What’s in the bag

Thank you to everyone who responded in the comments from yesterday’s post. So many great suggestions!! I feel encouraged by all of you who are successful at travelling with carry-on bags, and it’s making me feel hopeful than I can travel light too!

I started the process last night by filling my travel palettes. I could probably bring some tubes of paint but this will last at least a week, if not more. On the left is my regular FOME palette, on the right is the Folio palette from Art Toolkit.

My very favourite recent addition to my kit is this bag from Maxpedition. It’s the Beefy Pocket Organizer. One of the students in my class in Santa Fe had one, and since it seemed to fit so much stuff in it, I bought one last month. This one bag replaces a bunch of pencil cases and pouches that I used to use. It’s a little over 6″ x 8″, and you can jam it FULL of stuff. I’ve been using it for the last month and it’s super practical.

Here it is, open, with all my pens, pencils, brushes and other assorted stuff. Those elastics are amazing. You can just keep adding things to the bag. I have a tiny spray bottle in there, my kneaded rubber eraser, a viewfinder, a ruler and there’s still room for more. And it feels very satisfying when I open it up because I can see all my tools of the trade at a glance.

And since it’s quite deep, I can add my two palettes in there before I close it.

One thing I have trouble with is reducing the number of travel brushes I carry. Good thing they don’t take up much space. I have an assortment of Da Vinci and Rosemary ones, in all shapes and sizes. Once a brush addict, always a brush addict, but I do acknowledge that I have a problem.

I will also bring along my mechanical pencil, extra leads, a few Pitt pens and my Platinum Carbon Desk Pen.

Also in my bag will be a lap easel from Stablo, a few pads of watercolour paper, my Etchr Perfect Sketchbook, a water container and a cup. Oh, and a few bulldog clips which I forgot to photograph. You can’t manage without those!

This trip will be a test to see if I can paint and teach without a bulky easel. I will report back when I return! Wish me luck!!

55 Comments on “What’s in the bag”

  1. Phil Corlis says:

    Best if luck Sheri! I’m sure even this reduced kit will see you through your workshop(s). My wife and I are big fans of carry-on traveling. Over the last decade we have made a dozen or so international trips of two weeks or more as carry-on travelers. Admittedly I don’t bring as many art supplies, but a little resourcefulness seems to make up for the lack of luggage.

    Frankly I can’t imagine turning my bags over to an airline. Especially not in these challenging travel times.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how the Stablio lap easel works out for you.

    Again – all the best!


  2. lois says:

    There is no doubt in my mind that you will succeed without the easel, Shari. That Maxpedition bag is pretty wow!! Good luck!


  3. Beverly Grice says:

    Was looking forward to seeing your packed gear bag along with the accessories….no pictures came in this mornin.


  4. Sasala says:

    This is really great!
    I always review my kit and try to pare it down.

    Re. the Stablo esael – the art material addict that I am, I bought this not long after it came out in January 2020. One pice of kit I’ve consistently used and loved. It’s great with sketchbooks, but I’ve not used it with blocks/pads. I’d be interested in knowing how you use it Shari.

    I use my “Civic Access Pouch” (2L one) by Evergoods for keeping the travel brushes, pens (liners, markers, dip-pen etc), pencils (graphite and few watercolour pencils), spare lead, eraser, couple of small ink bottles for the dip pen, 2x silicone water cups (like yours above), watercolour palette, and a rag/kitchen towel. It’s a tight fit but saves me having to carry multiple pouches.


    • I like your bag too Sasala! Don’t let me buy it, please!!
      You are brave to carry ink bottles. I guess you are very confident that they won’t leak, right??
      Glad you like the Stablo too. I tried it today with a pad and it was perfect!! I just put the back cover of the book under the wood where the spine of the sketchbook is supposed to go. All good! I attach it to the board too, with a couple of clips.


      • Sasala says:

        I use 30 mL Nalgene HDPE bottles for ink – they’re pretty sturdy. Saying this, I haven’t tested them on a flight. I’ll report back after my August trip to Dublin 🙂
        Glad the pad worked on the Stablo – this is encouraging because I love my Stablo


  5. anneperc says:

    Hi Shari..you didn’t say which particular model this is…the Gear Beefy pocket organiser, or the Fatty Pocket Organiser. Cheers, Anne Percival

    Sent from my iPad



  6. De says:

    You will amaze yourself. You look ready. I’m sure your students will share anything they have. Enjoy the journey!


  7. Chris Rusk says:

    This is all so helpful – and motivating.
    Many thanks and…
    Bon voyage!


  8. Northern Traveller says:

    Good luck Shari! You will do great…… 🙂


  9. Sara says:

    Since losing everything (probably stolen) on a red eye from Seattle direct to Newark I always go carry-on only. I’m traveling for the month of July and have two travel palettes. (studio and 3×3 with large pans) I’m really missing my flat brushes, so I broke down and ordered a size 10 Casaneo with an extra short handle. Good luck, and hope to see you back in Seattle sometime.


    • Sara, I once lost a bag too. I know how awful that can be. Mine had all my sketches in it too, but eventually I got it back. After that I learned to carry art supplies in my hand luggage!!


