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Artist packing tips

Good evening,

I am pre-planning travel to Europe next summer. I would like to take my art easel, supplies etc. I don't want to over pack - but need to carry necessary items for creating nice artwork. I'm trying to decide - soft pastels, watercolor, pro colored pencils - probably not oil paints.

Any suggestions for a pop up easel, chair, and storage while traveling? I haven't decided which country yet.
Art on the road might be a good topic

Thank you in advance.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks, those are some good suggestions. Any artists on here ? I'm looking for a real review of equipment. I see those fold out easels but my concern are those tripods. I know those are heavy ;) . I guess you pay for your Europe bag and take more art than clothes lol ;)

Posted by
465 posts

Hi Trish, interesting question.... Arriving in Florence, I bought good quality oil paints & an easel, but I was heading out for a week's painting with a group so felt it was worth the expense. I don't recall it being very expensive & I gave the easel away at the end. Watercolors would be my choice. I carry a small separate mesh bag with a 12-tin travel watercolor set with refillable trays, small plastic bottle for water, some cloth, pencils & graphite in a small case, same with brushes, and pick up more paints & a watercolor sketching pad along the way, they're of very high quality in Europe & it's less things to carry. So excluding sketch pad, it weighs less than 1lb. I wouldn't consider an easel or tripod, too much extra weight & hassle.

Posted by
6068 posts

We've been fortunate enough to be on RSE tours with a number of artists. I don't remember any one them bringing an easel, although a young woman studying photography seriously did bring a tripod. She found it clumsy to carry, but it was worth it to her.

One watercolor artist brought a tiny paint set, that did have mixing wells. She also used smaller brushes, and produced some amazing sketches along the way. I signed up for a watercolor sketching class here at home, but it was cancelled for Covid (what else?) and hasn't been offered since.

Sorry, I wandered off topic there for a moment; her kit fit very well indeed in her regular bags. The acrylic artist on another tour also did watercolor sketches as we traveled. She also had a tiny kit, but I think used a bigger range of brush sizes. Her sketches were then the source of some amazing paintings she produced when she got home, one of which is hanging over our fireplace!

Posted by
1399 posts

Look for watercolor pastels/crayons/pencils. Other pencils can act as a resist. I use all of these on watercolor paper to add a lot of linear elements and block in areas quickly by blending with water and various brush shapes. You can add more effects adding more back into the wet. This dries quickly and there is no mess. The end result looks like a finished watercolor painting. P.S. Watercolor crayons/pastels according to some may melt if you go someplace too hot. Maybe keeping them in an insulated box? Watercolor pencils bound in wood should still work.

Posted by
355 posts

I have carried professional colored pencils and black pens of different point sizes, pages from my 8.5 x 11 sketching paper between hard cardboard with clips to hold together, number 2 pencils and a little white out for 20 years. My art is very realistic so these work well for me. Had the small watercolor pack but it just tended to be too small the do bigger free flow paintings. Watercolor pencils do not work in hot weather-they melt in the box. Gotta walk the each in Ensanada. The tropical storm yesterday was a non event here.

Posted by
6 posts

Good to know about water color pencils. I was considering those. I have a travel easel (the Claude Monet one) Which is awesome but very heavy and ironically a bit bulky.

I was thinking of using my metal music stand to prop up some paper. The flat cardboard sounds like a great idea.

I did professional photography for 20 years. I had to take it with me before - but its - oh so heavy = sturdy. lol. I don't want to carry it if I don't have to .

I really appreciate the suggestions. They are all excellent. And, buying a cheap easel stand too. I might choose the rental car for part of the trip and then ditch it. The easel and the car at the drop off point ;)

Many sincere thanks ! Trish.

Posted by
274 posts

You must be a real pro! Here is a woman I follow who does travel water colors and teaches classes. She has packing tips on the website. Since you are a fellow pro, you may want to ask her directly.

I create travel art journals so I understand. I pack a multimedia book, travel water color palette with WN paints, brushes, small craft scissors and Golden acrylic matte medium. Then I add my ephemera I collect along the way. This works great if I am checking bags though or I have ample down time during the trip.

Posted by
1 posts

Hi Trish! I have a great video that I could share with you about packing for an art trip. It has served me very well. If you go to my website, ( and contact me, I will be able to connect with you and share the video. It’s not a public video…just for those who are interested!

Posted by
6 posts

Oh sounds great. I love this forum. I've added my lessons learned over the years and I appreciate the assistance too.