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Transfer Drawing
Prepare Surface
Preserve White
Apply Paint
Manipulate Paint
Recover White
Digital Copy
Mat and Frame
Artist's Statement


 Carolyn Avera
Scott Brown
Janet Clay
Jean Christensen
Barbee Folenius
Julie Olsen


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As a general rule, buy the best quality you can afford.

Nothing is more discouraging to a beginner than trying to overcome the problems associated with cheap watercolor paper, brushes and paint.

Basic Beginner's Set

Here is a basic set of quality supplies for beginners:

  • 1 sheet of paper (Arches 140 lb cold press 22" x 30")
  • 1 round brush (daVinci Cosmotop-Spin #8)
  • 1 flat brush (3/4" aquarelle synthetic brush with clear acrylic handle and beveled end for scraping)
  • 4 tubes of paint (Winsor & Newton Cotman tube paints--Cadmium Yellow Pale Hue, Permanent Red, Ultramarine Blue, Viridian) or a small set of Cotman pan paints
  • 1 plastic palette (20 wells for paint and several mixing areas)
  • 1 support board (plastic corrugated sign board called "Corex" 10" x 13")


Here is a more complete set of brushes.

  • Flat: 3/4 inch Daniel Smith 28-50 aquarelle synthetic
  • Round: No. 8 da Vinci Cosmotop Spin synthetic
  • Detail: No. 2 Black Gold by Dynasty 206R (or No. 2 W&N University)
  • Rigger: No. 2 Daniel Smith 23-5 script synthetic
  • Wash Brush: daVinci Cosmotop-Spin synthetic wash series 5030

Read more about brushes >>


This is a list of all the artist grade paints we will be using in the class.

When you are ready to move up to artist grade paints, you might start with Daniel Smith's Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Rose, Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Green, and Quinacridone Burnt Orange.

Color Saturated Desaturated
yellow Hansa Yellow Medium Quinacridone Gold
Orange Pyrrol Orange Quinacridone Burnt Orange
Red Quinacridone Rose Perylene Maroon
Blue (warm, purple bias) Ultramarine Blue Indanthrone Blue
Blue (cool, green bias) Phthalo Blue GS Prussian Blue
Green Phthalo Green Sap Green

This is an excellent minimal palette, because it provides both highly saturated, pure pigment paints as well as desaturated paints equally spaced around the color wheel.

Dark grays can be mixed from just two paints on opposite sides of the color wheel.

Intense, vivid colors can be mixed from any two adjacent, saturated paints.

These paints, with the exception of Prussian Blue, are all available in two sets from Daniel Smith: Susie Short's Essential Set and Susie Short's Intermediate Set.

Artist grade tube watercolor paints from Daniel Smith, Winsor & Netwon, and Holbein are best. Student grade paints have less pigment, more fillers, and cheaper pigments.

Read more about paints >>


Folding plastic palette with 20 wells is a good place to start. Fill the 10 wells on one side with the saturated paints. Fill the 10 wells on the other half with the desaturated paints. Place them in the order of the color wheel: yellow, orange, red, warm blue, cool blue, and green. NOTE: When purchasing a plastic folding palette, make sure the palette lies flat on the table when open. If it does not lie flat, you will not be able to use the mixing areas effectively.

Read more about palettes >>

Support Board

Watercolor paper can be attached to a variety of supports: homasote, plexiglas, masonite, plastic corrugated sign board, plywood, gatorboard, and plywood.

The plastic corrugated sign board makes a sturdy, lightweight and inexpensive support. Known by the trade names Correx and Coroplast, this material is available from professional sign makers or sellers of yard signs such as OfficeMax. A piece cut to 14 x 21 inches will accommodate up to a quarter sheet of watercolor paper that measures 11 x 15 inches.

Read more about support boards >>

Painting Surfaces

Watercolor painting surfaces include watercolor paper, watercolor board, maza paper, Yupo synthetic paper and Ampersand's Claybord and Aquabord (formerly known as Claybord Textured).

NOTE: Aquabord is an archival, acid-free clay-coated wood panel that has the tooth to absorb watercolors like a fine paper. The Aquabord surface is very porous. You may see some air bubbles come up when you apply very wet washes of color. To prevent this, flush the surface first before you start painting. Take a flat brush and apply big washes of water across the surface. Allow all the air bubbles to release. When the surface reaches a damp stage, then start applying watercolor. Seal watercolors on Aquabord with several coats of Krylon UV Archival #1375 or #1378. Paintings on Aquabord can be framed or mounted without mat or glass.

Watercolor paper comes in a variety of sizes, textures, thicknesses, amounts of sizing and a range of quality.

Watercolor paper is available in full sheets (22 x 30 inches) as well as in blocks and pads in various sizes.

Surface textures include hot-pressed (very smooth), cold-pressed (lightly textured) and rough (heavily textured).

Weights range from 90 pound to 300 pound.

A good place to start is a full sheet of Arches 140 pound cold-pressed. This can then be torn or cut into any size you wish.

Read more about watercolor paper >>

Miscellaneous Tools and Materials

masking tape, hair dryer, large water container, paper towels, Winsor & Newton Masking Fluid (yellow tinted), #2 pencils, tracing paper, good eraser, spray bottle

Read more about miscellaneous tools and materials >>

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