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Anyone pack watercolor paints in carry on?

I would like to bring along a small set of watercolors for our upcoming trip to Scotland, maybe a limited quarter pan size paint tray with a couple brushes and a small pad of paper.

Any fellow artists out there who have been successful with paints in carry on bags?

Thank you so much for sharing your experience!

Posted by
151 posts

I carry on my petite palette of watercolors (Winsor Newton tiny pans) and empty water brushes- no problem domestic or international. Maybe if you carry any tubes they shd go with toiletries until you arrive in Europe?

Posted by
95 posts

Thank you for your reply Shawn! Tiny pans, petite pallet, is exactly what I have in mind.

I did some digging and found on the TSA website that watercolor paints many be carried on. I also read to double check with the specific airline for any restrictions they might have. I've not been able to get through on British Airways site, site busy message, and I supposed I need to double check Heathrow's security.

I really appreciate that you took the time to reply!

Posted by
20 posts

My husband and I both carried Koi watercolor Sketch Field Boxes (12 quarter pans) on our New Zealand trip. He carried a water brush and a fountain pen; I had some Micron pens and a travel brush. He put his in his checked bag, but I put it in my carryon with no problems.

Posted by
7364 posts

Hi Diane, I am taking a small set of Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils to Italy and 2-3 brushes. I have been practicing with them at home. There’s different methods you can use with them. I really like the color range I get with them. For some locations, I might just finish with the water when I am back in my hotel room.

My method is more sketching & adding color to it than a full watercolor painting.

Posted by
330 posts

Airlines do not make restrictions on thing like this. So it’s going to be up to the security people in any country you go through security.

I will warn you that London Heathrow security on anything that has any liquid in it is incredibly strict. It must go in the baggie and you get one baggie ( those who are playing the two baggy trick tend to be a little upset)

Posted by
2470 posts

If you don’t want to worry about travel restrictions on liquids, you could consider bringing watercolor color sheets. The brands I see online are Peerless and Viviva. The paint is completely dry, but you just touch it with a wet paintbrush and it’s good to go.

Posted by
6650 posts

The FAA has no restrictions on watercolor (non-flammable) paints, but you are limited to the 3-1-1 rule with the TSA. FAA rules on non-flammable artist paints And of course coming back, you will need to abide by the UK rules. As Carol said, LHR mandates that liquids be in a single zip lock plastic bag. What I usually do if I'm passing through or flying out of Heathrow or CDG is to pack my liquids in the plastic bag, and then insert it in a toiletries bag. I then just pull it out as I go through the security line.

Posted by
6345 posts

I've brought a tiny paint pan, with no problems. We've been fortunate enough to share tours with watercolor artists, who also used the small pans. One of these women did amazing watercolor sketches on blank 4x6 file cards - wonderful souvenirs and gifts!

I wouldn't try packing tubes in carry on, though.

Posted by
385 posts

I use tubes at home, but built a travel kit in a watercolor class. Glued water bottle lids to the bottom of a lidded metal container and filled each one with my usual colors then let them dry completely. The container lid works nicely as a palette for mixing colors. Never had a problem going through security here, in England or Italy, though I do pack my brushes separately when going through security just in case. Paint would be easier to replace than my favorite travel brushes. I bought the “paper paints” before our last trip but didn’t have a chance to try them out. I think pans should be no problem.

Posted by
20 posts

@inbsig, I was very intrigued by the watercolor sheets. They wouldn’t be sufficient for a serious artist, but for a dabbler like myself they would cut down on the weight considerably.

Posted by
9724 posts

I am absolutely confused - what do watercolor paints have to do with 3-1-1 liquids ?? Aren't they little dry bits of paint ?!

And from that link above, they don't fit into the flammable category either.

So couldn't one just bring all the watercolor paints one wanted ? (In theory, of course. Most people like to bring some clothes, electronics, and other stuff with them.)

Posted by
385 posts

Kim—watercolors come in pans, which are dry, and tubes where the paint is roughly the consistency of toothpaste. Those are the ones that would go in a 311 bag. Unless you squeeze some out into a shallow container and let them dry like I do. I’m basically making my own pans for travel so I don’t have to duplicate my favorite colors in another form.

Posted by
95 posts

Thank you to everyone for taking time to reply to my posting! This forum is the BEST with so many generous folks sharing information.

Posted by
328 posts

What a wonderful idea! Thank you for posting! I’m going to look into everyone’s ideas and suggestions for an upcoming trip. And note to Jean…show and share your endeavors at a Saturday meet-up!

Posted by
414 posts

I’m so envious of you sketch and watercolor artists. What a wonderful way to appreciate your travels! Tip of the hat to ya.

Posted by
4 posts

I took a travel set of half pans on British Airways with flight changes in Heathrow last October and had no problems at all. I made sure my water containers and water brushes were empty and just filled them after security. I've got a new metal palette for my upcoming May trip (my previous one was plastic), so I'm hopeful that won't set off security scanners.

I'm debating about pens for my upcoming trip. I'd like to take my fountain pen, so I'm thinking I'll carry it empty and put a tiny vial of ink in my 3-1-1. I'm much more worried about leaks than security concerns. I'd love to know if any of you have traveled with a fountain pen before and if you had any issues.

Posted by
385 posts

I double bag small items that I’m afraid might leak. I use a tiny bag like the ones that spare buttons come in when you buy a buttoned shirt. Then I put that bag in the 311 bag.

Posted by
714 posts

I have traveled with watercolor tubes in checked luggage multiple times with no problem. I have also carried a handful of small tubes in my 3-1-1 toiletries bag.

Pans probably make more sense, but I always forget to refill them before a trip.

I have never been happy with the paper quality on the small pads of paper (but I'm picky). I usually chop down some larger sheets or just buy a small block when I arrive at my destination.

I do like the collapsible travel brushes, though.

Posted by
6345 posts

amy, it's been years since I'veused a fountain pen, but it did leak on a flight. What a mess! Luckily, it was in my purse, not my suitcase.

Posted by
9724 posts

Ah thanks for the explanation, Leslie. I seriously had forgotten that watercolors could come in tubes, sheesh. And I absolutely LOVE your little palette you have made yourself with bottle tops !!! That is very cool.

Like Lyndash, I am jealous of all of you with sketching/painting talent. What a joy it must bring!

Posted by
104 posts

For my travel art kit, I like to carry a small tin of diy dry pan watercolors, a brush or two. I am picky about paper, so I usually purchase a larger sheets in order to cut and bind my own sketch/watercolor book. In addition, I bring a brush pen, as well as a fountain pen. Both with the cartridges removed for the flight. I will have a couple of pencils and maybe a technical ink pen or two in black.