Over the years of posting photos here of work in process at Art Festivals, you’ve asked about the set up I use to paint watercolors away from home. I try to keep my traveling watercolor kit small, and nimble. Here are some of my best lightweight art supplies.
At festivals, I usually use an easel to accommodate standing, face-to-face conversation with strolling visitors. If you don’t have an easel, don’t fret, because there are alternatives. I didn’t take an easel to France on either trip with workshopsinfrance.com, and it worked out beautifully with just a little preparation.
Traveling with Lightweight Art Supplies
There’s a lot of pluses to keeping your watercolor painting gear simple and lightweight. Traveling can feel chaotic, and the urge to see and experience everything that’s foreign and new can tangle our ability to focus.
Having to choose from too many art supply options on top of so much visual stimulation might prohibit making anything at all. Assembling a kit that’s lightweight, effective and ready to go at a moment’s notice is a good plan.
After you’ve selected your lightweight art supplies, take them outdoors to your own backyard, or meet a friend at a local park to sketch for an hour with a bag lunch. Get acquainted with your set up near home before you take it on a longer journey, and make notes on accoutrements to add or remove from your new kit. Watercolor travel supplies to consider are listed below…
Folding chair (optional)
Traveling Watercolor Palette
Watercolor Brushes (Brush Tips with caps are Excellent)
Small Cup and a bottle of water
When you’re traveling, water is heavy, and studio style rinse cups are too big and bulky to stuff into luggage or a backpack. It’s easier to use a small cup with a tiny pour from your drinking water.
You don’t need more than about a half cup of rinse water with watercolors. My DIY cup hangs on the hinge-knob of my easel with a loop of light gage wire (you can see it swinging on my easel in the photos snapped at the San Diego Artwalk below and above).
There is also this nifty little guy on amazon (below) for table-top painting.
Paper towels or a cotton rag
Pencil and Eraser
Foam Core with watercolor paper taped down, under a newsprint flap
Watercolor Paper Options when Traveling
Cut sheets of watercolor paper to a size and format you’d like to work on. You can use masking tape to attach the watercolor paper to a small sheet of foam core, or stiff mat board.
This (above, right) is typical of what I bring on a plane, with watercolor sheets (arches hot press 140 lb) attached to both sides of the board, and a newsprint curtain to protect the watercolor paper’s surface from scratches or smudging in my carry-on bag. This way, I can paint on the plane to pass the time, or begin to sketch from reference photos I can add paint to later.
Traveling with Watercolors
So there you have it – a small kit with a zipper pouch of brushes, pencil and palette, and some watercolor paper taped to a sheet of foam core, and you’re good to go!
How do you travel with watercolors? If you have tips to share, please leave them in the comments so we can all get smarter together.
Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the next post!
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P.P.S. Here is a little video of monarch butterfly magic. Have you ever *listened* to millions of monarchs fluttering around your head?
If you’re imagining your future and then looking back at today through a rear-view mirror, it can wear you out.
Writing a book (all caps, WRITING A BOOK) or preparing for a TED talk (already in all caps) can paralyze an ordinarily productive person.
At the same time, tweeting is easy for a lot of people.
That’s because Twitter makes the false promise that it’s all about now. Whatever. Write what you’re doing, or feeling, or angry about. It’ll be obsolete in ten minutes. No future, no rear view mirror.
On the other hand, a book feels permanent. It’s not for now, it’s for later. It’s your testament, something for strangers to read.
And so, when you sit to write your book (or your blog, for that matter), you imagine who’s going to read it, one day in the future. And then you reflect from that distant, amorphous place back to now.
Without a doubt, we need to do this now and then. We need the discipline to think hard about the implications of our actions. We need to plan, to envision, to make trade-offs. It keeps us on track, doing work we’re proud of.
But when you find that it’s paralyzing you, it might be better to get back to now. Sit around the campfire and simply tell your story. Your story as of now, for the people who are with you, now.Seth Godin
6 thoughts on “Traveling with Watercolors – Best Lightweight Art Supplies”
I love the water brushes for traveling and painting out in the field. I also love watercolor pencils for traveling. I usually bring watercolor pencils and a small watercolor set as you’ve described above when I travel. Great tips, Belinda! Thanks!
Hi Ann! I love those watercolor pencils too. How do you carry yours when you’re traveling? And which water brushes do you prefer?
Wonderful post. A big concern now is trying to eliminate plastic in supplies. Hard because it’s such a practical and light alternative.
Thanks for the compliments, my friend! Yes, the plastic situation for consumables/disposables is a giant mess. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!