Watercolors on the Run

by Kara on September 12, 2009

This is the Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolor paint set I use. It is about 2.5 x 5 inches and takes up very little space in my backpack.

This is the Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolor paint set I use. It is about 2.5 x 5 inches and takes up very little space in my backpack.

I always take a watercolor set with me when we travel. I used to drag tons of art supplies with me on our trips, but I have cut it down to the basics and it has not cramped my style at all. What follows is an overview of what I take with me when I travel. I am always interested in hearing suggestions about art supplies for travel.

Most importantly, I need paints. I take a tiny Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Sketcher’s Pocket Box with 12 colors, which is more than enough. The one pictured here is my backup set – I didn’t want to take a picture of the messy one I really use! These are not the finest quality paints, but my painting is not the finest quality either. They work great for me. Cathy Johnson has a great pdf on her website called “Make your own tiny travel watercolor kit“. One of the kits she shows is a wonderful set she made from an antique cigarette case she found on eBay – really cool! She also has a zillion other great art tips on her website.

I take a few of these Kuretake water brushes with me when I paint on the road.

I take a few of these Kuretake water brushes with me when I paint on the road.

I do find that the brushes that come with the Cotman sets are inadequate. I usually bring a couple regular brushes in my pencil box, but my favorites are the water brushes. These brushes tips are attached to a hollow plastic barrel that you can fill with water. When you squeeze the barrel, water comes out through the brush. The brand I use is Kuretake, which I like because they have a filter that keeps your colors from becoming muddy. The really cheap water brushes don’t have a filter, so avoid those. But I have actually painted during a long flight before using these, because I can avoid having a cup of water on my tray.

In terms of watercolor paper, I usually take a small spiral pad and a bound watercolor journal. I don’t bring anything larger than 5×7 because I don’t want to carry a big pad around. My current bound watercolor journal is from Brenda Books. The one I have is pictured third from the left on the home page. I can’t find it for sale on her site currently, but I got it as part of a watercolor travel kit with a hardbound case, a watercolor set, a Sharpie and a pencil. I don’t use the case anymore however – I just took the journal out and carry that with me.

This is a watercolor I painted while flying to South Korea in 2008.

This is a watercolor I painted while flying to South Korea in 2008.

That is all I need and it hardly takes up any room in my backpack. I also carry a regular journal and a gluestick so I can keep a written journal and paste in anything that catches my fancy.

Someone asked me to post one of my watercolors. I am a beginner, so they aren’t anything fancy, but here is one I did on the airplane on the way to Korea. It is based on an illustration I found in the in-flight magazine. That picture had all these creepy faces in the flowers and the flowers were growing out of a pile of heads, so I took that stuff out.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jackie G. September 16, 2009 at 1:13 pm

I should really do this! It sounds like the perfect thing to do durng downtime (like a long flight or the early morning effect of jet-lag). I used to draw all the time and just stopped one day. Hopefully I take it up again soon! :)

Karen Denny October 15, 2009 at 8:55 am

Kara, that is a beautiful water color. Reading this blog I am learning a lot about you.

Steffany Keegan October 25, 2009 at 2:07 pm

YAY, I’m commenting, Thank you for putting up some watercolors, I’m so impressed to see the artistic side of you guys, the site is beautiful and dammit I wanna win a picture :P
I’m gonna have to use my power as a GM to strong arm you :P

LOVE YOUS
Steff

Lana February 24, 2013 at 11:40 pm

I also like to paint when I travel, and I’m also a beginner/intermediate painter. I recently discovered watercolor pencils, which are used like colored pencils but turn into a watercolor painting when you apply the water brushes.

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