Favorite Travel Sketching Supplies


Shopping for art supplies and books is one of the best things about being an artist but it can also be overwhelming if you haven't figured out your favorites yet. Below is a list of sketching supplies that our instructor, Charlene Collins Freeman, loves to travel with and recommends. You can click on any item listed to go to a link on Amazon.com.

From Charlene:


I have really fallen in love with this Moleskine Art Plus Hard Cover Watercolor Album which measures 8.25" x 11.75." It’s big and maybe for some people, just too big. Moleskines come in a variety of sizes so feel free to shop for other sizes. Just be sure you are getting their watercolor books.

Alternatively, I really like Stillman & Birn sketchbooks. They come in various categories and sizes. I prefer the:

Beta (contains cold press watercolor paper)


Zeta (contains hot press watercolor paper)

I like them about 8.25 x 11.75 or bigger but if you prefer smaller, get those instead! 


Waterproof ink pens in black ink, in various sizes. Many brands claim to be waterproof but end up ghosting ink when I watercolor paint over them so I prefer the  Black, Pigma Micron Pens which are truly waterproof. It's good to have a variety of pen sizes for various weights of line in general but when I travel, I want a lean set of tools so just limit to the .05 and the brush pen.

Black, Pigma Micron Pen 01/.25mm

Black, Pigma Micron Pen 05/.45mm

Black, Pigma Micron Pen 08/.50mm

Black, Pigma Micron Brush Pen 

My all time favorite pen though is the Platinum Desk Pen. Get some extra ink cartridges for it.

Watercolor travel palette

There are a lot of options out there. Below are some of the most popular with a great range in prices.

I recommend Winsor & Newton Cotman Sketchers' Pocket Box 12-color Half Pan as a starter set. If you are not sure how much you will enjoy sketch booking and don't want to spend much, this set is one of the best for a student level watercolor set.

If you are feeling a bit more luxurious, there are several professional grade kits that are just wonderful. Here are some of my favorites.

Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Deluxe Sketchers' Pocket Box

L'Aquarelle Sennelier French Artists Watercolor Metal 12 Half-Pan Set

Schmincke Half Pan Watercolor Pocket Set

All these travel palettes are smaller and perfect for sketch booking.

If you like the idea of picking your own colors, then I recommend getting this metal palette and filling it with your favorite paints. If you are signed up for one of my travel workshops, I will be selling these palettes filled with my favorite colors as an option.

My favorite colors for my travel set include these Daniel Smith watercolors:

Daniel Smith Quinacridone Rose

Daniel Smith Transparent Pyrrol Orange

Daniel Smith Burnt Sienna

Daniel Smith New Gamboge

Daniel Smith Hansa Yellow Light

Daniel Smith Yellow Ochre

Daniel Smith Phthalo Blue Green Shade

Daniel Smith French Ultramarine

Daniel Smith Indigo

Daniel Smith Quinacridone Gold

Daniel Smith Sap Green 

Daniel Smith Green Gold

Watercolor Brushes

I recommend having at least three travel brushes of various sizes. It’s important that they are travel brushes (they will have caps on them so that they don’t get ruined when you put them in your bag).

A affordable and convenient option is the Pentel Arts Aquash Water Brush Assorted Tips, Pack of 3. These brushes can be filled with water and are quite convenient. 

On the high end side of options I recommend the wonderful da Vinci travel brushes set. They are a joy to paint with.

Other incidentals for a good sketchbook set are:

A water container like this Art Advantage Double Water Cup With Lid or this fun little clip on container.

Paper towels

Mechanical pencil (so you don't have to worry about a sharpener)

Kneaded Eraser

White Eraser

A ruler (preferably clear)

A little bag to keep all your pens, pencil, erasers and ruler in. I love these little beauties because you can open them and stand up the bag like a cup to hold everything upright while you sketch.

I also bring a large ziplock bag to store my pens. Air travel has a way of making some pens leak so to safeguard against any nasty surprises on arrival, I store all ink and pens in a ziplock bag.

And that's a list of my favorites.

Enjoy and bon voyage!

When you click the link for a product, you get the same low price you normally would pay on Amazon and Amazon pays Charlene a small percentage for recommending the product. 

Charlene Freeman