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Watercolor Supplies

Paraty_Sketching_Snaps (3)

Current Update : April 12, 2016 | This page is about painting on location in watercolor. If you’re looking for a supplies list for sketchbook drawing check over here: Sketching Gear.

PAPER:

I mostly use Full Sheet (22×30″) artist grade 140lb cold press paper with cotton fiber content. I cut that down into 1/2, 1/4 or 1/6 sheets for field work.

Full Sheet is not the largest size oddly enough. Larger sizes have old fashioned names like Double Elephant (30×40″) or Emperor (40×60″). I don’t work that large personally (yet!).

I usually order in bulk (10 sheet packs) for a better price. You can paint on both sides. So a pack lasts a long while.

I use for cold press (medium) texture. This is the ‘normal’ texture. Smooth enough to get a nice drawing, yet rough enough do some dry brushing.

Hot press is the smooth finish, which is nice if you’re doing pen and ink with wash, but will give a more graphic look, with a tendency towards harder edges. There’s also rough and extra rough texture paper, which I have not gotten around to trying. All brands will vary slightly in texture and degree of absorbency.

Students might like to practice on mid-grade cellulose paper paper (as opposed to more costly cotton fiber) available in pre-cut pads. These are fine for beginners, or for rapid sketching. Canson Montval is an excellent brand.

There’s also blocks. (Pads gummed on all four sides – no taping to a board required), which I personally *do not* use. They’re too heavy (you carry 20 sheets to use one) Plus they can pop off the backing board if you’re hauling them around, and that’s a waste of an expensive block.

Sheets:

Pads:

PLEASE NOTE: I don’t endorse any particular online vendor. These pages use Amazon Affiliate links for product descriptions. If you do order an item from these links, I get a small rebate from Amazon (starting at 4% of your order). So thanks for supporting my work on CitizenSketcher! But please support your local independent retailers too :)

Gear_Easel (2)

DRAWING BOARDS:

I use pieces of Coroplast – a light weight corrugated plastic. You can get 4×8′ sheets from hardware stores and cut it down with a craft knife or razor blade. Or – get ready cut sizes from art supply shops at a higher square inch price.

I use a variety of sizes, most commonly used: 14×18″, to fit a 11×15″ quarter sheet (or a 12×16″ pad). Quarter sheet is a practical size for travel. Easy enough to carry – but not so small you feel cramped painting. I happen to have a perfect bag for this size (review of the Timbuk2 Especial). I will carry about six sheets on a day trip. That’s  normally enough for a day.

If I’m feeling like travelling lighter I use 11×14″ boards, which I like for 9×12″ or smaller. For which I also have a perfect sized bag.

I do have some 18×24″ boards for half sheets (or 16×20″pads) – but I don’t take those into the field very often. That’s getting a bit big for carrying around.

A downside to note – Coroplast will flex if you’re standing in hot sunlight while painting, which can cause your tape to pop off. I usually have at three to six boards clamped in a sandwich with bulldog clips to offset this flexing. This also gives me enough pre-taped paper for a whole day of work.

PALETTE

You’ll need a folding palette with individual wells for colors.

Plastic is fine, but they break annually. Some nicer brands have a rubber seal to keep the paint damp between sessions. These still break. The plastic hinges just don’t last.

So tin boxes are better, but they’re expensive. I have in the past used a 2.5×3″ W&N Bijou Box which I found by chance in a high end art shop here in Montreal.

The small box is shy on mixing space, but it’s so light it can be clipped right onto the drawing board or sketchbook. Currently I’m using a slightly larger 5″x8″ (open) folding W&N paint box, shown below.

My W&N set came with assorted half pan colors, which I have long since re-filled with tube pigments. You can buy empty half pans to expand and reorganize your color choices.

Here are some tin paintboxes on Amazon I found as of Sept 2015. Please note, I don’t know these vendors and don’t own these kits (yet), these links are just to help you see the products.

Full Specturm 24 Palette

Paints:

A small warning to people trying my palette – I change my color choices fairly often :)

Just to experiment, or to adapt to the location I’m headed to, or just for fun. Also, credit where credit is due, I get a lot of my advice from Jane Blundell and Bruce MacEvoy, as well as all the talk in Urban Sketchers circles online.

I’ll keep this area updated so you can see what I’m using at the moment. (Latest update: Nov, 2016).

My  Color Choices:

I’ve organized my 24 color paint box into warm on one side, cool on the other on the other. Each row is has a range of hues of a given color – such as the cool-to-warm yellow row on the upper right, or the dark-to-light grey row upper left.

I’ve listed the colors with pigment numbers – which should help you shop cross brands. The same pigments come under different brand names. (e.g. Iron Oxide = Indian Red, they are both PR 101).

Brand codes: DS (Daniel Smith), MG (M.Graham), HW (Holbein Watercolor). Cyan tint marks colors that are on probation and subject to change.

In case of pigments such as Bloodstone Genuine – no numbers required – ‘Genuine’ means these are simply ground minerals with gum arabic binder and maybe something to make it disperse.

