The first thing that comes to mind is the other people I vacation with. I could put my whole studio in the van and leave no room for my wife's suitcase, that mistake will make a bad holiday. If you have a family you have to put them first and leave them room in your plans and in the packing.
I've spent money on cool portable art sets and was disappointed it the bulkiness of the case and quality of the equipment. In the past I have used a large zip lock baggie but now I just use an old book cover with a zipper (it was designed to hold a Bible) and inside I keep My basic supplies. An Old Tupperware box holds my watercolors and a rubber band keeps all my pencils together. I keep my brushes in an kid's Crayola paint box that the paints were used up, but I have used a toothbrush case. A small zip lock bag holds my eraser, binder clips, pocket knife, and other bits and pieces. I use a small plastic lid from some Chinese take-out as my palette.
It has always been my habit to carry a small sketchbook and a few instruments for drawing. So when I pack for a vacation I carry that over and bring small portable supplies. I have some brushes that I cut a few inches off of the handle that take less room in my pack. I take a smaller sketch book. For watercolor I will cut watercolor pages down to small pocket sizes and use a stiff cardboard for backing then rubber band or sew them together. I prefer watercolor paint in tubes but I have a small set of watercolor paints in cakes that are portable.
LESS IS MORE
In your studio you may have dozens of pencils, pens, brushes, inks and stacks of papers, boards, and canvases not to mention cabinets of resources. But you have to say good-by to all those resources for a while and pick the fewest that you can manage with. The barest minimum will give the maximum results while on vacation.
I work in pen, ink, watercolor, oil and charcoal. When I go on vacation I choose one. I could throw a little bit of everything in the van but I find I will do a little bit of each and not much comes of it. If I just take pencils I will make some really nice drawings. If I only take watercolors I do some beautiful paintings. But if I take everything then afterward I feel that I come back with nothing.
BRING A CAMERA
A quality small camera is essential since you may not be at a location long enough to finish a project; but if you have captured a digital image you can finish things at the hotel or when your holiday is over.
YOU ARE GOING TO FORGET SOMETHING
It always happens that you thought you had it all but when you sit down to paint that lovely beach or rural scene the equipment you brought is missing the favorite pencil, brush, or something. But you are an artist so you are a creative person, see this as an opportunity to use your creativity and explore a new technique with the supplies that came with you.
On some vacations I have been able to stand on a beach for a whole afternoon painting, other times I had to content myself with a few quick renderings while waiting for family or while on the move. I've sketched while waiting for dinner in restaurants and once sketched a portrait while standing in the ticket line. Your experiences will vary so you need to be flexible.
Some of the most enjoyable times on a vacation for me has been to do some art. Those sketches and paintings have been the best souvenirs.
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