For oil set up

  1. camera tripod (I bought a used Bogen on ebay) Click here for some info on tripods. 
  2. the pochade box that I use is made by Open Box M, the 14 inch is large enough to accommodate almost any size up to 20 inches! down to size of a stamp, but be warned if you order it may take a month before you’ll receive it as each one is made custom, Guerilla art supplies also makes several versions and I understand now the most desirable one uses glass rather than wood and is very streamlined and desired by the top pros, it’s called Edge Pro Gear  In addition you can fashion a servicable pochade box from a cigar box (these have been used since the 19th century and were referred to as a “thumb box”, Sorolla was known for using one.  There are plenty of instructions for making your own pochade box on the internet.
  3. some tubes of paint:  alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, cadmium lemon (or cadmium yellow pale or light) and thalo green, large tube of white (Permalba).  Using a limited palette is rewarding as to what one learns about color and achieving color harmony, not to mention saving some weight.)
  4. cups for medium (the kind with removable tops are ideal) 
  5. container of odorless turpentine (Guerilla art supply has a reduced size option) 
  6. Variety of brushes rolled up in brush holder (I actually just use a bath towel for this purpose)
  7. a plastic container for sundry items: palette knifes other small items
  8. paper towels

One needs a way to carry wet panels. For that I recommend RayMarArt boxes as well as their quality, lightweight panels to paint upon. This will make your life to much easier to get around NYC with a wet oil painting, just a small foam core box over your shoulder with a few light panels.

Lastly, unless you’re painting within the first hour or two of sunset or sunrise, an umbrella will help cut down the glare and make painting out of doors much more manageable. The one I use is super light and easy to deal with, it’s called Best Brella and I highly recommend it. There are others but most of them are cheap and won’t last long, there might be exceptions to that such as “Shadebuddy” which I’ve heard is good.

One last option is a portable stool however if one sits one gives up the freedom to move back and forth from one’s painting which is so important for judging one’s work in progress. Plus it’s an added burden and bit of weight. However I admit on occassion I like to sit down when I paint. The stool that I find stands up the best (pun not intended) is made by the Italian art supply Mabef, click here.

For watercolor set up:

Basically same set up as oil using camera tripod but use

  1. Sargent Watercolor Easel
  2. Best Brella
  3. A portable watercolor pan palette with a thumb ring holder of which there are several, my preferred one of choice holds 12 full pans (same size as 24 half pans) and can be bought at Kremers in NYC (if you buy the palette from Kremers you can buy a palette ready to go or buy an empty palette and select the pan colors of your choice) or from Winsor Newton or Schminke (the smaller, more portable size palette are nice to have as well although they don’t offer as much mixing room).

A few years ago The Art of Watercolor wrote an article on plein air equipment which I thought was excellent. Click to read page 1 and page 2.

Some helpful links:
James Gurney’s blog has a wealth of information on portable set ups