Some of my pigments are odd choices.

I like to work quickly, use a lot of paint, and mix on the paper not on the palette (in general), thus my palette isn’t focused on the ‘pure’ single pigment colors that many transparent watercolorists prefer. I like the convenience of mixes such as Green Gold or Moonglow. It’s true you can just mix a similar color, but I don’t want to slow down to tinker, or unnecessarily dilute my pigment. Plus I like a small palette for field work – which means not much mixing area.

I like intense colors such as Pyrrol Orange or the Perlyne colors, which can be overly strong if you’re not cautious. Also I find sedimentary, granulating earth colors like Goethite/Brown Ocher and Bloodstone Genuine handy for landscape. Yet, I prefer no sediment in the blue/greens – as they tend to be for water and skies where granulation is less desirable.

Tube vs. Pan:

I use tube colors because, sometimes, I want to be able to use pure pigment at full strength, with the full, opaque mass-tone. Particularly when I want the color to mix on the page, not in the palette.

Pan color is usually too dry to allow this – even when using an atomizer.

If you don’t paint that often, some tube colors can dry rock-hard. You can mitigate this by misting your paints the night before an outing, (and throughout the work session) and/or topping up with a dab of fresh color each morning.

Or – just take note which pigments re-wet poorly and replace them with different brands. (I am starting to avoid Winsor and Newton, in favor of Daniel Smith and M.Graham).

Because of this issue of old paint drying in the pan, some people prefer ready made semi-moist half pans which are formulated to re-wet, no matter how old they are. (Within reason). But it’s just not the same as fresh paint. You can’t pick up a juicy gob of color and make a big bloom on the page.

So – tubes vs. pans depends mostly on your style, and how often you paint with a particular kit. And whether clean, convenience is more important vs. thick juicy color.

I will not go back to pans personally.

Either way – never use student grade pans OR tubes. Even when you are a student. You won’t be learning to handle color correctly, so you’re not saving any money wasting time with cheap paints.

Brand Names:

I use a variety of brands. My favorites are M. Graham and Daniel Smith, I’ll use few Winsor and Newton if I can’t find a color I want in the others. I have a few Holbein colors, mainly for convenience mixes.

The color you like is more important than the brand as long as you buy artist quality paints. You’ll get to know over time which exactly you prefer.

Also, raw pigment sources change over time, so a well loved brand name can change their nature overnight.

Avoid student grade brands such a Winsor and Newton Cotman paints which have less pigment strength and more fugitive colors than their artist’s watercolors.

Gouache / Body Color:

You might also consider carrying a Titanium White Gouache (opaque watercolor). Black is useful as well. You can mix either black or white (or a grey mix of) gouache with any watercolor pigment to make ‘body color’ – opaque paint that can bring back lights on top of dried washes. Some people claim this is not acceptable in traditional watercolor technique, but John Singer Sargent did it, so that is good enough for me.

Note: I am starting to use Grey of Grey, and Buff Titanium more and more often. These are based on white pigment, and are opaque as far as watercolors go. These might end up taking over the role of white gouache as mixers for body color.

DesertIslandBrushChoice

BRUSHES:

SABLES:

I’ve recently (mid 2014) switched from synthetic to sable. I use pointed rounds and quills and have a few ‘large’ sizes that I use on smaller paintings (1/2 to 1/4 sheet sizes).  I have not invested in a sable larger than #14 – the price does jump considerably.

My workhorse brushes right now are the:

  • #3/4 DaVinci Artissimo, Mop (Mops have strange numbering. This is really almost the same size as a #14 pointed round).
  • #7/8 Winsor and Newton Artist’s Watercolor Sable Pointed Round. These seem to come in long hair (my choice) and shorter hair, with no visible difference in the labeling on the brush, so you just have to compare. The long hair is almost a rigger in length. It’s great for sharp details and linear work (tree branches, wires, etc).
  • I think you can do an entire painting with either one of these if it’s 1/4 sheet or smaller.

For special effects and larger skies/water/feilds I have:

  • #5 DaVinci Series 803 Blue Squirrel Oval Wash/Filbert/Cat’s Tongue (whatever this is, it’s a spade-shaped flat).
  • I also carry some W&N Artist Watercolor Sables that have gotten old for scrubbing and drybrushing. I mark the handles with tape, so I know which ones I’m willing to abuse.
  • A often carry a brush I don’t really use, (but am toting around in the hopes I will find a situation to experiment): #10 DaVinci Reservoir brush (Series 5519) which has as a sable point and a squirrel base. It’s like a rigger, with a fat base that holds water. Sort of a pen nib concept for drawing with the brush.
  • I used to carry a #1 W&N Series7 (very tiny) pointed round on the mistaken theory I might need to make tiny nit-picky fixes to something. The reality is, a well cared for #7 Pointed Round can make as fine a line as you will ever need. (Even on as small as a 3×5″ sketch).

