Keeping my sanity!

Juggling family life can be a challenge especially when you are creative. Sometimes when the need arises and the creative urge is calling, you are mid-flight on the school run or helping with homework. The school holidays are the most challenging - play dates, bored children and Mum’s café always open.

The summer before last I was determined not to surrender to the humdrum off domestic life and amble about in creative frustration but find a way to paint/draw if I had a few minutes of ‘me’ time.

As a result I organised a quick go-to kit which I could whip out at a moment’s notice and paint straight away. A kit which could fit into a bag and I could carry anywhere – hassle free and discrete. Invention out of necessity. Necessity for my sanity!

So I ‘invented’ my plein air pencil case. Borrowing my son’s pencil case I sought out my essential art equipment which could fit easily inside. Quality of products wasn’t a priority. My purpose was compact and quick access. After a few trials of my plein air pencil case, I found I kept including the following things:

What is in my current pencil case.

Pencil case
2B Pencil
Stanley knife/ or pencil sharpener
Small watercolour sketchbook (300gsm)
Small set of watercolours
3 small brushes
Felt-tip pen
Small cardboard view finder

Since my invention I have completed 5 small sketchbooks and found my sanity has returned. I only need 10-15 minutes to draw. I draw anything from landscape to still life. Labouring away at a work isn’t the goal. Capturing a moment is the purpose. I keep all the works. Even the not successful ones, as they serve as the most important learning tool.

My method is to draw a QUICK pencil outline, then I use watercolour in a relaxed approach. Once dry, I draw over the top with a black marker. The marker is great as each line is a commitment. You can’t rub it out! If you have been a student you will know how much I dislike erasures, so I only use it under extreme situations. I like to see the journey of all the marks made. These marks make the work more interesting.


I will be including this kit in my suitcase when I go to Italy in June.

I hope this helps any frustrated creative soul!  Keep the pencil case in your bag and take it out when the urge arises. You could be on the train on the way to work or waiting for the kids while they do sport. The possibilities are endless.

I’d love to hear about your successes with your little kit. Please feel free to drop me a line.

Yours in art,

Bec x