Dreama Tolle Perry » Artist and Writer

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Traveling With Paints (and Other Things Your Mother Told You Not to Do)


But when did we ever listen to our mothers ;-)!?!

With a busy year of traveling with my art supplies now behind me, I thought it might be helpful to share some of the things I use and have found helpful when it comes to taking flight with your paints.  Feel free to share this page on Facebook and Pinterest— and to add your own suggestions in the comment section.


It’s All About the Bag:

One of the things I carry on all my flights is what’s called an over the body or cross body bag (see in photo above) .   They  are meant to be worn across the body to allow you to be hands-free while on the go:))  And they are AWESOME–I am able to keep all my important stuff on me and still be hands free for handling my luggage, tickets and passport.

I always pack my oil paints in my checked luggage.
(If I am flying within the continental US, I ship my paints to my destination in a Medium USPS Flat Rate Box. For details on that, read on!.)

If you decide to go with just your  journal and watercolors only, it is POSSIBLE to have one carry-on piece of luggage and one backpack for two whole weeks in Italy —I know ’cause that’s what I did in September of 2013.
Just don’t plan on shopping too much or you may have to buy a second piece of luggage 🙂 !

CAUTION…Traveling with Wet Paint:

When it comes to flying, traveling with wet oil paintings can be risky business.  Having a good carrier makes for stress free times.
My choice is the gray carrying case pictured below, made by RaymarArt.com.  I have both the 12 x 16″ size and the 8 x 10″ size (each one holds 6 wet panels, inserted two at a time, back to back, with space between each “set”.)

The carriers are so doggone light that they won’t add any more lbs. to your luggage, but they WILL  save you from having new “unplanned” work done on your paintings (and clothes) while in transit:))
(I added the label to the box, sporting one of my paintings with my website address…cause a girl’s gotta have a  little lavender in her life AND it’s always a good idea to label your stuff just in case it gets lost!)

You can check the Raymar carriers out by clicking here.

Going Head to Head

Freshly back from an international trip– going through customs and having everything handled, poked and peered at–I am pleased to report my paints traveled quite nicely with no drips, smears, or confiscations:))  I thought I would share a couple of pics of how they were packed in order to help you out if you plan on traveling long distance with your pigments.
  • First, I packed the tubes head to head and wrapped them in bubble wrap, then placed them inside a gallon baggie, and tucked them in my portable palette (this is the palette that is part of the Coulter Plein Air System.  Read on to learn about it.)



  • Secondly, I printed out the  the MSDS sheets –short for material safety data sheets, available online from the paint manufactures

  • Then printed boldly across the top of the MSDS sheets  “Artist’s Vegetable Oil Colors

  • Added some marketing materials clearing stating I am an artist

  • And lastly, placed all in a clear bag inside my checked luggage.


I am proud to report both coming and going, that they arrived as intact as I had packed them–no leaks or punctures in the tubes (which I have had happen before–the head to head packing, along with the bubble wrap, keeps the trouble making pointy ends away from each other 😉


Flying with Oil Paint Mediums/Solvents

Best option for most mediums or solvents is to purchase what you need when you arrive at your destination.  For my France trip, I got permission from my hosts there to have medium shipped ahead.  I ordered it (Zest-it and Refined Linseed Oil) from an art supply store in Europe and it was waiting on me when I arrived 🙂

Gamblin has a product called Solvent-Free Gel that meets requirements for placing in checked luggage.  It can be used to thin paints as well as clean your brushes.  It is a unique product that you might want to check out for your own processes.


I’d Like a To-Go Box Please:

As mentioned above, when traveling within the US, I mail my paints via USPS.   I use about 15 colors (give or take an impulse color or two:) and the little box shown below turns out to be the perfect fit.  I pack up my colors in a bit of bubble wrap, stick ‘em in the bin, pop them into a medium flat rate USPS box–and then ship them to wherever I am headed to paint.  This box will also hold a few brushes, palette knife, etc.
Once there, I stand them upright for ease of use during my painting sessions—it makes a great little organizer!
How handy is that??

You can have a look at the travel box in Dreama’s Art Supply Store.
Click Here


Favorite Travel Easel

I use the Coulter Plein Air System.   It is, by far, my favorite easel. 🙂
The entire system fits easily in my carry on bag with room to spare and sets up in a flash when I’m ready to paint!
With baggage weight even more important when traveling abroad,  I use the “mini” for my workshops outside the US  and the “compact” for everything else.

You can go to ArtBoxandPanel.com to check it out.


Making a List, Checking it Twice

I travel so often with my art gear that I finally got smart and made up a MASTER LIST which I saved on my computer.  For each trip, I print it out and then make additions or deletions, depending on what I think I will need for that particular trip.
It has saved my buns more than a few times by doing the thinking for me!

That’s A Wrap!

There are as many ways to travel as an artist as there are artists 🙂
We are a unique and varied bunch!

I have shared here how I travel with the materials I love to use.  At the bottom of this post are links with more helpful info for traveling with your paints and supplies.

And please— add your tips in the comments below to help another fellow artist traveler along the way 🙂 !!


