When I first decided that I was going to be traveling and painting through Europe for 2 1/2 months, I knew that I would need to be creative and judicious in the supplies that I carried with me. My first thought was to bring cut pieces of canvas with me that I would tape onto a rigid surface. But, I really don't like the feel of painting on cut pieces of canvas. I prefer a hard surface.
I already had some archival white mat boards in the studio leftover from my old watercolor days. So, I took out a full size sheet and painted each side with two coats of shellac. Once they dried, I cut them with the mat cutter into 5"x7" panels, 6"x8" panels and a few 8"x10" panels. I was able to travel with enough to paint 4 paintings a day for 4 days a week. That made 16 panels a week. I wasn't sure how much painting I would get done, because I knew that I would have traveling time and being a plain ol' tourist also. So, eventually, I made about 120 panels in all that I took with me. And, I didn't use them all. There was more touring time in which I didn't paint than I anticipated. But, that's OK, I've got lots of reference material to paint from.
These panels are not only great for traveling because of the light weight and small space that they take up, they are also great for beginning artists and for experimentation. I wouldn't go any larger than 8"x 10" with the panels. They just are not thick enough or rigid enough for larger sizes.
The mat board is inexpensive and easy to cut, using only a straight edge and an exacto knife or razor. I think it is important for student artists to be able to have some of their materials be inexpensive enough to feel that they can throw them away. People are not afraid to experiment and try new things when they are using something that doesn't feel too precious, such as linen panels. Save the linen panels for later.
THE NEXT PAINTING IN MY EUROPEAN SERIES
Arles, France Church Rooftop 5"x7" oil