This type of bag (below) is called a sling bag, and it fits nicely over the shoulder and across your back and chest, taking the weight off your arms and leaving your hands completely free. You can lob it around to the back if it gets in your way.
It's amazing how much stuff can be put in there without crowding or immobilizing the entire thing.
There are 3 pockets. The main large one (the top zipper), a smaller separate pocket (lower zipper) and a small velcroed pocket up on the strap that is intended for a cellphone. Since there is no point in carrying a cellphone in the jungle, this can be used for other important things.
The Large Pocket: I cut the sealing mechanism off the top of a large ziplock bag and lined this large pocket with the remainder of the bag (I couldn't cram it in with the ziplock part intact, but without it, it fits perfectly). This will keep things dry unless the bag "goes overboard." I put a layer of two folded plastic grocery bags in the bottom which pads the end of the sketchpad, and the entire bag can be popped into one of the grocery bags for protection if it's really wet. Here's what's in the big pocket:
- The sitting pad of ¼" thick closed-cell foam (it keeps your bottom dry because it won't soak up water), is folded in half and fits upright in the back.
- The sketchpad is next, coil edge up
- a ballpoint pen with a clasp is inserted into the coil
- The watercolor pencil pouch containing 36 watercolor pencils is actually short enough to fit sideways in the bag.
In the Cellphone Pocket are things I might want to trot out to use on a moment's notice:
- my folded reading glasses in a little crocheted pouch (which I custom-made to fit and protect them)
- my magnifying glass with a long, colorful string to make it hard to lose
- half-a-dozen business cards
- a small bottle of aspirin
- several wrapped hard candies to keep my stomach happy when I need to concentrate. (oops! those didn't get in the picture!)
In the Lower Pocket are the rest of the items, helter-skelter, but the pocket is so small that everything is visible and accessible when the zipper is opened. It contains:
- extra ballpoint pen/s
- 2 or more waterbrushes ~ take two in case one fails. You might want a couple of sizes.
- a couple of rags to wipe the ballpoint pen on (I often use the inside of my pants cuff or shoe), and to wipe up with the waterbrush which is used for wetting the watercolorpencil drawings.
- a small closed-container pencil sharpener for the watercolor pencils. A closed container is essential, since bits of watercolor pencil will stain magnificently if they get wet (which they almost certainly would).
- a mechanical pencil loaded with #2 leads
- a kneaded eraser
- clear tape ~ make a plastic guard to keep it from getting trashed in the pocket
- a small bottle of glue ~ this might have to be put in the liquids bag if noticed.
- blunt scissors ~ sharp ones won't make it through the check-in line.
- a dispenser of plastic toothpicks. These are sold in drugstores, and are useful for lots of things. Especially if you forget to brush your teeth.
Although I don't show it or list it in my packing list, it occurred to me that I should attach my tiny key ring thermometer to my sling bag so I will know the temperature. In Peru they measure the temperature in Celsius units, so I've glued in a Celsius/Fahrenheit converter just for the heck of it.
On the front of the journal is a map which shows both the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica where I'll be going first, then the Upper Reaches of the Amazon in Darkest Peru where I'll be staying for the rest of the time. I plan to glue in a closer view when I get to the right point in my journal, so I'll tuck that map into the sketchbook for later.
I do almost all of my drawing with ballpoint pens. Pencils are useless in the moist tropics because they don't mark well unless you really press hard, then they indent the paper so that you can't make corrections. Even if you press hard, the line doesn't register well, so since you can't redo it anyway, you might as well use a ballpoint. If you pick a good one that doesn't blob, it makes a wonderful drawing tool. I use an ordinary medium point Bic pen, costing less than a dollar. Works great. Here's a picture of me sketching a sea turtle on one of my sketching trips, just to keep in focus what this is all about (grin).
I used to teach a workshop on Sketch Journaling. If you want more information like that, you might want to download Nature & Travel Sketch Journaling for more details.
So there it is. Now that I have all this out of the way, everything packed and ready to go a full month ahead of time and the housesitter arranged for, I can start preparing for my Second Annual Art Show and Studio Sale, which will be in Ashland, Oregon, at the Shakespeare Great Hall on Main Street (just below the Shakespeare Theater) on Friday, December 10 (4-8pm) and Saturday, December 11 (11am to 5pm). You're invited! Here's what it looked like last year.
Guess I'd better get started! Hope you enjoyed this little exercise in packing. I sure did. Thanks for stopping by.