Week 15 - Packing Up and Heading Out.

The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.

Samuel Johnson.


Packing up and Heading Out

Travel. My husband's Mom, Stewart, thought the planning, and the anticipation of a trip can be just as exciting, and even more so, than the actual event.

I, on the other hand, am an "over-thinker". With so many thoughts swirling around in my brain, falling asleep is disturbed for weeks prior to take off. Details, details, details. It's not until we head on out, that I can relax. 

I'm not a good flyer. 

But baby, look out! Once my feet hit foreign soil, I'm off and running, eating, sketching, looking, learning, drinking, dancing, singing.

The biggest question of all is, what to take with you? I'm not talking about clothes or shoes, I'm talking about art supplies! 

I couldn't last two weeks without doing a sketch, or painting a little watercolour while I'm travelling. It's how I record my trip. Mini plein air sessions. Capturing the sights, sounds, smells, and temperature of the moment. Not just on paper, but in my mind and heart as well. On a trip to Paris once, a visit to the local art store was in order. I just had to sketch the streetscape. Photos just weren't cutting it.

I've travelled with different art supplies over the years. The worst to travel with was pastels. A large wooden case filled with over 200 pastels, (you can't mix colours with pastels). Heavy!

When flying through Europe, I was taken to the side, surrounded by guards, and made to open my case. Slowly. Apparently pastels look like explosives to an airport scanner!


My Art Toolkit, my essential travel partner.

But now I've found two perfect solutions. My little Art Toolkit Binder. The toolkit comes complete with a mini palette I squeeze watercolour paint into. Watercolour paper, water brush, and ink pens round it out, and it fits easily in a bag or knapsack.

The mini palette in the Art Toolkit allows me to customise my paints with magnetised paint trays.


I can squeeze in artist grade watercolours in whatever colours I wish.

The other is Procreate on my iPad. This program is like an art studio in your hand. I enjoy using this digital solution more and more. I used Procreate to sketch all of my illustrations for my book, Lunenburg Confined. A great solution for sketching in Art Galleries and Museums, places where having traditional wet paints is not an option.

Procreate, an art studio in your hand.

So, I think I'm ready. My art supplies are packed. Now I only have to deal with the "nonessentials", like clothes...


Ask the Artists

Brian Buckrell: I have a small gouache and acrylic kits that I take travelling - usually in our RV.  Instagram link.
Holly O: On vacation I don’t paint - I do however bring a camera (hubby takes loads too!) and a phone to take countless inspirational photos. Instagram link.
Wendy Birmingham: The only art supplies I bring on vacation is my camera. I paint so much that when I go on vacation I relax and enjoy my time off. Instagram link.
Ed Parmiter: I usually take 3 or 4 small canvases, a few brushes, my sketch pad and a small assortment of acrylic paint. Facebook link.
Sheila Davis: If camping I take a couple of larger (30x30) panels and a few smaller ones for plein air painting. If travelling farther with my husband, or flying, generally none. Just my camera and notes on my phone. But when travelling with artist friends, then I take everything I have! Instagram link.
Aili Kurtis: I used to take pastels with me on vacation, but now that I am no longer doing pastel painting, I bring nothing. As a “Canadian” painter I am not usually inspired to paint from the scenery of trips abroad but I do take multiple trips within Canada to witness the beauty of nature in all seasons. Because I paint almost every day in my studio, I think of a vacation as a period of rejuvenation. After some fun in the sun, I am refreshed and eager to get back into the studio and paint! Instagram link.
Louise Hicks: Beach vaca - water soluble so I don't have to try to find a spot to buy mineral spirits when I arrive. I realize I could take acrylic but I find they dry too fast outside. If going to a city and I will be painting a lot, then I'd bring oils and buy my solvents there. I'm pretty happy just sketching with a cold drink nearby too. Facebook link.


FYI - Both of my upcoming workshops are full. You can still be placed on a waiting list if you are interested. I may be teaching a workshop or two this coming Fall, stay tuned, you will be the first to know.

Until next week...





  • Hi Dorothy, The colours in my travel watercolour palette are Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, Rose Madder, Cad. Yellow, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Teal and Yellow Ochre.

    Sharon Fox Cranston
  • Thank you Sharon .Great advice.Going in an art retreat next week and unfortunately I usually take everything but not many clothes.
    Being a multimedia artist I usually end up with my pastels,acrylics,W/C and if I ever get to the cold wax/ oils I may take those.Markers and pens.I am still discovering myself I think.
    If I am lucky I will have enough room for an extra pair of hikers for the week. I love your paint tins.

    Jayne Campbell
  • Travel is much the same for me – albeit, without the pre-trip histrionics. ;-) It’s a reminder, if not an immersion, into the the fact that there is more than one way to look at life. Art is a good reminder that there is more than one way to look at the world. For this, my camera cuts it just fine, given that I have near zero skills with a brush or a pencil. It gets my eyes up and moving to places I might otherwise overlook, and it gets me out of my head. I’m no longer merely thinking about or looking at the world. I’m responding, reacting and interacting with it. I’m guessing it must be similar for you. In a former life I traveled extensively throughout North America. In fact it is during these travels that I discovered, and fell in love with Nova Scotia. But that’s another story for another day. In any case, I was often left in an unfamiliar location for the weekends and it is during this time that I developed my love for photography, along with the emergence of my ability to express myself through visual media. My camera is like your art travel kit. I don’t travel anywhere without it. As to nonessentials such as clothing; Another thing I learned from being on the road was how to travel light. An extra sweatshirt, an extra pair of Levi’s 501s, a weeks worth of undergarments, a toothbrush. This leaves some well padded room for the camera in the carry on suitcase and I’m good to go. For me, it doesn’t get much better than this.

    Michael Lord
  • Hi Sharon – enjoy your weekly offerings!
    I’m curious what colours you have in your mini palette?

    Dorothy Greenidge

Leave a comment