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International travel with art supplies.  

There are many ideas about how to travel internationally with your art supplies and I can tell you what has w...

Traveling with Art Supplies

November 2, 2018

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Traveling with Art Supplies

November 2, 2018

International travel with art supplies.  


There are many ideas about how to travel internationally with your art supplies and I can tell you what has worked for me.  


The 3 most important thing to remember are to 1.pack light 2. pack light 3. pack light! You should be able to easily carry your supplies in a backpack or small carry on bag....especially important when traveling by train or bus.  As always check your airline carrier for specs concerning carry ons.  


Pochade box- This will be your biggest investment but a good one will last a life time.  I have two easy L's, one coulter box, and just recently got a new strada mini box.  I'm very, very happy with the Strada.  It's very small, but has a tray for more mixing room and it has no protruding screws or hinges and no small parts to loose.  The open box m makes a very small nice box and seems to be the most popular with plain air painters, but because they are custom made they take several weeks to get and it has many small parts.  Strada gets my vote.


Back pack or travel bag-  I will take a small backpack or rolling bag depending on how much I take.  I will carry on my box, brushes, rags,  journal, panels ( I will carry on some and check some), viewfinder, trash bag, turp cup (no turp or solvents of course), and my paints.  But, do not call them "paints.  Refer to them as "oil colors" or "artist colors".   

Just FYI-  On my 2012 trip to France I flew Delta/Air France.  Delta let me carry on my rolling art comber which was wonderful strolling around the castle grounds.  On my return home, Air France would not let me carry the art comber on because the wheels made it too big so I had to leave the wheels in France.   



"Artist Colors" -  Some airlines allow linseed oil, but not paint.   If allowed, I carry my artist colors in the allowed quart size bag in the less than 3 ounce size (instead of my cosmetics).  I like having my "artist colors" with me.  Many people carry with them the specs for their particular brand of artist colors stating the "ingredients" but I haven't done this and have had no problems although they do look carefully at them.   Others check their artist colors. Your call.  Below is a list of suggested colors.  Viridian green makes a beautiful blue/green sky:  the cote d'azure sky.

Some painters wrap their paints in plastic wrap for travel.  They can get punctured from the surrounding paints and leak!  I don't find this necessary if you carry them on.

 When I flew Air Canada and they made me check the paints so I may check them next time, depending on the airline.

Do not carry on or pack mineral spirits or anything flammable! 


Panels- In an effort to "pack light" I will  bring 8x10 and 6x8 's.  The lightest are belgium linen, double primed, 1/32" think mounted on multi media board.  Multimedia Artboard is the company.  

Another good way to pack light is to bring cut sheets of linen or canvas and tape them individually to a paint board and mounting them when you get home.    


Wet panel carrier-  I have a a raymar wet panel carrier that will hold 7 -8x10's or 6x8's (normal width panels).  I think I can get several of these thinner panels in once they are a bit dryer and separate them with parchment paper.  Parchment paper is a good alternative. for a carrier but they must be somewhat dry.  Another good option is a panel pack...much like a picture frame and it takes up less space than a box.  


Brushes- I like #2,4,6 and 8 bristle brushes flat and filberts, and a couple of small rounds to draw.   I will also bring a few softer mongoose brushes as well and a palette knife.  Bring what works for you. My "go to" brush is Robert Simmons Signet.  


sketch pad/journal and pen or pencil- Small size to "plan" your painting, take notes about color, thumbnail sketches, etc.  


Viewfinder- I have a larger view finder from artwork essentials that comes with a marker so you can draw or plan out your composition right on the view finder.  Very useful tool!


Trash bags or like- I have a folding mesh bag also from artworks essentials that you can dump your trash and reuse....or just bring a few trash bags.  


Rags or paper towels-  Paper towels-viva is best. Bring rags if you prefer.  Paper towels can be purchased at your destination.  


Hat, sunscreen, water bottle, snack.

  Bring your own container for spirits preferably one that hangs from your easel.  Mineral spirits will be provided.


Suggested Colors: 

Ultra Marine Blue

cobalt or cerulean blue

cad yellow light or lemon

cad yellow medium 

cad red light or med

alizarin crimson or like

titanium white

transparent red oxide or burnt siena



yellow ochre 

ivory black

viridian green- makes a beautiful sky


Medium:  Gamblin gel medium is a great travel medium because it's solvent free. This is also optional.


For a limited palette (great for new painters) Kevin McPherson uses:

Ultramarine blue

Cad red lt

Cad yellow lt

alizeron Chrimson

 titanium white


I use lots of different brands but generally I like Gamblin best for creaminess, quality and price.  

If you are a new painter, practice mixing with these limited colors to get your secondaries and lighten with white. 


On your art travels, always take a good sense of humor, and the willingness to learn new things and most of off the goal to enjoy every minute.   

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