my birthday art supply bag

by | Apr 17, 2023 | Art, art supplies, Artistic Endeavors, Creative Play, Favorite Things | 10 comments

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If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I’m always dabbling in new things.  I like to learn, grow, and find new ways to express my creativity.  I’ve been that way for as long as I can remember.  You may also know that I take a lot of art classes and read many art books so I’m learning a variety of techniques and styles from various artists.  I tend to lean towards being tighter and more traditional in my work, both in decorating and art, so I like to expose myself to creators who are totally free spirits.  They slosh around their paints with abandon.  They scribble and play and end up creating something that I find myself attracted to.  It’s not really my style or the kind of artwork I want to make, but it’s a kind of play that can help loosen me up a bit.

So instead of just using traditional art materials of the impressionists (graphite, watercolor, ink, and oils), I am branching out a bit more by using colored pencils, markers, and crayons in my sketchbook.  I’ve spent a lot of time just swatching out colors and trying to find my palette.  I’ve always bristled at non-paint mediums because I can’t mix my own colors.  So, trying to find my colors has been a key starting point.

colored pencil swatches | miss mustard seed

I’m also learning which mediums I like on which papers.  I keep a few different sketchbooks at a time so I can experiment in that way.  For example, I’ve learned that I like colored pencils on bristol and kraft paper, but I really don’t like them on rougher watercolor paper.

colored pencil swatches | miss mustard seed

It’s all a learning process and I will admit that it’s equal parts fun and frustration.  But, I have learned that I always struggle with a new creative endeavor and I just have to push past that awkward beginner stage in order to find my stride and start to relax into it.

I’m sharing all of this because the extra gear has posed a bit of a problem when I’m trying to carry my sketching supplies around with me.  My little pencil box doesn’t hold all of the colored pencils and markers along with my established supplies.  I added a zipper pouch, and then a cup of pencils, and then another cup for markers.  I was digging through pouches and balancing cups when I would try to sketch in the living room (as I often do in the evenings.)  And this was just bringing the gear from one room in my house to another.  This wasn’t going to work if I wanted to take it all to sketch outside at a park.

So, knowing that my birthday was right around the corner, I started searching for a bag that could carry and organize it all.  I have bags that can carry it all, but then everything is just a big jumble in the bag.  I wanted this to be neat and efficient.

I ended up finding the perfect bag that was actually made for knitting supplies.  THIS is the bag I requested as a birthday present.  It’s a beautiful leather briefcase-style bag with lots of slots for pencils and markers…

leather art supply bag | miss mustard seed

My parents bought it for me and even had my name stamped on it.

leather art supply bag | miss mustard seed

I knew I might have to make a couple of minor modifications since pencils are thicker than most knitting needles and I did.  I cut out some of the stitches in order to make the divided slots a bit wider.  That made it perfect.  I can fit all of my staple sketching supplies – my favorite fountain pens, graphite pencils, a sharpener, a small ruler, an eraser, and white chalk…

leather art supply bag | miss mustard seed

GraphGear 1000 mechanical pencil | Platinum #3776 Celluloid Fountain Pen | Waldmann Tango Fountain Pen | Brass Kaweco Pencils

But I can also fit in a palette of markers and colored pencils…

leather art supply bag | miss mustard seed

Tombow Brush Pens

I had to play around with the configuration of everything, but I found a way that worked the best and allows me to easily see everything  I have on hand…

leather art supply bag | miss mustard seed

Ecoline Watercolor Markers

I was able to use a pencil roll I already had for the colored pencils and it’s just the right size to tuck into the bag.  The company who made this pencil roll no longer sells on Etsy, unfortunately, but THIS pencil roll is comparable.

leather art supply bag | miss mustard seed

It’s actually nice to have a finite amount of room so that my palette is a bit more limited.  I have learned that things can get pretty crazy for my taste if I try to introduce too many strong colors.

leather art supply bag | miss mustard seed

(Pencils are Derwent Drawing Pencils, Caran D’Ache Luminance, Prismacolor, and even Crayola.)

There is also a large pocket where I can fit a kneaded eraser, bull clips, a sharpener, and a small watercolor field box palette.

leather art supply bag | miss mustard seed

It really is everything I need to head out for a day of sketching.  I have a different bag for when I’m oil painting outside and I can simply put together one pencil box and one sketchbook if I need to travel light.

leather art supply bag | miss mustard seed

I’ve been doing a great job filling my sketchbooks this year and spending time on art, but I’m looking forward to getting out more this summer.  We have some nice parks in the area along with Antietam and Gettysburg battlefields, and even a local museum with a pretty impressive collection.  I’m hoping to head over there regularly to study the paintings and sketch.

I really wanted to sketch when I was in the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay in Paris, but I was too intimidated.  I’ll practice in little Hagerstown, Maryland so I’ll be ready the next time I take a trip to a big museum.  I don’t have it on the calendar, yet, but I’d like to go to DC to see the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery sometime this year.

leather art supply bag | miss mustard seed

Just when I thought I didn’t need any more bags, I found a good reason to get another one…




  1. Jennifer Phipps

    I would love to see your oil painting bag!!

    • Sharon

      A day of sketching at the museum, a little picnic perhaps and a walk around the lake! You will have so many potential subjects- inside and out! Maybe we’ll see some of the swans in a future piece. 🙂

    • Marian

      me too

  2. Karen M Sterling

    I love tagging along on your personal journey of discovery. I’m inspired to once again begin to explore my likes and dislikes and have fun investing in the art and decorating I so enjoy. Thank you, too, for the tips and resources.

  3. Norma

    Your bag is beautiful and the leather looks so rich! And on top of that it is so functional. Really wonderful!
    Marian, you would love the museums in DC . I hope you get the opportunity to go soon.


    Marian, what a lovely birthday gift you received from your Mom and Dad! You will love using it!

  5. Pat Smith

    I sketched at the Met in NYC last week.

  6. Marianne

    The bag is amazing, I know you will get a ton of use out of it! Have you ever worked with watercolor pencils? That is my favorite on the road medium to use! My husband had been wanting a wood CNC router for his new wood shop, I found one on Marketplace for $500
    in Leesburg,VA .This past Saturday we took a 6-hour ride there to pick it up, pretty close to where we picked it up, I saw an antique shop that caught my eye, on our way back through we stopped, unfortunately it was closed! My husband had me save it in our gps, and take a picture. When I looked up to take the picture to my surprise the name of the shop was Luckett’s! I was so excited but bummed that it had been closed. We decided that on our next trip to see our daughter who lives in Farmville, VA we will make it a point to stop there! Happy Birthday!

    • Kristine Puzel

      This post is so inspiring, with your description of your bag, your pencils, and your thoughts and ideas about what to sketch and where you will do so. Thank you for that; you may inspire many of us even more than you realize.

  7. Kim

    What a thoughtful and beautiful gift from your parents. It’s so special. I imagine with use and time the leather will tell the story of your travels as it joins you on creative outings for the rest of your life.


Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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