Art Supplies Quick Reference List

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 good value, too.
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 with a 40% off coupon!
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! Paint soaks in too fast, I can’t float paint like I want. I can’t lift like I want, and it is too soft for my style of painting.

Kilimanjaro Original Bright White Watercolor Block, 140 lb., 10″ x 14″ KMB11014 $26.09 $20.79  I like Kilimanjaro paper. It is about the same as Arches.
Kilimanjaro Original Bright White Watercolor Block, 140 lb., 12″ x 16″ KMB11216 $32.99 $27.19
Kilimanjaro Original Bright White Watercolor Pad, 300 lb., 11″ x 14″ KMPD31114 $31.79
Canson XL Mix Media Pad, 11″ x 14″ 702-2421 $15.29 I like this for sketching and light watercolor washes. It is made from cellulose, it is not watercolor paper!

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. 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 (Rrounder 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.

Pentel Aquash Water Brush Round, Large (not the medium). 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.

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!

White Pens and Pencils
These pens and pencils are not for a traditionalist 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)

Palette, Covered
Original John Pike Palette – 15”x10-1/2”, 20 paint wells ~$28
Frank Webb Watercolor Palette, 25 wells “dam-free” ~$20
Folding Watercolor Palette with 10-20 paint wells. ~$4.

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

Painting Board. What works nice are political yard signs. You can cut them to size with a knife; in half is a good size. I wrap mine 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. I use Blu-Tack poster tack to hold my paper to the surface. See erasers below.

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

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!)

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.
18% Gray Card. Sold at every photo store.

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