Please sign in to post.

Artist travelers and packing?

I'm going on the Your Way Alpine tour. My favorite activities are hiking (well not as young as I used to be at 74! So my hikes aren't so "adventurous" and sketching. I do watercolor sketches in a small book (I think A5?), and my kit is small as I am an urban sketcher (take that urban part pretty loosely--more a philosophy of small kits and books and quick less finished sketches (1-2 hours maybe). I am really looking forward to sketching in some beautiful places. My concerns are: doesn't make light packing easier, and if there are art stores in the places we are traveling. I would also like to bring a small stool, but I think even a small one is going to make my life more difficult. I don't use an easel, just put my sketchbook in my lap or a table should one be available somewhere. Any other sketchers, artists out there with any advise for me?? I've tried to search this and I get all posts about famous artists.

Posted by
1259 posts

An ultralight and packable stool is easily acquired from REI, walmart, or Cabela's. Fancier (heavier) backpacking chairs are also readily available. You just need a backpack to hold it inside with your watercolor kit or strapped to the exterior. this is a categfory you throw money at; the more you spend the lighter and better built the chair/stool.

https://www.rei.com/c/camp-stools

https://www.rei.com/c/camping-chairs?ir=category%3Acamp-stools&r=category%3Acamping-and-hiking%7Ccamp-furniture%7Ccamping-chairs%3Bbest-use%3ABackpacking

Posted by
4528 posts

Are you looking for ideas for storing your watercolors and/or pencils as well? A friend of mine paints small plein air paintings when he travels and puts dabs of colors in small Altoid tins. But of course, there are also watercolor sets that are convenient. I would suggest carrying your pencils and brushes in long pencil pouches - maybe separating them, since the brushes might be wet.

FWIW, I'm sure that Salzburg has art stores there, and it's one of your first destinations. So if you need something you don't want to pack, you could always pick it up there. You can use Google maps to find one when you get there.

In terms of searching online, you might get some ideas by changing up your search terms. For example, when I googled "travel art supplies" I received many hits, including these that looked interesting:

https://finearttutorials.com/guide/travel-art-supplies/
https://www.skillshare.com/en/blog/17-travel-friendly-art-supplies-perfect-for-holiday-trips/
https://mymodernmet.com/traveling-artist-gifts/

The above are reputable websites but keep in mind that most sites these days that push products get some kind of kickback from it. That doesn't mean it's not a good product but just something to keep in mind.

Enjoy your tour and your sketching! I started off as an artist many years ago - went to art school and worked as a graphic designer, but eventually left the field. But I still enjoy sketching and creating.

Posted by
49 posts

Thanks for the responses. Will check out Cabelas (and maybe Sportsmen which is close by) for some stools. I have a wonderful (but heavy stool)--it's not going. Fell off the REI one, backwards--fortunately it was in the grass and I didn't get hurt and everyone had a good laugh--including me. I have always used small backpacks (25 L and under as my personal item), these fit on the outside probably, at least for walking around and sketching anyway.

I have two small watercolor kits. I could never go for an Altoid kit, it's cute for a little touch of wash in a pen drawing, but not exactly what I do. I actually have a small one I have used in an airport on a long delay, even that frustrates me. I use something called the Portable Painter. If I had discipline for 6 colors might go for their "mini".

Btw, figured Strausburg has an art store, actually has an urban sketcher group. I suppose I should think of this the way a photographer does of his/her supplies. On second thought don't want to carry the weight they do!!

Posted by
49 posts

From falling backwards?? That was months ago, no aftereffects. But new respect for 3 legged stools!!

Posted by
6204 posts

Hi, I brought that size watercolor paint pad during a solo trip to Italy, along with watercolor pens. For a place to sit, I was able to use a short stone wall, a cafe table (just a quick sketch while having my espresso), and the steps of a church in the evening. People do enjoy glancing at what you’re creating. : )

For your situation, I would either plan to utilize hiking benches, boulders, or short stone walls to sit or purchase something in Salzburg that will be stored in the bus when you don’t need it. Maybe like a lightweight summer lawn chair? Edit: reading your issue with the 3-legs, so yes for something more like a lightweight lawn chair. Hope all goes well and you have a great trip!

Posted by
49 posts

In the US I've managed to find all sorts of alternative places to sketch and don't care if I am comfortable or not, as long as I can stand up afterwards. :D Including the things you mentioned. Also don't mind "losing" something inexpensive on the way back. So lawn chair. or ... is a possibility. I will even stand in a pinch--don't enjoy it, but will do it. They do make a very simple stool with 2 U shapes that folds in half. If I could use this... but will also need to take my walking stick, though at my age, perhaps it's my cane? Would have to glue the little rubber end on permanently though.

Posted by
6204 posts

If you enjoy classical music, also, and would like to link those two arts, there’s a bench with a beautiful view slightly above Wengen (Lauterbrunnen area) where Felix Mendelssohn sketched the scene. There’s a copy of his sketch at the bench. : )

Posted by
614 posts

How pack depends a bit on how I am traveling. If I am traveling solo, I bring a bigger kit. If I am traveling with a group, I bring a tiny kit because I figure I'm not going to have much time to draw/paint.

Winsor and Newton makes a nice travel kit with pan paints, a folding water bucket, and small (5x7) pad. https://www.amazon.com/Winsor-Newton-Cotman-Colour-Travel/dp/B000NAY0C6/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8
(Edit: Currently unavailable. Darn.)

