Painting on a Plane

I just got home from Annapolis, Maryland. I grew up in and love the East Coast, and our kids used to be stationed in far away places, so long flights are a familiar event for us. That’s how painting or drawing became my inflight cocktail. Do you find art-making to work for you too, on long flights? With a small watercolor kit, and a good audiobook lilting into my earbuds, a trip across the continent goes by lickety-split fast. I had the middle seat on the plane – both there and back, but it didn’t matter, as long as I had art supplies.  Working this way, with an audiobook to wile away the hours is one of my favorite things about traveling these days; 5-6 hours of uninterrupted, no distractions art-making time. The whole world shrinks to the size of the airplane seat, with art and a book, or music. It’s lovely.

travels with watercolors

Watercolor Artist Traveling Kit (with links)

Here’s what I take on a plane: small palette, two collapsable travel brushes, shallow cup for rinse water, and a Handbook Watercolor book with pre-sketched images ready to go. And an audiobook in your earbuds.  Here are supply-links for this on-the-go, anywhere watercolor kit so you can try it too:

Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Sketchers Pocket Box

Handbook Paper Co. 8×8 Watercolor Sketchbook

Watercolor Brushes – Collapsable, Synthetic

Earbuds with various sizes of soft, silicon ear tips

Audiobook this week: Pretty Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Three Snippets of Thought-Starting Weekend Reading

  • Natasha Wallace has worked for years to compile, format, label and publish every possible image and resource related to John Singer Sargent. If you’re a fan of his unbelievable work (there are hundreds of watercolors), and you need something to dazzle your eyes over a cup of tea, check out her web site – the John Singer Sargent Virtual Gallery here.
Old New England maritime villages loaded with painting and sketch inspiration
  • Stephanie Shirley is a Public Relations expert, and she penned a thought provoking essay a few years ago on the difference between momentum, and a moment, for entrepreneurs. What is the secret power in those two letters “um” attached to the caboose of the root word “moment”? I believe her observations hold true for artists as well.  How do you harness fleeting inspiration, a good idea, a creative urge, or a flash of vision related to making new art? How do you sprout the kernel from a moment to momentum, and see it through? Read it here.

Among this group of individuals, the veteran entrepreneurs always seem to have at least one quality in common regardless of industry or age—they have momentum. For the greener entrepreneurs, I struggle to access whether they possess this same momentum or whether their inspiration is merely a fleeting moment. ~Stephanie Shirley

fleet street in annapolis
Looking up Fleet Street in Annapolis, Maryland. This would be fun to sketch in pen and ink, don’t you think?
  • Selecting new-to-you art supplies in a store (online or in person) is challenging. Even if you know what you like, labels and other artist’s recommendations may not give the precise details you’re looking for in pigments, pens, paper, etc. This is one more reason why I love artist’s blogs and youtube channels. We get to SEE the products in use, in the studio. Like this post: Watercolor artist Liz Steele shared a great comparison between the Moleskine Watercolor Notebook and the Pentalic Aqua Journal. Check out her watercolor swatch tests here.
annapolis maryland city dock coffee
The Federal House and City Dock Coffee, across from the harbor in Annapolis, Maryland. Even in the rain, this town is colorful and very paintable.
Memorial at Iowa Point, Norfolk Naval Station for the crewmembers lost on the USS Iowa on April 19, 1989

What’s Next?

What are you working on? Studio clean up? (I have my hand up.) Upcoming painting series planning and sketching? Organizing art-making nights with friends? Choosing the next great audiobook to keep your head and hands settled into the studio? Plotting a 2 hour painting session for this weekend? Whatever it is, I hope your art supplies dance in your fingers, and something fabulously fun (and not necessarily fabulous) lands on your paper or canvas. Pretend you’re six years old, and take delight in whatever magic you propagate during art-making time this weekend.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the next post –


Art Quote

Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.

~Brené Brown

which watercolor paper should I buy?
Click the rinse water to get your free three-page copy of all the ins and outs and types and flavors of watercolor paper.

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9 thoughts on “Watercolor Sketch: Tulips and Starfish (and painting watercolors on a plane)”

  1. Hi Belinda, what a lovely painting!
    Thank you so much for the last paragraph “What’s next”, it inspired me a lot. I started painting a series of galaxies and auroras a few weeks ago and stopped because of the house, family, work…..But this weekend I’m going to paint anyway.
    I Love your blog!

    1. Hi Cristiane, I’m so glad you feel inspired to get a few more art-hours in this weekend! I hope it happens for you! House, family and work are all familiar interruptors. Here’s hoping you find and


      those little art moments like a true thief! Happy making time to you!

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