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Basic Watercolor Painting: Getting Started with Supplies

I’ve been watercolor painting on a regular basis for the past year and a half. I had some old supplies from college but have had to freshen my supplies and add new paints and brushes. Below is a list of items I have in my ArtBin and you can find another post about the paint colors I use:

  1. Palette – I started by using paper plates – one for each painting but then it got out of hand as I had 5-6 paintings going at once. Then I purchased “The Watercolorist’s Answer Book, edited by Gina Rath and tip #34 suggested using a butcher tray palette so I purchased one and it’s worked great. I’ve only had to reload my paint once over the past 1.5 years.
  2. Brushes – the brushes I use the most are a large brush for applying water (even a hardware store paintbrush works), a large round brush (Princeton #16 round I’ve had since college), two angle brushes work well for skies and ocean – 3/4 inch and 1/2 inch (Silver Brush 6806S-034 Crystal Golden Synthetic Filament Short Handle Brush with Brown Tip and Nickel Plated Brass Ferrules, Angle, 3/4-Inch), and some small brushes for fine detail or fur and feathers, 0 or 1 round. I also like this one for hair or grass – Princeton Artist Brush Neptune, Brushes for Watercolor Series 4750, Script Synthetic Squirrel, Size 1.
  3. Paint – Some of my paint is almost 20 years old but I’ve updated my stock with Winsor & Newton Cotman water colors 12 tube set and then individual tubes as needed. I find that even a 5ml or 8ml tube will last several years. I’ve added some Daniel Smith Luminescent watercolors as well – Iridescent Moonstone and Iridescent Antique Copper to provide a fun and unique look. I do also have a tube of white gouache paint that I’ve only used once or twice on ocean waves.
  4. Paper – I mostly use ReadyCut Strathmore 140 lb cold press paper in 8×10 and 5×7 but have been branching out into larger sizes and block painting. I typically order a few of each size and I am set for the year, depending on how much I will be painting or any orders I’m working on.
  5. Boards – I use clipboards or sketchboards. I started out using cardboard and cutting out what I needed from my Amazon boxes!
  6. Phone/tablet and stand – I usually use images saved on my phone as a reference for painting but sometimes need a large image so use my iPad. I did purchase a gooseneck tablet holder but don’t use it too often.
  7. Painter’s tape – I use good old Scotch blue painter’s tape in .7 inch width to tape down my paper to my boards. It’s hard to find in that narrow width but it works the best for me.
  8. Jar/Tupperware for water
  9. Paper towels or washcloth
  10. Scanner – I have the Epson Perfection V600 Photos and scan each painting I finish in two sizes (just to be sure I guess). I use these images for prints and cards.
  11. Masking fluid – if you want to keep your white areas white when doing a colorful background liquid frisket can be handy. I have a specific cheap brush I use for applying it so that I don’t ruin my good brushes.
  12. White gel pen – works well for adding snow capped trees or building or whiskers.
  13. #2 pencil and eraser
  14. Micron pens – I use these for pen drawings or for adding in detail such as black whiskers.
  15. Portable Painter – I was gifted a pocket size portable painter for traveling and I’ve used it a few times. It comes with a paint brush, palette and a place for water.
  16. Transfer Paper – if you do want to trace an image from reference you might need transfer paper.
  17. Salt – adding salt to wet paint can add some fun, snowflake like patterns – make sure your paper is loaded with wet paint and then add the salt sparingly or go crazy and see what happens.

Where do I purchase my supplies? Mostly I do find some specific items at my local art supply store as well as my frames. Amazon has everything just about and sometimes has good sales so watch for those. Some artists have specific stores on Amazon where you can find the brushes and supplies they use. Happy shopping!

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