My Favorite Travel Art Supplies

Since the beginning, I've been creating artwork on the road. My first watercolor palette was a simple travel set I picked up on a whim. Travel and being able to work while mobile has shaped so much of my process and how I work I decided it was about time I create a list of some of my favorite supplies that I use on the road.


Video Transcription:

00:00 Hey, today I want to share with you what art supplies I take with me when I'm traveling.

00:05 I am so very excited to share this video with you today because, as you already know, traveling is such a passion of mine and it's actually what got me started working in watercolor in the first place. If you haven't already check out my "how I found my art style" video and in that I kind of explained my journey of how I got here.

00:25 Now I feel like there's two kinds of trips that I often take. One of those trips is by plain and the end destination is either visiting family, I'm visiting a convention, I'm traveling to a workshop and I want to be able to bring some of my art supplies with me just in case I have time to use them.

00:45 The other kind of trip is more of the backpacking option. Either it involves hiking from my car or maybe even traveling to destination and hiking from there. While we were in Europe for awhile. This is the kind of trip that I considered more of a backpacking, hiking sort of trip, despite the fact that we're seeing a lot of cities, it also end up with a lot of time to get out in nature and hike around. And the kinds of supplies that I brought there with me were very different than the kinds of supplies I might bring with me to a convention or a workshop.

01:20 Both have their own uses and I hope you'll find this list inspiring. So without any further ado, let's get to it.

01:27 So I want to get us started here with what it is I bring with me in the first place before I share with you the bags that I take and some of the surfaces that I work on.

01:39 All of these things—this is just kind of a throw it out there I've used this at some point or another. So we will start here.

01:47 So we'll start with the most obvious thing. What every artist probably already has is my pencil case. And this goes out with me all the time, everywhere to the coffee shop and yeah, I usually don't leave the house without it.

02:01 Inside I keep a selection of my basic black ink pins. These are the ones that I use in my paintings. They are waterproof, can be used for just sketching on their own or for doing a watercolor painting. I also keep a few copic multiliners. This one is a warm gray, another black as well as this one—which is just a different size. I was testing this, uh, this one out a while ago. Just a different brand of the exact same thing.

02:31 I also have in here a Fiber Castel warm gray brush pen. I also keep a pencil sharpener and one of my Blackwing pencils with a cap on the end. In this little Altoid tin I should mention, this is where I keep my rubber erasers, keep a kneadable eraser in here as well as the hard plastic eraser as well. A Blue Pencil and what I use all the time, my 0.3 HB mechanical pencil. I have another one that I use, which is exact same one, just a different color. I love the feel of the grip. It's just a nice size to work with and because I've been using it for about three years now, it just, it feels nice and familiar. Often I'll give myself a little bit of a border around a painting, so I use this to make sure that everything is square and straight.

03:25 So the next thing that I take out with me wherever I go is my pair of headphones. The reason I find these to be so important is while I might be out in nature and enjoying landscapes and not want to listen to my music, often I'm in a busy place like a coffee shop or in the airport and if I have my headphones with me and a sketchbook and a pencil, I can pretty much work anywhere.

03:53 The next thing that I typically bring with me if I am planning on doing any amount of substantial artwork is this bag of my colored pens. I started using these Zig Writers to create colored lines in my artwork and I have a collection of all these different colors that I use for my paintings. This is just like a little cheat sheet.

04:18 When it comes to painting as a watercolor artists, I have a couple of options available. This was my first watercolor pan. There's actually a smaller version of this that Winsor Newton makes and I wish I could've gotten it, but they didn't actually carry it at the art store that I went to. This was the next best option. This has evolved since I bought it quite a few years ago. I like this one specifically over the metal ones that are sort of this size because this is actually made out of plastic a little bit lighter than the metal ones. What I use to attach my pants instead of the bars, which were not very good at keeping them in. I used sticky-tack to keep all of my pants attached to the bottom of my tray and I still do that with my current one as well, but as you can see it's just sticky-tack, holding it down underneath. I keep the little name of what's there. Here's the size comparison for you. This is quite a bit, quite a bit smaller and quite a bit thinner. If you're interested in my regular palette, checkout my list as well. I have it listed under my usual watercolor supplies.

05:32 So this is the Winsor Newton student grade Watercolor Pan Palette and I love it. More recently I've upgraded to an even smaller water color Palette. This is by far my favorite travel watercolor pallette that I found. This is a travel water color palate that fits in an Altoid tin. It is designed by Stephanie Law and she's made it available for you to buy on Shapeways. You can find the link down below. It is a 3D printed porcelain tray that fits in an Altoid tin. I have attached it inside so it doesn't rattle around with a little bit of sticky-tack and included a sample sheet at the top as well as an extra sheet just to kind of make sure that my watercolors, if they're wet, they don't kind of spread around all over the place. Typically what I would keep in here when I'm traveling is just a little bit of tissue that— would then just help pad things a little bit and soak up any moisture.

