Regardless of the paint colors, brushes or paper type you use, the most important thing to know is what those specific supplies are capable of doing. How? By using them over and over. By learning what they do well vs. what they don’t do well or at all. The only way to learn this is to start with a basic set of supplies, use them continuously, and test them thoroughly. The following recommendations are made based on what has worked well for me over a long period of testing.
Recommended Supplies: (These are basic items that I take when I go on location.)
.5 mm Mechanical Pencil with a LARGE twist-up white eraser and retractable point
Extra leads & erasers for the mechanical pencil
Black fine line water based ink pen (water based ink lines will bleed when water is added)
Permanent Black fine line pen (e.g. Micron Pigma or Sharpie)
Uni-ball Signo Broad White Pigment Ink Pen
Waterbrush, large round
6” ruler (clear plastic is best so that you can use it to line up edges on doors, windows, etc.)
Small folding palette with a minimum of 20 separate wells with a lid that can be closed
Small washcloth or towel
Travel facial tissues (the inexpensive kind work the best)
Stillman & Birn sketchbook (Alpha, Beta and Zeta are all excellent choices in a size you're comfortable with)
Wax Crayon (for saving whites)
Lightweight Tote Bag big enough for all the supplies
Other Items to Use on Location
Rain poncho or umbrella
Bottle of drinking water
Extra batteries and memory stick for camera
Remember to ALWAYS wear comfy shoes, dress in layers, and bring a rain poncho!
All of the watercolors recommended* on the following pages are professional grade and are chosen for their specific properties. I strongly recommend using professional grade pigments and NOT student grade pigments. Using professional grade paints will increase your chances for a successful, more enjoyable painting experience. Student grade pigments tend to make the learning process more difficult and prolonged.
*Unless you're just starting out, you probably already have a palette you're comfortable with and I suggest you stay with it. Watch the demos I've created and if you see something that speaks to you, purchase the one pigment rather than going out and buying all new supplies (unless you want to!).
My second recommendation is that you go by the pigment number rather than the paint name when purchasing paint from more than one brand. There is NO consistency from paint name to paint name, manufacturer to manufacturer. You must use the pigment number to get a "like" paint and even then the color will vary due to the different processes used by each manufacturer.
Recommended Pigments by Pigment Number, Brand and Color Names:
Daniel Smith (DS) Hansa Yellow Medium* - PY97 • Substitute: WN Winsor Lemon - PY175
DS Perylene Red - PR178 • Substitute: WN Winsor Red Deep - PR254
DS French Ultramarine Blue* - PB29 • Substitute: WN French Ultramarine Blue - PB29
(*The three pigments above are available at Daniel Smith as a triad at a reduced price - item number 285 250 066.)
DS Raw Sienna - PBr7 • Substitute: WN Raw Sienna - PY42/PR101
DS Burnt Sienna - PBr7 • Substitute: WN Burnt Sienna - PR101
DS Burnt Umber - PBr7 • Substitute: WN Burnt Umber - PBr7/PR101/PY42
DS Indian Red - PR101 • Substitute: WN Indian Red -- PR101
DS Isoindoline Yellow - PY139 • Substitute: WN Indian Yellow - PY153/PO62
DS Pyrrol Orange - PO73 • Substitute: WN Winsor Orange RS - PO73
DS Quinacridone Rose - PV19 • Substitute: WN Permanent Rose - PV19
DS Cobalt Blue - PB28 • Substitute: WN Cobalt Blue - PB28
DS Cobalt Teal Blue - PG50 • Substitute: WN Cobalt Turquoise Light PG 50
DS Sap Green - PO49/PG7 • Substitute: WN Permanent Sap Green - PG36/PY110
DS Shadow Violet - PO73/B29/G18 • Substitute: None available
Holbein Mineral Violet • Substitute: None available
M. Graham Neutral Tint • Substitute: None available
The following colors are also available as a triad from Daniel Smith:
DS Carbazole Violet* - PV23 RS • Substitute: WN Winsor Violet (PV 23)
DS Undersea Green* - PB29/PO49 • Substitute: None available
DS Quinacridone Burnt Orange* - PO48 • Substitute: None available
(*The three pigments above are available at Daniel Smith as a triad at a reduced price - item number 285 250 077.)
If you are interested in trying out the recommended palette but are not ready to commit the expense of setting up a full palette ($250-300), I have ImaginaryTrips.com' pre-filled palettes with the recommended colors set up for purchase in my Etsy store. The palettes come with 18 professional grade watercolors equivalent to one full half-pan. It's a great way to try out the pigments and see if you like them! Please click here to learn more.
Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks
I LOVE these sketchbooks! Whether you go with the Alpha, Beta, Zeta or one of the others, I think you'll be pleased. The sketchbooks have a strong consistency through the line. I've yet to get one with bad sizing. You can visit the web site for more information on the different lines and to find an art retailer near you or online at some of the houses below.
Cheap Joes’s Art Supplies
They carry: M. Graham watercolor paints, Niji waterbrushes
Daniel Smith (Please enter through Imaginary Trips web site! Thank you!!)
They carry: Daniel Smith watercolor paints, Niji waterbrushes
Dick Blick Art Materials
They carry: M. Graham watercolor paints, Niji waterbrushes
They carry: Uniball White Gel Rollerball
They carry: Aquash waterbrushes
I highly recommend Niji and Kuretake waterbrushes. They can be found at Amazon, JetPens.com, DickBlick.com and many other online retailers.
I recommend AVOIDING Royal Langnickel's Aqua Flo and Derwent waterbrushes as both tend to such the paint back into the barrel where the water is stored. If you are using them to fill with paint and then paint, they work just fine. Otherwise, avoid them.
Opus Framing Supplies (does not ship to the US)
Jackson Art Supplies
Jackson’s is located in the UK and now carries Daniel Smith watercolors!