July 2020, mid lockdown update: I’ve barely been outside in these past few months, and I’ve been painting more inner things again. But this might still be useful to someone who is getting outside to paint.

Over the past year, I have been painting outdoors more and more. Over time, I’m getting better at packing a bag of art supplies that’s not either a  complete overloaded, or lacking in any of the essentials for a good paint sketching session. This is my plein air painting toolkit.

For outdoor painting, I use acrylic and mixed media. Over time my toolkit has evolved into a fairly sleek animal, with everything I need in it. Unless I forget something.

A comfortable, roomy backpack

I have re-purposed a laptop backpack into a very handy painting bag. It has thick padded straps that are pretty comfortable and it’s roomy enough for all of my supplies. My thick masonite board with cartridge paper clipped to it fits perfectly into the padded section, separate from everything else. Into the main section of the backpack, I pack paints, brushes and the rest of my kit. A squirty bottle and drinking water bottle go into the outside pockets of the backpack.


I use locally made paint as far as possible, so that it doesn’t have to be transported so far. I use mostly Zellen Zelcryl paints, but there are few other colours I buy of other brands.

  • Zelcryl Payne’s Grey
  • Zelcryl Buff Titanium
  • Zelcryl Raw Umber
  • Zelcryl Permanent Sap Green
  • Zelcryl Burnt Sienna
  • Zelcryl Titanium White
  • Reeves Acrylic Flourescent Blue
  • Reeves Acrylic Naples Yellow
  • Rowney System 3 Cadmium Yellow (hue)
  • Rowney System 3 Cadmium Yellow deep (hue)
  • Rowney System 3 Prussian Blue (hue)
  • Rowney Cryla Pale Olive Green (mixture)
  • Lukas Cryl Studio Chrome Green light
  • Lukas Cryl Studio Iron Oxide Black

I put all paint tubes in a narrow shoebox with a lid in my backpack.


  • 10+ A3 and A4 sheets of 200gsm cartridge paper, clipped to…
  • A thick masonite board the exact size of the padded pocket in my backpack

Basic items for comfort

  • A hat
  • Sunscreen
  • A bottle of water for drinking
  • A towel or camping chair
  • A windbreaker or jacket
  • A small snack

Basics for painting

  • Palettes (reused metal food containers)
  • A water container (an empty food can)
  • A squirty bottle (at least 750ml)
  • Baby wipes or rag
  • The little plastic containers with lids that you get sauces in with takeaways (for mixing and keeping paint in).

Markmaking tools

  • Derwent Watercolour Pencils
    • Ivory Black
    • Prussian Blue
    • Deep Cadmium
    • Grass Green
    • Mineral Green
    • Deep Vermillion
    • Crimson Lake
    • Orange Chrome
    • Imperial Purple
  • PITT oil base pencil – soft & extra soft
  • a pencil sharpener
  • Neocolor II small tin of water soluble wax
  • #12 Prime Art Gold Round brush
  • Two smaller palette knives
  • A sharpened bamboo scratcher

Tools for documenting the trip

  • Cellphone with a charged battery
  • Enough data to post an Instagram story or two