Supplies Guide

This is a roundup of the watercolor supplies I’m using now. 

Paint

Brands: My favorite artist-grade watercolor paint brands are Da Vinci, Holbein, Winsor & Newton, and Daniel Smith. See: What’s the best artist-grade paint brand for beginners?

Colors: What specific colors you need is so subjective, and my personal faves are always changing, but here’s the basic formula I use when building a new watercolor palette (roughly in order of importance):

  • Dark blue
  • Yellow
  • Magenta
  • Cyan
  • Green
  • Earth orange
  • Gold or earth yellow
  • Violet or blue violet
  • Scarlet

See also: 

Paper

  • Loose paper: Arches or Saunders Waterford. I especially like Saunders’ High White (extra white paper looks extra luminous). Typically 140lb/300gsm (I also really like heavier, 300lb/640 gsm paper, but it’s expensive and doesn’t usually seem worth it.) Typically cold press, but I also like rough press for more abstract landscapes and hot press for mixed media with ink. I buy loose sheets as small as I can get them (usually a quarter sheet) and cut them up, or I work on a block.
  • Travel sketchbook: Moleskine Watercolor Album
  • Practice: Canson XL

See also: Watercolor Paper 101

Palettes

  • Storage box for plein air/travel: Art Toolkit Folio Palette
  • Ceramic mixing palette, with wells: Sugarhouse Travel Palette with easy-to-clean glossy finish (I use two travel palettes instead of one standard because I find the smaller sizes more flexible to arrange, clean, and store)
  • Ceramic mixing palette, without wells: Sylvan Minimal Palette #2

See also: Which watercolor palette should I choose?

Brushes

  • Everyday: Rosemary 401 Sable Blend round, size 4 and 8
  • Large wash: Isabey 5235 Petit Gris oval, size 4

See also: Watercolor Brushes 101

Drawing Supplies

  • Pencil: a 2mm lead holder
  • Eraser: a soft kneadable eraser
  • Waterproof liner: Sakura Micron or Deleter Neopiko-Line-3. I use size 01 for travel sketchbook or 05 for everyday.
  • Waterproof brush pen: Zebra Zensations or Tombow Fudenosuke

See also: Which drawing pens are the most waterproof?

Other Supplies

  • Brush cleaning cloths: At home I use old washcloths or paper towels; in my plein air kit, I keep reusable painting towels from Etsy sellers such as ArrayedInGrace or HerArtsAndCrafts, or Hamamonyo Gauze Pile Handkerchiefs.
  • Brush rest: Sylvan Clayworks Wiggle Brush Rest works well for me. I like that it’s big enough to felt hefty and provide a good resting place for the brushes. Tiny brush rests are cute, but I never used them. 
  • Clipboards: To work on multiple pieces at once, I like to tape my paper to a clipboard. I use basic plastic clipboards from a big box office supply store. I find plastic ones easier to wipe clean than particle board. The clip part doesn’t matter because I have to tape them down on all sides anyway; any portable hard surface you don’t mind taping/dirtying will work. If you work larger than 8.5×11, consider drawing boards from an art supply store.
  • A credit card is useful for multiple purposes (physically, I mean, not just its ability to buy art supplies). It can be used to detach paper from a watercolor block, or to make marks in paint. I keep an old transit card in my art kit for the purpose. 
  • Paper cutter: I use Cheap Joe’s Handheld Paper Cutter to cut large sheets of watercolor paper into the smaller sizes that I like to paint on. A large swing-arm cutter would be more effective, but I like this glorified letter opener because it’s small, easy to store, and can handle any size of paper.
  • Plein air/travel carrying case & accessories: Art Toolkit (my most used accessories are the water brush and mini spray mister; the syringe is also useful for filling the water brush from a water bottle)
  • Tape: Holbein Soft Tape
  • Water cups: I like mason jars because they’re see-through (so you can see how dirty your water is) and hefty enough not to tip over. 

See also: