Since sharing about how I get my fill of nature and art I've gotten a few inquiries to talk more about supplies, of which I'm happy to do! I will say, what I take with me is dependent upon where I'm going, how I'm getting there and how long I will be there. There are a lot of variables that could change things up and I think whatever you decide to take or keep home is your call. The more you practice bringing your kit with you, the better idea you will have of what you need and don't need. For the most part for me, it's about keeping it simple and light weight.
Out of the Box Kits
I have several field kits that I've collected that are good to go right out of the box. In fact, the first and only set of watercolors I've ever been given/used in an educational setting was the first field kit I'm going to share. My high school watercolors teacher bought them for all of us, I still have it today and love it. These are great options if you want to purchase one and go. Both of these kits come with interchangeable half pans of which you can swap in and out as your palette changes which I find super helpful, though at this point, unless I'm traveling to a different kind of landscape than what I usually paint in, my larger kit never really changes anymore.
This kit is great if you are just looking for a few paints, and a few spots to mix color. No frills here, though it does have more space for paint than the Paint Field Plus I describe below. You'll need to round up a water basin or two and bring water separately. It does come with a mini round brush that's actually quite nice and very versatile! This is the kit I mentioned from high school. It was great to have in class, I will say I do not usually take this out when I'm hiking but if I'm traveling and will be working indoors, or at a table with access to water I consider bringing it as it takes up less space in my bag.
This is my go to kit. So much wrapped up into one nice little box. A set of 12 interchangeable half pans and a mini brush but this kit also comes with two water basins and a little water bottle as well. Additionally it has a little tray that slides out for more palette space. I love this thing. Basically the same size as the Paint Pocket Plus, just a little thicker. Having this with me when I'm out is always a no brainer and I'm sure you can see that as it makes frequent appearances in my photos on Instagram.
The paper you take with you is honestly totally up to you! More and more I'm opting to paint on individual pieces of paper vs. painting in my sketch book. I'm becoming a fan of hot press watercolor paper over cold press. Hot press watercolor paper is typically nice and smooth whereas cold press often has a rough-ish sort of texture to it. I normally work on smaller pieces of paper in the field and find that the ridges in the cold press paper can take a way for little details I may want to paint in where that doesn't really happen with hot press paper. Again your call! I would suggest investing in good paper. You can absolutely see a different, your paint reacts different'y and you will always get better results with better quality supplies. That's just my opinion and I know everyone's budget is different BUT if you're going to splurge on something in your tool kit I think paper may be a close second to a few excellent brushes. I often buy large sheets of paper and cut it down so it fits into my notebook. You can find all types of watercolor paper at any art supply store in large sheets.
Moleskine sketch books have been my go to sketchbooks for years, I really like the quality in which they are manufactured, however I will say the paper has never been to die for and more and more it's not justifying the expense of the notebook itself. I'm sure there are other better quality watercolor notebooks out there, I just need to find them! As for the Moleskine; I find them really great for their hard cover, the elastic band to keep them closed and the little paper pocket they always have in the back of the books. This is where I will keep my small pieces of loose paper that I bring with me. Usually if it can't fit in there, it's not coming with! I know I would bend the corners if I tired to bring something larger. If someone has any suggestions for hard cover watercolor sketch books with high quality paper, please share! I would absolutely consider something new!
Brushes, Paint and Other Supplies
Paint: I don't strictly use one brand of paint, though I will say Winsor and Newton is a favorite of mine, they have several options of affordability for you with varying levels of quality, so you have options! But I will pick up random tubes of paint here and there if I see a color that intrigues me. I try not to add too much to my palette as I'm a firm believer in knowing how to mix your paint and get the colors you want with a basic/universal palette. Certain magentas and turquoises you just can't mix though!
Brushes: Slowly and surly I've begun to learn how important good brushes are and how important it is that you take good care of them. That being said my brush collection is all over the place and honestly I beat the hell out of them! Depending on what medium and how I'm packing everything I will use oil and acrylic brushes for my watercolors and vice versa. I have a hand full of Princeton Synthetic Sabel Watercolor Brushes in my field kit that always stay there. They are really versatile and get the job done in any situation I am in. I also don't need to carry a whole bunch either, I find a few varying sizes of round brushes with nice sharp points and maybe a 1/4" flat brush with longer bristles covers my needs.
Half Pans: I probably have two full sets of half pans with all my watercolors in them. I have a larger metal palette that I use at home with a set in them and then I have a small case where I keep them loose. Those are the pans I will switch in and out of my field kits if I find it necessary. I included a photo above of that setup.
Other stuff: A few last bits I always make sure to have with me are:
- A small roll of tape, I'm a fan of washi style tape because it's small and is very much like masking tape.
- A bit of sponge that I've cut off a larger piece, I use this instead of paper towels.
- A pice of a lager eraser I've used Magic Rub erasers my whole life.
- Mechanical pencil with 2 or 4h lead
- Brush holder/box; I first started with a long skinny plastic case that I picked up at a local art store to carry my brushes and quickly found that it was not for me. My brushes slide around in there, despite the pieces of foam that are to keep them in place and there's been several instances where I open the box to find my brushes mashed up against one end of the box. I'm sure this is because I'm often storing it vertically in my backpack while I traipse around. I've ended up with damaged brushes too many times and have since retired this option. I'm mentioning it here though because it is a great little tool case, I would put so much more than my brushes in it and it was handy for other things, so maybe it's a great option for you! Since, I've moved on to a canvas roll up style brush holder that's been great for me. Super light weight and keeps everyone nicely organized. There's even space for my roll of tape and sponge!
No matter where I'm going I always carry a combination of the supplies I've listed above. Mix and match what you take with you and the more you take your kit out the more you'll see what you absolutely need and what you can probably leave at home. I'm not yet the artist that carries a huge kit with her out into the field and paints a masterpiece but that's because I'm usually painting while on a hike or exploring, I do not go out to a specific place just to paint... but I'm hoping that mentality will soon change!
*Just a note* I tired to make a comprehensive shopping list via Amazon and this is the one time their customer service has failed me and my list is in limbo. I will provide a link when and if I figure out how to make it active! Xoxo