Packing to fly

We don’t have to give up our joy be safe in the Age of Coronavirus.

Fallow field, by Carol L. Douglas. Oil on canvasboard, available.

This weekend I will take my first flight since I came home from Argentina. I’m off to Pecos, NM, to teach a workshop that, mirabile dictu, has six people enrolled.

No, I’m not worried. I’m booked on a good carrier, and modern planes have HEPA filters. I’ll carry hand sanitizer, wear a mask, and enjoy myself. Flights are dirt cheap right now, as American carriers try to entice us back into the air.

When I’m preparing a workshop, I send supply lists to students, along with this packing list. These are general, and they don’t account for every circumstance. The weather in Pecos is going to be stellar this week; I won’t bring rain gear.

The biggest disconnect is between what oil painters need and what they’re allowed to fly with. Solvent is banned, except for very small bottles of Gamsol, which has a slightly lower flash point than Turpenoid. I avoid carrying either. Far better to buy it when I land.

Autumn farm, by Carol L. Douglas. Oil on canvasboard, available.

Nor should oil painters carry most painting medium; its flash-point is too low. That’s a big reason why I’ve switched to straight-up linseed oil for field painting.

I can fit a pochade box, tripod, two weeks’ worth of boards, my paints and everything else I need into a single checked bag that weighs less than 50 pounds. I put my clothes, toiletries, etc., in my other bag. Southwest has a two-bag limit, so there’s no additional charge for bringing my painting gear.

I have wet panel carriers that I love. However, I’d need half a dozen for a week of painting. Instead, only the wettest paintings travel in them. I lay out my paintings to start drying as soon as they’re finished. On the last day, I separate them with waxed paper and tape the package together. I write in sharpie, “Wet paintings—be careful opening!” I’ve been doing this for years and have only ever messed up one painting.

Print me and fly.

If you’re checking your oil paints, you can bring any size tube you normally carry. If you put your paints in carry-on luggage, they can only be the smaller tubes, or they will be confiscated. A lot of us paint with a 150 ml tube of white paint. It’s easy to forget. (It’s the nominal size that matters, not how much is actually in the tube.) I also print out the label, above, made by Gamblin for artists. I stick it in my paint container. I do notempty and clean my palette before flying. There is nothing hazardous in loose paint.

I carry a sketch pad and a travel watercolor kit in my backpack along with my laptop, phone charger, meds and a day’s clothing. I haven’t had luggage lost by an airline in a decade, but it’s always a possibility, and I’d hate to be bored.

I never actually bring dress clothes or makeup when I travel, but with social distancing, I no longer feel guilty about that.

Shadows, by Carol L. Douglas. Oil on canvasboard, available.

When I come back, I’ll be heading to Acadia for my annual Sea & Sky workshop. There are still openings, as there are in my Tallahassee workshop in November. Meanwhile, watch this space. I plan to be a good example to you, proving that we don’t have to give up our joy in order to be safe in the Age of Coronavirus.

Note: Cape Elizabeth Paint for Preservation auction is open for viewing. All thirty paintings can be seen here. Bidding opens Saturday, September 12 at 8 AM and closes at 9 PM the following day—bookmark this link for the live auction. Last month, I wrote about my paintings for CELT’s Mystery Boxes. These will be on sale Saturday and Sunday as well, here. You pay a flat $250 and what artist you get is a crapshoot—but with the caliber of artists in this event, you’re guaranteed to get something wonderful.