If you follow Lori Putnam at all, you probably realize she spends a fair amount of time on the road and in the air. That requires making sure she arrives with everything she needs safe and secure. Here’s her advice for artists, including her top five preparedness tips.

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Advice for Artists When Traveling With Supplies

by Lori Putnam

  1. Make a list and update it regularly. Sometimes I’m home only one day before heading out again, and it’s important to have a system that ensures I don’t forget anything. Over the years, I have fine-tuned my list of necessities regardless of type of trip. Having one list where I can quickly check off the needed items keeps me organized and sane. Here is a link to my personal packing list: https://loriputnam.com/personal-packing-list
  2. Pack paints carefully. Paint tubes easily puncture each other during travel. Use some sort of padding, like these bubble bags, empty paper towel rolls, or specially made carriers so you don’t have a mess to deal with when you are fired up and ready to paint.
  3. Inform TSA. Recently TSA called me as I was waiting to board my plane. They found my number on this TSA label I place in any bag that contains paints, solvents, or wet paintings. If you are compliant, most TSA officers appreciate it. You will likely escape hefty fines if you are up front about what is in your bag.
  4. Carry on irreplaceables. Most supplies could easily be replaced almost anywhere you go. Yes, they have paint in France. What you do not want to have to replace are the big items like your pochade, brushes, and tripod. Even though you could find those at your location, they cost a lot to replace, and you will likely have to use tools you are unaccustomed to using. Depending on the circumstances, I may pack mine in my backpack or use this under-seat carry-on in which everything fits perfectly. Always remember to remove palette knives, paint scrapers, and other sharp objects and place them in your checked baggage.
  5. Arrive early. Schedules are tight, and extra nights in a hotel room can be expensive. But if at all possible, arrive where you are going a day early. Give yourself permission to explore the area and get a sense of the light. Paint with no pressure, or don’t paint at all. Check to be sure everything arrived safely in your painting kit, and replace anything you need. You’ll also have plenty of time to grab some paper towels, water, and snacks, and a good night’s sleep, and be organized and ready for your first full day “on the job.”

Lori Putnam teaches artists how to paint in her instructional art DVD, “Bold Brushstrokes and Confident Color.” Preview it here:

This article was featured in PleinAir Today, a weekly e-newsletter from PleinAir magazine. To start receiving PleinAir Today for free, click here.


  1. Thanks for the TSA note. I travel with artist materials, especially paint, in my checked bag and have labeled them “non toxic, non flammable artist’s materials and paints.” So far there have not been problems with the luggage, but Lori’s note is much better.

  2. Carry on I have different paint in my long plastic pill box and put it in the size plastic bag that is acceptable and no problem, In Europe and here. I also keep a note in case to tsa. This pill container I have enough paint to last many small studies. The tubes I place in my checked bag


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