How To Assemble A Watercolor Field Kit

Posted on: 28 November 2016


If you are artistic and a lover of nature, the idea of walking to a remote area to paint wildflowers, birds, or scenery may seem like the perfect hobby. Watercolor, in particular, lends itself well to artistic pursuits in the field. The following guide can help you assemble a well-rounded field kit so that you can paint anything you desire while exploring nature.


The most important thing is your carry-bag, especially if you plan to paint in areas that aren't accessible by car. Many artists choose cross-body bags to hold their supplies because they can access everything in the bag without taking the bag off of their back. These bags work best if you aren't planning to do any major hiking. If you are planning a more rigorous hike to a destination, then opt for a day pack with two shoulder straps and perhaps even a hip belt to help take some of the weight.

The bag should have plenty of pockets to arrange your painting supplies so that you can easily find what you are looking for as well as a larger pocket for carrying water, a lunch, and any other necessities you may need while painting.


As a general rule, loose watercolor paper is preferable over bound sketch books. This is because you don't want the moisture from watercolors to leach through the paper and ruin the pages underneath. It is also easier to paint when you don't have a bound edge in the way. If you do choose a bound book, opt for spiral binding or another binding style that opens flat, and include a thick piece of cardboard to prevent the paint or moisture from bleeding through.

The paper itself should be slightly rough or it won't absorb the watercolor properly. As for size, this depends on your personal preference. Smaller paper is often good for beginners as there isn't as much white space to cover.

Sketching tools

A non-photoreactive blue pencil, when used lightly, is good for sketching in the initial design and then later blending into the painting without showing. If you prefer visible lines, opt for a dark brown sketch pencil, as it is more natural looking compared to black. A black water color pencil is also helpful, as the sketch lines can be wet and blended in to create shadows.

For after the painting, a black ink pen is optimal for outlining and highlighting. You may also want a white pencil to add highlights over the top of the dry paint.

Field palette

A small folding palette is your best option. Make sure the pallet holds at least 16 colors so that you can have all the primary and secondary colors, along with black, brown, and a couple of your most used shades. The pallet should also have at least five mixing areas – one for each primary hue and two more for brown and black shades.

Starting off with a pre-stocked palette will help you learn what you like, and then you can refill the pallet with tube paints of your most used colors.


The simplest way to use brushes in the field is to invest in water-pen brushes. These have a water reservoir in the handle, which you squeeze to wet your paints. You can get them in fine, medium, and wide tips. You will also need a small rag to wipe off the bristles of the water brush between colors.

Taking a class is also a good idea, especially if you still have questions about the process of painting with watercolors. For more information, contact local professionals like Colorest Inc-Art Supplies.