Whenever I go away, I like to pack up a small variety of art supplies for travel so I will have choices for my creativity. I enjoy both drawing and painting but since oil paints stay wet, they’re not an alternative. Acrylics dry fast but they’re heavy; also not a easy to carry. So here are the art supplies for travel that I always include:
Watercolors are light and don’t take up much room. There are travel-sized cases of watercolor paint sets that include a tiny brush available, although I also use inexpensive plastic sets of Prang or Crayola watercolors since they don’t weight much and have tubs in the lid for mixing washes of colors. The brushes that come with these cheap sets are not good so I either take one good watercolor brush, a number 12 with a fine tip for detail work, or several smaller brushes designed for watercolors.
Derwent has nice watercolor pencils and Prismacolor makes a set of 8 premier illustration markers. and a six-well plastic palette for mixing colors. Wherever I go, I use paper coffee cups (easy to find) or mugs to put water in for rinsing brushes color mixing. For paper I like to have a small, moleskin watercolor notebook because it’s great for watercolors and for drawing. They come in a nice variety of sizes. Sometimes I take a large one in my suitcase as well, or a sketch pad with heavy paper.
I also pack up a variety of pencils, an eraser and some drawing pens, as well as a few paper towels. I often throw the entire batch of art supplies into a large Ziploc freezer bag so I can grab it and throw it into my backpack or tote at a moment’s notice
A circle of colors, based on the primary colors of red, yellow and blue, has been used in art for hundreds of years. In fact, it was Sir Isaac Newton in 1666 who first developed a circular diagram of colors showing their relationships to one another. Artists and even scientists have created many variations of the color wheel concept, and the debates continue to this day as to which format of the color wheel is most valid, though any color wheel offering a sequence of pure hues that are logically arranged is worthwhile.
Here is how a traditional color circle is organized:
1. Primary Colors: Red, yellow and blue – All of the other colors are created from these 3 hues.
2. Secondary Colors: Orange, green and purple – These colors are the ones created by mixing two primary colors together.
3. Tertiary Colors: Yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green and yellow-green – These are the colors created by mixing one primary color with one secondary color, which is why they have two-word names.
Artists enjoy a number of universal types of paintbrushes. In the photo from left to right they are: Flat, Bright, Filbert, Round, Detail/Rigger, Angle, Fan and Mop.
The bristles can be made from synthetic fibers or natural hair, or even a combination of both. Oil painting artists prefer natural brushes of hogs’ hair because they are tougher. For watercolors, synthetic fibers are best since they’re softer and hold the water. Synthetics are also sometimes used for acrylics.
For large paintings it’s a good idea to use a big paintbrush (2-4 inches wide) to be able to cover large areas of paint or for laying in a neutral underpainting over the canvas. Flats and Brights are similar, though I like a longer brush length for loading paint onto. Fan brushes are fun for painting grass or for blending. The detail brush (Rigger) is great for signing, painting small paintings and for outlining, i.e., for trompe l’oeil. I don’t much use for the Round, Mop, Round, or Angle brushes.
Obviously, you will find all of these brushes in various sizes, and you really don’t need them all. You will mostly find yourself using Flats (sharper edges) and Filberts (softer more rounded strokes) because of their shapes.
An art bench is a place for the artist to sit and prop up a stretched canvas or drawing board on a support. Because the artist straddles it to sit, it is also known as an art horse, bench easel, art pony and donkey bench. It creates a simple work-station and some are very portable. With the drawing board or canvas placed at an angle, the top and bottom of the drawing or painting are equidistant from the artist’s eyes; drawing on a flat table, however, the top of the drawing is farther from the eyes than the bottom, which can create distortion in the finished work!
You can also sit “side saddle” on an art horse. If you are right handed, your legs will be on the left side of the bench. If you are left-handed, your legs will be on the right side of the bench. If you are drawing from a model or a still life setup or a book, adjust the bench so that your legs are on that side, making it possible for the upper body to face the subject or book.