So there was really one galvanizing resource that launched me from wishful thinking to surprised sketchbooker.
“Sketchbooking: How to Create a Delightful Journal of Your Travels at Home and Abroad,” by Barbara Stecher.
I don't usually travel much so often the self-defeating nonsense also includes, "But I don't go anywhere."
Actually after a long, harsh Boston winter, going out in the front yard and spotting some flowers is quite exciting. I seem to end up drawing them with great delight every spring anyway. (And yes, I have learned a few things from the Eden Project's course book but it would never have got me sketching in the first place).
As long as the sketchbook has some simple boundaries, if your travels are more "home" than "abroad," who cares?
As Dee Hock says, "Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex and intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple and stupid behavior." Although perhaps she was referring more to the government than to sketchbookers.
Anyway, keep it simple.
So, as soon as I'd finished devouring Stecher's little book that May several years ago, I set out with my mum for Boston's Fenway neighborhood and the Aladdin’s cave of Dick Blick Art Materials. But unlike my usual trips on which I'd buy too much and then use too little, I was soon done shopping.
First I bought a landscape-shaped sketchbook, the Classic Black Hardcover from Cachet, with a double spread just right for scenes and vistas.
Plus some fresh pencils. (Of course we had some at home, but why not?) A portable pencil sharpener that really works. And a white, plastic eraser such as the Staedtler Mars.
Images below link to Blick products but you can buy similar, simple art supplies at the most basic of craft stores. (Product photos copyright Blick.com)
And in the spirit of keeping it simple: are you really going to use that whole tin of 12 sketching pencils? 2B, 3B and perhaps an F or HB are plenty to keep track of. Anything darker and more easily smudged isn't really necessary. Don't you feel better now?
The tools I enjoy investing in the most are a few good liner pens. I really like the Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens. One convenient purchase would be a four pack of different width nibs and the pack keeps them together so you can find them quickly.
Now stick it all in a pouch or small bag and you're ready to go. How hard is that?
A Layout That Liberates
Next up: the secret ingredient of a premade layout. It works because it gives you something to do on that perfect blank stare of a canvas, your new book. And it ensures you’ll try to keep it up.