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I’ve made lots of sketching bags at home, with varying amounts of denim and gingham: the former because it’s tough and looks snazzy, the latter because it helps me sew straight lines. But there’s been something wrong with all of them. When I stumbled across Darsie Beck’s Field Easel Art Bag, I came over all covetous. Once shipping to Ireland was included, it was a little pricey, but I wanted it very much, the more so every time I looked at Darsie’s explanatory video. In the end I couldn’t fight temptation and I gave in.
Here it is:
I am so glad I did. I bring it everywhere I go. It’s big enough to hold my wallet as well as my sketching kit so it’s all I need. The whole point of this bag, artistically speaking, is that you can make a sketch without needing to find somewhere to sit down. The front flap (see above) lifts up into a horizontal position, and a plastic piece with Velcro on either end holds it up. The resulting “table” is big enough to support an A5 sketchbook and even an A4. Darsie talks about drawing on the spot using the bag and then painting later but I don’t like to do anything after I’ve left the scene, so I try to paint as well using the Field Easel Art Bag, and it works okay.
The following sketch was done from start to finish standing up. It was tricky enough to stop everything falling but I managed. It’s a Connemara boat being rigged by some macho types during Cruinniú na mBád, a traditional boat festival in Kinvara, Co. Galway.
The bag comes with a sort of wallet for your pens and brushes, which you can take out and stick to the shoulder strap with Velcro too. I found that if I put all the drawing stuff away when it came time to paint I could just about manage to hold the paintbox in my left hand and paint with my right. There is a vertical compartment on the right of the outer side of the bag so that’s your water bottle taken care of.
I do have three small criticisms.
1. The raw edges of the fabric are left unfinished where the zip is sewn on. This means that the fabric frays a lot, and the loose threads stick to the Velcro tabs when the small plastic support is taken out of its pocket, meaning you are forever picking bits of thread off the Velcro. I think it should be turned in and stitched to avoid this.
2. The bag is a small bit floppy when the “easel” is in use, and I think I need to add another piece of Perspex the same size and shape as the one that you lean on, to give the bag more rigidity. I will simply cut one and add it to the front pocket, whose only use is to hold the slim plastic support when the “easel” is not in use.
3. The shoulder strap is designed for people taller than me (most of the world, no doubt). I am 5’4″ and when I attach the wallet to the Velcro tab on the strap, it’s too high. The tab needs to be a bit longer to accommodate more adjustment in the length of the strap.
I love the bag and if it ever wears out – which doesn’t look likely, except that I literally take it everywhere – I will be buying a new one.
This is an unbiased, unsponsored review.
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