paintbrushes with a green background

Materials & Supplies

1 Paper

Arches Cold Press Bright 300lb paper.  It’s heavy, absorbs a lot of water without buckling, and can take a lot of scrubbing.  

2 Drawing & masking tools

I used a Papermate mechanical pencil and Tombow eraser to draw out my painting in great detail.  The eraser is very thin, letting me remove lines without marring the paper.  

I use Winsor & Newton masking fluid, applied with a Colour Shaper tool, a squeeze bottle with a narrow tip, or an old paintbrush for masking. I’m not a master splattered, so I have mixed results with toothbrushes.

3 Brushes

I love paintbrushes and probably have over 100 on my table. My current brushes of choice are Princeton Velvetouch 3950 (set of four, exclusive to Dick Blick). They are so precise and hold a lot of water.  I also use Silver Black Velvet brushes in #4, #6, and #8, plus a rigger. They hold tons of water and are very precise. I use several Winsor & Newton 1/2″ and 1” flat sable brushes for my skies and water washes.  

4 Paint

I used to paint exclusively with Winsor & Newton Artist Watercolors, but I’m slowly introducing Daniel Smith colors. I stick to a fairly limited palette on a given painting, but I probably have three variations of red, blue, green, and yellow, plus Paynes Gray, Burnt Sienna, and Raw Umber on my palette.  White gouache for emergencies, but I try to rely on the paper for whites.

5 Paper Support

I use Gatorboard to stretch 1/2 sheet or full sheet watercolors.  It’s so light and very stable. Tip: use heavy packing tape on the edges so they are smooth and masking tape comes off easily.

For smaller paintings, I make my own paper supports using a piece of plexi (the plastic sheet that comes in frames) and two pieces of dense Dollar Tree foam board.  Put the foam together, lay the styrene on top, and tape it together with clear packing tape. It’s lightweight but firm, so it’s really easy to hold on your lap.

When I am ready to paint, I just affix my paper to the support with Scotch #2020 Construction Grade masking tape. It really holds your paper to the board but releases well because of the packing tape layer. I use a lot of water, but I don’t have any issues with buckling when I do it this way.  My attempts at soaking and stapling paper to a board have not been successful.  Tip: Pressing your painting at the end of each painting session should keep the paper from buckling. 

5 Palette

I use a round Stephen Quiller palette that is marvelous!  It has a lot of wells arranged in a circle. The mixing area is huge, so I never run out of room. It comes in both plastic and ceramic. I prefer the plastic because it has more wells.

Before painting, I spray the paints with water to rehydrate them. When I’m finished for the day, I will leave a very wet paper towel in the center area to keep the paints from drying out completely. Then, when I’m ready to resume painting, I use that damp towel to wipe my mixing area clean.

6 Reference photos

I prefer to use my own reference photos because I like to paint places I know and love, and it makes the painting more personal.  I basically composed the painting with the camera.  My current camera is a Nikon D5600.


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