Traveling with oil paints

From time to time I receive emails from other artists asking questions, and I thought it might be fun to try and post responses on my blog (the idea being that if there is one person asking, there may be more wondering also.) Here's the question:

I am traveling to Tuscany in June, 2007 to paint for 2 weeks. I have always used either pastels or watercolors, but this time I plan to bring oils. What paints and mediums do you bring and how do you pack them for the airlines? I don't want my stuff held back! Thanks for your help, S.P.

Ever since the tightening of the airline regulations, I have battled with this same question. When I last painted in oils overseas, my solution was to pack my easel as a carry-on and everything else (brushes, panels, palette knife, empty containers for mediums, etc.) went into the suitcase clearly labeled as artist materials. I did not pack my paints, mediums, or solvents, however. Instead, I did a bit of inquiring prior to travel to find out if there were any art stores in the vicinity of my destination. Fortunately there were and I bought my paints, mediums and solvents overseas.

Shopping for art supplies overseas can be a lot of fun. There are things that are familiar and also some wonderful products that I hadn't had the opportunity of seeing before. I felt like a kid in a candy shop and I actually ended up delighted with my purchases. I found Rembrandt oil colors in tube sizes I hadn't seen in the U.S. They were small enough to make my load a little lighter, but large enough to last me the two weeks of my stay. When I was in France, I found that the art stores only had small, expensive containers of paint thinner, so I learned how to say "turpentine" in French, and then asked for it at a hardware store. So, it can really be a fun adventure if you're up for it. However, if you are limited on time, you may prefer to just take the chance and carry your paints overseas. With that in mind, I am including a couple of articles that do a good job of addressing some of the issues that might arise:

Advice from the Gamblin Website

Advice from

p.s. If you do decide to shop for supplies at your destination, keep in mind that European countries use the metric system, so their canvas sizes will differ from what our "standard" sizes are in the U.S. This is not an issue if you don't frame your work, but if you use only standard size frames, this will be a matter of concern.

Tags: art painting landscape painting artist plein air