Thursday, October 20, 2011

Travel Materials for Painting on the Go - Part I

Yes Books  Portland, Maine  

I recently returned from a short visit to New England with several college friends. One of my classmates is beginning to paint watercolors and asked me for a list of my preferred materials. That question was the prompt for this blog.

In recent years there has been an explosion in travel palettes and sketching materials. More and more people are including a sketchbook in their vacation packing and the variety is enormous. It is helpful to define what you want to accomplish…or attempt to accomplish. I always think I can do more than I ever get done.

These questions will hopefully help you in the planning stage.

  1. Are your travel-mates artists? If so, then leisurely stops to gather images are not only possible but desired by the entire group. If not, then you will have to be creative to grab sketches as you travel. Stopping for a coffee, for a meal, sketching while others have a tour, etcetera. All the foregoing are opportunities for drawings.
  2. Do you want to have a travel journal including sketches, tickets, descriptions, ephemera, etc? Or is this a sketchbook that is mostly, if not only, about gathering studies for future paintings? It can be something in between or entirely different. By deciding what you want to do with the sketchbook, it will help you choose the size and style.
  3. Do you want a portrait or landscape format? I love to do wide landscape sketches when the opportunity comes along. With a portrait orientation I choose a different approach. So, how do you like to work?
  4. What kind of paper do you prefer? It is possible to have any paper you normally work with and in any size and shape if you are willing to put together your own book. It is relatively inexpensive and especially so if you compare its cost with a bound sketchbook with good watercolor paper.
  5. How much gear are you willing to carry? Practice working with a very minimal set up and add whatever you cannot live without but be strict with yourself. You don’t want to be tired since you need energy to be creative!
  6. Size and weight of palette is also a consideration. For large washes you will need bigger brushes and a larger palette.
  7. Brushes. Will you use travel brushes that protect the bristles and if not how will you carry them so that the brush tip stays in good shape?
  8. Water containers for both water and for painting can be bulky. Keep your eye out for unusual solutions.

 These are considerations to ponder. I will follow up this post with others that are specific examples of the various components: sketchbooks, brushes, palettes, water containers, etc.

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