Packing an art kit for a beach holiday
Posted on November 09 2022
I've just returned from a 2 week trip to Thailand, my first trip since the start of the pandemic. I kept thinking it would feel surreal but it felt as normal as ever, even the new COVID way to travel felt completely normal which was reassuring.
We travelled with only carry-on luggage and were limited to 7kg. Barely enough for essentials, so my travel art kit needed much thought and planning.
I was going to a surf beach - a surf beach! *happy dance* - and made sure my art kit included all the blues for the sun and sea. Pity, as the first week was extremely wet with some big storms and the end of the monsoon. Big thunderous skies and lots of grey. Good thing I love a dramatic sky.
To be honest, when we did get a blue sky with blue water it didn't really offer much inspiration for expressive sketchbooking. Turns out I love the drama! Perfect for surf frolicking though. And cocktails in coconuts.
So in the spirit of knowing how much we all love a look at other people's travel kit, I thought I'd walk you through mine.
Everything except the sketchbook fit in a 20cm x 30cm pencil case. I used tiny resealable plastic bags to minimise spills and mess. And most importantly, everything went through my carry on baggage allowance and complied with current international air security restrictions.
I didn't take anything I could find on our travels. I grabbed any napkin from coffees or lunches to use in lieu of paper towels. I kept any paper bag or brochure to use as a brush wipe. I just love that make-do creativity.
I found it easier to use acrylics in the room rather than at the beach or poolside. So I left those set up on the desk for rain afternoons or evenings.
By day, I had everything else on hand for a very relaxed play on the sun lounge. I found not having a holder for water inconvenient, but easy to work around. I had a paint brush with a water-filled barrel and put some water in the mixing palette of my watercolour kit. Turns out that's all I needed. Occasionally a beer would turn up (happy hour!) and the delicious condensation on the bottle would form very convenient puddles. Make-do, always!
MY TRAVEL KIT
Top row l-r
- Pastel tin with a selection of favourite pastels
- Mini water colour kit customised with favourite colours. This one is by Winsor & Newton
- Acrylic paint in mini bottles and a mini repurposed storage box
- black and white gouache in mini pill carriers
- take away food lid as palette
Middle row r-l
- plastic bags with white pastels and charcoal
- Neocolour II water soluble crayons
- water soluble colour pencils
- accessories including bull dog clips for holding pages open, credit card for scraping and smooshing paint, mini water spray bottle (who doesn't love MUJI!!!), washi tape, pencil sharpener, eraser (the only thing I didn't use!)
Bottom row l-r
- palette knife, tooth brush, fine line marker, white china marker, inktense pencil, graphite pencils
- brushes, including a water colour brush with a water-filled barrel. Longer brushes were cut to size to fit the pencil case and the ends were sanded to double as lovely line making tools
- A5 sketchbook. No idea of the paper, found in the back of my cupboard. It's about 300gsm, and quite a smooth cartridge. It acted quite different to hot pressed paper but I quite liked it once I let go of expectations.
Working with a limited palette is fabulous but forecasting which colours I'd be 'feeling' was probably the hardest thing to pack. In hindsight, there was only once or twice I wished I had another colour, but then sometimes I think I only used some colours simply because I'd packed them.
My beloved pastels were the most problematic. I used an old pastel tin because it was flat and had a moulding to hold pastels. Some brands are fatter than others so they got a bit crushed. Transporting pastels out of their boxes is always a never ending quandary.
The tropical heat and 1,000% humidity meant the neo colour II pastels were a complete DREAM to use! Man, they reacted so well to the weather! They were rich and creamy to use! Same with the water soluble colour pencils.
I've been back a week now and have fine tuned the teeniest pencil case to grab on my walks. I have been loving the ease of minimalism and just being able to stop at a bench for a quick cloud study, watch people walk by curiously side-eyeing what I'm doing, or in some cases asking to see. It feels like a holiday extension in my own neighbourhood and I'm very happy about that.