Oil or Watercolor?

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I came across your post about packing for plein air travel and wonder if you can help me out. I have an opportunity to go paint in a National Park for a week. Normally I paint quite large oil paintings inspired by quick sketches in watercolor, pencil, or whatever I have on hand. I have never completed oil paintings on site exactly- it is a completely different way of working. My question is, for just a week, should I just stick to watercolors, or go for the gusto with oil and all that entails in shipping everything there and home... any other advice on packing, shipping and dealing with multiple wet canvases and boards? Any great tips for shipping affordably? Inness

Lori's Response:

Hi, Inness. Are you going fact-finding, or is some product expected at the end (as in an event with a show, etc.)? If it is for gathering information (i.e., less actual finished, on-site, product), just take your regular way of working to do sketches.  

I’m used to traveling with oils and have no issues with anything about that, but for the first timer it can be a little cumbersome.  Did you read the post from Plein air Today Newsletter?  Click here for one with more link that may help should you decide to take oils.


I have enough wet panel carriers to take panels for every day in my checked luggage. That way I know there are also enough slots for wet paintings for the return trip home. If size isn’t an issue, try using a panel holder that you can get multiple sizes in the same one. For instance, a 9x12 RayMar panel carrier will also hold 10x12. That way you have two different proportions in one box size so when you head out on a hike you won’t have to take two carriers with you. Still, if you’re going to be there for a week, depending on how fast you paint you will want to take several carriers or some sort of drying medium to be able to paint more than you have carriers for. I usually don’t ship my supplies.

Gouache sketch from Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

Gouache sketch from Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

Having said all of this, I do work in gouache when making quick sketches. I can work so much quicker and get small studies done in a fraction of the time.

Hope that helps. Have fun!

If you have a question you would like Lori to consider, email it to lori@loriputnam.com.