The book in the bag

For the very quickest of sketches, I’ve been keeping a pencil and a really small sketchbook in my bag. If you want to make drawing a daily habit, then the book needs to be with you wherever you go — for those waiting times in the dentist’s office, for the commute home on the train or bus, or even for a few minutes on your lunch hour. And it doesn’t need to be something significant that you sketch. Maybe it’s just the way the light hits the house across the way, or the big boots on the guy sitting next to you on the bus, or the half empty coffee cup on your desk. Every little bit of drawing practice is valuable, and the easier it is to use the tools, the more likely you will be to do it. I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, but if there’s one I’ll try to adhere to this year, it’ll be to take out the book in the bag a little more often.


20 Comments on “The book in the bag”

  1. Stephen says:

    I’m loving your sketches, I bought a small book , last year and you inspired me to take it out and have it with me to sketch.
    What type of pencil do you use? and do you use just one or you have different lead types?

    • Hi Stephen. Sorry it’s taken my so long to respond. For some reason your comment got lost and I just found it now. I used a mechanical pencil with a B lead. I’ll show it to you next time I see you. I hate sharpening pencils so the mechanical pencil works perfectly for me. And it is thin enough for using in a small book like this. I hope to see your sketches!

  2. Judy Sopher says:

    For once I can say I do this. It is more than a habit to me It has kept me sane (at least I think I am) thru boring lectures, meetings, etc. It looks like I am taking notes as opposed to knitting which is obvious. And it is a wonderful way to keep artistic skills going. And-as always-your sketch is delightful.

  3. thank you Shari
    i will also work to make that resolution come true.
    i carry the book and the pencil now i’ll make sure the resolve is in the bag too!
    Angel in the dust-
    holly (the laziest angel on earth)

  4. Bernadette says:

    Thank you Shari for your suggestion. I believe it will help with the anxiety I often find as I begin a painting. If I practice daily as you suggest I am sure facing a blank sheet of paper will be less intimidating. Thank you.


  5. richardrabkin says:

    Jetpens has a nice article on “everyday carry” sketching here

  6. Mayela Lameda-Lyver says:

    Well said. I intend to adhere to that resolution for 2017. Just started to learn how to draw. Happy New year

  7. Monique says:

    Looks so much like my friend’s home on Empress:)Well done..

  8. loisajay says:

    My son gifted me with a set of Micron pens and a roll to keep them in. Those, along with my pencils and a small sketchbook are now next to my purse to place and keep in my car. This is such a great idea–that, of course, I never thought of! Thanks, Shari.

  9. Andrea Jeris says:

    I’ve done this before and got out of the habit. Time to start it again. I have an artist friend who has a very small one he wears on a cord around his neck! Ha!

  10. Hi Shari. Happy holidays. A long time ago a friend of mine showed me a sketching tool that I’d never thought of before, Post-it notes! The 3″ square ones, which I now carry in a small metal box that slips into my pocket. I used to use a small sketch book as well, but I found that people always want to look over your shoulder and then make some sort of comment as to your “skills” as an artist. It never mattered where I was, there was always a looky-loo. However, no one seems to even notice when you are scribbling on a Post-it. After all, its not “artistic.” When I’ve taken students out on sketching trips I’ve noticed how uncomfortable some can be when there are spectators around. They get intimidated even if no one scuttles over to peek at what they are doing in a regular sized sketchbook. With the Post-its, they seem free from the pressure to draw something “pretty.” A Post-it is small, and if it fails then you can crumple it up and toss it away, no harm no foul. When you get back home you simply stick it into a regular sketchbook, and if you change your mind about it, then you can still just toss it out.

    • Judy Sopher says:

      Fantastic idea. What size post-its work best for this? I also like being able to stick in your sketch book or toss it.

    • Judy Sopher says:

      Sorry, I just reread your post and you did tell the size. Its too early in the morning.

      • Post-its come in various sizes. You can get larger ones than the standard 3″x3″, but I find the originals work best. If you are sketching landscapes for example, this gives you roughly a 2″ x 3″ window to work in, which is the same ratio as a quarter or half sheet watercolor. I don’t work in “squares” much, but the Post-it is already set for those too. Its the small size that really counts. You just can’t get detailed on a Post-it. You automatically have to simplify when you work small – and we all need to simplify our work.

      • Judy Sopher says:

        Thanks. Going to try this.

  11. Felicia Cass says:

    Wonderful and practical New Year’s Resolution. Your blog has inspired and taught me so much this year! Thank you for your dedication to your practice and to those of us learning and growing through you.

  12. Alison says:

    Great post Shari. So true. I keep a wee book in my bag and have enjoyed pulling it out, most recently waiting for my freezing to take at the dentist (the view out the window is charming).

  13. Barbara Beynon says:

    Yes–always a little sketchbook, micron and pencil. With these in my purse, I never have to spend time waiting. (The same can be said of carrying a book but that can be bulky and I don’t like reading on my iPhone.) I like theStrathmore drawing series 400, 4″ x 6″. It’s inexpensive and just study enough to take light washes later if I want to add some color.

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