This photo was taken in Sydney, but gives you the idea of how I sketch at the table. Please note  I usually put my pen down when eating. My pencil wrap would be on my lap or on the table


  • As a passenger in planes, trains and cars. This worked best when I knew how long the journey would take 
Sydney Airport

a quick sketch and slow drawing on the long plane journey

  •  In queues. There are plenty of those and some of them very long
on the Tube  no time to sketch! the trains come so regularly

at the check in desk at Barcelona airport. the line moved so fast !!

  • While waiting  for people. When a travelling companions are texting, emailing, resting, shopping. I usually asked for 1/2 hour “meet back here”.  I then had a known timeframe. My travelling companion knew that this was a sketching holiday for me and was prepared to these moments.

and I sketched everywhere 

Albert Memorial


The Tower of London
Trafalgar Square


A closeup of how I hold my sketchbooks and pencils. My sketchbook is balanced ontop of the pencilwrap, so that I can easily lift it up to gain access to the pencils. I also hold a selection of colours I am using in my sketching hand. It sounds awkward but it works for me


outside of St Paul’s Cathedral

outside of St Paul’s Cathedral
I would love to hear others experiences when travelling and any hints and tips. What do you do ?

If you are in Sydney. I am talking about my travel sketchbooks at Erin Hill Sketching  sketchclass on Oct 26 . Book in and I will see you there !

Customised pencil wrap

I have a brand new customised pencil wrap that I am taking with me to London and Barcelona tomorrow!

This is what it looks like fully stocked with my pencils and pens – all packed and ready to go!

PROTOTYPE #3(the current version)

This is the original Derwent pencil wrap as sold in shops. I used it from 2009 til 2012

Overtime I realised that the style of the wrap did not actually suit the way I draw and the way I use my pencils.

 The issues were:

·        Drawing at a table – eg at a café.

 On a table it would take up a large amount of space– It was awkward to have the wrap out and food on the table, as well as my sketchbook

          On my lap – it was too long and would fall over the sides of lap– more difficult to pick up the pencils quickly.

·        Drawing standing up – once again it was awkward to hold the length of the wrap.

  • I am continuously taking it out of my bag AND the pencils in and out. I needed quick access and instant display

At the end of the day I always had loose pencils falling out of the wrap in my bag and there would be half a dozen pencils at the bottom of my bag.

I could have changed the way I work but I seems easier to change the sketchkit

I had many suggestions from friends and fellow sketchers. My original concept started as it being a part of my shoulder bag – and would fold down from the side. 

I had many ideas but I did not have the technical ability to take them any further 


PROTOTYPE #1 (by me)
 I cut in the pencil wrap in half and crudely tacked them together, one half on top of the other

Eight months later I was using my temporary prototype and it was looking a little worse for wear.
PROTOTYPE #2 (by Kaz)
A sketching friend, Kaz, took pity on me and offered to create a new pencil wrap based on this. She also loves a project and challenge. I bought another new one from the shop, Kaz took measurements and asked me about what I needed. Not long later she gave me a new version. It was foldable and had pockets .
New feature Two little pockets at top each side to put eraser and pencil sharpener
After one week of trialling it, I discovered some things worked brilliantly (the pockets- and extra flap at the top)
Others I did not use (the extra fold up option, as I always used it in “full display” mode)
I also found out that the bottom needs to be closed so pencils don’t fall out.
These were quickly incorporate into PROTOTYPE #3 which you see at the top of the page.
          NEXT VERSION
         We are both already thinking of PROTOTYPE #4 .  My upcoming three week holiday to London and  Barcelona should test it as I will be sketching everywhere everyday ,
         Pockets need clips to close so that sharpener and eraser do not fall out in bag pocket (put in upside down
         Maybe a triple decker version ??
         Make from scratch with a light canvas ………