How to Travel with Oil Paints! Plus What's in My Art Bag!


Oil Paint
Turpenoid or some sort of turpentine substitute in a glass container with metal lid. That does not leak.
Paint Brushes
Plastic Bag
Paper Towels
Plastic Disposable Pallet
Container- I use either a metal box or plastic art bin, but you can use whatever is non leak.

The most misconceived notion about oil paints is that it is very difficult to travel with or that you can't travel with them at all. Well guess what? I have good news for you! You can travel with oil paints. Yay! So, nowadays, oil paints are generally made with vegetable oil and if you have purchased paint in the last decade you should be safe to travel with it. If you do buy used paint, like from a garage sale or estate sale or second-hand, I wouldn't travel with it because it could contain not fun toxic materials like lead. Another preventive measure is that a lot of oil painting companies have posted on their webpage how safe it is to travel with oil paints.

The next item that you might wonder if you can travel with is terpenoid or some sort of turpentine substitute. You can but you have to make sure the flash point meets the FAA guidelines. I usually travel with Gamsol by Gamblin Oil Paint because they post the exact flash point on their website making it incredibly easy to travel with solvent. You can also travel with Terpenoid Natural which is non flammable. Most brands do have their fact sheet on the web and you just have to google the name and words, "flash point," and then print out the MSDS sheet. The MSDS is the sheet that indicates all of the details about the solvent and if you can travel with it.

Then there are the actual really boring facts. If you are worried about it, I want to let you know I have never had my paints taken away but you can technically have it in your carry-on. If you don't want the hassle, then just check it.

"Including thinners, turpentine, MEK, denatured alcohol, acetone, resins, lacquers, varnishes, stains 
Most paints and paint-related solvents are regulated as flammable liquids and are forbidden in carry-on or checked baggage.
Many (but not all) artist paints are nonflammable and, if posing no other hazard, may be carried in carry-on and checked baggage. However, paint not marked nonflammable by the manufacturer could be removed from luggage by airport screeners. If the manufacturer’s material safety data sheet (MSDS) indicates the paints are nonflammable, packing the MSDS with the paints may help avoid their removal from baggage.
An MSDS will show if a paint or related product is a flammable liquid or not. When checking the MSDS, a "flash point" at or below 140 F (60 ° C) indicates it is a flammable liquid and may not be carried in airline baggage. "- FAA

I pack in a ziplock bag, a couple of paper towels, disposable pallet and my sketchbook. Once I actually paint, after the painting dries which takes about a day, I always put the sketchbook in a ziplock bag, I can't even tell you how many times that my kids have gotten ahold of my sketchbook and have started drawing on a painting. They have their own special drawing pads, but they love mom's.

Traveling with oil paints has never been so easy and nowadays a lot of this stuff is precautionary if you are going on a plane. Oil Painting companies are making paint and solvents more modern by making them safe for travel, especially in an airplane. This is my basic kit that I use for traveling for road trips, to meet friends and in a plane.

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