What’s Inside My Art Tool Box? The Check List!
As a custom artist, I sometimes land very unique paint jobs that require me to have a art tool box that stores the bare essentials of my art studio. This way, I can create a design from start to finish in any atmosphere or temperature. From adding new and necessary tools, to subtracting heavy cans of solvents from my traveling art box over the years, I like to think I’ve curated just the right balance of travel art equipment that allows me to work on a painting (and tackle any creative surprises) from anywhere. The highlighted words are affiliate links I’ve created for you to easily purchase the same tools you’ll find in my traveling art tool box!
- Paint: All of my tubes of enamel paint are stored upside down in the ammo can connected to my paint box. I include a can of flattening paste to dull out a paint color’s glossiness as well as a small can of Dux sizing for gold or silver leafing on sight. Of course, bring whatever medium you’ll be working with, i.e.. watercolor or acrylic!
- Brushes of all sizes: My favorite brushes for illustrative work are the Mack Tidwell Brush sets, HERE, which give you the opportunity to purchase one set with a bunch of different long lasting brush hair options. I always have an array of sword and liner brushes in my box too! Truth be told, I probably carry too many brushes to every job out of anxiety that ill forget to bring just the right one! Brush spacers from Alpha 6 Corp. adhered perfectly to the small box that hinges out from the Kennedy tool box. They keep my brushes secure while dragging the box over any terrain, including stairs! Grab some for your brushes here!
- Tape: I always have old, slightly less tacky masking and blue painters tape in my box so that I can tape up a reference image. The 3M blue tape in my box is much more pricey so I only use that to mask out designs or lines. I carry a few different widths. I purchase these from Coast Airbrush!
- Hair tie and bobby pins: Must I explain?
- Saral Paper: I carry white and red Saral transfer chalk paper to transfer my drawing onto different surfaces with chalk. You can check out how I do that on this post! Purchase Saral Paper HERE!
- Pencil with an eraser and sharpener.
- Tracing Paper Pad: For those in-the-moment- sketches that need to happen to get your ideas across to the client. I like Strathmore pads myself! A plus is that the paper is see through so you can see potential placement of your pencil design onto the surface you’ll be painting, which makes it easier for the client to envision the final product.
- Mahl Stick: I have the retractable carbon fiber one from Alpha 6 Corp. I absolutely love it because its light weight while using it and screws apart and fits into my box with ease!
- Can Cooler: For the water bottles or your fav beverage, of course!
- Business cards: On-sight painting, especially in a public place, can draw in a lot of onlookers, so its important to have your contact information handy when they come up and ask about your work.
- Sunscreen and bug spray: You don’t want the elements to deter you from productivity or fun!
- Paper towels: Bring a NEW ROLL EVERYTIME. Never underestimate how many you’ll need. Never assume the shop, or place you’ll be working in, has towels for you to use!
- Solvents: I always carry hardener, reducer, paint thinner, and mineral spirits. I carry two empty glass mini jars with lids so that I can clean my brushes between colors with spirits or thinner poured into each jar.
- Rubbing Alcohol & Windex: For cleaning and prepping surfaces. I pour mine into a small dollar store spray bottles for easy storing in my travel art box!
- Scotch Bright Pads and Sand Paper: For scuffing surfaces if needed before paint.
- Magnetic Ruler: Works great for laying out designs on metal surfaces such as cars, but its bending flexibly allows me to measure curved surfaces as well.
- Bush conditioner: Never neglect cleaning and conditioning your brushes after the job is done ON SIGHT! I use this kind! Don’t wait till you get home… it will be too late.
- Dixie Cups and magazine pages : For mixing paint.
- Clothes Pins: On-sight jobs can have multiple distractions both good and bad! So, a little tip I learned from Hot Rod Jen, is to take a clothes pin and lay it across the top of your glass jar full of spirits and as it pinches the brush handle in place it keeps the bristles of the brush wet in in the spirits but not crushing the brush hairs at the bottom of the jar. This is such a great tip for when you need to tend to a client’s questions while working.
- Razor blade and scissors: For cutting tape and sketches out.
I’m lucky to have been handed down my dad’s tool box from his days as a Master Sergeant Crew Chief Mechanic in the US Air Force. He custom built this tool box to drag around from plane to plane while working on the flight line. My dad passed it down to my brother, where he used it during his time on the pit crew for an NHRA drag racing team. Now, I’m happy to have inherited it! It is a Kennedy tool box attached to a wood platform with strong casters and a pull handle. The small ammo box my dad attached to the side is perfect for storing my paint bottles in upside down (I do this so the paint doesn’t dry up and “skin over”). It’s a little heavy, but there’s a spot for everything and its easy to roll around a car shows and from job to job! Plus, it makes the perfect rolling billboard to show off my artist’s friends stickers! If you’re looking to purchase you own traveling art tool box, The Pinstriper’s Garage Facebook Group has a few great comment threads on people who have shared what they use!