Art Supplies Quick Reference List


I made this page mostly for myself. I use it so I remember what I use or where I bought it. I will send this info when people ask me these questions. Enjoy.

Paper White Pens Spritz Bottles
Brushes Covered Palettes Painting Boards
  Drawing Charcoal Gray Cards
Paint
  Mat Boards & Framing
     


Paper
Your watercolor paper must be 100% cotton rag. I have been using Bright White, though there is not much difference between bright and natural. I like cold press 140# (300gsm). Many portrait artists use 300# Hot Press; not me, yet. I like the texture I get with cold press paper. Here are my paper reviews…

Kilimanjaro from Cheap Joes. I am liking this paper! Added to the quality of the paper, I like the convenience of the pads. Arches, I have to buy 10 sheets and break them down as needed. Then they are 11”×15”. I like to paint to a 10.5×13.5 mat. That makes it pretty tight. I could go bigger and odd ball sizes, but portraits work well in 11×14″. I like and use both the Kilimanjaro 10×12 and 12×16 pads. They travel well! They are a fair value.
Arches. It’s good classic paper. It was bought out by Canson several years ago (you will see that on the label when you buy 10 sheet bags.) I have heard and read that the quality of the sizing has diminished. I still have bulk paper I bought several years ago. The pads are ridiculously priced – I used to buy them from Michael’s when they had 40% off coupons!
Saunders paper. This paper is OK if I had to use it. I probably won’t buy it anymore. I have not yet seen a good deal, or noticeable difference to make me leave Arches or Kilimanjaro.
Stonehenge Watercolor Paper. I tried the 300# paper. I don’t like this at all. The paint seems to bead up on the surface, and if you put any tape or masking on it, it will rip the surface. If someone gave me a piece I would try the 140#, but I don’t see a reason to buy it.
Fabriano Artistico Watercolor Paper. 140# Cold press. I don’t like it at all! Paint soaks in too fast, I can’t float paint like I want for washes. I can’t lift like I want, and it is too soft for my style of painting.

Cheapjoes prices as of 15 Sep 22, egads! This a sale price! Blocks are sealed on 4 sides, pads on one side.
20 sheets Kilimanjaro Original Bright White Watercolor Block, 140 lb., 10″ x 14″ KMB11014 $31.49 (was $26.09)  I like Kilimanjaro paper. It is about the same as Arches.
20 sheets Kilimanjaro Original Bright White Watercolor Block, 140 lb., 12″ x 16″ KMB11216 $35.49 (was $32.99)
20 sheets Kilimanjaro Original Bright White Watercolor Pad, 140 lb., 11″ x 14″ KMPD11114 $31.19
10 sheets Kilimanjaro Original Bright White Watercolor Pad, 300 lb., 11″ x 14″ KMPD31114 $35.69 (was $31.79)
Canson XL Mix Media Pad, 11″ x 14″ 702-2421 $17.49 ($15.29) I like this for sketching and light watercolor washes. It is made from cellulose, it is not watercolor paper!

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 Brushes See my article on Brushes
Silver Brush Black Velvet Series. These brushes are a blend of squirrel and nylon. I regularly use a #4 round for soft blending details, Silver Brush Black Velvet Series 3007 Script, Size 4 SB3007-4 $7.79.  I also use the #10 and #16 rounds.  I have a jumbo round medium and an oval wash which I seldom use.

Raphael Kolinsky Sable brush 8404, #14 – around $200+! I want to buy a #12 or #10, next time. This is the industry standard, but it is really not functional for the way I paint. I don’t use mine!

Escoda Perla White Toray Synthetic Series 1430, # 6 $7.00. Used for small detail and detailed lifting. I use this on every painting.

Robert Simmons 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2″ Angle Shader, short handle, Sapphire brushes: Used for lifting, it is a very helpful tool. I use one of these in every painting.

Loew Cornell 7020 (Manufacture discontinued). I have Loew Cornell 7020 (pointed series) for detail, I understand the KingArt are just as good. I have the LC 7020 #6, #10, #14. Used only for details, not lifting. Very pointed, almost to a fault. (You don’t need a #14)

KINGART looks to be a substitute for Loew Cornell.
KINGART Original Gold 9020 Series, Golden Taklon Ultra Max Round (Pointer for detail) #14 ~$14.  Kingartco.com They have two types of tips. Comparable to Loew Cornell 7020 Ultra Round. The max round shape is longer and leaner compared to a standard round 9000 shape brush.

KINGART Original Gold 9000 Series, Golden Taklon Round (rounder tip for moppy strokes) #14 ~$11 Comparable to Loew Cornell 7000 Ultra Round. This one is less pointed as the 9020 Note both the KINGART 9020 and 9000 have a gold band!! Taklon is the name of the bristles.

Mimik. (These brushes are “animal friendly” I have not used these but I understand they are good and inexpensive.) Item #87238 Mimik Synthetic Squirrel Watercolor Brush Round #10 ~$7,   #12 ~$8. Item #87247 Mimik Synthetic Squirrel Watercolor Brush Washmate Brush 1-1/2” wide ~$12. A brush set- Item #: 87257 Mimik Synthetic Squirrel Watercolor Brushes Value Set of 8 ~$25. http://www.jerrysartarama.com

Pentel Aquash Water Brush Round, Large (not the medium if you can choose). I have started using this regularly when I paint. If you want to apply a clean wash or to soften an edge with clean water, just pick up and use this brush/tool.

