art journal on the go: constructing your own travel kit

When you get the bug for drawing and journaling, one of the things you lament is lack of time.  This necessitates creating “on the go” art kits for times when you’re waiting in the car, waiting in line, or waiting to pick up the kids.  I’ve read many tips and tricks for making portable little studios and this weekend, I committed to making one for myself that would be light, useful, and fit in my huge oversized bag (a modern woman has a lot of “stuff” to carry).

So what I did was I started out in Target’s cosmetic aisle and chose a small squarish makeup bag that’s originally designed to carry a few brushes.  It opens to a compartment on the left where the brushes would slide in and a compartment on the right for larger items.  Here’s what’s in my left hand side:  a pair of small, very sharp, detailed crafting scissors; blending brushes; a portable water brush; and nine Micron pens of different colors and line thickness.  I use the Microns because they last and they’re archival.  They’re hesitant to bleed through and they hold the pigment.  When I’m traveling, I never know if I’ll be using water-soluble art instruments, so I like the ability to wash over them on the page and not have them run.

On the right hand side, I like to carry a black pen of a heavier thickness (also archival).  In this case, I’m presently using the Artline Drawing System 0.8 which is also a water based pigment system and water-resistant, originally intended for graphic design and documents.  It’s not my favorite.  My white gel pen is a Uniball Signo White Gel Broad made by Mitsubishi and arguably one of the best white highlight pens on the market today, especially for art journaling.  These can get pricey, so I try to buy them when they’re on sale.  I have a small Scotch permanent Glue Stick and actually the one presently in the bag is a size larger than the one I really like to carry.  I have tried nearly every glue and glue stick on the market, Scotch is one of the cleaner and less clumpy.  I use the glue stick for my collage elements and the pens for enhancing them once they’re on the page.

One of the best buys I ever made on eBay was my field watercolor kit made by Sennelier.  It’s been packed away in boxes and just recently recovered (you’ll note none of the half pans of watercolor are used).  The whole kit opens up to produce three trays complete with watercolor brush and a mixing tray – it’s plastic, but perfect for on the go washes.  I’d like to add a small sponge to my kit and will have to remember to throw that in to the bag.  I also carry a small 6″ metal ruler with a perforated designed cutting edge so I can hold papers up to it and tear them in a serrated design.  The ruler is made by Art Deckle and is really a great addition.  All you need now is a portable notebook and you’re set to go.  I do know some art journalists who also carry watercolor art crayons – it’s a personal choice, but this is a process I tend to like to do at home and not on the road as I really love mixing and playing with colors.

All together, you’re looking at probably under $35 to assemble the entire kit (not including the journal).  My case has two zippers so I can quickly access the items from either direction and it opens up flat on the table which I would suggest.  If you buy a regular makeup bag, it’ll work, but you’ll find yourself digging in there all the time.  Another friend of mine uses an old vintage eyeglass case (the kind that has a hard shell and snaps shut) and in that she keeps her favorite journaling instruments.  What I love about the cosmetic bag is a quick wipe of a wet paper towel and the whole thing is good as new.  I’ve even tossed them (I have two) in the washing machine.  One other thing you might want to throw in your bag is a couple of business cards.  When you’re drawing in public, people inevitably want some advice on art or products or have a friend who is an artist.  Your cards (you should get some especially if you are an artist) will help you connect with others.  Maybe you could even teach them how to make an art journal to-go kit of their very own!

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One thought on “art journal on the go: constructing your own travel kit

  1. Excellent! I have been working at organizing my own travel “Kit”, and I like the fact that you did it small and manageable! For those of us “Gatherers” who always have too many containers, my only addition is to look around your home for something you have already purchased and are not using.

    And to make it even more compact check out the Bandoliers that wrap around your notebook and store a few of your pens and/or pencils. They are super cute and can be found on ETSY! I wish I had thought of them!

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