SYNTHETICS:

Current thinking: I have recently tested the Princeton Elite synthetic sable, and Princeton Neptune synthetic squirrel, and can say both of these higher end synthetics are suitable replacements for natural hair. They’re not going to behave exactly like their natural counterpart – but they have their own strengths.

If you’re personally concerned about the use of animal products, then these are your best option.

If it’s just about cost – you’ll find price savings vary.  In general, these will be about 25% cheaper? But the savings go up as you go larger. And you’ll find larger brushes in these synthetics than you ever find in natural hair. 2″ flats would be out of the question in natural hair.

I have not used the Elite or Neptune long enough to comment on their durability. But previous testing with other brands of synthetics suggest they will last about a 6 months to a year of my heavy handed-use. If that remains true, then they end up costing the same as natural hair over the long term.

 

TRAVEL BRUSHES:

A travel brush has a hollow handle that reverses to enclose the brush, protecting the point when it’s tossed into your bag.

Personally, these days, I carry conventional brushes in a zippered brush case. But for years I had a travel brush in my shoulder bag everywhere I went. If you are trying to build a minimal kit for everyday carry, these are the most portable solution

I’m currently recommending Rosemary and Co Pocket/Reversible, or – the Raphael Escoda travel brushes. Both come in sable hair. Both use a tin handle for self-enclosing. The Rosemary have more range of styles, but the Escoda come larger. So I have some of both.

I used to recommend the DaVinci Maestro travel brush. These are made of the finest Kolinsky Sable, and have a very sturdy PVC handle – BUT – they have become quite costly. For the price, you can buy three conventional brushes! That doesn’t seem right, as they don’t last forever – eventually the points wear – so I have stopped replacing these as they wear out.

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COLLAPSIBLE TRIPOD:

I don’t always use an easel. This is the most optional part of the kit. It adds a lot of weight, so I’ll only bring it if I’m on a serious painting day.

I don’t bother carrying it if I’m only dong 20 min sketches. In that case I’ll just use my Coroplast drawing boards and work standing up, or on whatever convenient temporary support I can find. (Trash bins work great!).

If you’re doing a slower sketch, where you might be taking an hour or more, an easel helps you keep your work up at eye level – near your natural sight line, and lets you keep all your brushes and paints in easy reach.

I’m currently using a collapsible Sirui T-005X 54.5″ Aluminum Tripod (12″ when folded down), paired with a plastic tray called an: Eric Michaels En Plein Air Traveller, which is designed to attach to the threaded screw that holds the camera.

14June19_Terrebonne_GearShot_01

You might also find accessory trays marketed to digital photographers – look for laptop supports or tablet holders. For smaller works I’m using an iPad holder, inserting a drawing board in the clamp meant for the device.

If you’re handy with tools, you might make your own tray. The threaded female screw you need to connect to the camera mount is called a ‘tee-nut’. They’re only a few cents – allowing you to create a panel that attaches to any standard camera gear. (I have never done this – I am not handy with tools).

14Sept01_Rio_Sugarloaf_02

Sometimes I just clip a travel palette right onto the Coroplast boards, so I can pick the whole thing up and walk around with it on location. You can use a single Coroplast panel, or two or three clipped together as shown above.  Or, clip an entire sketchbook onto the boards, as below:

Marc_moraine_lake04

GENERAL PURPOSE STUFF:

  • Nalgene Bottles: I bring three or four 125ml bottles. I don’t carry too much water (it’s heavy!) so I bring many smaller bottles instead of one large one. It’s lighter over all, and I only dirty one bottle at time. Refill water every chance you get. (e.g. lunch breaks).I get these at camping supply stores.
  • Zippered Nylon Bush Case: The kind with little slots for each brush. Keep your sables point’s protected. Store it upright in your bag.
  • A Misting Spray Bottle: To dampen your paints in the palette. It gets them ready to release color.I mist my paints frequently when working unless it’s 100% humidity wherever I am.
  • Paper towels: For quickly blotting mistakes, removing excess water from brushes, handling spills.
91 Comments leave one →
  1. April 27, 2015 1:00 PM

    I am looking at the Sirui tripod, but was curious about the mobikity of its ball head. Do you get good 360 pan and tilt movement? From the pics it seems so. My current tripod has some limitations, and it can be complicated when I need to tilt the board in various directions while doing washes. The sirui seems to offer this. Also, does it have a quick release?

    Seems like a wonderful Plein air tripod. Thanks!

    • April 27, 2015 6:26 PM

      It has good movement in 360 – except that you have to twist a small knob to do so, so you have to reach under the drawing board where you can’t see. But it’s not a big deal. It does not have a quick release – but it has a ‘foot’ you screw to the drawing board, and then you slot the foot into the jaws and tighten. So, again, a little knob, not a instant click. But – there you go, it’s the trade off for price I expect.

  2. July 9, 2015 3:09 AM

    Marc, what bag do you carry your get in. I saw you in a photo with Liz Steel and you appeared to have some type of sling bag on. Could you tell me what brand it is?

    I took your craftsy class and love it. Wish you could do one of just sketching and painting too.

    • July 10, 2015 9:59 AM

      Hey Cynthia – glad you’re enjoying the class! Re bags: I have a set of small courier bags from a quebec company – here’s a post: https://citizensketcher.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/go-bags-go-field-sketching-kits-for-the-brazil-symposium/

    • July 10, 2015 10:00 AM

      There is also my large painting bag: https://citizensketcher.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/quest-for-the-perfect-sketching-bag-timbuk2-especial/

  3. Barbara Chandler permalink
    August 21, 2015 8:53 PM

    Your art is wonderful. Please add me to your blog mailing list. Thanks.

  4. Barbara Chandler permalink
    August 21, 2015 9:25 PM

    Where can one find a Winsor&Newton TIN watercolor box like you use? I can only find plastic ones. Thanks.

    • August 21, 2015 9:48 PM

      Hye Barbara – Here’s a Windsor and Newton set on Amazon. Some retailers sell the sets empty like This One. I got mine in a local store (Avenue Des Arts on Victoria) – but Amazon is always the option if you can’t find in locally.

      • Barbara Chandler permalink
        August 21, 2015 9:53 PM

        Thanks so much for the info and you speedy reply!

        • slowlane permalink
          December 13, 2015 10:33 AM

          Kathy Johnson once recommended Kremer Pigments for empty pans. They also sell empty metal palettes. I found them fast and well-priced on an online order for empty half-pans. Their pigments are intriguing, too….

          • December 13, 2015 12:08 PM

            I’ve only tried Kremer’s one time (a friend lent me a set for a few hours). They were intensely pigmented – I could see them being great to use once you got used to the strong colors. You can get them here in Montreal, but you have to get to an off-island Hachem to get the best prices. I’m comfortable for now with my Daniel Smiths, but someday I might try some Kremer’s just for fun. I suppose if they were to send me a set I could do a demo! Hah. ~m

            • April 22, 2016 10:06 AM

              She didn’t recommend Kremer pigments for the paints, but to get the plastic square cups for tube paints — We buy many items for our business from Kremer and found they had the cheapest price for the pans! I told her, she told them….

  5. Alexandra Connor permalink
    September 16, 2015 2:05 PM

    Hello Marc, I love your work!! I have a question about your equipment. On your “About” page there’s a photo (last one) of you working on a tripod with what looks like a swing arm that holds the palette. It looks like a very sturdy and convenient way to hold your paints up high where you can reach them standing up. Would you possibly know the name and/or the manufacturer? Thanks so much!!

    • September 16, 2015 4:35 PM

      That is called a “Magic Arm” from manfroto, and I’m using it with a generic lighting clamp and a video camera mounting tray. All accumulated from various photo supply places – mostly B&H photo shipping out of NYC. But! All that gear ends up being quite heavy! So watch out for that. I don’t take that stuff out if the studio anymore :)

      • Alexandra Connor permalink
        September 16, 2015 7:12 PM

        Thank you for your fast reply!! And thank you for the information. I can see that it would be heavy. It’s just that it looked so convenient to have the palette up high. I just discovered you and am enjoying looking at your great work!

        • September 16, 2015 7:16 PM

          I should have said – now that I use a smaller palette, I keep it up high and accessible by clipping it rght to the drawing board itself. So thats the light weight solution these days:)

  6. September 22, 2015 5:24 PM

    I think I have a solution to the Coroplast warping in the sun…..I cut two pieces of Coroplast with one piece having the corrugated part 90 degrees to the other. Then I put dabs of superglue gel on one and carefully put the other on top. Put some books or weight on top for about 5 minutes. Then black Duct Tape around the edge. I’ve used this board in the hot Texas sun with no problem. And if you can find Scotch Brand 234 masking tape. I think they developed this particular masking tape for artists. It works extremely well with quality watercolor paper like arches. With thin multi-media paper, it tends to pull up bits of paper. Pull it towards you and away from your work for good results.

    • September 22, 2015 5:52 PM

      That is brilliant. I will totally try this – sounds perfect. Thanks very much Rene!

  7. lmnavroth permalink
    September 30, 2015 5:17 PM

    You can add a drop or two of glycerin to your tube watercolors (and stir with a toothpick to mix) to keep them moist. They’ll still solidify, but will re-wet with ease. I’ve found, however, that with Daniel Smith tube colors there is no need to do this.

    • September 30, 2015 6:03 PM

      Hey Imna – I had heard about this, but have never tried it. Where does one get glycerin? Are there better or worse types? thx ~m

  8. lmnavroth permalink
    September 30, 2015 6:18 PM

    I bought a bottle online from Natural Pigments. I haven’t tried any others–but they have very high quality standards for their products.–Linda

    • September 30, 2015 6:19 PM

      Excellent! Will try this out next trip to a dry area.

