What supplies do I need to bring with me?

Bring the following materials:

China Workshops

To make travel easier for you we will have certain art materials for you to purchase here.
Available in China for you to purchase: loose linen cut to 23cm x 25cm, drafting tape to attach this linen to you board, paint in tubes, medium, paper towels, vegetable oil and soap for cleaning your brushes.

You need to bring: pochade and tripod, brushes, 12 11”x14” gatorboard or thin mdf boards to tape your linen to, 6 Panel Paks for carrying your boards with your wet paintings, two thin 100ml plastic bottles for carrying medium and paint thinner, two small pots to put the medium and paint thinner in, trash bags for dirty paper towels. Brush cleaning pot to put the vegetable oil in to clean your brushes. Drawing and notan equipment. You can also work in watercolors, but you will need to bring your own paints if you do.

Note on plane travel:
There is no problem bringing any of these materials on the plane, except turpentine (see note at the bottom on this). If you are asked about the colors, always refer to them as oil colors (do not refer to them as paint). Then you will have no problem. Bring a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet for any materials you bring on the plane and keep it with the materials.

Colors to bring
You only need one small tube of each color, but two big tubes of white.
  • Cadmium lemon or cadmium yellow light
  • Cadmium red light
  • Alizarin crimson
  • Ultramarine blue
  • Dioxazine Purple
  • Cerulean blue or Phthalo Blue
  • Viridian green
  • Black
  • Burnt Umber
  • Titanium white (oil, acrylic, or alkyd).

    For oil painters use alkyd white instead of titanium white to make painting dry quicker if you don't have a drying box. You can also use water-based oil paints (from Winsor & Newton), which are easier to clean up, but still take the same amount of time to dry. Don't worry about that though, because the idea is to learn, not to create a finished painting so it doesn't matter if you scrape the painting off afterwards. Acrylics are more difficult to use than oils outdoors because they dry so quickly, but they are okay if you are used to them. You can also use watercolors.
Brushes to bring

Natural bristle (hogs hair for oils or acrylics). Use filbert or flats (not brights). Filberts and flats have long bristles. Brights on the other had have short bristles. I do not have any particular brand that I recommend, but check they have strong ferrules. Bring brushes in the following width of the bristles (size indicated is approximate as different brands have different widths):
  • one brush 0.7 cm wide (size 3)
  • two brushes 1.0 cm wide (size 5)
  • two brushes 1.5 cm wide (size 8)
  • two  brushes 2-2.5 cm wide (size 10-12)
For watercolors bring a large brush, middle size and a small brush.

You cannot bring turpentine or mineral spirits of course on the plane, but you do not need it. There is one exception and that is you can bring Gamsol on the plane because it has a flash point above the minimum level allowed by the airlines (check with the Gamblin website).  I use olive oil (or any vegetable oil) to clean my brushes when travelling and it works quite well. You can bring a small plastic bottle with some oil in it, or buy some when you get here.

If you paints are stiff, bring a small bottle of linseed oil, or any oil painting medium to thin them.

Other things to bring
  • brush cleaner (if you can find it, bring Brush Flush since it is safe to bring on the plane.
  • paper towels
  • a viewfinder (a piece of card with a 2” by 1.5” rectangular hole cut in it)
  • notebook & pen or pencil for making notes
  • For Notan studies: Tombow brush pens N65 ( a middle value cool gray 5), Tombow N75 (a light value cool gray 3), and Tombow N15 (a pure black), or Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen B232 (a middle value cool gray 5), Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen B272 (a light value cool gray 3), Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen B199 (a pure black). The light gray pens are optional, we generally only use the middle value pens for beginner students.
  • For Notan studies: Strathmore Drawing 400 Series medium 80lb 4”X 6” sketchbook.
 Photographs and handouts
  1. Bring a photograph (paper form) of two to six of your paintings to share on the first day. For each painting, bring both a color photograph and a black and white photograph. (If you have not painted much before, you do not need to bring any photos).
  2. I suggest you also bring a print out of Process Unit 1 - Alla Prima Painting or Process Unit 2 - Watercolor Step-by-Step. This will be a useful checklist for later on in the week.  It is in part of the first year Apprentice Program curriculum, in Workshop D part 3. If you get a message saying you have not yet reached that workshop, just accelerate your program to Workshop D part 3.

Italy Workshops

Panels to bring

Loose pieces of linen or canvas is the most portable and lightweight. Bring a board and some masking tape so you can tape the canvas to the board. You can pre-cut some of the canvas to the following sizes:
  • morning painting sessions: three small painting surfaces for each morning of the workshop 6"x8 (15X20cm), 8X10" (20X25cm) , or 9x12" (23X30cm) (see the course unit on Getting Organized Outdoors for details of how to make lightweight painting surfaces)
  • (afternoon painting sessions) you may stick with one or two of the same sized panels as the morning sessions, or use one or two additional medium sized panels in the afternoon: either 11x14" (28X36cm), or 12x16" (30X40cm)
Easel and Palette

Anything you can work outside with comfortably that is not too heavy yet will not blow away in the wind.
  • easel, or tripod and pochade. Avoid the tripod easels that force you to hold your palette in your hand. These are no good!
  • palette (the larger the palette the better)
  • drying box
Important Note: The most important thing for students is to make sure you have a large palette, a palette as large as 18in x 24in, 45cm x 60cm is best. The most common problems that beginners have with their equipment when painting outdoors is a poor arrangement for fixing the palette to the easel. Make sure you solve this problem before you come to the workshop. You need to bring adequate clamps so the palette does not blow away if there is any wind. It is best if you do not bring a system that requires you to hold the palette in your hand with one hand, and a brush in the other. It will be difficult to paint freely in this way.
Note: For the workshops I run from my studio in Italy I have a very limited number of easels available for rent for 35 euros for the week. This is to save you bringing your own on the plane. Please let me know if you want me to reserve you one.