Sometimes I replace the Cotman half pans with a combo of half and whole professional pans, and sometimes I bring spare tubes of paints that I know I will use a lot of ( e.g. -- yellow ochre, burnt Sienna, ultramarine blue, cobalt). I also bring my own brushes, wrapped in a canvas brush wrap. The brushes with the kit are too small to be of any use to me.

DaVinci and Isabey make nice travel brushes. They are kind of pricey, but I have had mine for years.

For a more extended trip, where I actually know that I will have time to paint, I will bring a hard pencil case full of tube watercolors and a small Arches block. Sometimes a small piece of Gatorfoam and some loose sheets will work, too. Brushes always go in my carry-on. (I have nice brushes that are expensive to replace.)

Although I have a nice little backpack/stool combo that's great for plein air work, I have never tried to take it on a plane. I just take advantage of whatever benches, chairs or low walls I can find.

Posted by
49 posts

Wow Jean--Wengen!! I am not as much into classical musical, but that does sound amazing anyway.

Marie, that was a very comprehensive thoughtful answer. This is a "tour" of sorts, but the my way trips I will have much more time to explore my own interests. In fact, not someone who enjoys a lot of museums and so forth. But I find the logistics of international travel a little more challenging (and have traveled there a few times), so I liked the "Your Way" concept. I expect to do a lot of sketching.
I looked for the set you mentioned--looks like it's not made anymore. (I dont' use student grade though--due to being weak colors and a thing with Daniel Smith (80% in my palettte). I use Portable Painter, which is a nice set. I feel it has a few limitations, but i would no doubt have to design one myself to get one perfect for me (hmm nice concept--wonderful if someone has thought of that idea--a sort of modifiable set).

I am going to check out your brush recomendations, etc. Yes, I thought of carrying tubes. Though I have had 3 week trips and not run out of anything.

Thanks again for your answer.

Posted by
139 posts

Structuring travel around your art sounds fabulous! I’d think you’d want your fave palette and supplies with you. Worth the weight, since it’s a focus of your trip. You could get by with 6 colors, but would that be frustrating, with such landscapes before you? And you’ll want a way to carry/pack your work safely.

Perhaps there’s a reasonable walking cane with a seat that would make sense, if it’s not too heavy to shlep as you hike. Some look like they’re 3 lbs or more, so might not be practical. But perhaps you could also carry it on the plane, being a cane. :-)

I’m a writer, and have learned that the right journal/pen/portable keyboard are key. I look for the right things for carryon travel, and I use those notes/journals heavily when I get home, so it’s worth the effort. As Eric Maisel says in A Writer’s Paris, “Less tourist, more artist!”

Posted by
614 posts

The more I think about it, the more I recommend pans. You can get empty half and whole pans that you can fill with your paints of choice. Fill them up, let them dry for a day or two, and then fill them again. Repeat until the pans are full. I often do that for plein air work.

Winsor & Newton still makes this travel palette: https://www.amazon.com/Winsor-Newton-Cotman-Colour-Compact/dp/B00004THXH/ref=sr_1_5?crid=1YPOYZ8DIAHLM&keywords=winsor+newton+travel+watercolor+set&qid=1677800927&sprefix=winsor+newton+travel+watercolor+set%2Caps%2C136&sr=8-5

I wish they made an empty one, but they don't.

You can mix and match whole and half pans --- so, 14 half pans or 7 whole pans, or some combination of the two. It's pretty compact, and the pull-out palette tray is clever.

The traditional metal pan palettes always leak (and rust) on me (unless you want to drop $1200 on one of those fancy brass ones).

Posted by
49 posts

Marie--I only really use pans. I do fill my own. Gives me freedom to select my own colors/brands. I typically use about 13 colors (turquoise is kind of required in NM, where I live) and so I always add that in there. I meant to refill=-but one can just carry a spare few colors in the pans (ultramarine, for instance).

Posted by
49 posts

@tavapeak (?)
Didn't say how much I loved your answer. "More artist, less tourist". Yes yes yes. In fact, this summer traveled your great state via roadtrip and sketching all over. Have a full sketchbook from about a 2 1/2 week trip, I think. But I digress. I think your point of carrying what you need vs "getting by" is an excellent point. Photographers seem to think that way while we other sorts of artists may not. I guess they accept that they are going to carry a zillion pounds. :) When you think of it that way... as an urban sketcher--I love a small light set up but it doesn't have to be ridiculously light either.
I don't think the cane would work. in fact, some PTs are transitioning folks from cane to trekking poles for just going out and about! And yes, agree cane/seats are heavy.

Posted by
557 posts

OP it is not the three legged stool itself that is the problem. It is the height of the stool. Also goes for the height of any packable chair you may buy. You can try this all at home with what seats or chairs you have around. At some point the height becomes apparent to getting down into it or getting up.
Your flexibility at that age is a factor. As it is with me. You don’t want to plop down. And when you get up you want to stand without assistance from the height of the seat.
Easy to get off a barstool height. Not so much for any seat height where the bend in your knees is greater than 90 degrees. Minimum.
It is a question of flexibility, strength, and ergonomics.
If you have to put your arms out in front of you to offset your center of gravity in order to rise from the seat, that is not a seat you want. If you have to thrust yourself forward in order to rise, that is a seat you do not want.