Hiking With Watercolors: Tips & Tricks
Updated: Jul 29
Hiking with watercolors can be a tricky deal. But it doesn’t have to be. There are certain tricks and products that can help things run a little smoother for the creative hiker. Here are a few I’ve gathered over the years…
Note: I receive no kickback for the links provided in this post. These are simply some of the products I’ve used to help me paint in the great outdoors.
Even at home, the paper towel is the watercolorist’s friend. They are not only good at cleaning up spills, but keep your brush clean of any leftover colors and rolling my brushes up in paper towels gives them somewhere to dry when I’m no longer using them.
I have been using standard paper towels, but I’ve been looking into both painting rags and re-usable paper towels. That way I can keep them in my bag, and simply wash them when they get too dirty. So that’s what I would suggest at this point. The Earth will thank us both.
Water brushes take the headache out of where you should store clean water for watering down colors and washing brushes. The water is inside of them!
I’ve found that bringing one water brush is enough to get things started for my smaller script brushes and nib pen. That way I already have my water in a bigger brush, and then one or two smaller tools for fine details.
Prima Watercolor Confections
I will never not talk about watercolor confections. Those of you on my Twitter and Instagram are probably sick of me talking about these amazing little boxes of joy, but I won’t stop until everyone on the planet knows about them and has at least two sets of their own.
Prima Watercolor Confections are these little 12-set watercolor cake palettes that have a theme. Each theme has its own color scheme, complete with names for each color that fit this theme.
Some of the themes I’ve gotten a chance to try:
Woodlands: with color names like Bear and Deep Mossthis is the best palette for the nature-loving painter. Great for paintings of all things nature, like forests and animals.
Terrain: More saturated tones, tons of greens, and a pretty purple that I can never ignore. Good for landscape paintings and foliage.
Shimmering Lights: All of these colors have a shimmer and metallic shine. A few fun names from this box include Antique and Disco. I like to add one or two of these into another of my palette boxes when I feel the need to add some sparkle to my paintings.
Odyssey: saturated colors for 12 popular travel spots, like London and Rome. Perfect for the traveling painter. Or for the painter who is still saving her money for a plane ticket. Good for paintings of cityscapes and street scenes.
Tropicals: This paint box will make you want to head to Jamaica with a pet parrot and some pineapple. Seriously, even in the dead of winter I want to put sunblock on before using this palette. Good for summery scenes with lots of color.
Pastel Dreams: Delicate colors, with names like Rose and Bumblebee. This is a pretty palette for florals and spring scenes.
There are more too! Essence, Complexions, and even The Classics. If you are a watercolorist and you haven’t tried out one of these I highly suggest it. They will boost your creativity and your mood. Both good things!
Bring a Zipper Pouch
A zipper pouch is great for pencils and pens, but also for paintbrushes. Paintrolls are good too—though I don’t have one so I can’t vouch for how “dry” everything will stay around them—but a zipper pouch will keep the wet brushes from making everything else in your gear wet. Bonus points if you get a big enough one for your paint box. Then all the mess can stay in one place.
Whether you’re hiking close to home, near the sea, or in the mountains, make sure you also dress accordingly! A pair of gloves with open fingers is great for the colder months, and a jacket that can be easily removed is good for when the temperature climbs throughout the day.
And crouching like I was doing in the photo above? Ouch. I’m off to find a little fold-up stool.
Until next time…may your watercolors be flowy and your hats be warm.