Traveling Studio Kit

April 2nd, 2011

Not all those who wander are lost.
JR Tolkein

Rejuvenation is a wonderful thing. The simple action of moving away from the regular routine allows you to see the world from a different perspective and perhaps, if you’re lucky, come up with new answers to whatever you’re working on. Traveling bumps me out of the rut of my daily routine into new horizons, literally and figuratively, replenishing my energy, clearing the palette, opening me up to new possibilities.

And when I’m traveling I ALWAYS carry along a traveling studio kit so that I can keep working. I thought I’d share the details of my portable studio with any who might be interested. I try to keep it as simple, inexpensive and portable as possible.  A sturdy ziplock is perfectly adequate to carry my transparent watercolors. A hard case kit just takes up too much room. BE SURE that the tops of the tubes are all screwed on securely. If you’re traveling by plane the pressure will cause the paints to ooze out. If you’ve got your paints in a back pack on a hot summer day, the same thing will happen. Not pleasant.

I mainly use three different brands of watercolor: Holbein, Daniel Smith and Winsor Newton. These are tubes of moist watercolor. It makes a HUGE difference (to me) to have the moist colors ready to go, rather than having to slosh out washes of dried color.

Years of experimentation have resulted in a selection of colors that work for me. The palette color choice changes in accordance with where I am. When I’m in the Caribbean I make sure to take along various Turquoises and Manganese Blue. When in the desert I take a selection of earth tones: Burnt sienna, burnt umber and various ochres for basics. Daniel Smith has an amazing selection of interesting earth tones: Lunar Earth, Minnesota Pipestone for example. And their quinacridones are lovely! Holbein’s Opera is a secret weapon for intensity of color, but it’s easy to go overboard with it. It’s important to take the time to learn what the colors will do for you so that you can reach for the perfect one.

There is, however, a basic selection that I find to be minimal:

Cute mini spray bottle

New Gamboge
Brilliant Orange
Opera (Holbein)
Permanent Magenta
Paynes Gray
Sap Green
Burnt Sienna
Burnt Umber

Collapsible water jar by Holbein

Chinese White is also in the basic kit, but I use it very rarely. I prefer to let the white of the paper shine through. Nevertheless the opacity of Chinese White is sometimes the perfect tool.

Usually I can’t resist throwing in quite a few other tubes of paint.

Sometimes friends ask why I’ll take time out of my vacation to paint, but the answer is simple. When you are on vacation you get to do whatever you want.

And what I want to do is to make art.

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