Material Obsession - Traveling Studio Musts

Posted on July 08, 2016 by Angelique Abare | 0 comments

I get a lot of questions about what type of paints and materials I use in my portable studio setup.  While the trek to my location dictates much of what I bring, I generally have a few of the following items on me when I work on location. 



I am obsessed with Moleskine notebooks.  They are incredibly durable, which is important to me as I am pretty hard on my sketchbooks - I throw them in packs and purses, so they get a lot of mileage.  I have never had a bad experience with Moleskine products and their range of sizes is really great.  For painting I use their watercolor A4, Large, and Pocket sizes, which are heavy paper, 200 gsm, 25% cotton fibre cold pressed, identical on both sides, acid free, neutral PH, archive quality.  These pages can take some serious abuse and layers with minimal warping.

For notes and general visual observations I use their basic cahier journals - I like these because they come in a three pack, and fit nicely in the back pocket of the larger sketchbooks.  You can also paint and scribble on these in a pinch, they don't hold up as well as the watercolor books, but the pages still take a pretty good beating.


Doodle Devices

I will scribble with just about anything I can get my hands on - but these are just a few of my favorite brands/products that travel well and make nice marks.  One trick to minimize the amount of stuff you are shlepping, is to narrow your palette before you leave, generally I bring a few basic colors and add any detail work or final touches once I am back in my studio.

Micron Fine Line Pens - strong lines, good life, archival.
Faber-Castell Graphite Pencils - durable, weight of graphite true to label (4B is actually a 4B line)
Woodless Pencils - I prefer woodless pencils over anything else, the line variety and quality is unparalleled.  However, woodless pencils are fragile and thus don't make the best travel tool, so I usually only bring along shards of previously broken pencils so I don't break my nice fresh ones!
Watercolor Pencils - these make laying down color with limited water access a breeze, or you can sketch and then work into paint later on in your studio.
Oil Sticks - I get a lot of questions about these, mainly what is the difference between these and oil pastels.  Long story short, pastels are mixed with a medium to keep the malleable forever (or until spray fixed), while oilsticks are basically oil paint mixed with a little wax and solvent, and are meant to dry.  These take a few days to fully cure, but are great for layering and thicker application than pastels, and are a bit more opaque than the pastels.
+ Brushes - I like to bring brushes with texture and that can cover surfaces area.  I like the foam brushes for pulling color and the natural bristle for the added texture.
+ Pencil Sharpener - I mean, I think you can guess why I bring this along? :)
Water Soluble Crayons - excellent color coverages and mixes well with watercolors and acrylics.  One thing to note is these are crayons and melt really easily - so careful if you are beach or desert trekking, keep them covered!
Conte Crayons - Strong pigment and hard lines, these clay based pastels are awesome and mix well with paint!
Soft Pastels - I like to crumble these and spread the chalk with my hands for added texture.
Oil Pastels - softer color and more malleable lines.


    Solvents and Big Color

    Fixatif is a must, I prefer final fix as it allows me to work overtop layers, but workable fix is nice if you know you have more work to do on a particular work back in the studio.
    Watercolor Palette - I just use a cheap-o to get color impressions down, I like the hard cake pallets as they are more portable/less mess than liquid watercolors.
    Fluid Acrylics - I usually only bring black and white.  I prefer these over regular body acrylics because a small amount gets you quite a bit of coverage, which is perfect for painting on the fly.
    + Mixing and Water cups - 90% of my location paintings are made using river or ocean water - I try to reuse takeout containers for this, I love the big soup sized cups.


      Prompts and Bits

      I try to shove a few pre-scribbled works into the pages of my sketchbook, its nice to have a visual prompt for the body of work I am on at the moment. Additionally more containers are never a bad idea, and a trusty scraper or old credit card to move paint or cover a mistake helps in a pinch.


        I have linked to my favorite brands above, so if you are interested in trying anything out you can see what I use - these are not affiliate links, I just love these products a lot!


        Until next time, you can find me in the woods or at the beach, scribbling in the sun!

        Posted in Advice for Creatives, Artist Studio, creative process, scenes from the studio, Sketchbook, Studio Practice, works in progress



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