  9. September 30, 2015 6:23 PM

    What do you think of – have you used – water based brush markers like Tombow? The color doesn’t spread like watercolors, but they do come with a clear blending pen. I thought they might be useful for color highlights.

    • September 30, 2015 6:50 PM

      Hey Robert – I have tried the Windsor and Newton version of watercolor markers. Only a couple sketch outings, (unsuccessfully) trying to make a post about them actually. I’m sure any tool can be used to good effect – but for me, they don’t turn my crank. The color simply doesn’t flow like watercolor – the marker can’t paint down enough pigment to bloom out into a big wash or intermingle with the next color (at least not enough). As well, you can’t control the opacity via paint/water ratio. Or tint the color by mixing on the palette. Plus the colors are very bright and clear – and I like a lot of strong granular colors. So – basically I’m hooked on the complexity tube watercolor offers. If you wanted a more graphic look – I bet you could make it work. But the few tests I’ve tried I didn’t see anything I could use. I’m sure as soon as I say that, you could link to an amazing drawing done with them :) But yes, that’s my take on it.

      • October 2, 2015 12:38 AM

        I realize they’re not your general style – but thought you might have some thoughts – and I was right!! LOL The brush tips do provide more flexibility in line style and shape than regular markers – but I agree they do not allow the flow you like. I have your book and currently taking your Travel Sketching class on Craftsy.com. Both are terrific. Love your style. Having read/skimmed several other sketching (urban and other) books, I keep coming back to yours. Both your teaching style and explanations and examples in your book are terrific. Am working on your flowing, less structured style – I’m used to drawing a more “accurate” pic as opposed to capturing the feeling. More practicing!!

        • October 2, 2015 11:04 AM

          Great to hear the book is clicking with you Robert!!

  10. Cherngzhi permalink
    October 3, 2015 12:39 PM

    Great resources Marc.
    Didn’t get a chance to say hi when you were in Singapore :-)

    • October 3, 2015 1:04 PM

      Yes sorry! Sometimes the teaching gets in the way of meeting everyone. One day I’ll have to go just as a student and have more fun with it!

  11. Pat Cameron permalink
    October 3, 2015 4:51 PM

    I read this post as your reply to my ‘Craftsy ‘ question and it has ticked all the boxes for me. Thank you! I stumbled upon your ‘Drawing people in Motion’ class and now have the travel class as well. They are both terrific and I am learning so much from your relaxed and wonderful teaching style. You just make sense! Thanks Marc! When are you coming to Australia???

    • October 3, 2015 5:22 PM

      I hope to make it down there soon! In the mean time – do you know my friend Liz Steel? You might like to take a course with her :) http://www.lizsteel.com/

  12. june permalink
    December 3, 2015 4:49 PM

    Hello
    Thank you so much for this post, really interesting. I’ve got one question : where did you find the palette box shown on the picture in Rio? It seems very handy and original, we don’t get that in France…
    Thanks!

    • December 3, 2015 5:02 PM

      Hi June – that one in the Rio photo is a Holbein box. It’s 3×8″ and has 12 sloped paint wells for squeezing paint – instead of the trays meant for half pans. So – it’s not a good trade-off in my opinion. More size and weight, and half as many colors – in exchange for a lot more mixing space. I don’t really need the mixing area as much as I need the colors :) So I’ve settled on this other one as my favorite: https://citizensketcher.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/full-specturm-24-palette.jpg. I see a lot of sketchers with this same style box. Mine is a Winsor and Newton, but I’ve seen the same thing from Senellier and the amazon vendors I linked above. Hope that helps!

  13. Cathy Inzer permalink
    January 20, 2016 7:34 PM

    Hi Marc, if you aren’t using a palette of warm/cool, how are you using your 24 color palette? By hue, texture? Is using watercolor on a sketch with ink different than painting? It seems to me that there might be a different way of using watercolor than the warm/cool method. I appreciate your time, love your classes!

    • January 20, 2016 7:51 PM

      Hey Cathy – well my paint box is organized into warm and cool – if that’s what you mean? I have greens/blues (and blacks) on one side and yellow/earth/red/purple on the other. Then in each row I have the colors in three values. (sort of). You’ll see there’s three reds and three yellows, three greens – etc. Each color has a light, middle,dark (though for some reason I have a LOT of blue. I was talking to someone recently about getting rid of Manganese – my sky blue. Blue skies are feeling a bit cliche these days :)

      I do have some colors chosen for opacity and granulation. For instance, Bloodstone and Goethite. I tend to use a lot of opaque colors – I think that’s a bit unusual in watercolor, but I’ve gravitated towards it, as I try to get a lot of work done with each stroke, and keep the layering to the minimum.

      I think the difference between tinting and painting for me, is that when I have a drawing I can rely on it for structure – so I just ‘hang the shadows’ on the drawing’s skeleton. When I’m painting for real I have to be more aware of making clean/strong silhouette shapes first, and adding detail on top of that. Does that make sense?

