Art Supplies for Travel

Art Supplies for Travel

I’m heading off to Munich, Berlin, Cologne and Paris (I can’t believe it) on Wednesday night.

It’s a trip that’s been 3.5 years in the planning (and gentle saving) and, as I’m usually from the school of “if it fits, pack it” (we rarely fly anywhere), I’ve been reading articles and making lists to make sure I only take the necessities this time.

I plan to be drawing and painting as much as possible. I’ve put together my ‘Postcard Project’ and I want to do some really terrific pictures for the lovely people who are trusting me to send them great art for their walls.

But I’ll also be carrying my kit everyday. I want to paint on the plane, on the train and in cafes. I really want it to be easy. And so this is what I’ve come up with.

My travel art kit
Art supplies stacked
Aerial view of art supplies in travel pack

The clear lidded zip pouch came in a set of 3 “Clear Cells” from Kathmandu. This middle sized one fits my pencils comfortably and just the one brush needs to be on a bit of a angle. But there’s heaps of room for all this:

My travel art supplies kit in a watercolour painting.
  • one Winsor & Newton travel set of watercolours (I’ve actually had this set for over 25 years)
  • one Winsor & Newton travel set of gouache paints (I replaced the watercolours with tube gouache… it’s not setting hard like the watercolours but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere either, so I think they’ll be ok… and to complete the story, this is the set I bought because I loved the original one I had, but couldn’t find it, but as soon as I bought the new one I found the old one… always the way)
  • one small ruler (I don’t use it often but it’s good for sharp folds and for tearing paper)
  • lip gloss (because I simply can’t paint with dry lips)
  • mechanical pencil
  • Aquash medium waterbrush (I like this size and brand)
  • Derwent water spray (I may end up using this more for taming my frizzy hair than for art… we’ll see)
  • #8 round brush (will suit my A5 paper size)
  • 2 x waterproof pigment ink pens (I prefer .5 and .8 sizes)
  • white gel pen
  • double barrel sharpener
  • kneadable eraser (this is like blutac and is great for gently removing pencil lines)
  • small plastic cup (just in case)
  • 12 watercolour pencils

I’m also taking a Rhodia notebook (boy, this was a big decision! Like this one, but A5 size) to complete the set. It doesn’t quite fit in the pouch, but I’m ok about that.

Contents of art travel kit on display

I also made myself a notebook of 200gsm Canson Watercolour Paper (cold pressed, so it’s a little rough) by cutting up 20 A4 sized sheets and folding them in half. I then sorted them into 4 ‘signatures‘ of 10 pages each (double sided if needed).

The beauty of this booklet is that I can remove just a couple of pages at a time – meaning I don’t have to take a fairly heavy notebook each day. I’ve added a loop of elastic to my daily planner (another story) so I can take the pages with me in that (it’s also homemade and really light).

The covers are made out of plastic from old display books (so light but sturdy), and I cut a 15mm spine from the same stuff. Then taped it all together with some patterned duct tape I couldn’t resist in Target last week (I really don’t get out much, we were there to find party favours) and used black hat elastic to make 4 loops to hold the pages. I taped the loops down on the outside of the booklet. You can see a 15 second video of that book here.

And then I decided I also wanted to have an ‘ultralight’ art set. So I replaced the cheap paints in a teeny, tiny, Mont Marte kids paint set with my favourite Winsor & Newton gouache colours and painted the lid like a giraffe (like “gouache”, get it?). The giraffe was inspired by Jennifer Mercede’s giraffes. I’m a long time admirer. It was a total indulgence and quite a blissful little project.

My giraffe-gouache paint set.
Inside the giraffe paint set.

I’ll pop it in this little pencil case with just a few essentials, and use the watercolour paper that I add to my planner for the day. I’ve included a grey SAI brush pen in this set, as well as the rubber/sharpener combo and the ever-necessary lippy.

My ultralight art supplies kit.

So there you go! I think I’ve got all I need… artwise at least. I’m struggling to leave other favourite supplies at home (dip pens and ink… how can I go without for 25 days?) but I’m pretty sure there are art supplies shops in Germany and Paris, in case of emergency.

Now to pack the rest of my stuff I guess. Should be a breeze.

(If you’d like to receive 3, 5, 6 or 10 of the artworks I create on this trip, posted to you as real life, actual, glossy postcards while I’m away, you can. Just click through here and take a look. I’ll be bringing home plenty of ideas and inspiration to share. Thank you!)

