WATERCOLOR PAPER + BOARD | Paper is the MOST important part of the process and should only be the good stuff; 100% cotton. Skimping on paper results in buckling and tearing.
I use 140lb or heavier, 100% cotton paper; my favorites are Arches or Saunders Waterford. You can find these types of paper in loose sheets, pads, or in blocks.
Texture is a personal preference; for non-portraits I use a Rough or Hot Press. For portraits, I prefer Aquabord or a smooth, hot press in 300 - 400 lb.
Will post soon: video about watercolor paper.
PALETTE | I have way too many palettes and for each one, I "seasoned" it by scrubbing the white mixing areas with a Mr. Clean sponge and toothpaste. Will post soon: video about my palette obsession.
BRUSHES | Three rounds to get started: small [size 2-4], medium [size 8-10], large [size 14-16].
I do have flats and a few “special” brushes, that I like for certain effects:
Size 0 Raphael Kolinsky round for details.
ProArte swords, small, medium, large. These are my fave for branches or rigging.
Cat tongue or oval size ¾” by Silver Brush Black Velvet. It does a good wash.
Flats by Silver Brush Black Velvet. Inches: 1, ¾, ½, and 1½ .
Rigger Round by Escoda Versatil size 10. It’s great for foliage.
Rosemary and Co. extended point size 16.
Blick Wonderwhite Scrubber size 4.
Will post soon: video about how I became a brush hoarder, oops, I mean... collector.
PAINT | I only use paint from tubes; never the dry cakes. My favorite brands are Daniel Smith, M. Graham [this contains honey, which keeps it gooey, but also attracts insects when outdoor painting], Winsor Newton, and Holbein.
Avoid student-grade paints; they're going to be weakly pigmented [insert sad face here] and are not cost effective.
Will post soon: video about the paints I use.
Primaries - Pyrrole Red / French Ultramarine Blue / Permanent Yellow Lemon
Basics - the essentials to get started
Blues: Cerulean, Cobalt, French Ultramarine
Reds: Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Pyrrol Red, Quinacridone Rose Madder
Yellows: Hansa, Lemon, New Gamboge
Earth Tones: Burnt Umber, Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna, Quinacridone Burnt Orange
Permanent White Gouache (Gouache is opaque – it's NOT a transparent watercolor)
SKETCHBOOK | My current store-bought favorite is the Pentalic Aqua Journal. But, my preferred form sketchbook is the homemade kind, using all 100% cotton paper.
ART BOARD | Masonite, Gator Board, or even channeled-plastic sign blanks – all work well. My favorite is the Incredible Art board. It’s sturdy, light weight, and cuts with a blade.
TAPE | I typically use artist’s tape 1” size in white, because it's the least distracting for me. Good ol’ masking tape will also work.
WATER | Two good-sized containers. I also use a spray bottle.
PAPER TOWELS | Viva in plain white.