  14. April 21, 2016 5:04 AM

    I have a very good camera tripod. Will the Eric Michael’s attachments fit onto any tripod or do you have to use theirs? Thanks, Judy

    • April 21, 2016 8:01 AM

      Hey Judy – Yes, the E.Michaels tray will fit on any tripod. The threaded screw is a standard size. I ended up settling on the Sirui as it’s small when folded and reasonably light. But every camera and tripod has the same size connector.

  15. April 22, 2016 10:10 AM

    Great post — love snooping into other artists’ bags! I’m not buying sable, so sticking to synthetics. I’m disappointed with Neptune, but the Cosmotops are amazing. Now I have several in varying shapes and sizes and they keep points, hold water, and are my go-to brushes. Before that I had an old brush I’d used so long I couldn’t read the name on it to repurchase or recommend!

    • April 26, 2016 9:02 AM

      hey Kate – yes, the Neptune I tried was adequate for what it was – I have a dagger and a large filbert/oval wash thingy – nothing you’d use everyday. And I don’t really use them, it was just a test. I’m more happy with the Raphael Soft Aqua as a brush. I actually did use those for a while. But still – too bad about the sables they really are the closest to perfect I’ve tried – maybe someone will get you one for a birthday! You only need to do 100 paintings with one to make it only a $1 a painting on average :)

  16. Andreas permalink
    June 17, 2016 7:01 PM

    Hello Marc! Thanks for sharing your art and tips!

    I´m about to buy new brushes and would like to ask you about Da vinci Artissimo kolinsky quill. Are you satisfied with them? Do you only use #3 or #4 or have you tried larger sizes?

    Can you recommend any good wash brushes 1″ and 2″?

    Thanks again!
    /Andreas

    • June 18, 2016 11:14 AM

      I do like the Artissimo quite a bit! Very satisfied. The reason I have both a #3 and a #4 is I bought a second one (that sits mostly unused as backup) so I wouldn’t be without a perfect tip when travelling. I like that 3 or 4 ish size for up to 1/4 sheet painting. If you go larger you might need larger brushes – but a that point I go towards flats and oval rounds. So for larger brush I have a Squirrel hair, #5 DaVinci series 803 oval wash (though I would call this a Filbert more accurately). I’ve also used a ‘Med” Hobine Black dagger brush (in a very long hair). I don’t really use larger than that for the size I work regularly. (I’m about to start some larger studio work this fall, but I can’t yet report on what I’ll rely on for brushes). Hope that helps! ~m

  17. Louise Boyer permalink
    July 10, 2016 8:09 PM

    Hi Marc,
    I am one of your students, in the Eastern Townships of Montreal, and was wondering if you have ever tried Schmincke Hodaram paints?
    They seem to have good reviews. I was tempted to buy their 24 fullpans kit in metal box, on Amazon.ca, the box looks better quality than W.N. Box, so they say… Can’t find out what colors they contain though…hope it is the same as on the Schmincke site….
    I use W.N., M.G., D.S. And a bit of Holbein, all in tubes. But I find W.N. So hard to rewet!!
    I also don’t like my plastic palette.
    What do you think?

    • July 11, 2016 5:33 AM

      Hello Louise! I rely on the website Handprint for a lot of my info on paints, and they had not given Schminke particularily great reviews. As well, I find pan color “variety packs” never have exactly the colors I want. I bought my tin box Winsor and Newton just for the tin – only used about 1/3 of the pans. I personally would buy an empty tin box and just go right to the tubes!

      • Louise Boyer permalink
        July 11, 2016 9:24 AM

        Hi again Marc, yes I read that a while ago, (for W. N.). The reviews are of 2005 though.
        Did you find changes in the W. N. Paints since then?
        I heard that since they changed their names from ” artist” to ” professional”, they also varied the quality too.
        But, since you used them for so long, I would like to know what you think?

        • Louise Boyer permalink
          July 11, 2016 9:29 AM

          Oh Marc sorry, corrections: I mean, I read the bad reviews for Shmincke on Handprints, but they are from 2005… Is that still valid?
          And the good ones on W.N. About the same time. And W. N. Changed from artist to professional, their name … I read they also changed the quality… But did you notice that? You have been painting for a good while with these han?

          • July 12, 2016 5:12 AM

            Ah i see – well i just listened to the fellow and didnt every try the Schminke :) So i cant really say, having never tried them :) Honestly tho – heres my REAL answer : painting on location is so challenging – the factors in a good or bad painting are so much to do with weather, subject and circumstance – i think you can use anything at all :) The best tool is what is at hand. The best subject is whatever is in front of you:)

        • July 12, 2016 5:59 AM

          There was one WN in particualr – Cerulean Blue that changed significantly. Shade varied and it became very granular – which I dont like too much in the sky. So Ive dropped that one. And i do have a WN Ultramarine Blue that is, as you say, terribly hard to re-wet. But again, i’m going to give a tricksy answer – a lot of times i have to settle for what colors I can get! They’re not always in stock just how I’d like them :) So one has to be flexible :)

  18. Louise Boyer permalink
    July 12, 2016 8:13 AM

    Thanks Marc,
    The more I think about it, I will go for W.N. Tin set of 24 half pans. And get other empty half pans to add some other colors in, from D.S. …like quinacridone gold that I like…
    Louise

    • Louise Boyer permalink
      July 12, 2016 8:32 AM

      I mean…the lightweight box…And yes, their cérulean blue is not my favorite.
      Especially for skies! That color is different now, it looks less ” pure blue sky”, more a bit violet or lilac tinted ?

