Plein air painting events for beginners > We’re just a few weeks away from the world’s largest plein air event, and I’m getting more excited by the day. If it’s your first time attending the Plein Air Convention and Expo (PACE) and you’re a newbie, it’s a good idea to review the event’s FAQs.

While some of the info I found applies specifically to PACE, you’ll see that some is helpful for attending any type of plein air painting event, especially if you’re flying with art supplies. Use the comment section below to share your advice for PACE or just to say hello!

Plein Air Convention & Expo
Artists have the opportunity to learn from each other first-hand during a PACE Paint-Out

Plein Air Painting for Beginners

Outerwear for Painting Outdoors

  • light rain coat/windbreaker
  • warm clothes and items that you can layer – we don’t know what the weather will do!
    sturdy, closed-toe shoes for the paint-out sessions
  • sunscreen
  • a good hat with a wide brim — keeping the sun off of your neck as well as out of your eyes
  • consider wearing pants instead of shorts or a skirt — the desert is full of sharp, scratchy plants
PACE convention
In addition to painting outdoors, there are also indoor workshops you can attend

What to Pack for Plein Air Painting: Flying with Art Supplies
From the Plein Air Convention & Expo FAQs

If you’re flying with art supplies, note that the TSA won’t allow solvent in carry-ons or checked baggage. Solvent will be available at the event from Gamblin (simply stop by their booth — they’ll even collect and recycle the used solvent). Bring a vessel to store the solvent in once there.

Make sure you pack these items with your checked luggage, as you cannot include them in your carry-on:

  • tube paints
  • mediums for oil, acrylic, and watercolor
  • palettes with paint on them
  • containers carrying paint out of the tube
  • sharp tools like knives, palette knives, razor blades, or scissors

Items that you can carry on:

  • brushes
  • easels in backpacks
  • clean palettes
  • pan watercolors
  • pastels
  • canvases, panels, and paper
  • drawing materials (pencils, pens, charcoal, erasers, or Conté)
  • sketchbooks
  • paint cups, trays, and empty vessels for water and solvents
  • viewfinders
  • bottles of ink (3 oz. or under)
  • camera
  • hand wipes
  • plastic gloves
Plein Air Convention & Expo
Eric Rhoads, Chairman and CEO of Streamline Publishing (at left), during a prize giveaway at PACE 2017. The first person to spin this wheel won a ticket to the South Africa painting trip!

Take only what you will actually use and is relevant to the medium you work in to keep from having to pay for extra weight and having to lug it around. If flying, it’s best to check in your art gear and supplies. Alert the TSA of the contents of your baggage by attaching a label or note that lists the art materials within.

If you’re unable to attend PACE this year but plan to in the future, bookmark this page from your browser, or pin this article on Pinterest. In the meantime, comment below and add your thoughts!

Happy painting,

Plein air packing list -

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  1. Thank you for a timely article!
    1. What about brushes? Must I invest in the ‘travel’ brushes if I want to only have carry on luggage?
    2. Also, I have a Winsor & Newton watercolor compact tri-fold set; when opened, there are mixing areas on both sides. In the middle is a tray of twelve 8 ml/ .27 mg tubes. My travel agent suggested it would be OK if I put them in the clear bags to go through customs. Any thoughts?
    [I am flying United cross country, then Alaskan to Hawaii in the fall ]
    Thank you –I am a long time reader here, and subscribe to Plein Air from issue 2 or 3 – love it!
    S Wagner

  2. There have been occasions where tube paints have leaked during flights. A friend of mine ended up with cobalt blue all over his other supplies so its a good idea to put each tube in an individual plastic bag like a sandwich bag so you won’t end up cleaning up a mess.

  3. I put the oil paint tubes in a regular TSA quart size bag. I also carry a manufacturer MSD report. But not solvents. I want those paints with me where I can discuss them if necessary and avoid leaking caused by pressure changes
    TSA has looked at them a couple of times, never confiscated them and I have never needed the report.
    They are listed as acceptable on the TSA website, unless they are flammable, in which case they and other solvents cannot be in carry-on or checked luggage

  4. Hi from Anne To lighten my load, I cut up pieces of primed linen canvas to small shapes up to 12 x 16 leaving a 2″ border around them and then tape them to a foam board with masking tape (not blue tape) to paint. I paint in oil and keep any whites pretty thin until I get home and touch things up. and I
    usually put them on top of my car to dry. If not completely dry I cover them with wax paper to fly home.
    Do not use plastic wrap! I have a wonderful easel set up from Easel Box and Panel. Been using it for
    over 10 years! I would buy Gamsol at the event and I have put the paints in separate plastic bags. I
    put the palette box in my suitcase and carry the easel in its bag. I buy trashy paperbacks to read on
    the plane and try to sit in the front. When I get home I glue the linen to MDF that has been sealed. I go to the lumber yard with a graph paper of how I want it cut and for about $50 I have two dozen or more panels.

  5. Consider water mixable oils, no solvent needed! PACE is a great venue to try them.
    Also when you pack clothes and hat, be sure to pack neutral colors so they don’t reflect on your work and impact the colors.

  6. I paint both oil and watercolor. If I have to fly I only take my watercolor gear to avoid dealing with security and customs agents. Actually I prefer watercolor. Thanks for all the good plain air tips.

  7. I’d like to suggest a very compact, lightweight easel and palette holder kit that comes in a carrying bag called the LederEasel. I’m proud to offer them especially for Plein Air painters at my website Please have a look, view the video to see how it works and decide if it might be a good fit for your next painting travel experience.
    Ed Leder


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