• Featured Artists
July 19, 2023

Packing for the Continental Divide Trail

When Natalie Wetzig’s not drawing for work, she’s drawing outside, documenting her backpacking and hiking adventures through comics and quick watercolor paintings.

By Natalie Wetzig & The Art Toolkit Team

Ziplock bags of sketching supplies lay on a mossy background with an open sketchbook showing comic-style pages of a character in the wilderness, and a paint-filled Folio Palette.

A while back, we stumbled across Natalie’s sweet comic-style art on Instagram and, upon learning she was preparing for a big hike, asked if she would share about her supplies and packing process with us—and she said yes! Read on to learn all about Natalie and the backpacking trip she has since embarked upon.

A hiker stands on the trail at a distance with hiking poles held above their head and a smile on their face.

Natalie Wetzig is an animation director from Colorado, currently residing in Los Angeles. She has worked on animated features such as Lego 2, Lego Ninjago, and Rio 2, and directed for the TV series DC Super Hero Girls and Jentry Chau VS The Underworld.

When she’s not drawing for work, she’s drawing outside, documenting her adventures through comics and quick watercolor paintings. Natalie has done many backpacking trips, including the California section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), earning the name Quick Draw because of the many quick drawings she created while hiking.

A hand holds up a sketchbook with a painting of a person sketching at the base of a small waterfall with a bridge.
A sketchbook and closed palette rest on someone’s knees with a blurry backpacking pack and stream in the background.

At present, Natalie is preparing to hike a significant portion of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). The CDT is a scenic trail that travels 3,000 miles along the Rocky Mountains from Canada through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico all the way south to the border of Mexico. She will start in Canada and hopes to end her hike in Colorado, where she will reunite with her family. Natalie plans to share many sketches and paintings of her adventures along the way.

An open sketchbook, open to a page of two people eating dinner at a picnic table and a sketch of the meal, lays on a wooden table with hiking pole and shoes in the background.

Natalie loves using watercolors when she backpacks because they’re portable, lightweight, and dry fast. Through a lot of trial and error, she’s landed on the following kit for this upcoming hike.

Natalie’s Art Supplies

  • An Art Toolkit Folio Palette with extra Mixing Pans

  • Daniel Smith Watercolors: Manganese Blue, French Ultramarine, Phthalo Blue (shade Red), Phthalo Blue (shade Green), Permanent Green Light, Hooker’s Green, Sap Green, Perylene Green, Transparent Pyrrol Orange, Alizarin Crimson, Opera Pink, Quinacridone Magenta, Imperial Purple, Cobalt Teal Blue, Cadmium Red Medium Hue, Lemon Yellow, Indian yellow, French Ochre, Quinacridone Gold, Quinacridone Gold Deep, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, and my favorite: Sodalite Genuine (great for doing ink-like grey tones for comics!)

  • Pentel Water Brush

  • Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen, Hard Tip

  • Bic Mechanical pencil (with extra 0.7mm led)

  • Staedtler Eraser (cut into 1/3)

  • Winsor & Newton Designer Gouache, Permanent White (0.47 fl oz)

  • Fluid Cold Press Finish Watercolor postcard block (4x6)

  • Stamps (to mail my paintings so I don’t have to carry them)

  • A piece of old sock to clean my brush and palette

  • A5 Cold Press Watercolor Sketchbook from Rock Your Notebook

  • 1 small binder clip

  • 3 plastic baggies of varying sizes

  • Gossamer Gear Mariposa backpack: The Mariposa is marketed as having 7 pockets. Well, I’ve found the 8th, haha! For easy access, I can stash my A5 sketchbook behind the removable back pad that doubles as a sit pad. Storing a larger sketchbook is key, so accessibly has swayed me to choose the Mariposa for this trip. If the tools are not easily accessible, no drawing or painting will happen. The Folio Palette, drawing tools, and watercolor block all fit into one hip belt pocket.

This kit weighs just under a pound at 14.6 oz (not including the backpack).

A grey-black backpack stuffed with supplies and art ziplocks pocking out sits on a dirt path lined with white wildflowers.

“I find adventure painting adds incredible perspective to my life. There is something so humbling about traveling, observing the world, and observing myself in it. It has taught me resilience, deep self-love, and curiosity and respect for all things around me,” she says. “Yes, I’m an artist, but when I’m in the field, I feel more like a good friend listening.”

“There is so much wonder, moments of fun, sadness, comedy, friendships, love, hate, joy, fear, horror, hope, and kindness. Painting and storytelling make me believe that all the challenges, struggles, and wins are worth experiencing and worth sharing. It makes us ask big questions. What does it mean to be human in this fast and ever-changing world? Life is fleeting, beautiful, and hard. I hope my work inspires people to live it.”

Thank you so much, Natalie for sharing your philosophical reflections on adventure painting and your dutifully-planned travel kit with us. We wish you the best of luck on your hike and would love to see what you create on the trail!

Follow Natalie’s adventure on her website and on Instagram!

An artist sites on a rock, dipping a paintbrush in a Pocket Palette.

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