Create Your Own Travel Journal Art Kit - A Supply List

Getting Creative On The Go

It should be no surprise that I find a lot of inspiration while traveling! It wasn't until recently that I started carrying an art kit and it has quickly become one of my favorite travel accessories. Travel journals are a great way to document your trip. I find that drawing while traveling increases relaxation. Most importantly, my travel journal keeps me sane on long flights and during airport wait times.

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Customizing your art kit

My supply kit was lovingly curated after days of thought and preparation. I modify my bag after each trip, tossing out any items I didn't find useful. Of course, size is an important factor to take into consideration. As well as the type of art you enjoy creating the most. While your kit will most likely be different than mine, here are some basic items to help get you started.

First the Journal - What paper is best?

The paper you choose depends on the medium you will be using. I love to watercolor, so I make sure to get a heavyweight paper that holds up against moisture. My dream is to own and fill an entire Moleskin Watercolor Album. I am a huge fan of Moleskin. (Their Weekly Notebook Planner is one of my best friends!) For now, I use an inexpensive sketchbook.

A Travel-friendly watercolor Palette

Out of all of my supplies, this little guy is my favorite! I researched a lot before deciding to go with this palette. The size is perfect, the colors are beautiful and the price was right. I love that it comes with two fold out trays for mixing colors.

Prima Marketing offers several different pan sets. I have the Tropical set right now. The Decadent Pies looks like a lot of fun, and I have read great things about their Complexion set. Each set has 12 watercolor pans. However, the tins can hold up to 21 half pans. You could mix and match to fill one tin, or buy empty pans as I did. But what to do with all those empty pans? My choice is up next...

Gouache! Like watercolors, but creamy

Remember those empty pans I purchased? Well, I filled mine with gouache that I then allowed to dry before adding to my tin. Now I have the option to use either my watercolors or gouache when traveling. Usually, a mix of both... Gouache is more opaque than watercolor, has a higher pigment content and a slightly chalky feel. I honestly like how creamy the colors can be. Try using gouache at different dilutions - it is fun to experiment.

I have this set of gouache tubes. Carrying them all around would be a bit too much for traveling. This is why creating a couple of pans is an excellent option for gouache-ing on the go.

No Mess! Painting on a plane, train, etc.

Maybe I am late to the party - but I love water brush pens! They are a wonderful invention. No need for a jar of water, these pens contain the water inside. You are in full control of the water in this situation. The set I have has worked well for me. I have found that when I use them heavily or really push them into the paints (especially the gouache) that some of the pigment will work its way up into the barrel. Maybe I will try these brushes by Pentel Arts out next?

To clean your brush between colors, you can pack a rag or simply use your drink napkin, etc. If you find that the trays included with the watercolor tin featured above are not enough, I recommend this cutie. While the mixing well is small and handy, it is also porcelain which can get heavy.

Supplies for drawing and doodling

When I have to travel super light, I only bring the watercolor tin, a single water brush pen, one pen, one pencil and my sketchbook. Otherwise, if space/weight is not an issue I enjoy having the following supplies handy:

Pigma Micron Ink Pens - So many colors and sizes available! I tend to stick to black ink only. Except for my beloved navy pen (check out all their colors!).

Mechanical Pencil - No need to bring a sharpener or deal with the shavings.

Ebony Pencil - Great for shading and light sketching.

Prismacolor Colored Pencils - I am still using the colored pencils I bought in college! They are long lasting, smooth and have great pigments.

Travel tip: Sharpen all of your pencils before you go and bring only the colors you enjoy using.

White Gel Pen - Great for adding accents! I love using these pens or either of the next two supplies to add that finishing touch to a piece.

White Pastel Pencil - For adding soft highlights.

Paint Markers - Super fun tool to add bold accents and highlights.

Kneaded Erasers - Because no one is perfect! Bonus: if you get really bored you can use it like modeling clay...

Finalizing your traveling art kit

Once you gather all your supplies, you are going to need something to keep it all organized. I grabbed a zip pouch I had laying around. You could use a pencil case, cosmetic bag, heck even a Ziploc bag would work. Just make sure you can easily fit all your supplies inside. You might want to consider taking your kit out on a trial run before committing to carrying it on a long trip.

Where will you take your travel journal?

When traveling my art kit and sketchbook are carry-on essentials. What about you? Are you looking to make a kit? Do you already have one? What are your must-have supplies?

Roo Bea Design Co Graphic Designer Midwest Iowa

Meriah Blakley
Freelance Graphic Designer


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