View Full Version : Travel and paints

01-16-2007, 06:07 PM
I'm new here so be patient if I'm repeating a worn topic.
I saw a few threads back where someone brought water based guache on a plane.
I have this story about them.
I go to San Francisco in summer to paint. Two years ago I called TSA (those guys at the airport who run security) to ask if I can have paints in my carry on. He said no paints at all. Of coarse, I asked about watercolor and got the same answer.
I paint in oil so I send all my stuff ahead by UPS and now I find it easier to travelwithout worrying about whether I'll see them at the end of the flight.

Has anything changed in the past two years? Can you now travel with watercolor?


01-16-2007, 06:20 PM
Ernie, you should be able to travel with both water color and oil paint too. I have traveled to the caribean with oil paints several times since 9/11.

check the Gamblin Paint web site they have an excellent explanation on the rules traveling with oil paints. It might be in the FAQ section.

After saying that, I have not flown with paints in the last year. The new rules on fluids etc might be causing more problems that i am not aware of.

Also I noticed you are from RI. There several of us RI'ers who post here.


01-17-2007, 10:27 AM
I fly international with watercolors in stowable luggage with no problem.


01-17-2007, 10:58 AM
I flew from UK to US and back last July with oil paints in my check in
baggage with no problem.

01-17-2007, 03:35 PM
I flew from Maine to Texas in October and packed my oil p/a/i/n/t/s/ colours in my checked luggage. No problems going out -- in fact, TSA didn't even open the bag. (In the Portland airport, you can watch!) On the way, back, though, my luggage had the "TSA Has Inspected Your Bag" flyer in it, but still, no problem.

I'm flying again in February, so hopefully the results will be the same!

01-18-2007, 07:28 PM
Do check the Gamlin website where everything is explained.

The bottom line is that the issue is flammability. Oil paints made with vegetable oil are not a fire risk. You can download the special sheet required for all chemicals from Gamlin which states this and show it to anyone who doubts it. I have taken oil paints in carryon luggage without a problem. However, now that gels and liquids are restricted in carryon to that which will fit into a 1 quart plastic bag, you will have to use 3 oz tubes and have a limited palette if you intend to take paints in carryon luggage.

Medium and turps, however, are flammable and are not allowed on a plane. So, if you fly with oil paint, you have to arrange to get medium and turps when you land.


02-12-2007, 10:35 PM
The Gamblin FAQ on traveling with oil paints: http://www.gamblincolors.com/faq/oilcolors.html#q1


Marc Hanson
02-12-2007, 11:43 PM
Last May I flew out of MSP (Minneapolis) to Italy and back with a set of oil paints in my checked luggage, and a paired down set of oils in my carry on in case the checked bag was lost. I actually had a duplicate set of brushes, canvas, etc., all that would be needed to paint for a few days while the luggage was recovered if lost. No questions to or from. My bags were not even opened, in fact there were 12 painters traveling separately but to the same destination and the only problem was with one painter who had a Bogen articulated arm for an umbrella in her carry on. It looked like an unassembled weapon and she was asked to remove it for inspection. A slight delay, but it wasn't confiscated.

Don't carry any mediums or of course, thinners. They are flammable and even if you don't get caught, as a private pilot, please don't screw with fire and airplanes.

We put all paints in zip loc bags and then into plastic tackle boxes (clear ones about 2" thick), with the spec sheets included. Labeled the tackle boxes "Vegetable oil based artist's pigments". The baggies were in case of any leakage, or an inspector who didn't retighten a lid. I've heard the stories of paint tubes opened and left opened and the result being paint all over the interior of luggage and contents.

I'm leading a workshop to the same place again this May and will be doing the same thing all over again. Unless we run into a TSA or other security agent who is bored, I'm not worried at all.

Other things learned, carry as little paint as possible. For a weeks worth of painting, unless you layer it on reaaalllyy thick, a tube of each color on your palette is enough. A large tube of white(150 ml) might be a good idea, and carry a limited palette, the minimum number of colors that you think you can get away with. Something like a split primary (warm and cool of yellow, red and blue) is more than enough to do the trick.

Take the paper towels off of the rolls, roll tighter and use to pad the supplies in the suitcase.

If going for an extended time over seas, the hard shell wheeled suitcases with handles will do wonders for getting around, except on the 'cobble boulders' of the streets in Florence! But they are less likely to be smashed when carrying the wet paintings back.

Carry a small (10x12) panel/palette holder like an OpenBoxM or EasyL and a tripod. Paint smaller, no need for large paintings. They take more time and you don't get to experience the many subjects available when traveling.

Carry small pieces of canvas or prepared paper that you tape to one backing board. Many pieces can be stacked with wax paper for the return trip.

Purchase Liquin or another drying gel when at destination. Florence had many art supply stores, well stocked for those kind of materials. Wonderful highly refined Gum Turpentine in beautiful glass bottles. Was fun to use something like that.

For a carry on, use one of the backpacks with roller blade wheels and a handle. On the way to your destination pack clothes in it. When you arrive at your painting destination, fill it with the art supplies for daily painting.

I know the question wasn't about all of this, or clothing, but the pants with the zip off legs made adjusting from the cool of the mornings and evenings to the heat of mid day much more comfortable.

02-14-2007, 05:39 AM
Great tips, Marc!

02-22-2007, 02:26 PM
Hi all, I am flying into San Luis Potosi on March 15, 2007:) - March 25 to paint with my friend who lives there. I need to know if anyone has had any problems with packing paints or paint brushes, plein air equipment in their check in luggage?

Also, I would like to take a couple of bottles of water and dried nuts and fruits in my suitcase.

I want to take a tripod, my painters palette, my brushes some copal medium a small bottle and 7 tubes of oil paint. My friend Mariana, yes she is a wetcanvas member says I can purchase paint in Mexico. I was thinking maybe I should wait and just buy some paint there, this way I don't have to worry about carrying it the plane.

I also want to take her some painting medium I have from cennini. I am wondering if it would be confiscated or gone through.:(

Any suggestions on flying with oil paints and plein air equipment is appreciated.

thank you

Mad Scientist
03-13-2007, 06:54 PM
Don't even tell mention the word "Paint.":evil: Call them "Artists' colours." It is most likely the paint word that sets them off. You know they are only trained to respond to a few words like "Bomb, explosive, flammable, or paint.
Words like "Rapidly expanding incendiary device" and "artist colours" are beyond their understanding. You would be foolish to take even a plastic a palette knife in carry on someone might us it as a weapon but I'll warrant they still serve wine from glass bottles that can easily be turned into a far more lethal weapon. So call it a scraper.:lol: Come to think of it a wooden paintbrush could be broken in two to make a very dangerous spear. A newpaper and a cigarette lighter or a match could start a fire.
The entire security situation is ridiculous anyway. Does homeland security really think terrorists are so lacking in imagination they will try the same thing twice? I am quite sure they have far more creative imaginations. In any case the combined might of all the armed forces will have all the terrorists locked up in a week or so.

Seriously though, the MSDS idea on Gamblin's site is an excellent one.

What ever you do, do not say hello to Jack using the casual two letter word

Sorry this has turned into quite a rant hasn't it? :o
I guess that will keep me out of American air space for the foreseeable future.:eek:
I guess I'll walk.

04-08-2007, 11:31 AM
Well, the last time, I flew, which was inside the USA, I got seriously hassled for having oils and pastels. They opened everything, went through everything, broke several pastels, smugged pastel paintings. Now, I will not fly unless absolutely necessary and I won't travel with art supplies if I do. I'll mail that stuff to myself instead.