Rebecca Z’s Watercolor Supply List for Travel and Painting on Location:

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If you’re coming with me on an Art Adventure, then you’ll want to refer to this watercolor supply list!  These will be items I have with me and routinely take with me when I plan to paint outside the studio.  Plein air painting is a chance to combine the inspiration of travel with your creativity!

After many visits to Italy and Europe, I have found quite a few favorite spots to paint and draw.  When I bring a group to Tuscany, I usually have prints of my sketches available on Arches watercolor paper for you to paint.  I bring these for students to use if they wish.  I also bring photographic references from past visits.  These will often be available to you in order to speed up your process of painting.  Drawing can be the thing that really slows down a painter’s ability to get paint on the paper.  Using my sketches might help you get over the drawing and get painting sooner.  However, doing your own drawing is always encouraged.

If working in Watercolor These Supplies are my “Must Have’s”


  • My favorite painting surface while traveling is a good sketchbook.  Pentalic watercolor journals are great- my favorite sizes are 5×8 (fits in your purse easily and 11×8.5 (these are not too big but allow for nice sized landscape or portrait work on location.  Click to order:  Pentalic 140 lb paper sketchbooks or Aquabee Super Deluxe Spiral Watercolor journal (Order Aquabee Superdeluxe Watercolor Sketchbook from Amazon- click this Amazon- Aquabee sketchbook all sizes
  • Arches Watercolor block or ¼ sheets of Arches watercolor paper
  • if you plan to paint on loose paper or loose canvas, you’ll need a firm, flat support. (I like using a piece of foam core board covered with clear packing tape to make it waterproof as described in the picture below.)
    • Do-It-Urselfers can try this portable folio for paper or unstretched canvas (an idea from my friend Karlyn Holman): Cut 2 pieces offoam corea bit larger than your ¼ sheet of paper…about 12X16 or 12.5 X 16.6. Cover with plastic shelf liner (Contac Paper) or with Clear plastic packing tape to make them waterproof. Create straps from velcro tape to hold the two pieces of foam core together and form a carrying case for your loose sheets of watercolor paper. I cover the sticky backs of the velcro tape with fabric. All this can be avoided if you just resign yourself to using a sketchbook. 😊
  • I like taking notes as I travel, so having a small notebook handy at all times helps me make that happen.  These are my favorites because I can also paint on the paper if I get the urge  5×8 Pentalic 140 lb paper small sketchbook with pocket

Other Incidental “Must Have’s”

  • Bulldog Clips or large binder clips to keep your paper from blowing away (one clip attached to your sketchbook is sufficient)
  • tan masking tape or white painters tape 
  • Automatic Pencil– these are always sharp
  • kneaded eraser
  • Salt in a plastic ziploc bag or Rx bottle



    watercolor supply list- current paints on my palette

Watercolor Paints

  • As a minimum, I recommend you bringing at least 3 reds (Permanent Rose, Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Scarlet Lake), 3 blues (Cobalt and Antwerp and Manganese), 3 yellows (Winsor Yellow, Quinacridone Gold, Raw Sienna), Burnt sienna  and Permanent Magenta. I use professional quality artist colors.  Avoid student grade pigments.  These are the colors currently on my palette:  (W/N= Winsor Newton Brand  DS= Daniel Smith brand HWC= Holbein AJ= American Journey from Cheap Joe’s)
    • Reds:  WN Scarlet Lake, W/N Winsor Red (opaque), W/N Permanent Alizarin Crimson, AJ or W/N Permanent Rose, AJ Perylene Maroon, Opera Pink
    • Violets:  AJ Permanent Magenta, AJ Janet’s Violet Rose, Schmincke Ultamarine Violet
    • Blues: W/N Indigo, W/N Ultramarine Blue, HWC Cobalt Blue, AJ Sky Blue, W/N Manganese Blue, W/N Cerulean Blue, W/N Antwerp Blue, W/N or DS Cobalt Teal
    • Greens:  HWC Leaf Green, W/N Phthalo Green, W/N Hookers Green Light
    • Yellows: W/N Winsor Yellow, W/N New Gamboge, DS Quinacridone Gold, W/N Burnt Sienna, W/N Raw Sienna, W/N Winsor Yellow Deep, W/N Naples Yellow-opaque
    • Oranges: W/N Cadmium Orange- opaque, W/N Vermillion, DS Quinacridone Coral
  • Watercolor palette. Small folding palettes are ideal for travel. Artist quality tube watercolors are my favorite, but pan colors can avoid mess while moving. I travel with my palette in a ziploc bag just in case. (I love this portable palette, which is sold empty or filled with great colors of paint at THIS LINK) You could also make a palette out of an Altoid container and Trident gum packaging. As shown here:
use these materials to create a tiny palette for yourself

