Watercolor Skies & Clouds Supplies and Materials Info

Where Can I Buy That?

Please—Google it!  Retailers change their websites all the time; I can’t keep up.

There is no need to buy all of this. I’m listing what I use in the videos so I don’t have to answer the same questions over and over. The essentials are:
  • 100% cotton paper (other papers are typically not strong enough to tolerate all the water we will be using)
  • some way of stretching your paper (either stretcher bars or Gatorboard and a light-duty staple gun)
  • some sort of brush that carries lots of water (a hake is the least expensive option)
  • some sort of round brush in a decent size (10 or larger)
  • at least a few basic colors (you can always learn the techniques with whatever you already have and add more colors later)

Please keep in mind: this is not intended to be a “best of the best” list or even a list of recommendations. This is just what I happen to be using right now. Use your own judgment. 

Supplies for Stretching Paper:

  • medium-duty stretchers (or light-duty for quarter-sheet)—for a quarter sheet, you need a pair of 10″ and and a pair of 14″ stretcher bars; for half-sheet, you need 14″ and 21″ (any brand is fine)
  • heavy-duty stretchers for larger sheets (not necessary at all for this course)—I am using the Best Pro-Bar System in the videos, but I don’t recommend them. They’re very heavy and turned out to be overkill. Go with ordinary heavy-duty stretchers.
  • staple gun—light-duty, I use one that takes 1/4″ JT21 staples
  • Gatorboard— 16 x 23″ (up to half-sheet watercolor paper, 23 x 31″ (up to full sheet watercolor paper)  (Beware! I have found that some online sources are using this term for foamcore board that is just thick foamboard and does NOT have a rigid waterproof surface. I recommend buying from an art supply store. I know it seems expensive, but it will last practically forever, no matter how much you staple on it.)

Brushes:

  • hake (2- or 3-inch)—the 2″ one you may see in the videos appears to be no longer available;  I also have one from Creative Mark makes one that works well, but I’ve honestly never run across one that doesn’t work fine for wetting the paper. Creative Mark also has a set with a 1″, 2″ and 3″ brush for about a dollar more than the 3″ or 2″ alone (go figure). They seem to all shed hairs; not an issue for us, just let the wash dry and then brush them away. 
  • Silver Black Velvet Jumbo Round (Large)—This is the brush I prefer for large areas; I also have a Silver Black Velvet 1 1/2″ flat wash brush for times when I want a flat. 
  • Silver Black Velvet Oval Wash (1-inch)—This is the “cat-tongue” brush you see me using when I want a point, but also a lot of water-carrying capacity. 
  • The Princeton Neptune series is another great option instead of the Silver Black Velvet.
  • #12 and #16 Princeton SNAP Golden Taklon round—These relatively inexpensive synthetic brushes have become my go-to all around brushes. 
  • The brush I am using to mix washes is a very worn-out Richeson 9000 #10. Don’t go buy that just for mixing washes! I use it to save my good brushes from being scrubbed around in the corners of my palette. Use whatever worn-out or very inexpensive brush you happen to have.
  • 3/4″ flat brush (used for sailboat mast in Project 1) – Richeson series 7010 3/4″. I think this brush has been discontinued. If I had to replace it, I would probably go with the Princeton SNAP golden taklon 3/4″ stroke brush. 

Paper

  • Arches bright white 140-lb cold-pressed or rough  There is usually a pretty good discount if you buy 5, 10 or 25 sheets at a time. Pandemic update: Arches has been expensive recently, probably because of supply chain problems. Cheap Joe’s Kilimanjaro, Saunders Waterford, and Fabriano Artistico are some others that are sometimes cheaper and work well for these techniques. Or try any 100% cotton paper you already have.

It really makes a lot of sense to buy at least 5 sheets at a time, even if you are a beginner. You can paint on both sides, so if you tear it into quarter-sheets, that 40 paintings! Probably about the best investment you can make in your learning is to use really good paper.

A lot of people pay hundreds of dollars for classes, books and DVDs and then sabotage themselves by trying to paint on wood pulp papers (e.g. Strathmore 300 or 400, Canson Montval, “multimedia” papers, etc).

