Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Travel sketch toolkit - what I take overseas

My sketching travel kit
laid out before my trip to Venice

- lots of lightweight canvas pencil wraps!
photo Katherine Tyrrell
I'm a closet ‘everything but the kitchen sink' artist - or at least I was until I started showing people what I take on my travels on the internet!

This is my travel kit for artwork abroad – all of this goes in the luggage and on the plane! And when I'm being very ambitious or going on a long trip my pastels go to!

At the moment I'm in the middle of sorting out what I'm packing for my next big trip to California, Arizona and New Mexico. I pack the art stuff first and then weigh and see how much I've got left for clothes. Priorities! Tonight I packed my pencil wraps with coloured pencils having visited the art shop earlier in the day to get new supplies of the Daler Rowney sketchbook I use on every trip. I'll also be taking a new Moleskine.

However, you don't have to take all of this. Each individual has their own individual perspective on what they need. All are equally valid - it's whatever it takes to make you feel you can do good work. Mind you, my opinions have been honed through much travel and carrying supplies around. My on-board luggage tends to contain the expensive art supplies, a change of underwear and a clean Tshirt!

My essentials include:
  • Sketchbooks and/or small blocks of hot press watercolour paper (I use Arches HP) plus a portfolio of different coloured/types of drawing support
  • Small foam core board - cut to fit the suitcase
  • Clips to hold paper in place and/or sketchbook paper from flapping in a breeze
  • Mechanical pencils (require no sharpening and you can vary the hardness/softness of the 'leads')
  • Coloured pencils – sorted into colour groups – in pencils rolls
  • Two pencils cases (warm and cool colours) containing shorties for ‘lightweight' trips
  • a waterbrush if you're taking watercolour pencils (or a small pan of watercolours)
  • Small light electric sharpener (for sharpening points in the evening.
  • A small handheld sharpener for daytime
  • Camera + battery charger + socket conversion kit + spare batteries
  • A folding chair (I'm much more comfortable with back support - this one has travelled thousands of miles)
  • Very strong bungee cord to hold folding chair together
  • Folding mac and umbrella
  • Protective creams for sun and bugs
  • Good footwear for all that walking!
  • Sack with lots of pockets enabling easy location of different bits of art gear. I now use a backpack.
  • Guidebooks / maps(so as not to get lost!)
  • bottle of water
Last year in Venice I found that a shopping trolley on wheels was the best way to get stuff around in terms of making oneself visible in the narrow allies in Venice. The airline didn't bat an eye when it got loaded on to the plane for the return journey!

Technorati tags: , , , , , ,


  1. Wow! Your back, shoulders, and arms must be very strong. Just the small backpack I took on the sketchcrawl caused my shoulders and back lots of pain. And I too am one to take all but the kitchen sink.

    I will look forward to your journeys as I have not travelled. This will give me an opportunity to see "the world" without leaving my house. I look forward to each new post.

    Have a wonderful trip to my corner of the world (CA). Have a good, productive, and safe trip. Jeanne

  2. Thanks Jeanne

    Lots of people to see in California but unfortunately there's only going to be enough time to see a very few of them given the travelling I'm doing. I'll still be looking out for your sketches on WC though! ;)

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Great to share your experiences. I am looking at how artists travel on long tours and came across interesting stuff about Turner's equipment on Tate's site.

    There is a kid's section on his travels, very informative. See it here:

    Be fantastic if we could exchange information about web links for artists travels, fascinating subject.

  5. I found some other Turner travel bits from the Tate web site.

    This is for his english tours.

    this is for abroad.

  6. This will be relevant to a project I'm starting for 2010 which is about landscapes (and the different approcahes to sketching/paing them over the years - both art history and instruction)


I always check identities and ALL links in comments for spam.

Due to excessive attempts to introduce spam via comments on this blog, I've introduced a regime where all comments with links in the ID or text to the websites of hotels/resorts/tourist destinations will NOT be approved and are deleted. The websites of repeat spammers are also reported to Google.

Nice, sensible people who are not new to blogging probably don't need to read my Comments Policy