Excess baggage

The   materials list for my Alvaro Castagnet painting workshop in Italy was extensive. An artist travelling 10,088 miles from home to an art workshop in a tiny colourful village about to slip into the beautiful crystal clear Mediterranean Sea, needs to be very well prepared.  I was so well prepared that it was difficult to carry my bulging case of art supplies. I had so many supplies that I could almost open an art shop. In fact I did give Alvaro some watercolour paper on the beach in Lavazza one day from my store.  He had run out, pity he didn’t return it after he finished a gorgeous painting on it.


Alvaro and my watercolour paper.

I carefully checked my list of materials and set about collecting them.

There was a list of watercolour paints. Luckily I had most of the colours on the list.  I only needed to purchase a few extra colours.  Next on the list was the brushes, they were specially designed by Alvaro. Of course I had to have one.  The list did not specify how many or which ones, it just listed best available Raphael brushes 9, 10, 11, 12  synthetic brushes size 4, 5, 6. I ordered a size 10, why not we will be doing big washes,  I thought I had better get the biggest brush.

I ended up getting two!

I ended up getting two!


Watercolour paper was next on the list, Saunders 300ms medium was recommended. I purchased 10 full sheets. When we got to the workshop Alvaro said we needed rough, wow did that cause me problems. It was hard to do some of the techniques on the medium paper. (Any excuse I can find) My problem now was how was I going to get it into my case without folding it.  The paper was too large to lie flat in my case. The list did not specify what size sheets we would be working in, so I was reluctant to tear them smaller. After a lot of brainstorming, I decided to roll the sheets of paper and put them inside a large Post Office cylinder.


Large Post Office roll

Large Post Office cylinder.


I had some fun decorating the Post Office cylinder and my clever sister made some straps for me so that I could sling it over my shoulder.

The next thing on the list was an easel. I did quite a lot of googling different easels for outdoor watercolour painting and came up with the Windsor and Newton Watercolour Sketching Easel.

A perfect choice. Nice and light and folds down really small and has a swivel top. The swivel top is important for watercolour artists, to enable movement of the board to allow the watercolour paint to move around the paper.

My travel easel

My travel easel

Other miscellaneous items were required; sponges, towel, water container, masking tape, pencil, painting board.  How was I going to carry all of those items, especially in the Cinque Terre. I had been there before and knew that there would be hundreds of steps. I decided to refer to my sister, who has a manufacturing business. She makes amazing gear for the horse industry. Have a look at Caladdon and Co here.

I need a bag to put my paper and board in. I also need something to carry my other materials in, preferably with wheels. My sister make me a perfect bag for my paper and board and I find a bag with wheels in a local store.


Here I am all ready to go.  Everything is attached to my bag on wheels. I don’t need to carry anything.  However with all of the steps there is some lifting required. As the days go by and I get more organised and more tired,  I take one thing out of my bag each night to help lighten the load.

One thing I did not have which I wished for many times during the painting tour, was a light weight fold up stool.  Each day I stood from 9am until around 5 pm. Alvaro did 2 demonstrations of approximately 2 hours each day, some of the other artists had stools to sit on, while the rest of us stood to watch.

Painting in Floremce

Painting in Florence

The rest of the day we stood at our easels painting. Looking back they were very big days, however we were so engrossed in what we were doing we didn’t notice.



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