Quest for the Perfect Sketching Bag : Timbuk2 Especial
Last summer’s painting season I found myself doing a fair number of panoramic diptychs. I’ve been using two 1/4 sheets of watercolor paper (11×15″) taped to 14×18″ coroplast boards to give me a wider landscape format. I expect I’ll be doing more of these this year.
I quite enjoy the panoramic feeling – and it’s super convenient to do it in two panels. Much like a big sketchbook, being able to ‘fold them up’ allows me to easily carry a big painting like this to pretty much any location.
Oddly, one piece of gear that becomes a huge part of this trick, is my new(ish) shoulder bag.
It seems like a minor detail, but it makes all the difference to have just the right bag. I like to be able to setup and take down quickly. Sometimes you simply won’t get the shot if you don’t throw down your gear and get started. But I also like to keep most of my gear still in the bag at my feet – in case I have to relocate quickly. Like that time we were painting on a not-actually-out-of-service train track.
Here it is. My ideal sketching bag, the: Timbuk2 Designs Especial Cycling Messenger Bag
This expandable beauty fits my 14×18″ drawing boards like it was custom tailored for them. I can carry a fat stack of six panels, and still fit my Sirui Tripod, palette, water bottles, and brush case. The magnetic assisted tie-down straps are speedy and secure – allowing me to reliably stuff it just a bit beyond its official capacity.
It has two well-positioned luggage handles on the short side, so on the subway or in a crowded restaurant, you can carry it briefcase style, and not bark anyone’s knees.
The shoulder strap is comfortable, and easily tightened to snug the bag to your body – and can even be re-positioned to change the angle on your back in case you’re a bit taller/shorter than average.
I particularly like the easily accessed side zip pockets (one on each side). These are designed to be reached without fully removing the bag from your shoulder. Great for your small sketchbook and pens, so you can instantly have a book out and drawing for those action shots. Or for your keys, so you can stumble through your door without having to dump your paintings on the doorstep.
So, there it is – a simple bit of kit, that makes it a little easier to do larger paintings out on location.