Materials and Supplies
Every artist has their favorite brushes, paper, and paints. I encourage you to research and experiment until you find what works best for you. Over time, I have developed a list of preferred materials, and hope this information will serve as a guide as you acquire what works best for your needs. This list will be updated as I discover new materials and supplies.
- I'm an affiliate of Blick art Materials and receive a small commission when you click any of these links. Thank you!
- THIS LINK will take you to a huge list of additional sources for purchasing materials.
- Would you like to make prints of your paintings? I use iPrintfromhome to create high-quality giclee prints from your own digital files. My favorite paper is Somerset Velvet. When you create an account at iPrintfromHome.com, I'd love it if you would enter my name, Rebecca Rhodes, in the "Referred by" entry box. Thank you!
Are you New to Watercolor?
This link will take you to a free lesson listing simple materials you can use to get started. GO TO THE LIST FOR BEGINNERS
Materials Used in this Online School - Full List with Links and Information
We use Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolor Paints. The small, 5 ml tubes last a long time.
Standard Colors Used Most Often in our Courses - click the links below to purchase
The two most often used paints are French Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna. These colors are mixed together to create browns, greys, and blacks.
- Yellow Ochre
- Winsor Lemon – used underneath browns, especially in eyes; feel free to experiment with others yellow that you have on hand.
- Permanent Rose – Mixed with Yellow Ochre creates a pinkish hue for noses and around eyes; feel free to experiment with other pinks/reds that you have on hand.
- If you wish to create white hairs and whiskers, we use Permanent White Gouache. I prefer the gouache, which is a bit thicker, but the titanium white watercolor paint can also be used.
Additional colors used in some courses - it's not necessary to purchase all of these colors.
- Burnt Umber – you can use this instead of Burnt Sienna
- Payne’s Gray – used for brown subjects
- Cobalt Blue
- Indian Yellow
- New Gamboge
- Permanent Sap Green
- Scarlet Lake - a warm red
- Winsor Blue (Green Shade)
If you don't have some of these colors, feel free to substitute others. I encourage you to experiment - it's all about what you wish to achieve in your paintings and you can do a lot with the standard colors.
I use Arches Natural White 140 lb. watercolor paper for all courses in the school, mostly Cold Press, although some courses use Hot Press. You can purchase the paper in blocks, single large sheets that you can cut to size, and sometimes in packs of sheets.
- Cold Press paper has a slightly textured surface. - I use it for 8 x 10 inch and larger paintings. Hot Press paper has a smooth surface, great for smaller works or paintings that require much detail.
- Each course in the school provides a materials list that indicates whether Cold Press or Hot Press is used.
Brushes - Recommendations
You really only need three brushes: One for creating fur and details, another for covering larger areas, and a brush for mixing your color on the palette.
Brush #1: Pointed Round Brush for Details and Fur
A pointed round brush has a narrow, pointed tip for creating details and thin, fine hairs and fur. The two brushes listed below are used in the lessons in our online school. They are both sturdy enough to handle the roughness of Cold Press paper while retaining a nice, fine point. They are affordable, so I don’t mind purchasing another when the point does wear down.
- Michael Klein Synthetic Pointed Round Brush, size 2, by Rosemary & Co. This brush is made in the U.K. You will see it in some of these tutorials and in the more recent courses in the online school. Note: I'm not an affiliate of Rosemary & Co. I just love this brush.
- Raphael Golden Kaerell Synthetic Pointed Round Brush, size 0 This brush is used in many courses in the school, and in some of these tutorials. It's a tough little brush, with a fine, pointed tip for creating details and fur, and can be purchased in the U.S. Note: when you click the link, it will take you to the correct brush, but the photo might not be accurate. If it says "Raphael Golden Kaerell Brush - Pointed Round, Short Handle, Size 0" you are good to go.
Many members of the school use and love the Michael Klein and Raphael, but there are many pointed round brushes that would work well in our courses. Here are additional brushes recommended by members of our online school for creating fur and small details. I've used and like all of them, and encourage you to experiment until you find a brush that best fits your needs:
- Lowe-Cornell Ultra Round Brush, size 2 or 4
- Princeton Velvetouch Long Round Brush, series 3950 size 2, 4, or 6
- Silver Black Velvet round brush, size 2
- Billy Showell Synthetic Pointed Round brush, size 2 or 4
Brush #2: Medium to large sized round brush for covering larger areas with color or water
A general-purpose round watercolor brush will be fine - any that you have on hand. You will see a number of different brushes in these lessons. I prefer a soft brush that holds a larger amount of water. Here are brushes that you will see in these lessons and in the online school. I encourage you to experiment and use what works best for you.
- Raphael Kaerell Pointed Round Brush Size 3: Synthetic brush; head is approx. 1/2 inch in length, not as soft as the other two brushes.
- Billy Showell Synthetic Pointed Round Brush, Size 6: Head is approx. 1 inch in length; this is presently my favorite medium-sized brush, nice and soft, made in the U.K.
- Ultrecht Synthetic Sablette Round Brush, Size 7: Head is approx. 3/4 inch in length; tip is not quite as pointed, but a soft brush, good for glazing and softening edges.
There many large brushes that work well, and I encourage you to use what you prefer.
Brush #3: This is optional. It’s a good idea to use a different brush - one that is cheap and/or old - for mixing paints so you can save your good brushes for painting. I’ve used same old synthetic round brush for years, simply because it came as a free gift with another order of art supplies, and is tough enough to mix the paints. Feel free to use what you have on hand.
Preparing the Paper for Painting
To prepare for painting, I soak the paper for 5 to 10 minutes in water, staple the edges of the paper to Gatorfoam Board, and allow to dry completely before beginning the painting.
- Gatorfoam is a lightweight, rigid display board that has a dense, firm core and a water resistant surface. I use the 1/2 inch thickness. The board comes in different sizes. I have the 16" x 23" - my paintings are usually no larger than this.
Tracing Paper: I use Canson Artist Series Tracing Paper Pads to create my initial drawing.
Sturdy Container for Water - I use a large plastic container so the water does not have to be changed often.
Paper Towels - for cleaning brushes, blotting, and cleaning up
For cleaning and wiping brushes, you could use a variety of items.
- Some artists wipe their brushes on a roll of paper towels
- Others use folded paper towels
- Presently, I use a kitchen towel – sometimes called a tea towel. Folded to a convenient size, it absorbs water from the brush, and dries quickly. Use whatever is convenient for you.
I lay the brushes on the towel so the tips hang over and won’t bend into weird shapes when drying.
I use a tube from an old pen to pick up clean water and wake up color that has dried on the palette. You could add water with a brush, and I’ve seen artists use a squirt bottle – whatever works best for you, as long as the water is clean.
My set up looks like this.
Plastic container for water, brushes on the folded hand towel, paper towels nearby for blotting and cleaning up. I’m right handed, so these items are on the right, and my computer screen to view the reference photo is on the left.
I hope this information is helpful to you as you choose materials that work best for your needs.
THIS LINK will take you to a huge list of additional sources for purchasing materials.
If you have any questions, contact me, Rebecca Rhodes at [email protected] I am happy to assist!