My favorite way to draw standing up is to just hold my palette and book. It helps keep my kit as light as possible and it helps me maneuver myself into tight spots in busy places. So I wanted a setup as close to “nothing” as I could get for my travel-sketching workshop in Oaxaca next week, where we’ll wander around the markets and the streets sketching. So why a setup? I want to be able to change the angle of my sketchbook easily to let all the participants see what I was doing and when I have no backing board this is hard to do.
So I came up with this and have been working with it for a while to see if it will do what I want it to. It’s super-simple, barely heavier than my ‘nothing’ setup and I think I like it. These two photos are me holding it at home in my studio, there was no one to take photos when I used it on location.
So what is it? Just this. A coroplast sheet, small enough to fit into my backpack without folding (less wide than my opened up 8×10 inch sketchbook, but that doesn’t matter), two binder clips to hold my sketchbook open, and two more with magnetic binder clips to hold my palette firmly. That’s it.
This is how it goes together. Two magnets means the palette is very stable: you can bump into it (happens a lot in a busy place) and it won’t fall off easily. My water container usually just sits there on my palette but I’m blu-tacking it down to keep it extra stable. It reduces my mixing space but having all the weight right here in the middle of the board is much more stable than having the water clipped off to the side. My holding arm tires the least with this all-in-one-place setup, and I don’t have to re-learn where to go dip my brush between colors, because this setup is pretty close to where everything is usually.
I’ll let you know how it holds up to sketching in Oaxaca. If it works in the mercados it’ll work almost anywhere…it might even hold up to sketching in the fish markets in India!
I learnt some things in trying to make a setup for myself:
1) It didn’t work to just see someone’s setup online and replicate it, I needed to decide what my needs of my setup were. “Must work in a crowded market” is very important to me, it might not be for you. “Must weigh very little” “no assembly required” and “must fit in my current sketchbag” were also high on the list.
2) It helped to let things be positioned where they usually are when I stand and sketch. When I tried to “better” my setup by clipping the water container to one side, off my palette, I did get back my mixing space, but I am so used to going for the water container where it is that I didn’t like the ‘better’ setup.
Oh, and here’s a closeup of the color palette I’m taking along.