06:47 These trays are perfect for using a small brush with. This is a number 2 Princeton, Neptune brush and I often use something like this size if I'm doing just a small 5 by 7 painting when I'm traveling. I love this watercolor Palette for hiking. Because typically I don't do a lot of complex our work when I'm out hiking and I like to just have a few of my watercolors with me without bringing my larger setup.

07:14 I have found though that even my larger brushes, if they're pointed enough, I can still get quite a bit of paint out without completely wrecking havoc on the rest of the watercolor pans and this is a size 6 Princeton, Neptune so a slightly larger brush and because it's so pointed, I can actually dip it in and mix a few colors on a separate tray.

07:38 The next thing that every artist needs to have in their bag while they're traveling is something to mix and rinse your brushes in. And here are a couple of, some of the options that I take with me. This one right here is just a plastic jar that has a lid that will actually seal. I love the size of this. The fact that it's plastic makes it perfect for hiking with and its size is so easy to just pack in with a few other items.

08:10 Another thing that I will bring with me if I have the space is a spritzer bottle. This is my usual one that I use here in the studio that I keep my canvases and my watercolor pallet wet with, and this is just a smaller version. It's a three ounce spritzer bottle that I picked up at cvs in the travel section. I just use this to keep my watercolor paper wet if I'm going to do doing washes or if I want to wet in the water color Palette that I'm using. And this is my brush washer that I picked up in Japan. I'll take this with me if I plan on working on watercolors while I'm away. It packs up so well. And from time to time I actually have also used a Tupperware like this or a plastic container to use as rinse water. And the beautiful thing about it is it can double as a container for other things.

09:08 Now as far as brushes go, I tend to take a variety of options with me depending on the location that I'm traveling to. If I'm hiking and really don't plan on actually having access to any sort of freshwater, I'll bring in my watercolor water brushes with me and I'll have these already filled up with water. These, if you've never used them, can just be filled up with water here and the end has a brush on it. It can come in different sizes and are great for if you're just starting out and don't really even know what kinds of watercolor brushes you want to be grabbing if you're working outside. I highly recommend these and as you can see with this one in the past, I've put colored ink in here and that's kind of fun to work with if you just want to add a dash of color to your watercolor plein air paintings. These brushes come with a square end as well.

10:06 The next option for me, if I'm traveling and doing a lot of hiking are these travel brushes. These are the Eskoda brushes. I do enjoy the, the size of these. I have a set of three of them and they come down to a nice point. I have the size ei8ght, the size 6 and the size 10 in these brushes and I've used them from time to time. I wouldn't say for me that they're worth the extra cost of a fancy brush because I actually end up taking with me quite often my just regular brushes in a protective case. I think if you're, if you're curious about using one of these kinds of brushes, I would maybe pick up one., If I'm working very gesturally I prefer the, the medium sized one. It's number eight.

11:05 So as I already mentioned, I actually quite often take with me just my regular brushes that are here in the studio. I have a variety of brushes that I often will pick from. I don't often take the square brushes, just because the style of how I work, it doesn't require a lot of square edges, but it's can be really nice brush if you're doing a lot of cityscapes because there's those hard edges that you need to fill in quickly and easily on the page.

11:36 Speaking of brushes from the studio, you might be wondering how I protect them and I have a couple of options that I use on a regular basis. One of them is this brush, I guess protector, it's by Secura and inside of it right now I have these little brush caps and these are what came on my brushes when I bought them and they will typically fit on one of my brushes, but I'll put these back on and then the tops will be protected.

12:06 You might be wondering what on earth is this? This is actually—what my toothbrush came in, which is quick. It's just a container that they sent my toothbrush to my house in and I kept it because it seemed like a really cool container. So I will also keep my brushes in here as well. In order to keep my brushes from getting squished at the ends or misshapen when in trouble. What I will do is I will take, I'll always bring with me just an odd junk brush that maybe I don't care so much about or another brush that may or may not be useful and what I'll do is I'll wrap it up with these other good brushes, the ones I don't want to keep the brush bristles nice and clean and straight, and I'll stick it up further past these good ones and when I put it in here like this, the only thing that's going to touch the bottom of the container and the top of the container is this stick and the bottom of these brushes.

13:10 A few last things that I often take with me is artists tape, a corner ruler, some little scissors or an exacto knife and always a handful of clips that I can clip my papers down with so they don't blow in the wind and rubber bands just so I can secure things.

13:32 I keep a variety of bags and pouches that I can corral my stuff in. These will fit all of the supplies that I might need if i'm out traveling on trail. My palette will go in there. That's pretty much all you need.

13:49 But this list would not be complete without all the sketchbooks and watercolor pads that I bring with me. I have found that I really enjoy working on the Fluid watercolor paper. This is a cold press paper that holds up really well when you're traveling and secured on just two sides so it's fairly easy to get off but really doesn't disturb the experience of watercoloring. It doesn't really work too much, but the paper can be fairly thirsty. I keep a variety of the sizes here in the studio and typically only take one size with me when I'm traveling to any given destination. Fluid also makes a hot pressed watercolor paper as well.

