Saturday, December 27, 2014

Plein Air Tuscany: traveling with oil paints overseas

 I had never flown overseas with oil paint so I had to do some research on how to go about the planning.  First of all you must know ahead of time what is allowed for airline travel.  Solvents and flammable materials are not allowed.   Look up the current regulations at a TSA website.  Experienced artists have found that including the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet-found online at various manufacturers websites) for each product and highlighting the flash point for each product can make travel easier for artists.  I put each color in a clear bag with it's MSDS sheet highlighted.
 I've always liked Gamblin paints but found that their MSDS sheets are the clearest for explaining their product's safety.  One thing I've been warned of is to not refer to your oil paints as "paint" but as "artists colors made with vegetable oil".    I used Gamblin's Quick Dry White which has a lower flash point than regular alkyds and would help my plein air paintings dry faster.
 Gamblin's Solvent Free Gel was the only 'medium' I found with flash point low enough to be allowed in cargo.  This product not only speeds drying time but can also be used as a brush cleaner.
 To save precious packing space I brought linen canvas sheets that I toned ahead of time.  I clipped that day's painting to foamcore.  I later mounted each of the plein air paintings to foamcore.
I packed my "M box" (11 x 14) in a makeshift bubble wrap sheet with bungee cords to keep the weight light and to protect my precious pochade box. I packed this in my carry on since I knew it would be impossible to replace once overseas.  I also packed my tripod, brushes, an apron, rags & a few paper towels in my checked baggage.
I brought a small portable clothesline  and used it inside to clip my wet oils to.  The day before we had to pack up, Mary Landis and I laid our almost dry oil paintings on a clothes drying rack in the sun to bake a bit more.   After I photographed each painting, I stacked the paintings in between wax paper with a foamcore  top and bottom clipped together.  Only one painting smudged slightly and was easy to fix.
We shipped our art supplies back to Colorado to make traveling a little easier.  If it had not been for a wonderful young woman we met at the post office in Murlo, this wouldn't have been possible.  Our Italian was pretty limited, but this woman helped fill out the forms required-in Italian.  The boxes we purchased at the Italian post office were quite flimsy but they managed to make it back with the outsides shredded-but everything inside intact.  What a relief to get my art supplies back!

You can see more of my artwork online:
Facebook page (open to the public)

(a variety of my work: prints and cards available)  
(limited edition canvas giclees)

No comments: