Carry Your Tools - How to Take Natural Media on the Road

Traveling provides a great source of inspiration for art, and some of my best art is captured when I immerse myself in a new environment. Even if I am close to home, everything looks different, I guess because I am looking at it differently. Art on the go can be tricky, so here are some ideas that I have applied on my journeys.
If you're a traveling artist, these packing tips are just what you need! Depending on your forte, you will need different tools than what I use, and for what you are expecting to produce. I do work primarily in sketchbooks while I am travelling so I have narrowed it down to a few of my favorite tools. There is no way I could take everything! I mainly carry watercolor markers, a small watercolor palette, various paint markers like Molotovs and Sharpie paint markers, pencils, watercolor pencil crayons and regular pencil crayons.

The idea is to be able to create art when the opportunity arises anytime during your trip. So, you just need to find the right carrying case to make things easier. I tried a few different things until I arrived at a solution that I have been using for a few years now. It is an old school lunch kit. It is fabric, which allowed me to easily remove the lid, and I found these handy, dandy dividers at the dollar store that could be simply cracked off to the necessary length. It totally works for me and it is lightweight and portable. My students in the high school where I taught often saw me bring this to class to share techniques.

When your days consist of travelling around a new city, it’s hard to find time to draw, but having the tools with you in this portable format takes away the biggest obstacle. I always carry an art journal with me. It is surprising how many times i can pull it out and work on a page I started some time before, or sketch a new idea. The receptionist at my doctor's office looked at me funny when I asked if she had a pencil I could borrow while I was waiting (too long!) to get in to see my doctor. Just be prepared for curious people mistaking you for a street artist and asking you to draw them! It doesn’t matter if you’re camping in Manitoba or sitting on a bench in Santa Fe, New Mexico, it’s always worth it (and totally relaxing) to take the time for art. It doesn’t feel like work at all! Funny thing is, when you look back at your work months later, you can just feel what that day felt like. It's a precious gift!

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