14:37 I have also used the Fabriano version as well, and this is a really nice smooth, hot press that I've enjoyed using too. If I'm planning on being out and I have the space in my bag for a little bit larger of a watercolor pad, I really enjoy these landscape pads. This one is a Strathmore watercolor paper that is spiral-bound. The reason I like spiral bound is because when I'm working I can fold the pad around and work directly on the paper. This is where those clips or those rubber bands come in handy to keep the paper secure and I'm not worried about this extra bit of paper that's flopping around and may or may not get in the way. I like this pad because it's inexpensive and if I want to just do a couple of quick gestural watercolor sketches of a landscape, I don't feel like I have to be too precious with my watercolor paper.

15:33 There's another pad that I've used before that's also a landscape pad and this one I took with me to Europe and this is also a Strathmore but it's a little bit more expensive paper and a little bit thicker. In this one you have the problem of a bit of a— the gap in the pages where they secure and this can be a little bit tricky to work in. I tried to work through it and I didn't, you know, the spine is quite secure so you don't have to worry about it breaking on you. But in here I'm actually able to work on both sides of the paper without it bleeding through. So, as you can see on this one, there's no, there's no show through on that. And this is the Strathmore 400 series watercolor paper. And last but not least for watercolor paper, I haven't used this one yet. It's a handbook by Global Art Material. And this is a watercolor paper that I believe, I'm not sure the weight, I can leave the link down below, but this is a just a nice eight by eight watercolor book and it has a pocket in the back. And I just, I appreciate the size. I don't feel like I have to work either vertically or horizontally because the paper's been cropped. It's just, it's nice to work in a, in a square format for change. And the cover is quite durable. It's a linen cover and it already has a little strapped, a bit closed, which I enjoy.

17:07 If I'm going to be doing any sketching. I typically bring this sketchbook—it's just a Fabriano rang abound plain sketchbook and it's what I do all of my thumbnails in here, in the studio. It just has a little doodles in it —little things like this, it's just like a sketch from when I was out at a just a natural waterfall, things like that. And I enjoy the size and again, because it's ring bound, I often will fold it over on itself and work from there. It is quite floppy. I don't recommend using it as a support. It won't hold up, it kind of needs something to rest on, which is one of the problems with it.

17:54 Another sketchbook that I've brought with me traveling before is this one. And this is just another little handbook. This one isn't meant for watercolor, but I believe the paper's thick enough you could do a very, very light wash on it. Um, as you can see, I've used copic marker and it's bled through on the other side. So I very quickly stopped using copic marker after that and just kind of stuck to pencil and pen.

18:59 I don't know how many pages this book is, but it's just, it's a nice size for doing some sketches that are out in nature. Often I find myself in a location with not a lot of time to sketch. So I can sit down and fill up an entire page with a little scene and not really feel like I've had to spend a ton of time doing it, but feel fairly accomplish at the very end because here I have this beautiful page of just a nice little drawing and I of course have my regular sketchbooks that I do a lot of my Naiya and the Foxdragon drawing in. And other types of things. Those are other books that I may or may not bring with me, but these typically are the ones that I like to bring if I plan on doing any sort of sketching or travel type work.

19:17 So this list would be incomplete without sharing with you what kinds of containers I carry my art supplies in. So first here I have my hiking backpack. This is my just a day pack, its an Osprey, that is actually a.part of another bag you can see here, it has a zipper on the outside that attaches it to another bag inside has a lot of great pockets that I use for storing all kinds of things. It has a flat pocket in the back, which I feel like is essential for any artist that's carrying any sort of notebook. I don't put a laptop in there because my laptop's too big. It just has one main compartment with a few little pockets here and a pocket on the outside as well as a spot to keep a water bottle.

20:02 Something else that I often bring with me, especially if I'm traveling on the airplane, are these simple tote bags that I actually carry in my shop. This has my artwork on it, which serves as a nice little advertisement, but even better it is it just a nice flat bag that I can carry. Maybe a larger sketchbook in and tuck in just a few of my watercolor paints or whatever brushes I'm bringing since as you can see, they don't take up a whole lot of space.

20:30 And last but not least, I love carrying this everywhere with me. This is just a paper container. I bought this at Daiso, so when I was in Japan, um, if there's a Daiso you, they probably carry them. They might carry them at like an office Max. Yeah, this is bigger than an eight by 10 size paper and I keep a sketchbook in here that stays flat— loose pieces of paper, precut watercolor sheets and all kinds of things. I actually even keep one or two of my art books in here from time to time because when I'm travelling, you never know who you meet on the airplane and who might ask what on earth you do. Anyways I highly recommend picking up one of these if you can find them. If you work with loose sheets of paper, it's great for that and also is great for working as a hard surface if you happen to need something to tape something down to and want to work that way.

21:31 I've included a list with links to everything that's in this video down below, so yeah, I hope you guys have enjoyed this video. It's been really fun creating it. I'm looking forward to all the crazy kinds of places I can take you guys with me this year, including many conventions I have planned. I hope this video is inspiring to you to get out and explore the environment that's around you because everybody has something that's near them that you can go and see and explore and experience and yeah. Get out and go explore. Guys, thank you so very much. I'll see you next time. Bye.