Professor Hoot

Art Supplies for Travel

I put this page together to help you plan what kind of art supplies are good to bring along for a tour where you’ll be on the go and exploring many different places. It’s different to plan for a day of sitting and doing “Plein Air” landscape painting, that’s when you sit and work on one painting for maybe several hours. We will be moving about a bit more but you will still have plenty of ‘sit’ time to do painting. I recommend traveling light for your own comfort, you’ll want to carry your supplies along with a water bottle, snacks etc. Sometimes we’ll be inside a grand manor house or castle, it’ll be comfortable and you can wander about on your own. Other times we’ll be out walking in the gorgeous hills or around the ruins of a castle and you will want to carry a light pack with snacks or lunch, water bottle, jacket and art supplies. I’ve been doing this many years and have learned how to pare down my load for the sake of my back! You will have much more enjoyment if you keep it light and easy; though your sketch journals will be works of art in themselves, the large masterpieces can be done when you return home to the studio!

**NOTE: Some of the tours may include in the price, a superb art kit that I put together for you. Please ask if unsure, or if you’d like to purchase “parts” of a kit like a field bag.

I’ll write suggestions here and include links below to my fine art website to show you pictures and articles. Please feel free to email me at any time to ask about supplies.

  • 1 Sketchbook with heavy paper (100lb), 8.5 x 5.5 or 6 x 9″.  Not a typical drawing pad as this would be hard to use water on. I found the “Raffine” brand to be excellent, the Fabriano “Fat Pad” or you can use a watercolor pad. I now mostly use folded sheets of plain Bristol board (vellum is nice) as it’s heavy and smooth and a few sheets of smooth or Hot Press watercolor paper. I will be demonstrating how to make your own sketchbook one evening and will list supplies separately if you’d like to make your own! If you want to bring a larger sketchbook for drawing also please do, I’m just used to sticking to the smaller sizes for holding it in my hand while I draw and find the larger books cumbersome and tiring. I try to keep all my drawings in one sketchbook while on a trip so ALL gets recorded together like a journal. Go to this link to see my Field Sketchbooks.
  • Pan of Watercolors There are many nice travel palettes out there that have dry pans of color paint in them. I have used the Windsor Newton brand palettes and love them. You can also put your tube colors into empty pans and let them dry. Go to this link to see my palettes and watercolor supplies.
  • Watercolor Pencils These are fun to use while out and about, keep it to around 24 colors or do what I do and (heaven help us!) cut them in half so you can carry more colors.
  • Water-brushes Many people have never heard of a waterbrush, but I don’t know what I’d do without mine now! I suggest a variety of perhaps 3 tips, one fine, one medium and maybe a big flat one. Most of the work I do is with just one medium size. Go to this link to see my waterbrushes.
  • Watercolor Brushes with short handles; a variety of rounds, a filbert or what ever  you are used to. If you bring watercolor brushes please also bring a small plastic container with a screw on lid that won’t leak. When in the field I use an empty vitamin pill bottle that has a large mouth. When you pack it to bring on a tour, just keep it dry and put your little supplies in it like erasers etc.
  • Permanent Ink Pen(s) I’ve used either “Micron” or “Pitt” pens and sometimes a Ultra Fine Point Sharpie;  I prefer very fine points of 01 or 005. The pens come in black, brown or sepia, I suggest at least a black one and if you want to try it bring a brown or sepia one.
  • 2 # 2 Pencils or fine lead mechanical pencils Bring a sharpener if you use the #2 pencil.
  • Non Permanent Ink Pen This is just a pen you would write with, but not ball point. I use this kind to wet with water and it runs, great for sketching! Just try some out with a dab of water and see if it runs when you wet it.
  • Kneaded Rubber Eraser
  • ‘Regular’ Eraser I like the white kind.
  • Light Backpack +/or Outdoor Type Shoulder Bag I like to have a simple backpack like you buy at Walmart for the kids back to school, for carrying my water-bottle, camera, light jacket and snacks when I’m out for the day. I ALWAYS have some kind of smaller bag with the essentials for drawing or painting (sketch book, color pencils or watercolors etc) and some basic ‘purse’ type stuff in it like credit card, drivers license and money. I do this because I bring my drawing ‘stuff’ with me everywhere! This smaller bag should have a wide strap for comfort and be adjustable so you can sling it cross wise like a mailman, it’ll stay on better and be less strain on your neck.
  • Paper Towels Just one or two thick folded paper towels. I like “Viva” brand, they are really absorbent and I usually only need to tear a small piece and fold to take in my bag.
  • Oil Pastels I list these only if you like using them or may want to give them a try. I suggest taking a set and cutting the pieces in half so you have less to carry. I will have some mineral spirits on hand if you want to use it for thinning them, so don’t worry about trying to get that through customs!! You won’t be able to! If they ask at customs about them, just tell them they are “CRAYONS”, don’t use the word oil to be safe. You may want to throw an old med. to small bristle brush in your bag for using the mineral spirits. I don’t usually use mineral spirits with my oil pastels in the field but thought I might try it too!

Though I love soft pastels, I don’t recommend them for work in sketchbooks while you’re hiking about or traveling. It’s too easy for pages to get smeared and hard to clean fingers.

  • Digital Camera-Last but not least, don’t forget this one! Bring it if you have it, I feel it’s a must and recommend having at least a 2GB card or larger in your camera, mine is 8 GB and I never have run out of space in a day of shooting. More about the cameras I use here, though I have two (one is tiny) you only need one, pick a good all round one with a digital zoom is nice. Link to blog entry about my cameras:

Watercolor Supplies pictures of my palettes and water-brushes.

For some of the tours I’ll be demonstrating how to make your own field sketchbook, if you’d like to make one too I’ll send you the list of materials you need before the tour. It’s easy and you can customize it to your liking when you make your own, they also make nice gifts for artists and writers.