Thursday, March 27, 2014

Traveling and Painting

Howdy readers! I was going to do a quick post and show on some of my newly painted WWX models today but then thought there might be something more I could write about. I got the new models painted while I was on some recent business travel and it occurred to me that might make a somewhat interesting article.

I travel a lot. I travel in some way approximately twice a month for business and that travel takes me all over the US. My customer has offices spread across the US and strongly believes in telecommuting for their employees. This means I am best served by heading to their local areas for meetings, which they find flattering and helps me in business as a whole. Add in that my corporate office used to be in Manahattan NYC, and has now moved out to northern NJ. When you consider all of this, think about the fact that I am located just outside Washington DC, just a short drive away from Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia. That all adds up to a lot of travel.

This is a good place to mention, I am generally a nervous traveler. I try to never check my bags as I prefer to get in and out of the airport as quickly as possible. I am always somewhat anxious going through security and in all my time traveling I have only been stopped for a check one time. I go to some lengths to be prepared when going through the airport, with my ID and ticket out before I get in the security line, liquids bagged up before the security check, and everything as efficient as possible to get through Airport security in the shortest time possible.

All of this means it gets to be a bit tough to travel with paints or modeling tools and glue! Airports seem to be a bit finicky when it comes to a big bag full of paints and they want to know if all those paint bottles are 3oz or less. On the other side of the coin, I have traveled with my models before, bringing them on the plan and getting games in on the far end of my trip. Some of these trips have contributed to lasting friendships and very enjoyable breaks from the work I am traveling for. those who are wondering, I use Battlefoam pretty much exclusively, as I have found it travels best in relation to my mini's.

This article is about a different situation though, specifically about painting. My travels will, from time to time, not involve an airplane but instead will be on a train or more importantly will be a drive. Typically I try to drive to any meetings that are 4-5 hours from my house. I find the drive is simpler than trying to take a train or a short flight to those locations. In the circumstances when I can drive it's pretty easy to toss my paint kit into the car along with some mini's to paint while I'm on the road. I always find there is some time in the hotel during these "shorter" trips where I have the time that I could use to paint.

Years have gone by with my old Citidel Paint set as my primary source of paints. I had augmented the set with various paints from other lines, but the metal briefcase the set came in was good for traveling. I made a switch last year and my wife bought me the entire P3 Paint line from Battlefoam, which came with paints and a case for them. This is a great little bad which holds all my paints, my brushes, and also has space for a couple models to bring along. It's small enough to make it easy to carry along with my laptop and garment bag, and is pretty handy keeping everything sorted out and organized once I'm in the hotel room. I've been generally pleased with the upgrade to P3 paints as well!

So, once I'm settled into my room and getting read to paint I need to set-up my painting area. I find that typically (I'm a Marriott guy) there is a desk with a nice pull-out table in the rooms I stay in. I position myself under the light on that desk and pull out my paint trays from the P3 bag, setting them up on the desk. My models get setup on the small pullout table just in front of the desk so my paints are in easy reach and the light is good for painting my models. Typically I have packed a couple pieces of paper towel in my bag so I have a cloth to clean my brushes. Now comes just a couple more items I can scavenge from the room itself. First is a "water pot" to use in cleaning my brushes. This is pretty easy as every hotel room I've stayed in has some type of coffee cup in the room. I grab this and fill it with water.

The other item to scavenge took me a while to figure out, and that's something that works as an easy pallet for paint mixing and such. I paint a fair bit straight from the paint pot, which I realize is a no-no in general. That said, I still use a pallet a fair bit for limited mixing and for "evening the paint" on the bristles of my brush. The trick with the pallet is to have a surface that will not soak up the moisture from the paint but also can be tossed away when your done painting. After some time I realized that the little cardboard fold they give you your room key in is ideal for using as a paint pallet.

Once I have all this set-up I settle into a chair and start painting. It makes a nice break while on the road and help me keep moving forward with the hobby side while I'm on the road and not able to get games in. I do not pack large models for these trips for a couple reasons. First, smaller models fit in my paint bag better, especially infantry size models. Second, I prefer to sit and work on models that I will get mostly or completely painted up, and that typically does not work with large models. On my last trip I was particularly inspired and effective, ending up completing four models while on the road. I was able to put some flock on them when I got home, snap some pictures and then seal them.

This last trip helped me complete enough models for my WWX Union Special forces. I have 1 model remaining to paint up and I'll be set with 2 Union lists to play around with. I hope this little article helps you out a bit, either with inspiration to paint while traveling or in helping you find some creative tools for enabling your hobby while on the road!


  1. Re: palettes: I picked one of the P3 wet palettes way back when and started using it regularly about eight months ago. I've been very happy with it; it's a good size. Instead of the foam that comes with it, I fold paper towels and get them wet, then spread the parchment across that.

    1. That's a good idea, I'll have to check that out. I have been using more of a "dry palette" over a wet palette as I'm not doing as much paint mixing as I probably should be. I use the palette more for brushing excess paint off my brush and for using my dropper bottles for ink shading.