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
If you are just beginning in watercolors, the first thing you need to learn is how to paint a “flat wash.” First, it’s important to have the top your pad, or a piece of watercolor paper taped to a drawing board, raised about 3 to 6 inches higher than the bottom. This allows the paint to puddle at the bottom of your strokes.
To begin, mix about a tablespoon of water with a middle tone color of watercolor paint on your palette. Red, green or blue will work fine. Use a good amount of paint to get nice color with the water. Next, fill your brush and paint a thick straight line from left to right on your paper, about four to six inches long. (Note: If you are left-handed, paint from right to left.) By keeping a full brush, there will be a puddle across the bottom of your first stroke.
Next you will replicate what you just did. This time, start at the bottom of the first stroke, picking up the puddle at the bottom of the first stroke. As you keep repeating this over and over again, keep picking up the puddle at the bottom of each stroke as you begin a new stroke. You are actually moving the puddle down the page.
When you get to the bottom of the page, or when you are finished with your “flat wash,” there will be one last puddle. Gently squeeze the excess water/paint out of your brush with a paper towel, the pull the tip of the brush across the puddle. The water will be absorbed into the dry brush. You can let your wash dry in one of three ways: 1) dry naturally, 2) dry in the sun, or 3) use a hair dryer, gently moving it back and forth over your work about 6 inches away from the paper. Any closer and you could burn it.