Drawing and Painting Tools, an Inventory

With all this time at home, it seems a good idea to take stock, see what's at hand. Inspired by the nature journaling book in the previous post, I decided to take inventory, to see what constitutes "My Field Kit." Never mind the jars of pens around the house and in the studio. What are the active kits? I have several. And they have mostly ended up in this basket.

The current kit contains a slimmed down version of a watercolor marker kit, which has a selection of Koi markers. I newly resurrected my technical pen and found that JetPens still sells cartridges for it. The .35 line is my favorite for both writing and drawing. The ink is permanent so I can combine it with the watercolor markers and it holds up perfectly. I love the Winsor & Newton dual-ended water colour markers, but they are expensive, so a rare treat.

ruler, multicolored pencil, pencil, Rapidograph, Micron PN pens, Niji water brush, white Gelly Roll pen, Winsor & Newton water colour markers, Koi coloring brush pens, eraser

camping journal, watercolor markers with Micron PN pen outline

Periodically, I need markers from the box of Tombow double-ended brush markers I bought initially for kids to use. Not too many colors are left due to either running out of ink completely or trashed tips.

And I still have my pack of Letraset Aquamarkers, probably about seven years old. I dip into this stash for extra needed colors. That's the good  thing about old watercolor markers: water reconstitutes them just fine.

I also have my tiny watercolor field kit, which has its own brush, to which I added a nicer two-piece brush I carry with it, along with a small water bottle. A half pan is missing because I dropped the kit and the little pans went scurrying into the corners of the studio. Two never returned, but from Blick I replaced one (you can probably guess from the picture), not remembering what color the other had been.

watercolor kit with pencil, eraser, tissue wrapped around a toothpick for a blotter, two-piece brush.

camping journal, pencil, watercolor with outlines

Paper makes all the difference to how the markers function. My camping journal is all rough watercolor paper, great for everything except the Rapidograph. For over a year I had a generic black notebook for the daily journal, and I couldn't get the watercolor line to move no matter how much I flooded the page, so I gave up and went back to my travel markers, and really the most useful ones for a permanent drawing, the Faber Castell Pitt markers. You can tell I've been investing in these for a long time.

ruler, glue stick, Micron PN pens, LePen, Prismacolor Premier pens, Wink of Stella pen, Gelly Roll pen, Pitt pens, kid scissors, eraser (should be a pencil in there, too)

camping journal, Pitt pens with outlines

The Pitt pens are best, were best, for travel, like in this 2016 post. For travel, I couldn't take my Rapidograph on the plane because it would explode, so I got the Prismacolor Premier technical set during one visit to Boston. A good selection of permanent lines. You can see how all the media react to water in this comparison:

My first love, though, is the Caran d'Ache Supracolor II Soft watercolor pencils. Paired with a Niji water brush they are super versatile. I can make hard edges and soft, both. But empty the water brush before flying so it won't explode.

eraser, Niji brush, pencil, Caran d'Ache Supracolor watercolor pencils

camping journal, pencil, watercolor pencil

There is also drawing with embellishments. The Wink of Stella brush pens are lovely (but they explode on planes, too). I found them at Kinokuniya in NYC, but they sell them at JetPens also. I restrained myself and only have gold, silver, clear, pink, and blue. (The last two I don't use much.) All have glitter mixed with the ink. The clear is a way to add glitter to ANYTHING without changing the colors. 

White gel pen is interesting to use on top of the Pitt markers. And as highlights, as John Muir Laws suggests.

Silver gel pen writes the best on black paper, and I use it the fill in the letters I stamp on the covers of my journals, like in this 2018 post and this 2013 post.

For a more detailed comparison, it turns out I've looked at water media before in this 2018 post.

The quality of the materials makes a difference. So it is good to experiment and find out which combination of paper and pencils, pens, or paints works for you. And it may be different at different times and in different situations. Yes, I seem to have a lot of choices, but really I tend to pick one set for a while and work with that.


hi Alisa. i'm grace, a part of Jude Hill's cloth community. I also
draw. i read your posts all the time. But this morning i
felt i wanted to thank you for this particular one...it made
me so Happy. Having come to CA 3 years ago, each year have
evacuated. This last time, 3 weeks. Somehow this post said: it's
ok. just take your drawing stuff.
loved so much looking at your tools, listening to you talk of
them. Thank you.
Alisa said…
hello, grace. I'm touched by your comment—thank you for writing. I wish you well.

I've been wondering a lot this year what I would take if I had to evacuate and didn't know that was the answer this whole time.