Creating a Portable Art Kit

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By: Sharilyn Kuehnel

Summer and road trips are just around the corner

Our family spends quite a bit of time exploring the corners of this fair province of ours and with this in mind I felt a bit of a refresh of our travel art box was called for.

Our portable art kit is a simplified version of art corner at home- easy yet good quality art supplies that the Littles can use any time they want- when travelling it’s a great way to entertain in times of need- like a rainy afternoon in the tent.

Creating a (real) portable art kit: Go to your local art supply store ~ not the dollar store!

As an artist myself I have always been very aware of some of the sub par supplies that are sold in the guise of children’s art supplies. What I often tell parents looking to get their children set up is to buy better quality art supplies- set your child up to succeed at art instead of getting frustrated with the tools and losing interest. Creative kids need the proper tools. A visit to your local art supply store as opposed to the dollar store offers an abundance of choices as well as a group of experts who are on hand to answer your questions.

Don’t know what to look for? Start here.

Buying art supplies can be daunting for some- similar to how I feel when I walk up to the cosmetics counter- overwhelming and just too much to chose from!

Your best bet is to always keep it simple- a good set of water colour paints and a good quality paper are a great place to start- portable and small. When buying paints look for the ACMI Non Toxic symbol- this certifies that the product you are using is not known to cause harm if ingested.

It is never recommended to use artist quality paints for children- pigments used in artist quality paints can irritate delicate young skin- stick with good quality products labeled Non Toxic.

What’s in your art box?

Some people might think that the children of an artist are spoiled when it comes to art supplies- like it is unlimited creative mayhem at our house 24/7! Not true- like everything in life moderation is called for- often children get overwhelmed if offered too many choices.

We like to keep things simple- especially when thinking about our travel art box- I thought I would share our favourites- this is what we will be playing with at the picnic table, beach, tent- all over B.C. this summer!


We chose a small notebook with a hardcover and easy to remove pages- the paper is a heavier weight which makes it ideal for watercolours, pencil and collage. Our notebooks are a record of our Summer- we like to add in pieces of ephemera as reminders of our travels.

Water Colour Set

We really like the vibrant colours of this inexpensive Yarka water colour set- the colours in this children’s set rival that of the artist quality Yarka set that Mom uses. This set comes with the perfect little brush- just add water and imagination!


Wax crayons are a staple in everyone’s travel bag and we are no exception- we like to save any crayons we get at restaurants when we go for dinner and add them into our travel art box. Used alone or in combination with the water colours crayons are an oldy but a goody.

Pencil, Sharpener and Eraser

A simple 2b pencil always comes in handy- make sure to pack a good pencil sharpener and an extra eraser- this fun parrot sharpener  (pictured above) from Faber Castell has both!

Washi Tape

Choose from the myriad of fun colours of washi tape to throw in your art box- easy for little ones to tear and low tack so it won’t stick to anything you don’t want! Washi tape is a great alternative to a glue stick- much tidier- and the colours are just fantastic.

Get Outside and Get Creating!

There really is nothing quite like sitting by the lake with your little ones while they paint the scene in front of them or one from their imagination. Summer time and living should be easy- with this easy little grab and go art box our family will be hitting the road and saving our memories along the way!



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