Please remember that the materials listed are my current personal preference and this changes often as I try new materials. If you are using artist-quality materials, it doesn’t really matter what brand, size and style you use, as it does that you spend time building your skills. There is no magic brush that can give you an advantage over many hours of experience.
a palette: I like a simple plastic palette with many wells and several mixing areas, like this one from Reeves.
Luxury palette: I use a 64 well, 18 inch diameter palette from Robax.com
A Note on Paper: I cannot stress enough the importance of artist quality watercolor paper. If you are using cheap paper, your washes will not have the responsiveness and flow that you see in my paintings. Not only that, but you will learn bad habits, working “around” the limitations of cheap paper, and when you switch to great paper for your “important” paintings, you will struggle again trying to adapt your “bad paper” habits to fit the flow & absorbency of artist-quality rag paper. If you buy one expensive supply, let it be your paper, and remember, you can still enjoy a great painting session and improve your mental health for less than the cost of a cup of Starbucks.
One pointed round brush is really all you need. I like synthetic as they are more affordable and can be quickly replaced when the point wears down.
For fun: Cheap Joe's Scroggy's Loose Goose Dagger Striper #1
Paint & Choosing Colours
I use only artist-quality tube paint, which I squeeze into my palette and allow to dry for a firmer consistency and less paint waste.
Start with no more than 10 colours and really get to know them before adding new hues. A basic palette should include a warm and cool version of each primary colour; you can mix almost any colour with this in your palette.
White and black paint is not necessary. White is created by letting the white of the paper show through, while black absorbs light and appears “dead” in watercolour. You can mix black by combining two complementary dark-value colours, like green and red.
Brands & Colours:
Brands I Use:
There are many great brands of artist-quality watercolour. Here are a few of the brands I use. I always purchase tube paint as it's more affordable than pans.
Daniel Smith, QoR Modern Watercolor, Winsor & Newton, Schmincke, Sennelier
Start with Basic Colours:
A warm red (Perylene Red, Pyrrol Red)
A cool red (Alizarin Crimson, Quinacridone Magenta)
A cool blue (Phthalo Blue, Cinereous Blue)
A warm blue (Cobalt or Ultramarine)
A warm yellow (Nickel Azo Yellow, Raw Sienna, Quinacridone Gold)
A cool yellow (Hansa Yellow Light)
Optional Additional Colours:
Winsor (Dioxazine) Violet
- Paper towel or clean rags for blotting a wet brush or lifting paint.
- Masking tape
- Painting Boards – tape watercolor paper on 4 sides to a board so you can move the board and change angle for better flow when you paint. I like cor-plast boards (plastic sign material) from the hardware store.
- Salt to sprinkle on wet washes for texture
- Cling Wrap – lay on a wet wash for texture
- Magic Eraser – lifting out almost to white paper (for emergencies)
- 2 water containers – one for cleaning the brush, then rinsing in the second for perfectly clean paint & washes
Notice I didn’t list masking fluid. I never use it as I prefer planning my white areas for a more natural look.
When you order using the links on this page, I receive a small commission. Thank you!
I order from several art suppliers in Western Canada:
Opus Framing & Art Supplies (Vancouver, BC)
Delta Art & Drafting (Edmonton, Alberta)
The Paint Spot (Edmonton, Alberta)
Studio Six (Markham, ON)
Above Ground Art Supplies (Toronto, ON)