Friday 25 April 2014

Plein Air Painting Materials - showing full work in progress.

I have painted my favourite art tools in my sketchbook but I thought I'd add more information here and post the photos of the work in progress.

You can use a very limited plein air kit, as I've shown in my previous post and also in another called 'travelling light with watercolour'.

Here I'll show the tools I use when I go out sketching with the Sydney Sketch Club, Urban sketchers, for my own sketching or for my teaching locally or internationally. I never know quite what I may choose to paint or draw so I like to have a good range of materials. Quite daunting to tackle, but as a study rather fun as there are lots of different materials to render - wood, plastic, metal, clear plastic and so on.

Stage one was to lightly draw all the pens and pencils into a double page spread of my A4 Moleskine watercolour notebook. I chose this one as the paper is lovely to work in and I can paint all the materials life size.

While not the most important items, I started with the natural sea sponge, which I like to use for painting vegetation, a regular eraser and a little tube of white opaque watercolour (or gouache) that I have with me for splashing on a bit of sea spray at the beach or touching white highlights to an objects. The pencils are a water-soluble Faber Castell graphite 2B or 4B (Derwent are also good) that is a lovely pencil to use as it blends into a wash with either water or watercolour. Next is a Derwent Inktense Neutral Grey watercolour pencil. I like to use this for quickly adding dark details as it matches my 'Jane's Grey' premixed paint. It creates a more solid and matt dark than the graphite without the graphite 'shine'.
Natural sea sponge, white watercolour, eraser, Faber Castell watersoluble grahite pencil, Derwent inktense pencil.
Here is stage two - my Faber Castell clutch pencil is starting to take shape. 
Next I drew in a white chalk pencil. This one is from Gererals. It is nice for adding white highlights to a finished piece or for creating highlights on painted or tinted paper along with a dark pencil, or dark watercolour, for shadows. 
...Faber Castell clutch pencil and General's White Charcoal Pencil added..
The clutch pencil is now painted in. I like to have a clutch pencil as it doesn't need sharpening. I also have a regular pencil in my tiny travel kit if I want to do extra shading, or the graphite pencil. This is a 0.7 lead and is also nice to write with. I generally write on my sketches with whatever I drew with - pencil on pencil sketches, ink on ink sketches and so on.
Natural sea sponge, white watercolour, eraser, Faber Castell watersoluble grahite pencil, Derwent inktense pencil Faber Castell clutch pencil and General's White Charcoal Pencil.
Now I have drawn in my Lamy pen and painted the Copic cool grey pen. I like to use these when I want a more gentle line rather than a black. It's not easy to find a waterproof grey. This is light but I like it.
...copic pen added...
Now my Lamy Joy is painted in, though not the lid as yet. I have put an EF nib on this and it is lovely to draw or write with. I am using a converter with De Atramentis Archival black ink, which I have tested and found to be waterproof. It also doesn't affect the warranty of the Lamy pen. De Atramentis black Document Ink is also excellent, and may be cheaper in some countries.

I have also painted in another permanent pen - a Sakura Pigma Micron in 0.1. I like to have the option of black, grey or brown line-work, depending what I am drawing. I have started on the nib. I hold each item to draw and paint it in, then put it on the page to see what the shadow does and add that.

...Lamy Joy pen, Sukura Pigma marker and dip pen added...
 I love to use a dip pen with ink or paint. It is a great way to add fine lines and details into a drawing. I use a brush to brush the colour onto the nib and draw away with colour or even white. This has a nice strong Post Office nib.

Now I have added my lovely squirrel mop brush from Rosemary & Co. It carries a lot of water and comes to a fine tip so is a fabulous brush for plein air painting. At this stage I still had my pencil sharpener in the picture but will move it onto another page...or remove it altogether.
Squirrel Quill added.
Now I have added a Pental water-brush. I like these for quick studies with a water-soluble pencil and also for using with my watercolours if I don't have time or space to set up with a water container to use my regular brush. You can see the shadow on the real water-brush sitting in the middle of the page. I use the medium brush size.

..and a Pental water brush
So here they are so far....Lots more to add. :-)

Natural sea sponge, eraser, white watercolour tube, Faber Castell watersoluble grahite pencil, Derwent inktense pencil, Faber Castell clutch pencil, General's White Charcoal Pencil, Lamy Joy pen, Copic Cool Grey pen, Sukura Pigma marker, Squirrel Quill pocket brush, a Pental water brush and dip pen.
Onto the second page. I've added in my lovely Brass watercolour palette from Classicpaintboxes and started to draw some other favourite tools

The very fine eraser is by Tombow and allows really detailed erasing. Not a necessity but very helpful at times. The pen has the gold started and the pencil is gradually coming to life. It's a Palomino pencil - nice and dark and claims to require less effort to use. They come in three tones - the grey is the lightest then Pearl, then the black which is very soft and dark. They also have their own special sharpener! 

Another Lamy pen. I have quite a few of them - three with calligraphy nibs, three in my kit...and a couple more :-) This one has a lovely orange/brown ink - De Atramentis Ochre Yellow - that is not waterproof so will run if washed over with water or watercolour - useful for some purposes. I nearly always use Burnt Sienna so a permanent and a water soluble version of this hue is rather fun for sketching.

