my favorite supplies and tips for making art outside

here are some of my favorite art supplies for taking my creative practice outside (Hali Karla Arts)

Getting outside in the warmer months - to explore, observe, and make a little art out in the elements - can really rejuvenate a Creative Practice.

Even if it’s just in your yard or near home, nature is full of surprises and invitations… not to mention rest and replenishment for your soul and intuition.

If you are unable to spend much time outdoors due to health reasons, you can still take into consideration how you might limit or condense your supplies into a simplified ‘kit’ as you experiment with nature-inspired art-making and contemplations indoors.

Personally, I love Love LOVE getting out into some new or familiar location to create art pages and studies.

Things can get a little stagnant and routine, and I can get a little antsy if I don’t fill my creative spirit this way.

And if I can’t get away from the house for some reason, I have been known to just set up a portable table or blanket outside in the yard, pack supplies into a bag or bin as if I were traveling somewhere, and just let the sun and breeze hit me while I make, listen and play. It’s good, good, medicine.

Below are a few ideas about supplies for making art outside, from my experience. Some might seem obvious, but if you are venturing somewhere new or away from home, a little forethought goes a long way.

things to consider when making art outside (Hali Karla Arts)

Consider the weather & terrain where you’ll be going, of course. Think: sunscreen, poncho, comfortable clothing and shoes. A hat, perhaps? Will there be bathroom access? Does it matter for the length of time you plan to spend?

The item on the right in the image above is a portable easel that I picked up a few years ago, and that I use all the time. It is small, lightweight, and super affordable. It fits well in a standard backpack.

I also use it on the livingroom floor when watching movies - which I can rarely do without doodling or making art! Or when I’m reading or painting at my table and need to give my neck a rest from bending over.

AND while it’s nice to have, it is totally optional and unnecessary for making art outside.

Sometimes I take it, sometimes I don't.

some art supplies I like for taking my creative practice outside. more in the post… (Hali Karla Arts)

I personally don't take fancy surfaces or art journals out into the field very often.

I like to sketch and paint on a regular, mixed-media or watercolor sketchbook. Or, more rarely, I might take a loose canvas or panel.

I do love it when I remember to take my viewfinder! It’s a great way to play with visualizing composition and proportion - and to just spend time seeing the different creative possibilities for expression or imagery in the place you’re visiting.

some of my favorite art supplies for creative practice outside - more in post (Hali Karla Arts)
some of the art supplies I might bring when I take my Creative Practice outside (more in post at Hali Karla Arts)

The image above and below are just a couple of variations of what I might take.

I switch it up, depending on my mood.

Not pictured is a little travel spray bottle - I use it all the time in-the-field.

some favorite art supplies to bring when taking Creative Practice outside (more on post at Hali Karla Arts)
a few of my favorite supplies to take outside to make art (more in the post at Hali Karla Arts)

Sometimes I go out with my watercolors and inktense pencils, which can be easiest to play with if you’re new to sketching or paint-sketching outside. They play nice together, too.

Sometimes I go out with a small set of acrylics or gouache paints.

I try not to take all the options, though - and suggest that you choose just one core medium for those times when you go 'out into the field.'

Try several out on different art dates, and see what appeals to you most. Maybe you find that you just love sketching outside best.

If you do experiment with paints outside, leave your fancy paints at home - and be a beginner, a curious and willing imperfectionist.

And don't forget to put water in your water jar or spray bottle!

i share some of my favorite art supplies to take my creative practice outside in this post (Hali Karla Arts)

If the site you'll visit has a river, lake or other body of water, though, it can be fun to ‘bless’ your page and practice by using a little of that water in what you create, too.

Simplicity in your supply choices will really open you up to the depth of your experience and how you engage with the practices of slowing down, observational BEING, SEEING the landscape with all your senses, and getting to know the nature all around you as a living, nuanced, and wise muse for your creative spirit and practice.

I can’t emphasize it enough - do give some consideration to gathering and preparing your 'field supplies' so it’s as easy and comfortable as it can be when you get out there. I want you to love your experience so you get off the screens and out into your brilliant world a bit more to inspire your practice.

Keep in mind, the time of day… it can make all the difference in a hot or rainy season.

Or maybe there’s a particular way the light hits a place you love to escape to… what time of day can you make a little art in presence with that?

i share some of my favorite art supplies for taking creative practice outside in this post (Hali Karla Arts)

Even if you're leaving some of your most beloved supplies or colors behind as you embark on a traveling or creative practice journey, this truly is a great way to freshen up and keep the sparks alive in your regular practice and art.

And besides, those not-so-portable art supplies will be back at home ready for you when you return - to finish up a piece with a fresh eye or start a new one inspired by your adventure, ‘sketches’ and experiments 'in the field.'

Sketching, painting or otherwise getting into your creative zone out in the elements is a wonderful, holistic way to self-care and connect deeply with a place you’ve never been before as well, or that you want to hold or honor in your memory as you move forward.