How to Pack your Oil Paints for Airline Travel

This article may contain affiliate links, please read my affiliate disclosure for more information.

how to pack oil paints for airline travel

Fundamentals of Color Mixing [FREE] Guide >>

Get my Color Mixing Artist's Guide, with helpful tips for mixing colors you can start putting into practice right away!


Doing airline travel with oil paints requires a little extra thought when it comes to packing. I travel with paints, brushes and a french easel fairly frequently. There are certain criteria that you will need to follow before you take off. I will go through them with you so you can be sure that you will not have any problem traveling with your paint supplies!

how to pack oil paints for travel

What to pack where?

When packing you want to be sure to put your brushes, paints, and palette knives in your checked baggage NOT your carryon. Packing your paints in your checked luggage is obvious of course because of the liquid element. Keeping your palette knife in your checked baggage will ensure that it wont get confiscated by security in thinking that it might be a weapon. Having anything that is splattered with paint sometimes raises suspicions so it is best to steer clear of anything disagreeable with the airport security and keep your brushes in your checked luggage.

How to pack your oil paints for travel

Be sure to securely pack your paint tubes in a couple plastic bags in the event that one might explode in your luggage – this would at least confine the paint to the bag instead of it getting all over your suitcase. this unfortunate incident happened to me once with a can of lead white – it was not so fun getting lead white over everything!

How to pack your Easel

You can either pack your easel or carry it on the airplane with you. If you have a cover for your easel it will be fine for you to carry on, otherwise it might be best for you to pack it as well in your checked luggage.

how to pack your oil paints for airline travel

My french easel has paint marks all over it and once took it as a carry on without a cover and would rather never do so again as it led the security personnel to investigate all of my supplies. They wanted to throw everything away because they thought that oil paint is hazardous – thankfully the ordeal was cleared when their manager assured them that the paint was not hazardous. That all to say, it is best to avoid running into any potential problems if possible to avoid any extra stress for yourself. At least feeling threatened about ALL of my paint getting thrown out was very stressful for me!

Dealing with Oil Paint and Airport Security

In the event that you are asked about tubed oil colors be prepared to state the following: Artists’ oil colors are not hazardous since they do not contain solvents. If you are asked further about them be careful to never use the word ‘oil paint’ or even ‘paints’. Instead say that they are artists colors in vegetable oil.

how to pack your oil paints for airline travel

Traveling with lead white paint can also make airport security question as it will come up as black on an x ray scan since lead is impenetrable to x-rays. Here too simply state that it is lead based white artists’ color in vegetable oil.

If you Wish to be Extra Cautious

In most cases you can find a materials safety data sheet (MSDS) from all materials manufacturers on their website. All art material manufacturers will upon request provide a material safety data sheet (MSDS) on their products. You can use this sheet to present to airport security if necessary. If there is no such data sheet on your paint manufacturers website then they will provide one for you upon request.


Did you get your FREE color mixing guide?

Subscribe (free) to get my best tips, and Color Mixing Artist's Guide. With tips to get started mixing colors right away!

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Hello! I'm Elisabeth Larson Koehler

    Art Studio Life exists for you to be able to stay inspired, learn, and improve your skills.

    Elisabeth Larson Koehler creator of art studio life
    color mixing mater guide ebook preview contents

    My ever popular Color Mixing Master Guide, will help take the uncertainty out of mixing colors. With over 60 Color Mixing Charts − spend less time struggling with mixing color and more time creating the shades of colors you want for your painting!

    Get my special subscriber discount for the Master Guide, when you subscribe here<<


    4 thoughts on “How to Pack your Oil Paints for Airline Travel”

    1. Louise McIntosh

      Thank you for all the useful information about traveling with paint and other supplies. I was just about to leave for a plein air experience in southern France when the pandemic hit and everything was cancelled. I would have made a lot of mistakes with traveling so now I know better. I have one of the French easels and I find it really a nuisance to set up and take down. I do like the idea of buying canvas and rolling it in a tube. Can you roll up acrylic paintings the same way?

      1. Good to hear from you Louise! Am glad to hear that this was helpful! Yes, I also am a little bit frustrated with French Easels more for the reason that they can be quite heavy and tiring to carry around for longer distances. Glad that you like the idea of rolling up canvas in a tube – it makes everything much easier. And yes thankfully – acrylic paintings can also be rolled up in a tube in the same way 🙂

    2. Pingback: How to Pack Paint Brushes for travel - Art Studio Life

    Leave a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *