Gift Guide: Six items for the analog artist on the move

By Stephen Haynes

Do you know a cycling artist? These six items easily fit in a frame bag and allow for artistic adventures on the go.


Moleskine Large Watercolor Notebook – $20
At 8 ½ x 5 ½ inches, the Moleskine Watercolor Notebook is big enough to capture just about any scene, both real or imagined, yet small enough to fit just about anywhere. Its 72, 200-gram, cold-pressed watercolor pages stand up well to abuse of all kinds, from pencil, pen, watercolor, gouache and casein, to collage and sticker collecting. Moleskine makes a smaller 5 ½ x 3 ½ that I find too small and two larger A4 (11 3/4 x 8 1/4) and A3 (11 3/4 x 16 1/2) size books, both of which are nice, but too big for my purposes. I’m totally in favor of using cheaper materials and sketchbooks, as the cost of art supplies can get heady at times, but I can’t recommend this book enough for its utility and classic styling.

Sakura Koi Water Brush – $7.50
The Koi Water Brush from Sakura is a tool that I’ve come to greatly appreciate, especially when used in concert with water-soluble mediums like the Derwent Watercolor Pencils or Winsor & Newton Watercolor Markers I highlight below. The Koi can also be used to activate charcoal, pencil, non-binding ink (like that found in traditional ball points) and dried gouache lending your sketches a soft, painterly feel, which can be left as is, or reworked as you like. One part synthetic brush tip, one part water tank, the Koi is easily filled via faucet, stream or just about any other water source and comes in three different size brush tips: small, medium (pictured) and large. Easy on the budget, easy to pack and carry, loads of fun to use.

Derwent Watercolor Pencils Set of 12 – $20
The Derwent Watercolor Pencils are so cool it’s hard to convey how fun and useful they are in such a short format. Used as traditional colored pencils, they perform as one might expect, but when activated with water, they become slippery and nearly endlessly malleable. Create depth in your image by building layer upon layer of color, blending with water as you go along. They also work great in mixed media sketches, like the one shown here. Available in sets from 12 -72 colors, or individually from various outlets.

Winsor & Newton Watercolor Markers – $6 each
Much like the colored pencils above, the Winsor & Newton Watercolor Markers can be used like regular old markers, or they can be softened with water. The difference between the two is that the markers retain the original line a bit more and are also more pigmented; therefore, they come across as brighter and more vibrant. Despite being the only watercolor marker I own, it has proven to be a lot of fun to use and travels well (read, doesn’t need to be sharpened).

Pentel Pocket Brush – $20
The Pocket Brush uses black, waterproof ink, making it great for producing sketches and drawings of lasting quality or as an outliner over other media, like the watercolor marker and pencils mentioned previously. The Pentel Pocket Brush comes with two ink cartridges, one of which will last a good while, unless you’re prone to filling in large sections of paper with solid black. Replacement cartridges can be purchased in sets of two for under $5. This is without a doubt the best $20 I’ve spent on art supplies in the last decade. If you’re at all curious about the items in this roundup, start here.

Pentel Presto! Jumbo Correction Pen – $5
A staple of comic book artists everywhere, the Pentel Presto! Jumbo Correction Pen is great as both a quick-drying corrective tool and an easy solution for adding highlights. The Presto! Jumbo holds 12 mL of thinner-free, ozone-safe correction fluid dispensed through a fine-tipped roller ball, allowing for easy pinpoint applications that dries to the touch in a few seconds. The corrected area can then be readdressed with whatever medium you so choose, or not. While this isn’t an absolute necessity in my kit, I almost always use it when I have it.

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