Watercolor Skies & Clouds Supplies and Materials Info

I will add links to sources for supplies as time permits, and as more projects are added to the workshop. (I only add links to suppliers that I have ordered from myself and had good experiences with.)

Disclaimer: For some suppliers, I receive a small referral fee when you buy supplies starting from one of these links.  It works for anything you buy during that shopping session, so if you are finding this website useful, by all means, start here when you need to restock your studio!  It costs you nothing, and you’ll be helping a fellow artist. 🙂

Also, this is not some kind of “best of the best” list. This is just what I happen to be happily using in my studio right now. Use your own judgment. 

Supplies for Stretching Paper:

  • medium-duty stretchers (for quarter-sheet, you need 10″ and 14″; for half-sheet, you need 14″ and 21″) — I am using Gallery Pro
  • heavy-duty stretchers (not necessary at all for this course)—I am using the Best Pro-Bar System (you need corner kits, too!):   14″,  21″, 29″
  • staple gun—light-duty, like this one or something similar
  • staples—I use 1/4″ JT21 staples (which fit the above staple gun); use what fits your staple gun
  • 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 I have is no longer available;  I also have a 3″ Creative Mark hake (here’s the 2″ version) 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. T
  • 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. 
  • #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

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). Avoid, anything sold in a gummed pad or spiral-bound, even for “practice” (would you go to the driving range with your kids’ plastic Fisher-Price clubs because “it’s just for practice”?)

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 really good paper —at least, if you aspire to smooth, even washes and lovely soft edges. 

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.

If you happen to have student-grade paint around, go ahead use it. It’s cheaper because it has less pigment (so it’s not really cheaper in the long run), 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.

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
  • Masking Fluid—I switched to Incredible White Mask because of problems I was having with all colored masking fluids staining Fabriano Artistico (one of the reasons I’m no longer using that paper); 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
  • Fineline Masking Fluid Pen—This is the masking fluid “pen” you see me using in the video on masking the crescent moon.
  • 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 these spatter screens 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 these 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; otherwise, I use (and re-use and re-use) inexpensive terry towels like these. They absorb so much more than a paper towel! They get stained, but who cares?