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Painting/selling while staying away?

I need advice re: oil painting while being away from home for a long time.

I live in the US, and I am going to spend a few months away in Europe (namely in Russia and UK). I hope I will find a way to keep painting while I’m away, but I’m not sure what to do next. Up to this moment, all my DPW buyers were from the US and Canada. I doubt that a couple of months is enough time to start selling in a new place. On the other hand, I’m afraid that high shipping costs would interfere with the sales to the North American customers. So, if selling is not an option, what would you do? Traveling with a big box of canvases doesn’t look appealing to me. Of course, I can paint, then scrape it off and paint over again and again just for the sake of practice, but it sounds a bit sad, right? One thing that came to my mind is to try to paint on loose canvas. Then I could save at least those works that turned out well, and they won’t take too much space. If any of you tried painting on loose canvas, how did it work for you? I’m also thinking about trying oils on paper, but I tried Fredrix canvas pad once and didn’t like it too much. Should I try a different brand? Any advice is welcome!

Also, if you happen to live in Russia or UK and ship your art to the US, what postal service would you recommend, and how much does it cost?

How about canvas or linen pads?

You can buy it in pads like paper.

Just keep things small.

Take some glassine paper to put between the sheet when you bring them home.

Good luck on your travels!

Thanks so much, Jacqueline! I have never heard about canvas or linen pads, but it sounds like a right thing to me! I will order some and give it a try while I’m still home. Thanks!

If it was me, i wouldn’t worry about selling during this period. Just have a wonderful time!
Collect loads of inspiration!
Complete a sketchbook that you can use to feed into studio pieces when you get home. Use a different media - not oil - make up a little tin with basic materials such as drawing stuff, a few watercolour pencils, some tubes of gouache, a fine liner pen - you can travel really light with that and a couple of decent watercolour sketchbooks. Have a lovely time gathering ideas and material.

If you really really want to stick to oils then perhaps consider a minimal kit? A limited palette and paint small. If necessary - very small. Like this tin painting (there are more on my gallery page if you want to look)


For the tin painting, i bought ready cut plyboard off eBay and primed it. The tin then acts as a wet panel carrier and a palette all in one. But you could use linen or cut up canvas paper instead.

As regards shipping, in the U.K., I use Royal Mail to ship to the US. It is the cheapest and you can track it on line.

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My suggestions - don’t worry about selling while in 2-3 months trip. Moreover, your buyers will be even more thirsty for your new work to buy then.

Why not trying new medium? gouache? or tempera? much easier to travel :wink:

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Thank you so much for all the info, Karen!

Just checked out your gallery. Love your aminal paintings!

The problem is, I might be away for a pretty long time (up to 6 months), and I really hate not to be able to paint for half a year. It seems to me that painting is a bit like playing a musical instrument: one should do it pretty much daily to keep the skills fresh. But you are right, I might try to do more sketching/drawing.than painting and keep painting small.

Thanks so much again!

Thanks, Julia! The thing is, I will be away for much longer time, up to 6 months. Trying a different medium does sound like a good idea, but I am so much in love with oils that I don’t want to give them up for such a long time. Otherwise you are totally right, it might be much easier to end up with a pile of paper than with a box of canvases.

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Here you go. Here are 2 examples:

https://www.jerrysartarama.com/centurion-deluxe-oil-primed-linen-pads

https://www.dickblick.com/products/fredrix-canvas-pads/?clickTracking=true&wmcp=pla&wmcid=items&wmckw=08908-1003&gclid=Cj0KCQjw4cOEBhDMARIsAA3XDRidY5YTljRScRUjGtIuednJmLpT0sgwf0E05Nu0arqTaUmzLeAEUEwaApwhEALw_wcB

Thanks so much again, Jacqueline! Just ordered a Centurion linen pad and will give it a try as soon as it arrives!

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You should at least bring your work back so you can post your adventure upon returning. Or keepsake your travels🌸

Thank you, Laura! Yes, that’s why I thought about painting on loose canvas (or canvas pad, as Jacqueline suggested): at least I could bring something back :slight_smile:

Hi Irina,

I was going to suggest oil canvas pads too. From time to time I use Fredrix Canvas Pads as they are available here in the UK. I mostly mount them on a board before painting, but for traveling they may be an ideal option as they can be rolled up in a tube.

Generally speaking finding good art materials in the UK is not a problem. Everything can be ordered online and if you are in, say, London, there are many stores as well if one prefers seeing things before buying.

As for shipping, for small size hard panels like 6x6 or 6x8, the postage cost is going to be around £15 or so depending on packaging. The insurance can vary from 20 to £250. However, in an unlucky event of claiming the insurance Royal Mail will ask for a proof of cost, which will probably going to be the invoice. Thus, no reason to insure for more than the price.

I am not sure what is going on in Russia with regard to taking your own paintings out of the country. I’ve heard that it requires a permeation from some sort of agency or something like that.

When we visited Ukraine and Poland in '07, I took along a Winsor Newton pan watercolor kit. They’re tiny-- it looked like it could have been eye makeup. That and a tiny sketchbook. We were busy a lot-- I wouldn’t have had time to paint. But the sketchbook was fun, and also it was a wonderful memento for our trip.

Paint outdoors in touristy spots. People love to talk to painters and some may ask to buy your works. (Have some of your previous days’ work with you, too.)

Thanks for all the info, Artemi! I will try to use canvas pads. My understanding is that one can just tape it to a piece of cardboard and paint. Sounds pretty easy.

Yes, I know there might be a problem taking paintings out of Russia, but I hope a pile of canvas sheets won’t look suspicious. In any case, it’s too early to worry about it: I need to paint that pile of canvases first.

In the UK I will be in Cambridge, and I’m pretty sure there won’t be any problems with art materials there. But it will be only in September, still too far away…

Thanks again!

Thank you so much, Teresa! I don’t do watercolors (I was about 9 years old last time I tried them, and it was so stressful that I don’t want to try again). But sketching sounds really good. I guess it’s the easiest way to keep doing somethi9ng art-related when traveling. Thank you!

Trisha, thanks for the idea! My biggest problem with painting outdoors is that I’m afraid to paint in front of other people, and when I’m not a part of a group, I always try to find some deserted place when nobody can spot me. So, painting in a touristy spot will be a real challenge for me, but we need to challenge ourselves, right? Even if I won’t be able to paint anything worthwhile it’ll be good training for me.

I’ve been reading your replies here and I’d say a big Yes to Centurion linen pads. They are thin and good quality. I hope you have a good camera with you and a sketch pad as well. I’ll be looking for your artwork online. Have a fantastic trip!

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One more suggestion Irina…have you tried water based oil paint? I like them because there really is no need for turpentine and they clean up nicely (and they are great with palette knives, too.) You might try a few small tubes (red, yellow and blue) and see what you think of them before you leave.

Thanks a lot, Patricia! I’ve just got my Centurion linen pads. I ordered two, and now I think I should have ordered more… In any case, I will have something to start with, and then I will check out local art stores. As to the water-mixable oils, no, I’ve never tried them. I really like traditional oils, but if I can’t find a space to paint with regular oil paints, I will give the water-mixable ones a try. Thanks for the advice!