Travelling light – my ultra-portable painting kit

Here’s one simple idea for an ultra-lightweight plein air sketching kit.

I recently took just these few items with me as I travelled around the Mediterranean and sketched and painted all over the place. For me it was important to carry only the smallest and lightest of kits, so I honed everything down and left behind the kitchen sink!

I was trying not to take an easel or pochade box with me, so I came up with what I think is the simplest and lightest device that anyone can make at home and that makes sketching a real joy. I can set up the kit in less than a minute and it all packs away into a small bag.

Take a look at the video below to find out what it is, and how to make one yourself!

My must-have materials

  • Mechanical pencil (always stays sharp!)
  • Black waterproof fineliner pen
  • Travel Brush – Escoda Versatil #12 round. This holds lots of paint yet has a fine tip for details. It folds away for easy transporting.
  • Titanium white gouache paint in a tube. I use this for making opaque colours and covering over darks (and mistakes!)
  • Water bottle
  • A couple of clips
  • Tissues
  • Hahnemühle A5 watercolour sketchbook
  • Portable Painter Palette filled with my favourite colours ( https://www.portablepainter.com/ )
  • Wooden board made from 3mm (1/8th inch) plywood. Mine is cut to 13.5 x 20cm size (5 1/4″ x 8″)

Extras (non-essentials)

  • Travel Brush – Escoda Optimo #4 round brush. This is a pure sable brush and is used for back-up (although to be fair I hardly ever use it, as I can do everything I want with the Escoda Versatil #12.
  • Washi tape (or masking tape). I sometimes use this to tape off a border for the sketch, so that when it is peeled off it leaves a nice crisp edge to the painting.
  • Orange watercolour pencil. I use this sometimes to draw out the sketch. The lines dissolve a little in the paint giving a pleasing effect.
  • Pencil sharpener to sharpen the watercolour pencil. You could use a sharp knife for this, but the airplane companies don’t like it if you are flying!

Please click on the thumbs up below if you have found this useful.
Happy painting!


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