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My Favourite Plein Air Supplies


I just finished teaching a workshop through the University of Guelph Arboretum on getting started in Painting Watercolours En Plein Air.  I loved chatting with students  at length at supplies and sharing some of my favourite supplies.  I hope it inspired them to take their studios outdoors this Spring! 

Building your own kit will depend on your budget, type of travel you plan on doing and your style of painting. Someone's kit for painting on a mountain climbing expedition will be different from someone who wants to paint on their deck. I tend to fit somewhere in the middle. I like to take this kit on short hikes and its substantial and luxurious enough to create a comfortable outdoor studio, but not too cumbersome to carry on a short to medium length hike. If I am really trying to lighten the load, I'll leave out the tripod and the stool. 

Cupeasel and Tripod

My preferred travel easel for the last two years. It is made by a Canadian Company in British Columbia. It folds to about 8.75 x 8.75  inches and contains its own palette and pans for paints. It is customizable and has several add ons and accessories. I recently bought the pivot shelf for holding brushes and water and I'm loving it. The easel has an attachment built in to attach your own tripod to, but they also sell tripods through their website as well. 

Escoda Reserva Travel Brushes

These are high quality and a pleasure to use, but they are definitely an investment!  My set has lasted me for 4 years. They absorb a great deal of water and keep a beautiful point, you can buy them individually or as sets of 3 or more.

Many plein air painters opt to use nylon brushes with a water reserve. I find that a high quality brush gives me a much better result. These are natural hair (sorry they are not vegan friendly) but the company makes a synthetic line of travel brushes as well. 

Canadian Tire Camping Chair

A great find last summer for less than $20! I found this at good old Canadian Tire. It's three leg set up seems awkward at first, but it is a comfortable and light option for seating. Great for use around a campfire as well! It also has a strap for carrying.

Faber Castell Clic and go Water Cup

A portable, foldable water cup. It is actually really satisfying to pop it open.  It holds a good amount of water and my favourite feature of this is the wavy top that lets you set brushes on without rolling off!  IT doesn't have a lid, so you will have to bring your water separately.  

Arches Coldpress Watercolour Blocks

The gold standard in paper, all my students know how much I love this paper. Watercolour blocks have gummed around the edges which eliminate the need for tape, board or clips. They come in several sizes, including a long one that is great for landscape painting.  I always buy Coldpress 140lb. Make sure you pack a palette knife or ruler to help remove each page. 

1 comment

  • Can you tell me the name of the company that made your easel. It sounds good and I’d like to try to find it. I’m in California. Thanks!


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