Friday, June 22, 2018

Portable Art Studio

It's summer here in the northern hemisphere, and time to kick back a little, take things a bit slower or easier (anyone who knows me is going to roll their eyes at this - yeah right!). For me it's more challenging in the summer to delve deep into a series of paintings, because I get interrupted and distracted easily. Neighbors stop by, I have construction going on, gardening, more bike rides because of the longer days. So I put together a little kit of art materials that you can pick up for quick, easy, fun art. Art Lite. In Small Bites.

A page spread in my little sketchbook, using most of the materials in my Portable Art Studio

You can put together whatever materials you are comfortable working with, just as long as they don't include acrylic paints and mediums, which require some set-up and clean-up. The Portable Art Studio features materials that are easy and convenient. You can probably put together a kit from things you already have in your studio. Here are my picks:

A small set of pan watercolors such as Sakura Koi Watercolors
A small set of water soluble crayons, such as Caran d'Ache NeoColor II
Water brushes
Small scissors and a glue stick (any type)
A small-ish sketchbook paper that will take watermedia
Card Stock: this works great as an inexpensive substrate for small collage. Get it at any office supply store.
Some paint markers. My favorites are Posca Markers in a couple of sizes
Micron Pens or other fine permanent felt tip pens (not Sharpies)
A good selection of collage papers in a variety of colors and patterns. Include found text, your own painted papers, decorative papers, maps, junk mail, etc. Variety is key.

Have fun with your Portable Art Studio!


  1. Perfect post! I’ve traveled to help ageing grandparents for the week and of course the trip came at a time of great inspiration and output. My portable studio is much like my space at home— too much stuff!! I brought a sketchbook made from monoprint rejects with potential, a silly amount of hand painted collage papers and tissue paper, fluid acrylic markers, a fat white paint marker, signo white and gold pens, fat and thin Pitt pens, graphite pencils and a fat crayon, and a hand full of wax and water soluble crayons. But wait! A little ball off wool and some fabric scraps dyed with beets, and an embroidery project! Oh also- next time, glue sticks. I traveled with a jar of matte medium and- well, you know... My poor grandma. Oh and they have stacks of yellowing newspapers that my grandma gladly gave up for the cause. Yum!

  2. In terms of art supplies, at home and on-the-go, I have been trying to train myself that 'less is more'. Not going very well!!!
    So I concur wholeheartedly with Jane's list but would add the following few things;
    --a couple of small, white birthday candles for wax resist
    --a few small packs/sachets of salt from fast food outlet for creating sparkles, stars, snow, seaspray, etc. with wc
    --a Derwent watercolour pencil #68 Blue Grey for light, preliminary sketching before painting (line will disappear when wetted if light pressure used)
    --a few old (or new but cheap) white socks with the toe cut off of create a loose wristband for non-dominant hand, sort of like a comfy sweat band tennis players use. Useful for removing excess moisture from brush when paper towels not available.

    Jane, love the little collages! How small are they? Your work as always is inspiring and uplifting. Can't help but smile when I look at those collages.

  3. Hi Jane! I struggle with what art supplies to take on vacation. I usually have more than I need or end up using. A friend of mine has this toilet bag she uses to transport her art supplies. I loved the idea and got one for myself. Apart from the sketchbook and collage papers, I take whatever fits in the bag. I just packed mine to take on vacation next week. It has pencils, erasers, sharpener, one 0.5 fineliner, one white Signo pen, black and white paintmarkers, charcoal and woodless Graphite pencils, some neocolor crayons, watercolor box, water brushes, scissors, a gluestick and a bunch of postcard-sized index cards. All this fits in there. Sometimes, I leave the collage papers and just tear some brochures. Thanks for the insight. Have a great vacation :-) Bhupali

  4. Very helpful! I travel with a small kit and adding some of these items, espcially the watercolor kit!

  5. Wow! These are great suggestions. Thanks. My little collages are in a sketchbook that is something like 5"x8". Small. I like the index card idea. Since writing this post I have found a pretty cool mark-making tool: Kwik Stix Tempera Paint Markers. They are meant for kids, so they are totally non-toxic and don't have a lot of pigment, but they dry in 90 seconds. Sort of like gel crayons or oil pastels, but they actually dry.

  6. I took your book with me to read and some drawing implements, but since I am not big on drawing, I only did some mark making which lasted a couple of hours before I gave up. Could have used some paper and glue. I told the hubs that next year will be different and I won't take anything. We will see. ;)

  7. Sorry Jane, I'm not on blogger anymore so it put me as unknown for the above comment. My name is Arlene and I live in the UK.

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  10. This is some excellent piece of advice! I always hope I'll have more time to paint in summer, but the excessive heat and the interruptions you mention make it difficult to create series or anything consistent. You made me realize that collage could be a much quicker alternative!!
    I've just heard of the viviva colorsheets, the lightest of all watercoloour sets; haven't tried it yet, but for those who want to travel light this definitely sounds like a good option.


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