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Watercolor Paint
See my article on Portrait Washes & Flesh Colors & Palette. I use Winsor Newton, Daniel Smith, and Holbein. Only buy professional paint if you are serious. Student grade paints have more fillers. Those who are just curious may wish to use student grade paints such as Grumbacher or Cotman brands which are MUCH cheaper. Note: If paint looks dull and chalky on your palette, IT WILL LOOK DULL ON YOUR PAPER!

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White Pens and Pencils
These pens and pencils are not for a “traditional” watercolor painter as they are opaque.
 – A very nice opaque white pen for adding white highlights to plein air sketches is the Uni-ball Signo Broad UM-153 Gel Pen – White Ink. It is part of my travel kit. They are sold in most art stores for about $3.
 – This water soluble pencil could be used to add a glint to an eye or jewelry rather than using opaque white paint.  CaranD’Ache Museum Aquarelle Pencil – White, $4.40.  Blick is one place that sells them. Not common in art stores. (pronounced Kaa.raan daash not Koran or Karen)

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Palette, Covered
Original John Pike Palette – 15”x10-1/2”, 20 paint wells ~$28
Frank Webb Watercolor Palette, 25 wells “dam-free” ~$20
Loew Cornell 950B 8.375″ x 10″ Folding Watercolor Palette with 12 paint wells (they say 17 includs mixing spaces). ~$4.
Jack Richeson Folding Watercolor Palette Tray 9″ X 9 1/2″ opened up. ~$7

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Spritzer bottles with a fine mist available at department stores for about $2.

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Painting Board. What works nice are political yard signs. Light and free! You can cut them to size with a knife but table saw is better. I wrap the edges with white duct tape to cover the rough edge and it covers the lettering on the edge of the sign. Use Bulldog clips or tape to hole your paper. I use Blu-Tack poster tack to hold my paper to the surface. See erasers below.
Full yard sign is 24″x18″. To get 1/2″ space on edges, cut to 23×16 for 1/2 sheet; 12×16 for 1/4 sheet. Full 8’x10′ melamine sheets can be cut into 6 full sheet size boards. Home Depot will make 3 cuts for free so you can get them home. Same dimension cuts as above for 1/2 and 1/4 sheets.

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Drawing Charcoal and Conté 
General’s Charcoal Pencils, 2B Medium, Pkg. of 12 GPC557-2B $11.79
General’s Charcoal Pencils, 4B Soft, Pkg. of 12 GPC557-4B $11.79
General’s Charcoal Pencils, 6B Soft. These are really soft, probably too soft for life drawing.
I like Generals Charcoal rectangular jumbo Sticks, #960-4B Medium, box of 6, ~$7 box.  I provide them in my drawing classes. I score the middle and break in half. Then I will rub the long edge on medium sandpaper to create a gentle rocker shape so you don’t get a hard edge when drawing on the side.
If you like the classic sanguine red color I love the Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencil – Caput Mortuum Red SW1400/645. They come indiv and in boxes of 12. DickBlick sells them. Very smooth and wonderful. ~1.80 ea
I don’t like the sanquine Conté à Paris brand Sketching pencils or sticks. They are scratchy, like there is some grit in the mix! Drives me crazy. Don’t buy Michaels Conté like sticks either. They call them crayons or pastel. They are hard and scratchy, waste of money.

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Erasers Read my article on erasers
Moo Professional Eraser, 2 per pack M300DB $3.99
Blu Tack by Bostik. BEST kneaded eraser and all purpose poster tack. Not readily available in the US. Buy several online and give it to your friends! (Make no substitutions!)

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Gray Card Read my article on Photo Gray Cards
Golden Heavy Body Acrylic, Neutral Gray N6, 5 oz. G1446-5 $13.64  This is paint to use for a gray reference.
Also 18% Gray Card. Sold at every photo store. I cut them into little squares and put in my camera bags. You only need a little piece to reference and make color adjustments.

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Mat Boards and Framing
Matting and framing is the biggest issue I have with painting with watercolor. It always costs $80 – $120 or more to have it professionally framed… Oil and Acrylic painters can just paint the edges of the stretcher, add a wire and be done. It’s a Gallery Wrapped painting. You give someone a nice watercolor portrait you painted and have to say, “Oh by the way, it will cost you $100 buck to frame this “gift” I gave you.
 – You can stretch WC paper on a wooden frame and paint it! It works great! See my article on stretching-watercolor-paper-on-frames.
 – MatboardPlus.com is one place a friend buys mats and bags. She always paints to standard mats and frames. Why not?? Mark your paper to those dimensions FIRST! Then compose and paint.
 – AmericanFrame.com is another place I have used. Good prices, good quality. You can get custom sizes not stuck to standard.
 – For Giclée prints see this article of mine.  (to get that é, press Alt 130, to get © it is alt 0169)

 Updated: Mar 2022 edits from Kate R,  Dec 2021, added Mimik brushes and other updates, Created: 31 Dec 2020