Traveling with Watercolors
Have you assembled a watercolor painting travel kit to take with you, outside your usual painting space? Here are some tips to put one together now, with a few variations.
Don’t discard the idea of a small watercolor kit if you’re not the traveling type. Packing watercolors into a compact kit makes you ready for watercolor painting at a friend’s house or a quick watercolor practice study at a local park.
You can also make an evening at home *much more enjoyable* by painting small watercolors with your kit while seated on the couch or at the kitchen table with your family after dinner.
Watercolor Painting Travel Kit
A watercolor painting travel kit doesn’t have to be expensive, or bulky to assemble. It’s best to keep it simple. Lots of supplies and complexity in your kit just guarantees a long setup process or indecision about which tools to use, and that will steal your painting time.
My latest iteration of a mobile painting kit is an 8X8 inch bound watercolor sketchbook, a small watercolor palette with a rubber gasket seal to prevent leaks, and a zippered cloth pouch with 3 brushes, 2 pencils, an eraser, and a ruler. I also carry a shallow rinse cup and a paper towel for blotting.
Zippered Pouch Art Supplies
My lovely stepdaughter – Melanie Ham – makes beautiful zippered pouch sewing tutorials on her YouTube channel. We are the lucky recipients of her prototypes and demo creations.
Before we started collecting Melanie’s pouches, I bought a few on Etsy from this maker. I *love* putting my brushes, pencils, a ruler, and eraser into colorful cloth pouches to take my watercolor supplies on our travels. Filling a pouch with basic art supplies to give as a gift is also a fun thing to assemble.
You can see the zippered pouch I’m using these days in the first photo above, just behind the watercolor sketchbook on the right.
Using a View Catcher
This handy little View Catcher helps adjust the subject you’re going to paint so it matches the aspect ratio of your paper (square, rectangular, etc.). It’s so small and simple, but it has a big impact.
Before you even start to sketch, use this View Catcher tool to frame and “block out” the stuff around your preferred subject.
It helps me to focus and identify simpler, more shape-oriented aspects of a scene. Sometimes, *everything* looks like a potential painting! What to paint, what to paint?! Using the View Catcher helps me feel less overwhelmed when too much information is yelling at my eyeballs.
The little hole on the slider panel also helps with identifying values: looking at a patch of color through the hole – you can ask yourself – is it lighter than the middle-ground, neutral gray color of the plastic slider, or darker?
Watercolor Travel Links
- Here is another post about traveling with watercolors, from the archives, with a focus on plein air paintings, easels, foldable chairs, and a few homemade, DIY workarounds for a rinse cup.
- This post has more tips about packing watercolors for travel, along with a bit of encouragement on your mindset, and links to other artists who post their travel watercolors for your inspiration.
- If you’re traveling internationally, and you have to list the contents of an art supply bag, it’s a good idea to list your paint as Artist Colours, not paints. Here’s more on that.
If you get overwhelmed with questions about how to proceed in your watercolor painting adventures, here is a 20-minute video to address some of those questions.
The video linked above is also an essay in praise of watercolor tutorials since the guidance of your tutorial instructor leads you step-by-step – even if the process is foreign to your own. That’s the point of a tutorial, though, isn’t it? To help you stretch and grow and try things you wouldn’t normally attempt on your own.
I hope feel inspired to assemble a watercolor painting travel kit with the tips in this post. If you already have one, and I’ve missed something you love in your own kit, please let us know what you’ve added in the comments.
Thanks for stopping by today, and I’ll see you in the next post!
P.S. Watercolor painter extraordinaire, Shari Blaukopf has a great video course on luminous color in watercolor sketches. Have a look at the details here.
Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.Søren Keirkegrard (1813-1855)