You can get by with inexpensive brushes (like the SNAP line), 3 or 4 colors of paint, and a plate from Goodwill for mixing colors, if you need to economize.  Do yourself a favor and buy 100% cotton paper. 

Paint/Pigments

I am listing the pigments I use in the projects more so that you can be aware of how your monitor might be showing colors differently from what I’m seeing; there is NO NEED to buy the same pigments I’m using! Don’t assume what you see on the video is an accurate representation of the color.

  • Project 1— M. Graham Azo Yellow, Holbein Bright Rose, M.Graham Phthalocyanine Blue, QoR Cobalt Blue.  I also used a tiny bit of M. Graham titanium white opaque watercolor to “sharpen” the horns of the crescent moon.
  • Project 2—Same as above, plus Ultramarine Blue and either Burnt Sienna or Burnt Umber. (These colors are very consistent from brand to brand, so any brand should work just fine.

If you happen to have student-grade paint around, go ahead use it if you can get strong enough color from it. It’s cheaper because it has less pigment, but otherwise, it handles like any other watercolor paint.

The main drawback to student-grade paint is that some colors (the expensive pigments) are rather weak, or cheaper pigments have been substituted. So it’s harder to mix strong, vibrant color. But, you can just save it for things where you want your washes to be rather pale. If you are struggling to get dark darks, consider adding professional versions of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna. That should be enough for getting the darker colors you need in this course.

Miscellaneous

  • Palettes—My studio palette is a ceramic Stephen Quiller palette. Pricey and heavy and NOT to cart back and forth, but I love ceramic to work on.  My workshop/travel palette is a Cheap Joe’s Workhorse Palette. It’s a sturdy, high-impact plastic (many plastic palettes are a brittle plastic that is easily cracked in transport, especially the covers). And, it has a gasket around the lid to prevent drips, and an extra mixing tray that fits inside the lid for lots of mixing surfaces. For a lot of mixing area in a small space, I use the Mijello Fusion Palette, a small folding palette that also has a gasket seal and an extra mixing tray in the lid. I have the 18-well version, but there are a couple of larger ones, too. (Probably won’t see me use it in the Skies & Clouds videos, but I like it for travel sketching and classes. It is the palette I’m using in the Watercolor Jumpstart videos.)
  • Ox Gall—I’m using QoR Synthetic Ox Gall (less stinky), but any brand works fine. (Not necessary; just sometimes helps to even out washes. Try first without; your paint may already contain enough.)
  • Masking Fluid—I switched to Incredible White Mask because of problems I was having with all colored masking fluids staining some papers. If you tint it with a color that is easy to lift–e.g. cobalt blue–you won’t have to worry about staining. I have used all of the following with no problems on Arches paper: Pebeo Drawing Gum, Blick Liquid Frisket, Utrecht Masking Fluid, Fineline Masque Pens, Holbein Masking Fluid. (Again, not required unless you want to add moon or stars.)
  • Fineline Masking Fluid Pen—This is the masking fluid “pen” you see me using in the video on masking the crescent moon. (I am no longer using this; nothing wrong with it, just unnecessary.)
  • Mask Pickup (a.k.a. Rubber Cement Pickup)—the thing that looks like an eraser that you may see me using to remove dried masking fluid after painting over it; some retailers are starting to call it a masking fluid “eraser”, but it’s actually a block of latex (and does not work as an eraser)
  • Plastic needlepoint canvas—pretty much any works; Cheap Joe’s has spatter screens made of window screen material as an alternative
  • covered custard cups—this is what I’m using in the videos to mix washes; I like them better than jars because I can get larger brushes into them easily.
  • puppy training pads—I buy Extra-Large ones to catch drips. They have a gel layer that traps liquids, so they can absorb quite a bit before any liquid remains on the surface. When one gets saturated, I hang it up to dry and then reuse it. I only throw away about 1 per month, so although they are “disposable”, I get a lot of use out of each one. A towel would work, too; you’ll just probably have to change it more often.
  • studio towels—I only use paper towels when I’m lifting color (Viva, because they don’t have an imprinted pattern); otherwise, I use (and re-use and re-use) inexpensive terry towels sold in the paint or cleaning department of home improvement stores. They absorb so much more than a paper towel! They get stained, but who cares?