Gamblin Artist Colors/Tips for Traveling With Artists Materials

Winsor and Newton/ Traveling With Your Paints

Making a Mark/Top Tips for Traveling Artists Oil Painters

P.S.  Here’s some additional information on my site about the colors I use, my camera, watercolor tips and more!  Just click and go 🙂

General FAQ’s
Painting FAQ’s
Watercolor Journal Tips
A Few of My Favorite Things



  • Mirian Gates - July 4, 2017 - 12:29 am

    How wonderful it will be!I can’t waite !!! Please keep me posted Dreama.ReplyCancel

  • Sue Williams - November 13, 2015 - 2:21 pm

    Hi, thank you for your wonderful tips. I will keep them in mind,ReplyCancel

  • Mary Valente Fine Art - April 28, 2014 - 8:51 pm

    Thank you SO much. How lovely to share all this.ReplyCancel

  • Tamara Keiper - April 28, 2014 - 4:47 am

    Thanks for sharing! Would you also post your “Master List” as an idea starter ?ReplyCancel

  • Mary Valente Fine Art - April 28, 2014 - 4:33 am

    Thank you SO much. How lovely to share all this.ReplyCancel

  • Lana O'Myer - April 27, 2014 - 6:38 pm

    What great tips! Thanks Dreama…ReplyCancel

  • Susan Alsup - March 26, 2014 - 1:17 am

    I would like to be on a mailing list for future workshops. Thanks Susan

  • Roxanne Steed - December 5, 2013 - 11:50 pm

    Great list Dreama! I want to remind everyone (from something I learned the hard way even after flying with my supplies tons of times) don’t get forgetful on your way home from trip & accidently put your palette knives in your carry on! ugh. I had to leave my favorite knives in Ireland. I had them in my brush roll & was just trying to save that wee bit of space in my checked bag for some wonderful gizmo I bought….and stuck the thing in my carry-on. Haha, and my friends ditched me in security. Sketchy American with her suspicious “color spreaders”. Geez, don’t even use/speak the word ‘knives’ or ‘paint’! haha.ReplyCancel

  • Karen Meredith - December 5, 2013 - 9:48 pm

    Thanks for the advice. A couple of things I might add: I recently discovered Panel Paks, which are slim frames to hold two canvases, secured with large rubber bands. On a recent trip to Italy I took my 8×10 and that was enough for a day’s plein air jaunt. It fit easily in my carrying case, which was a rollerboard suitcase. So the only thing I carried over my shoulder was my easel and umbrella. For carrying several paintings home, I used 1″ balsa wood sticks in the corners and then taped the stack together. Those were sure to come home with me on carryon, as they couldn’t be replace.Instead of carrying turp, I usually go with an oil that I can use for a paint medium and cleanup. It also helps to lay out the paints on the palette beginning of day and leave the tubes back at the hotel to keep the gear lightweight.ReplyCancel

  • Roberta - December 5, 2013 - 7:56 pm

    Oh, this will come in so handy in a few months, when I go abroad! Thanks for taking the time to share all of this, Dreama! You are always helping other artists 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Kathleen Kelly - December 5, 2013 - 6:27 pm
  • Dreama - December 5, 2013 - 10:06 am

    Terri! I do get paint on my clothes…as you know, eventually everything in our wardrobe becomes a painting outfit 😉 However, I do have a secret weapon for removing it. It’s a product called Sun Magic—here’s the link with the info on it!

  • Terri - December 5, 2013 - 9:44 am

    Great Post– whats your secret to wearing such nice clothes and not getting paint on them LOL!ReplyCancel

  • june - December 5, 2013 - 9:44 am

    Thanks for all the excellent tips and suggestions, Dreama. I plan to put them into effect when I one day experience the joy and fun of a Dreama workshop in Italy (or France…or both!). One day…one day…hopefully sooner rather than later.

    Those across-the-body satchels have been the perfect accessory for me for years now. I use it as an everyday handbag, and yes, you’re absolutely spot on about how cool it is to have your hands/arms free. I had a brilliant leather one for close to 15 years, but it gave up the ghost last year (after much use and wear and tear over those years) and am still searching for a suitable and acceptable replacement for it.

    Thanks again for all this useful and helpful info, Dreama. Is there no end to your generosity? 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Suzy Powell - December 5, 2013 - 8:58 am

    Thanks for info
    I plan on saving the tips.
    My dream is to go to Italy someday!! I love your work. All the wonderful color.ReplyCancel

  • Jobi - December 5, 2013 - 7:54 am

    You are such a sweetheart to share all if this valuable info with us!! Thank you for all you do!! I simply cannot wait for my class with you next November! Feel free to write that on my calendar before you mail it out to me 😉 I will save this info forever!!! Really appreciate the time you took to put it all down. Have a wonderful day!!! XoReplyCancel

  • Kathleen Kelly - December 5, 2013 - 7:54 am

    Keep these words in mind while packing. “Every ounce counts.”ReplyCancel

  • Kathleen Kelly - December 5, 2013 - 7:47 am

    Only thing I would add is the strap on your purse should be made of a woven material as they are harder to break off. I had a friend who traveled to Europe and her purse was knived off of her. I know that’s probably rare but it’s such a little thing which is so easily changedReplyCancel

  • Valee Sewell Penn - December 5, 2013 - 3:49 am

    You are so-o-o nice to share all of this great advice.
    Thank you Dreama!!!

  • Dreama - December 4, 2013 - 10:40 pm

    Lori…you are very welcome!ReplyCancel

  • Dreama - December 4, 2013 - 10:40 pm

    Thanks Christine :-)!ReplyCancel

  • Lori Quarton - December 4, 2013 - 10:03 pm

    Thanks for the very helpful, organized tips.ReplyCancel

  • Christine Holzschuh - December 4, 2013 - 9:57 pm


  • Dreama - December 4, 2013 - 8:43 pm

    Thanks Helen! I have wanted to do this and finally found the time to put it together 🙂 Glad you love it!ReplyCancel

  • Helen Shideler - December 4, 2013 - 8:35 pm

    Love this postReplyCancel

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