Outdoor Drawing & Painting Material

The following are my suggestions for both drawing and painting on location. Those of you who have worked with me previously or who are already experienced may have your own approach, and you are welcome to employ it.  I emphasize a very lean set-up, where all materials fit easily in a shoulder bag. This allows both ease of transport and set-up, and for flexibility


I recommend working on toned paper with pencil, then adding a few light washes of watercolor and opaque white highlights. Ink or marker can be added last to reinforce the deepest darks. I prefer a hard pressed surface and heavyweight paper to take both hard pencil and light washes.

PAPER: Canson now makes a 300g weight drawing paper in many attractive shades. It is NOT the Canson pastel paper, it has a much smoother, harder surface, and so works well with pencil, washes and ink. Choose a paler color of paper, not the very rich or dark colors. A pale blue, green, pink, light grey or buff are all good middletones to work over. It comes in full sheets and can be cut or torn into quarters. The sheets can then be put into a small portfolio or collage book (which has a fat spine to allow for add-ins), which can act as a drawing board as well.

Other paper options would be a good landscape format sketchbook (horizontal). They must be sought out, good ones are hard to find, especially with quality toned paper.  Some of my students have success with Moleskin sketchbooks, but I personally am not crazy about them…

PENCILS: Staedler Mechanical Pencils, Rotary Sharpener and 2MM Leads (Carbon, actually…)

I recommend 3 weights of 2MM leads: 4H, 2H and B. Those will give you a nice range of value. Don’t forget a kneaded eraser!


SMALL WHITE PLASTIC PAINT BOX/PALETTE with the following Winsor & Newton Watercolor Paints:

  • Paynes Grey
  • Burnt Siena
  • Chinese White (Winsor Blue Red Shade and Sepia optional)

TRAVEL BRUSHES: #3 or #4 and a #6 or #8, two good rounds, is enough. With the detachable protective handles. Escoda makes them, there are others as well. Protecting a normal brush with the plastic sleeve is also fine….

Straight edge, 12” ruler or small triangle; White Artists Tape; Small Water Vessel;


Again, a lean set-up is my recommendation for ease and flexibility. Over a hard graphite pencil drawing transparent washes are applied, from light warm colors to the darkest last detailing, employing wet-in-wet, wet on dry, and point of brush techniques.

PAPER: Most watercolor sketchbooks are not great quality, and the pads, especially with the ring bindings, are neither stretched nor usually of good quality. But if you find a good one let me know! For a drawing with one or two applied washes, a sketchbook can work, but for larger or more involved painting I recommend the Arches Cold-Press 140pd. Blocks. 10x14”, 9x12”, even 7x10” are good sizes, but I would not go bigger than 12x16”. Arches did make a landscape format and small square format as well, but I have not seen any lately. I also recommend bringing two blocks, one larger, one smaller, as well as a small portfolio or collage book (with the wide binding) to store your work in.

PENCILS: Same as in the drawing supplies, 2H & 4H leads, Rotary Sharpener, Mechanical Pencils, all Staedtler brand, with the exception of a B lead not needed.

SMALL WHITE PLASTIC PAINT BOX/PALETTE with up to the 10 following colors in Winsor & Newton tubes or cakes*

  • Winsor Red
  • Yellow
  • Violet
  • Blue Red Shade & Blue Green Shade
  • Paynes Grey
  • Permanent Rose
  • Hookers Green
  • Burnt and Raw Siena.

TRAVEL BRUSHES: At least two rounds, #4 and #6 or #8, and one 1” flat. Escoda makes a good set, but regular brushes are fine if you keep the protective plastic sleeve to prevent the hairs from getting bent. Winsor & Newton Series 7 is the very best, and most expensive. Raphael is a good alternative.

Two Small Water Vessels, Straight Edge (Ruler or triangle), Tissues or Paper Towel, White Artists Tape

*cakes are good for small amounts of wash, tubes allow for larger pools of color

I recommend you all bring a camera. Some of the new phones take excellent pictures, otherwise Lumix, with a Leica lens, is an excellent small automatic camera in a very reasonable price range.

Good painting and drawing to you all. Any questions can be emailed to me at rickbrosen@gmail.com