  19. July 12, 2016 6:13 PM

    I can’t recall, i think it felt sharper to me. but it was the granualtiry that didn’t work particularly well for skies.

  20. Linda Read permalink
    August 2, 2016 12:36 AM

    Marc….I notice on your website that you taught a class this year and last year in Cortona. Will you be teaching one there in 2017? I live in Vancouver but am looking for a class to take in Italy next year. I have just watched your two online classes, love them, thank you.

    • August 2, 2016 1:45 AM

      Sorry Linda, no, we don’t have plans for Italy next year. It’s a long story, but we’re going to take a break from serious travel next year. If you’re ever in Montreal let us know!

  21. Tami permalink
    August 11, 2016 11:14 PM

    Like the daVinci Quill you used. Where did you get it? I’ve looked online it the 3/4:size I don’t find…thank you for all the helpful information –

    • August 13, 2016 12:01 PM

      Hey Tami – I just realized I was calling that a Quill by mistake – that’s a Mop. (The difference is so minor, just if it has longer hair or not). Anyway – that DaVinci – you can find them at any good art store. We have one in Montreal – but I also picked up a few in Florence. Any smaller, specialty art supplier should have them. I can see why chain stores don’t carry them, as they’re too expensive for beginners and crafters. But any higher end shop will have DaVinci.

  22. October 23, 2016 2:36 PM

    Hey Marc, I’m taking your travel sketching Craftsy class and started reading here on your blog. Great blog with tons of information so thanks for that! Anyway, just looking at the colors of paint you are “currently” as of Sept 2016 using and for those colors that you don’t have a brand listed for (like Davies Grey, Olive Green, Bloodstone Genuine, Graphite Grey, and Raw Umber Violet) do you have a brand you like? I found most in one of the brands you listed but can’t even seem to find a grey named “Davies Grey”. Thanks for your help and I am enjoying your class and blog!

    • October 23, 2016 6:10 PM

      Hey Denise! Thanks for pointing that out :) Ok, so I updated the image there with the manufacturers codes – but in short Davy’s Grey is from Holbein – and probably the reason you can’t find it is I had a spelling mistake there :) (Davy’s not Davies) The rest are Daniel Smith colors :) Thanks for picking up the class, good to hear you’re liking it! ~m

      • pamemphis permalink
        October 23, 2016 8:47 PM

        Oh okay great! I just like to see what colors others use, especially people as good as you are! Thanks for the clarifications and I look forward to trying out some of the colors I am not familiar with. Thanks!

  23. Greg permalink
    November 22, 2016 8:21 AM

    Hi Marc.. Love your blog and Craftsy classes. Beginner watercolorist, can I can’t find your basic split setup you mention above. Am I blind? If so, maybe I should take up music instead. Thanks.

    • November 22, 2016 10:18 AM

      hah! apparently I dropped that off in an edit somewhere down the line. I haven’t used the old palette in so many years now, I think I couldn’t honestly answer questions about it! Thanks for noticing – I removed the false trail :)

  24. Jerry Festa permalink
    March 21, 2017 6:48 PM

    Hi Marc,
    I just wanted to let you know of a great art supply store in Los Angeles, CA called GraphAids. I’m really good friends with the owner, Jerry festa, who is a great admirer of your work and wanted to reach out to you and all the urban sketchers. Jerry offers a great student discount of 30% off all supplies, which happen to include many of the art materials that you recommend. An added bonus is Jerry’s keen insight and thorough knowledge of art supplies.

    best,

    Paul V. Fusco

  25. Lawrence gottlieb permalink
    April 23, 2017 11:41 AM

    Hi, marc
    I can see that you use coroplast.
    I generally use wooden clipboards with the metal clip removed. What thickness of coroplat do you use 2mm or 4mm.
    Do you find your bulldog clips crush the coroplast?

    • April 23, 2017 11:44 AM

      4mm. But I usually use it in stacks of at least 3. (To have multiple sheets, and for more rigidity).The clips can dent it, but it lasts years of normal use. I find it the lightest rigid substance I can get cheaply, and cut with a craft knife!

      • lawrence gottlieb permalink
        April 23, 2017 12:06 PM

        That was very quick.
        Thank you for the reply, I need to get my hands on some to try out

  26. May 15, 2017 11:44 AM

    I have your book, videos, ebook and have looked high and low for a SMALL watercolor box that holds 24 half pans. I have a small tin of Lucas brand, but even if I take out the metal insert I can’t get 24 half pans in. Your link goes to a typical long watercolor box. I am sure if I had just the right box I could paint as amazingly as you, ha!

