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Summer equipment – a creative’s travel kit

Pocket watercolour travel kit essentials

I can’t say I’m the type of artist who sketches everything she sees when travelling, from morning until dusk. For me, painting is a more intimate business, which takes time and a certain mood. However, I don’t like  to go travelling without a full load of art supplies, after all, one can never be quite sure when the urge comes to paint. :) Luckily, the “full load” can easily be fitted into a smaller handbag.

Things I take with me

The process of painting doesn’t exist without watercolour paper, brushes, paint and water. Add to that a pencil, an eraser and some thin paper to sketch on, and voilá, here is my creative travel kit. I actually like painting small, so this whole lot will fit into an A5 size folder.

As for the paint itself I run around with an old aniline set, which has very clever packaging. I haven’t seen this particular set in art supply stores lately (I bought 2 of them some 10+ years ago back in my home town) but I have a certain longing for this mini watercolour set by Winsor & Newton, which is not super-cheap, but looks premium quality (it even includes a mini brush, yay!). If you’d rather spend a bit less, this aniline set will do perfectly too, and you’ll have no problem fitting it into an A5 envelope.

Pocket watercolour travel kit essentials

I don’t make a fuss about my pencilcase either: I take with me a mechanical pencil with some fitting leads, an eraser, 2 brushes and a needlepoint pen, all wrapped in a plastic holder that I inherited from my grandpa. Sometimes a dip-pen comes along too, which I can’t quite explain, as I never take ink with me, I’m too scared it will pour on my lovely summer dresses, however safe my ink jar is. Taking my brushes with me is a tricky job: my small squirrel brushes are very sensitive and the bristles can be damaged at the slightest pressure (at which they look like they were drunk). Art supply stores often sell brushes with little plastic caps but I have lost most of those already so I came up with my own invention: I cut up straws and put them on my brushes. This works up to 6-8 sized brushes and I haven’t tried anything above that, so if you have tips, don’t hesitate to share in the comments!

Pocket watercolour travel kit essentials

The fashion of being environmentally conscious has sucked me in too, so I am not exactly fond of plastic things. However, my folders are exposed to very intensive use, and since my old paper ones got destroyed super-quickly, I use a blue plastic one at the moment, which, I’m glad to say, has been serving me faithfully for a while now.

I left the exciting bit to the end: what about water? I guess I’m not sharing a deep secret if I say that at most places you can get hold of water fairly easily, so I only run around with little glass jars if I really want to paint in the middle of nowhere – and to tell the truth, this hasn’t happened to me yet. I am not taking a palette with me either. It is very easy to smile at nice waiters and ask for a saucer or – as a last resort – I can always use my sketch papers as a mixing palette.

Pocket watercolour travel kit essentials

Products created for travellers

During the past few days several of you have sent me the latest artistic craze: apparently, the new invention of Vivia Color Sheets will set out for success, as it’s super-portable, clean and it looks like the perfect thing for travelling.

I haven’t tried this product in its physical state, but I’ve seen several videos, which have not convinced me particularly. To quote a good friend of mine, the set is full of “icecream colours”, which you can’t even mix.

I find another product called waterbrush much more exciting. This brush has a tube inside that can be filled with water, so you don’t have to trouble yourself with portable water jars. You can control the amount of water by pressing the tube, much like you’d control the amount of toothpaste.

Watercolour blocks glued on all 4 sides are also practical if you can’t control your passion for painting during travelling. If you use a lot of water while painting it is advisable to glue down the edges of the paper with adhesive tape, otherwise the finished piece can end up wavy. So art supply providers have decided to invent this rather practical (looking) block so you don’t have to take the adhesive with you. I had the pleasure of trying this product by Canson, but it didn’t fulfil my expectations. The finished painting was very difficult to remove from the block, in the end I had to use a knife and even so the edges turned out rather rustic. However, due to its handy size (A6) I often take it with me, even if I’m not going to buy this product again.

Do you take your art supplies with you when you go travelling? How do you pack them up?

Pocket watercolour travel kit essentials

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