  10. Marlene says:

    Where can you purchase the Stablo lap easel?


  11. Rlschaffer says:

    I am intrigued by the Stablo lap easel. I cannot wait to see how it works for you. I recently filled an ArtToolkit folio palette, hoping I can make it my only travel palette. I find it difficult to leave a bunch of stuff at home.


  12. Diane says:

    I would think that someone there could lend you an easel if you ask around. Perhaps an art shop would let you use one for a little advertising about it?


    • That’s a good idea Diane. I had never thought of asking a store, although there really is nothing on Madeline Island. But next time I teach in a bigger city I will try that.


  13. Judy Sopher says:

    I also have Art tool kit palettes. I now have macular degeneration(lucky me) and have to hold a palette in my left hand so it is close. These are light and fun to use. I know you will have everything you need for your trip. I am so envious. We are thinking of moving back to NM so maybe someday I can finally meet you..


  14. Denise says:

    Now, if only you could have fit me into that bag🤔! Have a safe and problem free trip.


  15. Nancy Norton says:

    Where did you purchase the Stablo lap easel. Can’t find it online. Thanks,


  16. Mary says:

    Thank you for the great tips. I’m traveling to Italy in two weeks. I’ve never tried to fly with art supplies. Good luck on your trip. Mary


  17. gaelle1947 says:

    I immediately went looking for that Stablo lap easel online – so far, I didn’t see if and where it’s available to purchase in Canada and what price. I love the design and look forward to hearing your further experiences with it. Thanks for all these wonderful tips and all the best in your travels and classes!


  18. Donna Skelcy says:

    I am attending your workshop next week and look forward to examining the Stablo easel in person! Also, looking forward to learning a lot!


  19. You can teach without an easel just fine. I just had to remind myself to keep holding my sketchbook up for everyone to see it as I worked during a demo. Then I carried my sketchbook with me as I made my rounds to each student while they were at work. That way I had it to show them again if they had a question or if I needed to show them an example. Once you get in the habit of working this way you probably won’t carry an easel again! Have a great trip. Great bag! Thanks for passing on the tip!


  20. Judy Salleh says:

    Hi Shari
    Interesting to see your set up – if any help you can actually buy quarter pans which would fit in your palette in that small space meaning you could not get rid of the colours that you liked but just have a very small amount for the occasion when you wish you had got them.
    I use a Kokuyo pencil case by Haco-Biz which stands up -really compact but useful https://www.amazon.com/Kokuyo-Tool-Pen-Stand-Haco-Biz-Brown/dp/B07MZCHFRD



    • Judy, I love that bag!!The fact that it stands up makes it even more useful than mine.
      Where did you get quarter pans? I have seen some on Etsy but the shipping charge is very expensive even though the pans are cheap.


    • Betty Dickerson says:

      Judy, I would love to see a picture of that pencil case loaded up! I have purchased so many trying to find the right fit…..


  21. Lizanne G says:

    Thanks for sharing the bag info Shari! I think you have a great setup plan. I’ve been looking at Art Toolkit’s sketching kits and palettes. I’m really torn between the pocket and A5 sizes, and of course between the pocket and folio palettes too. Any advice is welcome! I was also curious what your palette choices were for the folio palette? Looking forward to hearing how your trip goes with the gear. Enjoy!!


    • Lizanne, thanks for having a look at my setup.
      I really like the folio size Art Toolkit palette. At first I added three reds, three yellows and three blues but then I added more colours so now I have: lemon yellow, hansa yellow medium, quin gold, cad red, Alizarin, Quin Rose, Cerulean, Cobalt, Prussian, Lavender, Naples Yellow, Burnt Sienna, some sort of green, Carbazole Violet and Black.


  22. Ann Langston says:

    I can’t find the Stablo lap easel on the Stablo website. Any suggestions?


  23. mcammeehan says:

    Wow! So organized. Thanks for sharing the info. Have a great trip.


  24. Terry Runyan says:

    Hi Shari. Thanks for sharing. Can you clarify where to find the FOME Palette?


    • Hi Terry,
      I might have answered already, but if not, I get mine at an art store in Montreal, but you can get one at Whiskey Painters of America, on their site or on Etsy. It is the same palette.


  25. ginabis says:

    Great article, thanks!


  26. Betty says:

    Hi Shari!!! I just sent you a message asking about your current tools! So I love the StablO and I have the folio palette. Are you able to still paint washes with it? I love how light and compact it is, but wonder if I need more mixing space as I try to paint on a larger sketchbook than a 3×5!


  27. Betty Dickerson says:

    Hi Shari!! Do you have enough mixing space when you use the folio palette? I’ve only painted in smaller sketchbooks so I haven’t ever mixed a wash before painting. But as I am learning (and taking your classes), I see that it is something I want and need to do. I do love that the folio palette is so light and compact and portable. I’m trying to figure out if I should get one just for mixing and carry around 2 palettes or just purchase a holbein lookalike?


    • Hi Betty,
      I do have enough mixing space on the palette, even when I fill it completely, because I do lots of mixing on right on the paper. When you buy it, it comes with extra pans for mixing and those help a lot! I see people using two of those folio palettes together too, which seems like a good idea!


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