Wednesday, 7 May 2014

What's in your field-kit ???

There have been some fantastic blogposts lately about drawing and painting field-kits.  The two that most impressed me are by Shevaun Doherty and Polly O'Leary

I find that the contents and method of carrying the field-kit can vary dependant on where you are going to be working.  Shevaun's blogpost is about sketching whilst in a museum and Polly's about studying plants in an area of marsh in the summer heat.

© Shevaun Doherty.  Sketching in Dublin Museum of Natural History

Having worked as an Ecologist in the past I was always used to having a survey field-kit pre-packed according to the survey type.  The kit I used for the woodland, hedgerow and grassland surveys contains many of the same items that I use in my current field-kit for drawing and painting.  More about that later.

Looking back through some images from the last few years I came across a few that show previous field-kits.

2011  A trip to New Hampshire and Maine.  Travelling from England meant that room was limited in my luggage.  Contents: A small A6 sketchbook, palette, Faber Castell fine liners, Pentell brush pen, propelling pencil, cotton rag, waterbrush (that I didn't use), travel sable brush and small folio with individual sheets of watercolour paper within.

2012 A trip to Wales and the Isle of Skomer.  I love this foldaway zip up pouch.  I can fit so much in there, but it folds and zips up completely.  As we were travelling around Wales by car, I could be a bit more extravagant and take a few more materials !

Now to the present .......
Recently, I have been sketching woodland plants.  Even though I have visited woods relatively close to home I still wanted to have a compact field-kit with the added addition of a firm surface to work on.
My present field-kit: An A3 'Weather Writer' (see below), paint palette, H & F pencils, water pot, small rule, scissors, specimen bags, hand lens (several of different magnifications), travel paintbrush, waterbrush (still trying to get used to using these), heavy-weight cartridge paper, ID charts (this one for ferns), Wild Flower Key by Francis Rose (my original one is in pieces, so this is a shiny new one) and finally, a zip up wallet which will contain all of my drawing and painting bits.

Now to the Weather Writer.  An ingenious invention, that I used non-stop during fieldwork as an ecologist.  It has a flap that closes with studs, which means everything can be contained in the dry.  This can then pop open and if the weather is a bit dodgy, you have a covered area to work under.  In addition on the reverse are two clips to make it into a clip board.  There is also a hole either side (on the A4 model), so that you can string a cord through it and hang it around your neck, which then leaves your hands free.
I now have a busy few days ahead, so no fieldwork for me.  I am off to London to see the Society of Botanical Artists Exhibition at Westminster Central Hall.  It is a fabulous opportunity to meet up with friends from all over the world.  Four of my paintings are being exhibited too.
© Sarah Morrish 2014.  A View Inside - Echinacea purpurea

© Sarah Morrish 2014.  A View Inside - Rosa rugosa hips

© Sarah Morrish 2014.  Quercus robur - New life

© Sarah Morrish 2014.  Galls of Quercus species


  1. Wonderful field kit ideas, especially the weather writer! I didn't know about those. It's great to see your paintings for the exhibition, and congratulations on the award for your Echinacea--well deserved!!

  2. Thank you very much Janene. It was so lovely to see your beautiful paintings too !

  3. Your work looks lovely Sarah. I hope you have enjoyed the exhibition, had a great time and came home feeling even more inspired. Just seen you have won an award, so very well done, you must be delighted.

  4. Great post Sarah, never heard of the weather writer before, it looks really useful. I love hearing about other's field kits/sketching kits. There's always more to learn, and so many great ideas.

  5. Congratulations on your award Sarah.

  6. Thank you Milly, Polly and Sonia.


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