use these materials to create a tiny palette for yourself



  • Container to carry water: Collapsible bowls work well.
  • Something to hold water for painting: water bags are my favorite, but a plastic water bottle can be used.
    • As an alternative, you can use a “water brush”- a brush with a water reservoir in the handle. This way you don’t really need a water container. Any brand is fine.  purchase a water brush via  purchase a water brush via THIS LINK
  • Travel pack of Kleenex (my favorite) or paper towel for water control.
  • optional folding chair
    • I love having a lightweight chair for sitting while painting. I find it very helpful for working on location. GCI Outdoor has a sturdy chair that folds up to a small size that weighs only 26 ounces and is priced at around $20 on Amazon. Here is the link GCI Outdoor Packseat purchase on Amazon with this link. Or go to THIS LINK for the GCI Outdoor Pack Seat or call 800-956-SEAT (7328).
  • Hat, umbrella and/or shirt for sun protection
  • Phone Camera
  • Lightweight backpack (I use one on wheels.) Click this Link to Amazon for Backpacks which I use
  • If you’re shy and do not want to speak to people on the street as you paint, I recommend a set of ear buds.  People are much less likely to engage you if it looks like you are listening to music.

Special notes for watercolors:

  • If you don’t have room in your bag for paints,  Water-soluble crayons can be substituted for watercolors. You can lift the pigment from the crayon with a wet brush to paint, and they can be fun to use in conjunction with acrylics.  I like Caran D’arche or Pebeo Stabilo brand.
  • Water-soluble pencils can be fun to use, and some use them as a substitute for paints.  I generally reserve them more for special effects (which I’ll be glad to show you 😉
  • Photographers can certainly bring a real camera.  If you do, I’d bring an extra SD card,
  • You can also bring your iPad or tablet to take photos with. (These can help you with composition on location.) You may need an SD card reader or adaptor for quick transferring of photos from your camera to your iPad or tablet.

If working in Acrylic or Oils (Please- bring water-soluble oils only.  No solvents.)

Note from Rebecca:  I love acrylics and enjoy oils, but prefer watercolor while on the road.  I will be instructing in Watercolor, but will make an effort to assist you in your use of other mediums as time allows. I will bring mixed media materials to play with in conjunction with our watercolors, but for those of you who are die-hard acrylic or oil painters, this is what I’d suggest.

Materials for Acrylic/Oil Painters

  • Wrapped canvas (both acrylic and oil) or Canvas cut into flat pieces with hard surface to work on – if working in acrylic this can be a space saver.  I’d not recommend this for oil painters
  • portable easel (optional) but I’d just plan on using the portable folio I describe above.
  • making tape
  • palette
  • Oils/Acrylic paints of your choosing
  • Brushes
  • Easel
  • Mediums to slow the drying time of acrylics
  • Rags
  • Palette
  • Water container/Water
  • Soap to clean brushes
  • Oil painters- bring Plastic trash bags (one for every painting you plan to do) Masking tape, and a box of plastic push pins (at least 4 pins for every painting you plan to do).
  • If you plan to paint in oil, then drying prior to flying home is an issue.  Plan on working on small stretched canvas and bringing an extra stretched canvas for every painting you plan to do.  That way you can protect the wet painting as you travel home.  (I’ll be glad to show you how)