    • May 15, 2017 12:15 PM

      Hey Linda! Thanks for collecting all my work :) What a compliment :)
      Re: the tin: Here’s a direct link. It’s a 3×5″ (approx) tin box. I don’t own exactly this model (mine is a Winsor and Newton), but this is the only place online I found similar ones for sale *empty*. I bought mine full of the W&N paints, and promptly replaced most of it! Not very economical.

  27. nate4117 permalink
    June 23, 2017 1:06 PM

    hello marc, do you stretch your paper? if so do you stretch multiple sheets and reattach them to your boards for travel. I ask because I see some people paint directly on the fastened paper after its dried but I would like top have many at my ready for field painting and am just wondering if theres anything wrong with re-taping the stretched paper to a coroplast board..?

    • June 25, 2017 3:40 PM

      I don’t stretch it no, just tape it dry on all four sides. I work wet-on-dry (to get sharp edges). I don’t get unwanted ripples or cockling (after the paper settles) unless it’s extremely humid out. On a sunny day, quite the opposite- it dries too fast! Also, if you use 200lb or 300lb it’s even more perfect ly flat.

  28. June 25, 2017 10:33 AM

    i have your book and i haven’t found anything as inspiring as it has been to me so finally I’m going to thank you. i have a question about stretching paper and storing it. you bring multiple sheets into the field with you as do i and i love your method of having them all taped to coroplast boards and have done the same and I’m very pleased with the system but i am still feeling a bit in the dark about stretching paper and re-taping it. is it ok to stretch paper and then tape them to coroplast boards without them losing their “stretch”? i have an ottostretcher that i bought that works remarkably well butit isn’t suitable for travel and like you, i want multiple sheets at my ready.

    • June 25, 2017 3:43 PM

      I honestly don’t know if you can remove paper once it’s been stretched. I’ve only done it a handful of times. I just tape it down dry, and I don’t remove it from the backing board until it dries again after painting.

      • nate4117 permalink
        June 26, 2017 7:01 PM

        thank you for your input marc and the fast reply. i am happy to hear that you don’t worry about it and still get the results you do :) one more thing, i have been using noodlers black bulletproof and its waterproof sure, but requires quite a bit of drying time before it wont bleed. does the platinum ink you use need much time before your first wash? I’m wondering if all inks need substantial time or if i may have just gotten a slower brand?

        • June 26, 2017 9:50 PM

          Noodler’s ink is kind of notorious for being slow drying. I don’t find that problem with Platinum Carbon Black. I used to love Noodlers Red/Black, but had to give it up as it was always sticking my pages together :)

          • nate4117 permalink
            June 27, 2017 6:36 AM

            thank you for all your help and inspiration marc!

  29. nate4117 permalink
    July 7, 2017 9:25 AM

    Have you ever had a color that never dries in the pan? I got DS potters pink and its never changed its consistency since the minute I squirted it into my pan! It just isn’t what I expected either because its luminosity seems off and… I feel like I may have gotten a possible bad/contaminated paint and was wondering if this has ever happened to you?

    • July 7, 2017 9:29 AM

      It can happen that the water separates out of the mix. If you get a tube like that you can carefully stir it with a pin/nail. ? Just guessing that might be what you have going on?

  30. July 9, 2017 9:34 AM

    Hi! Can I know you get the M. Graham paints from in Singapore? :) thanks!

    • July 9, 2017 12:27 PM

      I don’t know for sure in Singapore, but I do know Straits Art Supply is an excellent shop – so I’d start there? https://www.facebook.com/Straits-Art-Co-Pte-Ltd-129852563786948/

      • July 23, 2017 6:06 AM

        Straits Arts doesn’t sell M.Graham….apparently….No art shops in Singapore carries M.Graham…sadly.

        • July 24, 2017 11:54 AM

          Well, the main thing is they’re honey based humectant – so perhaps they can tell you what other brands are also made that way?

  31. nate4117 permalink
    July 11, 2017 6:55 PM

    HW grey of grey, who would have known. Thanks for the unbelievable discovery!

  32. nate4117 permalink
    July 22, 2017 5:19 PM

    hello marc do you know if theres a difference in the kuretake sumi brush pen and the kuretake fountain 40 or 50 brush pen? they look the same to me in every way but you linked the sumi and I saw the others as coming with sable right out the box and reasonably priced so just wondering if theres reason to refrain?

    • July 22, 2017 9:31 PM

      It doesn’t look any different besides the brush tip – but I’ve never seen #40 in person. I think it’s the same body, just looking at the specs online. It used to be getting the #13 plus the sable replacement tip was a cost savings over the #40/50. I’m surprised to see the price even out. so yes, I’d just go for the #40 in that case. BUT – on the other hand, I did mangle my sable tip a while back closing the cap on it incorrectly. So don’t do what I did! So I’m back to a nylon right now for no good reason :(

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