Materials List for Stephen Perkins Portrait Drawing Workshop

The class is essentially charcoal and paper. You are welcomed to use other drawing materials but I have found this superior in the type of work that we will be doing. What I mean is that we want a medium that is fast and can get volume quickly. We won't be doing long drawn out things so much as there is a good deal of ground to cover. Charcoal is the most malleable and versatile of drawing mediums in that sense I think. In any case, if you wish to use Conte then that is fine. I would avoid compressed charcoal as it has oils in it and is not really charcoal in that sense of how it works. You could use graphite but it will be relatively slow in getting to the full values and less forgiving and spontaneous. 

I would have a drawing board to handle your paper, clips for it. 

 You may be used to a certain paper, that is fine. We will be doing a lot of drawing so I would have a fair amount of it. To cut down on supplies, what I usually do is reuse the paper during the class. I use Canson Mi-Tientes, the heavy grade (98lb. or 160 g). It is tough and if you use the smooth side you can swipe the fast drawings when done and proceed with a toned surface on the next drawing. If you have a drawing that you particularly want, then it is on good, acid free paper. It is better than all of that newsprint that won't last until next week anyway. The Canson comes in various colors and values. As we are working inside, the light key is reduced. That means that pure white paper might be a bit bright though you can always tone it down. Some colors that Canson comes in are Pearl, Moonstone, Oyster and Cream. They are the ones that I have around here but look at what you like. 

I use various grades of Winsor and Newton vine which I find good. Try to get straight sticks. I'd get soft and medium and hard. If your drawings are always going too dark then it is an easy thing to just switch to a harder grade. Sennelier makes a lovely charcoal as well, quite velvety, just make sure that you get a variety of grades as you may have a heavy hand and go too dark.
Nitram charcoal as you may know is  back in business in America. It is a very good charcoal, quite different as the cross section of the sticks are rectangular rathe than round. They hold a point more and get more precise lines than most charcoal. Their site is www.nitram.com. They do mail order. I use the B and the HB regularly, they are color coded as orange and green. The hard or blue ones always seem scratchy and skip. I would avoid them. By the way, if you are tired of your sanding blocks always curling up as I am, you might try their new charcoal sharpening block.  I can't swear by it as I just ordered mine but I am thinking that it won't curl and be such a nuisance as the ones we all know of. 
For fine work, I would have some charcoal pencils. There are various brands and again, I would get various grades. Generals is good. Do NOT get compressed charcoal pencils however. Again, they have oil and wax in them and they will spoil your work as they do not mix with standard charcoal.
Whites; I would have some white chalk pencils. Conte makes them as does Generals. I've even used teachers white chalk but that would not be for fine work. Have a single edged razor blade for the charcoal and white chalk pencils.

  • Chamois; have them soft and pliable. One should suffice, we use more bathroom tissue really as chamois can be too absorbent.
  • Paper blender sticks and kneaded eraser;  We do a lot of "negative" drawing with these. I find them indispensable. I prefer the solid blender sticks rather than the hollow rolled ones but that is just my preference. 
  • Charcoal holders;  I do get tired of throwing away small sticks of charcoal especially when it is the good stuff. Charcoal holders can be quite nice to use but only if they feel like a natural extension of your arm. Sometimes they just feel very foreign with sharp edges etc. If you are in the art store and they have some of these you might see how they feel to you AND if they fit your charcoal. I have a little silver one that was made by a jeweler and I really treasure it and use it constantly. Something to think about.
  • If you are on the road and you wish to take your work back then you may want a portfolio of some kind. I don't really envision this as a class where you take a lot home, more like we all learn a lot and get better and then go home to do the work. Charcoal doesn't travel very well. If that it your wish then I might try Conte on the work that you think you will want to keep.


  • Drawing board, to fit charcoal paper.
  • Charcoal paper: Your choice. What I use a lot is Canson Mi-Tientes 96lb./160 g. ,19.5 in x 25 in./   50cm x 65cm
  • Charcoal: Various grades, recommended brands are Winsor and Newton, Senellier and Nitram 
  • There are others of course.
  • Conte: If you wish to use Conte as well that is fine. It has its own rules though so just understand that it is not as forgiving as charcoal.
  • Charcoal pencils, white chalk pencils: NON compressed only on the charcoal please. 
  • Misc: Chamois, blender sticks, kneaded eraser
  • I would have something for notes and some graphite pencils for note taking. 

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