Starting 15 Flowers

Starting 15 Flowers

Joining in with the 15 Flowers eCourse is like doing some ‘art fitness’ (which, to be honest, I find a lot more fun than real fitness). And you don’t need all the glam fitness gear (unless you already have it – or have been looking for an excuse to get it) to start off.
The really good thing is that you don’t need to be a certain size to look good. It’s a well known fact that EVERYONE looks BRILLIANT in art supplies.
Essentially we’ll be:

  1. Drawing – so you’ll need paper, coloured pencils, an eraser and a sharpener, and
  2. Painting – some acrylic paints, a few brushes, some heavy paper (or ‘canvas paper’) and a stretched canvas (for our finale piece!), and of course some water and a palette (an ice cream bucket and lid will do the trick here)

To help you get an idea of how much these things cost, I have asked the lovely people at Murrays Art & Framing, here in Toowoomba, to be available to supply to Australian participants. They will happily chat to you on the phone while they walk around the store, helping you choose exactly what you need. They’ll then mail your order to you.

Please note: The prices I’ve quoted below, are correct as at Thursday 12 February 2015

Let’s talk about the Drawing bit.

Paper – I will be using an A4 Canson notebook (that came in a set of two, and which I’m now told was a Christmas special – sorry about that). But any type of visual diary or journal will be just fine.When I went down to Murrays,  we looked at three options (you only need one of these, or something like these):
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Coloured pencils – I use and recommend Prismacolor pencils (they’re lovely and soft) and you can buy them by the set or individually from art shops. If you can’t get your hands on Prismacolor, just don’t go cheaper than Crayola (which are super easy to find!).
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Sharpener – I don’t think I really need a picture here – I’d just recommend spending a dollar or two more and get a ‘good’ sharpener – Murrays has a Faber Castel ‘Grip’ one for $6.50.Eraser – once again, borrow one from the kids (Lord knows my kids seem to have stacks). Murrays has a ‘Dust Free’ (that sounds pretty cool) Faber Castel eraser for $1.95.

Now for the Painting bit.I use acrylic paints because they don’t smell (always a bonus) and they dry fast (I have four kids, end of story). I really like the ‘Fluid’ types of acrylics because they suit my style of painting, and need hardly any water on your brush to go a long way.Fluids generally come in bottles, not tubes – although the tubes are fine too, you’ll just need to mix a little water or ‘extender medium’ in with them to make them more … well, fluid!I LOVE LOVE LOVE Golden Fluid Acrylic Paints, and stock them in my studio. They are the TOP TOP TOP most wonderful, artist quality acrylics that I’ve ever used. They’re made in the USA, and if you can find/use/afford Golden (our Australian dollar isn’t helping at the moment, unfortunately), you should.

But if Golden is a bit of a stretch, and it often is for a beginner, and you live in Australia, please look at theAtelier Free Flow range.

And if Atelier doesn’t suit your budget, you could use Jo Sonja’s Artist Colours, or if you’re not in Australia, Liquitex Basics.

Whatever you do, DO NOT GO CHEAPER THAN JO SONJAS. Tubes of paint that cost $2.50 are not going to make you a great painter. In any way. Just don’t do it. That’s all we need to say about that.

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These colours, or colours similar to these (seriously, close enough is good enough here, we’re aiming for ‘similar but different’), are pretty much all that you’ll need (if any extras are added they’ll be listed on the website two weeks before we begin).Remember, you can mix and match different brands of acrylics! Click on the colours to see my notes about each.
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We’ll also use a little bit of Fluoro Magentaas well – I found this J Burrows brand of fluoro at Officeworks, and I’ve been more than happy with it. In general, fluorescent paints are very likely to fade (referred to on the label as ‘poor lightfastness’) so I only use a little, but the zing it adds is fantastic!
Brushes – I’ll be demonstrating the use of four different brushes during 15 Flowers.
To give you an idea of prices, these are very similar brushes available from Murrays, here in Toowoomba:

  • #12 flat bristle brush – AU $1.45
  • #12 Round Taklon (Neef brand) – AU $6.70
  • #6 Round Taklon (Neef brand) – AU $12.20
  • 1/2 inch Flat Taklon (Neef brand) – AU $7.85
Canvas – Over the first two weeks I’ll be painting my 15 individual flowers onto Canvas Paper. This is simply textured paper that is ideal for practice paintings, and if you paint a masterpiece, can be framed. I’ll also be using a ‘tear off paper palette’, but if you can’t get your hands on them, an ice cream bucket lid will work just fine.
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For our final week (Week 3), you’ll see me put together all the flowers that we’ve looked at in the first two weeks and paint a large canvas from beginning to end.Now, the size of your large canvas really depends on the space you have. Anything from 45cm square (18 inches) to 90cm  square (36 inches) will be fine. In terms of brands, Mont Marte, CreateArt or Liquitex will do the job. The prices on these will vary wildly, and you can find canvases in so many places – cheap shops, office supplies stores, and of course, art shops. I do prefer the thick edged ones (3.5cm deep) with folded corners (not cut).

Now, I think that’s everything!It looks like lots when I list out all the options you have, but generally you just need basic drawing supplies, and basic painting supplies. If you’ve got those, you can get started.And just in case you haven’t booked your place yet…


The eCourse begins on Easter Monday, 6 April.

Next week I’ll be answering all the questions I’ve been asked about the eCourse so far, so just email me if there is something you’d like to know. Thanks!