Watercolor Fundamentals – Supply List 2024

This workshop is designed for both students new to watercolor and those who have some experience and supplies and would like a review of watercolor fundamentals.
This list may look long for those without watercolor supplies.
For those new to watercolor without any supplies I will provide a #10 round watercolor brush and palette with paint at no charge the first night. Full sheet of 100% Arches brand cotton paper (22″x30″) is sold at UMD art store and at Hobby Lobby in Duluth. We will rip this big sheet into several smaller pieces. Paper MUST be 100% cotton!! Check list below and bring the ordinary items you might have on day one. 

If in doubt don’t buy any paint or brushes for week 1. Supply costs vary widely depending if you are just curious or are serious about watercolor painting. I would rather you not spend money on inferior paints and palettes.  We will discuss all these watercolor supplies, different terms, and their differences in class.

I will email you a detailed shopping list and sources to purchase items locally or online for class. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email me here!

You needn’t buy the most expensive art equipment but it is essential that you buy good quality supplies. Inferior quality supplies are a recipe for frustration and marginal results.  For best results, good paper is most important, followed by a good brush, then paint. All brand names listed below are recommended for those buying watercolor supplies for the first time.   See the end of this list for some idea where to buy supplies.
For those who already own some watercolor supplies, please use this list to review what you have and to fill in any supply gaps.

Here is a summary list: (I will have paint for those of you who don’t the 1st night)

  • (1 or 2) 22×30” watercolor paper sheets, Arches 140lb Cold Press, recommended, (Hobby Lobby or UMD or Michael’s)
  • #12 or #10 round watercolor brush (synthetic or synthetic blend)
  • (6) colors of watercolor paint minimum (1 warm and 1 cool of each Yellow, Red, and Blue).
  • Palette with cover
  • One – 1pt or larger water containers (plastic to avoid breakage)
  • Pencil
  • Large soft white or kneaded eraser, not a pink pearl, (MOO brand from Hobby Lobby preferred)
  • Sponge: a small inexpensive grocery store sponge or old terry cloth rag
  • Small spritzer bottle for water. See travel sections at Target, Walgreen’s etc.
  • Paper towel: Viva brand is recommended for its strength others will work too. Partial roll.
  • 12×16” Support board: Some waterproof surface to paint on (I will have some available for use) Optional for this beginner class.
  • Note pad: to take notes
  • Sketch paper or a few sheets of printer paper for small drawings.
  • Camera optional
  • Brush carrier, canvas or bamboo (protects brushes tips) optional
  • There is a chance you might get watercolors on your cloths. Wear something appropriate.

Paper typically comes in a combination of characteristics:  weight, surface texture, size and whiteness. Quality watercolor paper is made from 100% cotton, not wood fibers! Buy only 100% cotton paper. If it doesn’t say 100% cotton it isn’t!
I suggest:  Arches brand or equal, 140-lb (140 pound) Cold Press, either bright white or natural (no significant difference), 22” x 30” sheet. $8-$12/sheet. You can also buy Arches brand paper in tablets. These are expensive to start with. One or two of the large sheets will be good. We will rip these large sheets into smaller sizes. Don’t buy Strathmore 300!! watercolor paper (yellow cover tablets) . It is very difficult to get desired results with this paper (more on that when we are together).

Choose only brushes designated for watercolor. They are softer and made to hold water. Generally they have shorter handles than oil and acrylic brushes. No camel or bristle brushes.
Sizes and shapes recommended:
A good brush to start with is a #10 or #12 round, synthetic or synthetic blend brush. It will run about $8 – $11 (not readily available in Duluth). Avoid the inexpensive, student brushes. Optional additional brushes are: #10, #6, #0, ½” flat and 1” flat. In the workshop you may try mine or others willing to share their brushes to see if you like them before you buy.

Watercolor Paint
You will see a big difference in price for watercolor paints. The less expensive paints are student grade paints. They have less pigment and more filler. Better common, student brands include Cotman Series by Windsor & Newton, Grumbacher Academy Watercolors, and Van Gogh. Others brands intended for children include Yarka, and Prang, etc. These paints are acceptable but if you get serious you will eventually want to replace student grade with Professional / Artist grade paints which are more than double the price. Artist Brands include Windsor & Newton Professional (most available in Duluth), Daniel Smith, M. Graham, Holbein, and many more (available at online stores). You will find both grades of paints in tubes and pans or cakes. Both are good to use.

Recommended Colors: (I will have these available in palettes for several of you to use the 1st night)
I suggest starting with a minimum of ONE warm and ONE cool of each primary color (Yellow, Red, and Blue). We will discuss Warm and Cool if this is not clear.

  1. Cool Yellow (yellow with a hint of green): Aureolin or a Lemon Yellow
  2. Warm Yellow (hint of orange): New Gamboge or WN Yellow Deep or Indian Yellow
  3. Cool Red (touch of violet): Permanent Alizarin Crimson
  4. Warm Red (touch of orange): Cadmium Red, Vermilion Red, or Scarlet Lake
  5. Cool Blue (touch of green): Antwerp, or Prussian Blue
  6. Warm Blue: French Ultramarine Blue or Cobalt Blue

* Other optional colors you might already have and will buy eventually:
Dark Orange: Burnt Sienna
Darker Yellow (more neutral):  Raw Sienna or Quin Gold or Yellow Ocher
A greenish yellow, (excellent for making greens) Quinacridone Gold
Dark Cool Blue (touch of green): Prussian Blue, Indigo or Payne’s Gray
Light Cool Blue: Cerulean or Manganese

I will be covering some of the differences of quality and price in Watercolor Paints, Bushes and Paper.

Palette I use a John Pike palette and smaller portable ones I will let you use.
There are many types of acceptable palettes. Make sure your palette has a fairly large mixing area and a cover. Most good ones have 20 + paint wells around the sides. You probably WON’T find many choices of full size covered palettes in Duluth.
Where to buy your art supplies
Most of these items are all available locally at Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, and at the UMD bookstore in Duluth. In the Twin Cities, try Wet Paint, Blick and others.
There are many online resources for art supplies:
Cheap Joes.com   Daniel Smith   Dick Blick   Jerry’s Artarama
Amazon has some supplies, especially paper pads and blocks, and their prices are competitive.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email me here!