Now the pen is nice and dark the the pencil has its first wash of grey. The pen is a Sailor fountain pen with an EF nib. I love writing with it but it is also very nice for drawing. I have it filled with Sailor Nano ink, which is supposed to be waterproof. It seems to be from this fine pen on most paper but has run on occasions. It dries pretty fast. Sailor make the finest of fine nibs, which I really enjoy.

So here is the double page spread. Two more objects to paint in on the left - another travel brush and another Lamy pen so nothing new really. I've added the kneadable eraser here - Faber Castell are the ones I like best.
On the right page I have added another lovely Rosemary & Co travel brush - this is a sable quill, a Porcupine Quill that I use to scratch into a damp wash and to stir paint, a fine scrubber brush from Dick Blick and a travel dagger I asked Rosemary and Co to make - it's a mixture of 50% synthetic and 50% sable hair and a very versatile brush.

And here they are in real life, with the watercolour palette closed, some of the travel brushes put away and the pencil case they all fit in. I also add a ruler and a pencil sharpener but any brand would do of those so they missed out on their portrait! A couple of shadows and a couple more items to paint (can you find them?) and this will be complete. 

Here is the second page in progress. The metallic Lamy pen has a grey ink from de Atramentis called Fog Grey so I have the option of softer line-work than black. This ink is not waterproof so can create interesting effects if a wash is put over the top.

...And here the final brush has been added - the Isabey squirrel quill - this and the Rosemary Squirrel quill are my two most used travel brushes. I have another of these in my tiny kit. I've strengthened the colours in the palette and added the shadow to the kneadable eraser.

 All these materials pack into a pencil case ready to go.

 ...And here it is finished! This will be scanned and available as a limited edition print.
My full Plein air painting kit. From left: Classicbrassboxes Brass palette, Palamino Pencil, Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen, Isabey squirrel Quill, Lamy Safari fountain pen, Kneadable eraser, Tombow eraser,  Sailor Fountin pen, sea sponge, eraser, white watercolour, Faber Castell watersoluble grahite pencil, Derwent inktense pencil, Faber Castell clutch pencil, General's White Charcoal Pencil, Lamy Joy pen, Copic Cool Grey pen, Sukura Pigma marker, Uniball White rollerball, Squirrel Quill pocket brush, a Pental water brush, dip pen, Sable Quill brush, porcupine quill, scrubber brush and Red Sable travel dagger brush.


  1. Hello, Jane, thanks for sharing your blog address on sketchbook skool, I am truly enjoying it! Such accumulated experience and knowledge you have, and you are so very free with sharing your techniques and tools. I could so learn volumes from you!

    1. Thank you Elsbeth. I am planning to do more international workshops so am keen to travel and teach anywhere in the world. Singapore in May, hopefully the UK in September/October. Maybe US next year. Maybe I'll see you at one some time! I also plan to add on-line courses to my website or blog, in drawing, watercolour painting, plein air painting and colour mixing. Watch this space!

    2. Jane! How exciting! I'd love to take an online class with you!

  2. I have a bit of an odd question - some waterproof fountain pen inks have a bit of an odor. Does the De Artemis Archival Black have a smell? And does it move at all with water? I've been searching for a waterproof fountain pen ink for a while, and need one that doesn't bug my chemical sensitivities.

    1. Elizabeth If I stick my nose in the jar I can certainly smell a slightly chemical smell, but in the pen I don't notive it at all. I have only started using this recently having tested it to make sure it was waterproof and it dried pretty quickly from my Lamy EF pen. Whether it would from a thicker pen I am not so sure. I'll give it a try!

    2. Thank you. I just know that the Noodler's Bulletproof inks are too strong for me - like permanent marker, and figured it was worth asking. I still want a fountain pen permanent ink, though...

      (I have these sensitivities from an accident involving inhaling aerosol solvent. For years I only painted digitally - until I fell in love with watercolours )

    3. Elizabeth I think the de Atramentis would do the trick - nothing like a permanent marker smell, but why don't you get samples from and give them a try yourself? They have a huge range so you can test the smell and how waterproof they are before buying a full bottle.

    4. Platinum carbon ink (available from Goulet Pens) is made with pigments instead of dyes and is waterproof once dry, so you can paint over it in watercolor without smearing your line work.

  3. Well this post is going to account for a big chunk of my tomorrow I think.. Both rereading it and checking out the products online but also being inspired by it to paint my own art stuff as it stands at present!

    1. So Helen how did you go painting your art stuff? I really enjoyed it. I chose to leave off the labels and writing so it is less distracting but otherwise chose to be very accurate.

  4. This is impressive, informative and very clever. Thank you

    1. I agree! Thanks for sharing; I love the format you chose, Jane.

  5. What a wonderful way to show your painting materials. Could you please indicate the size of the squirrel mop brush you are using here? Thanks

    1. The squirrel mop is the Rosemary & Co R9 brush which is on the website in the Pocket Brushes section.