Winsor and Newton portable watercolour box

What art materials to take on your holiday

Winsor and Newton portable watercolour box

It’s always a bit of a conundrum what art materials to take when you’re going on a holiday. You might not have a lot of time to do any art or even want to but you never know when inspiration (or a spare moment) strikes. So I always take something just in case, even if it’s just a pencil.

We recently went for a holiday to Estonia so there were a couple of basic questions I had to ask before deciding what to take. What’s the weather like for the week? It’s easy to check on google which I did for the weekly forecast. Based on that- which was fine and warm (about 27 degrees) with occasional rain-I decided to take my acrylics, watercolours, a pencil and a pen. I wanted to paint so I thought it wasn’t too hot for acrylics, as if it is, they dry almost as soon as you put brush to canvas. (Though there are some interesting products which I haven’t used such as Stay Wet palette by Daler-Rowney that keep the paint wet.)

I left the oils behind as taking turpentine with you can be a bit dangerous. And maybe you can’t get any easily where you’re going. Plus you can’t help making a bit of mess with all paints but oil in particular is difficult to remove once it’s on anything.  We were staying in a hotel so oils were a no go.

I also decided to bring a winsor and newton portable watercolour box which is just fantastic. They’re expensive but their worth it.  They contain everything you need- a little sable brush, a palette, a small water bottle and 12 pans and space for a tiny sponge.

The humble pencil is the most adaptable and of course I brought this too- an HB. It’s easy to do a quick sketch and write down some colour notes in the field.

So ask yourself some basic questions before you go.

What’s the weather like?

Does where you’re staying allow you to paint? Do you need an easel?

Is there an artshop where you’re going?

And also storage. How are you going to store your work on the return journey? Do you simply need a flat folio type carry case or something that allows wet paintings?

What can you take on the transport you’re using? If it’s a plane everything has to be in the suitcase and nothing flammable.

If you do decide to take some art materials with you on your holiday I hope you recieve lots of artistic inspiration.


Colours -warm and cool versions of red, blue and yellow plus white.

brushes– for paint and watercolour.


rag/paper for cleaning 

paper/canvas boards


water bottle

‘The artist in me cries out for design.’

Robert Frost


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