A Perfect Sunset

The spectacular view from my bedroom balcony just screamed ,”paint me now!”

Tuscan Plein Air Painting Retreat
This was our first night in Poggio Alla Croce. Our balcony overlooks Florence. The sun sets to the left of Florence, drenching the houses on our hillside is warm light.

plein air painting tuscany
Poggio Alla Croce, plein air oil, 11 x 14






Tuscan Plein Air Painting Retreat



Light Weight Brush Carrier

New brushes arrived for my trip. To my surprise, they were much smaller than I thought they would be. No time to exchange them, yet I couldn’t bring myself to put them in with the old dog eared brushes in my kit. 

A quick search of my supply cabinet yielded two brush cases, canvas with heavy protective zippered enclosure. Each weighed more than a pound! Forget this. 

Another search uncovered rolls of reed panel curtain remnants. Ummmm … I couldn’t throw these away last winter when I installed Ikea panel curtains in the kitchen. 

Soft enough to fold over one end, I measured the brushes to see how I might construct a simple carrier. The panel curtain is woven reeds which will allow the brushes to dry. Soft enough to roll easily, yet strong enough when rolled up to protect the delicate brush tips 

To stitch it together, I top stitched the ends first, then one center line. This kept the fabric from sliding while I sewed. I made some of the channels narrow, others wider for larger sized brushes. 

A rolled edge is top stitched to prevent it from raveling. A snip of purple satin ribbon is top stitched in place to tie it all together.



Watercolor Travel Kit ~ Preparing for Tuscany

watercolor travel kit
in Monet’s garden with my watermelon striped watercolor travel kit

It won’t be long now before I take off for my Tuscan painting adventure. I am updating my watercolor travel kit from the one I used in France two years ago. The simple watermelon-striped satchel I carried throughout France was terrific. It was stylish, light-weight and big!

Style aside, I couldn’t resist purchasing this artist’s satchel with all its wonderful pockets. I am still playing with how to arrange all my papers, paints, and brushes. In France, I simply threw two packs of watercolor postcards and a travel palette with two brushes in a plastic bag. I carried it everywhere, whipping it out in cafes, on park benches and picnic blankets. I hope this black one doesn’t tie me down. I’m throwing my watermelon one in just in case!

watercolor travel kit
watercolor travel kit

Watercolor Travel Kit

This bag has a stiffener built into the bag itself. I thought it was cardboard I could take out ~ NOT! I guess it will keep my papers from getting messed up.

watercolor travel kit
Several pockets hold various size papers

With all its pockets this watercolor travel kit is getting kind of heavy as I am loading up more and more supplies each day. I ordered some watercolor crayons and pencils which I will show you when the shipment arrives.

watercolor travel kit
watercolor palette slides in easily

Even my 9 x 12″ palette fits into this bag. Watercolors dry out on the palette and are easily reactivated with a little water. No wasted paint here. The large wells are for mixing. My colors are the same as my oil palette: from the bottom up, Cadmium Red Light, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean Blue, Phthalo Green, Yellow Ochre, Lemon Yellow (it’s got a smear of green on it), and Cadmium Yellow Medium.

I have laid them out in the sequence in which I would use them to mix specific colors. For example, Alizarin Crimson is beside Ultramarine Blue. This is coolest red beside warmest blue. Together they make a lovely purple.

If I were to mistake one color for another (which is easy to do as they are so dark in their full strength form), I might mistakenly mix Alizarin with Cerulean or Phthalo. Instead of lovely purple, I would be shocked to see muddy brown!

Like the keys on a  piano, it’s best to keep each color in a predictable position. This rigid structure frees me to paint spontaneously. Stopping to hunt for stuff is a great deterrent to creative inspiration. A predictable structure is a huge aid in painting loose and freely.

watercolor travel kit
this bag has lots of individual pockets for brushes and pencils.

It’s all about balance. If I control the structure; my paint, palette, brushes, papers ~ I am free to go with the flow.  I can throw paint on paper willy nilly if I feel like it.  The best watercolors have that sense of wild abandon ~ yet are crisp, clean and simple.

I am hoping my upgraded watercolor travel kit will have the same effect on my watercolors. In France I struggled for control of the medium. In Tuscany I am hoping to cut loose with  my watercolors and fly free. We’ll see if this kit helps me do that!

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Greve in Chianti ~ Taking Off Soon
Postcard Painting Inspiration