Additives, Pigments, Brushes, & Materials Shopping List
1. Table Salt. You can get some really interesting textures from using salt in your wet watercolor. The resulting texture can be altered by the size of the salt crystals. Table salt will most often give you very stippled texture, and sea salt will have a softer result. However, table salt can do both depending on the amount of water and salt you use, so it is a cheap staple to keep in your tackle box.
2. Rubber Cement. This is not the official masking fluid of watercolor (which is called Frisket), but it is a much cheaper alternative that works just the same.
3. Gum Arabic. Gum Arabic is an ingredient in watercolor pigments. If it is used as an additive, it will make your paint dry very shiny and slightly more opaque.
4. Rubbing Alcohol. Also known as Isopropyl Alcohol, can be used to create unique textures. Water-based wet media (ink, watercolor, and acrylic) repels alcohol because their molecules cannot fully mix (similar reactions occur in oil and water). This affect works best with Isopropyl Alcohol that is 91% or higher alcohol by volume.
Royal & Langnickle, M. Graham, Reeves, or Windsor & Newton are suitable (and affordable) brands of tube and cake watercolors. Do not purchase white or black watercolor. Also, only purchase one tube of each color. The tubes will appear small, but what is inside will last you for years to come. Below is a list of the minimum number of pigments you could get started with:
· Cadmium Red
· Alizarin Crimson
· Burnt Sienna
· Payne’s Gray
· Ultramarine Blue
· Phthalo Blue
· Cadmium Yellow
· Lemon Yellow
· Yellow Ocre
There is be no need to purchase expensive, or “fancy” brushes or brush sets for the purpose of watercolor (though such things do exist). Your most expensive brushes will be the wide 1 and 2 in flats, all others can be simple “all media” or acrylic synthetic bristle brushes. Please refer to the list below when purchasing brush sets:
· 1 inch flat brush (one)
· 2 inch flat brush (one)
· ½ inch flat brush (one)
· ¾ inch flat brush (one)
· Angled flat of any size
· Round brushes, sizes 0-10 (one of each)
· Two containers with lids for water (NO GLASS JARS)
· Spray bottle
· HB pencil and sharpener
· Paper towels (these can be reused)
· X-acto knife and cutting surface (self healing mat
· Metal ruler (12” or longer)
· Crayons or candles
· Plastic eraser
· Synthetic sponge cut into chunks
· Watercolor 10-24 pan palette that includes a lid
· Gel medium, Mod Podge, or PVC glue
· Masking tape (NOT PAINTER’S TAPE)
· 30 in x 40 in Masonite board
· Binder clips
· Binder or folder
· Drinking straws
· Shish-kabob skewers
The paper used in watercolor work is highly important. It’s very different than other artist’s paper because it is specifically made to get wet. There are three (3) types of paper when it comes to watercolor paper: Hot Pressed, Cold Pressed, and Rough. These papers can be both machine and hand made. Bear in mind, machine made papers will often times have an artificial texture “stamped” into the surface. Hand made papers are generally more expensive. Watercolor papers contain more sizing (that is the stuff that holds the paper pulp together) than regular papers and is much more dense than regular drawing papers. Stretching the paper (that is, saturating it while it is taped to a board and allowing it to dry overnight) may be necessary to avoid buckling if you do not want to tape your paper down.
In addition to the paper types of, there are also different weights (thickness): 90lb, 140lb, 260lb, and 300lb. These weights are not indicative of the actual weight of the sheets, but instead the weight of the paper ream. A higher weight means a thicker paper. Heavier weight papers are useful to beginners because they are more forgiving in surface and require little or no stretching.
1. Hot Pressed Paper. This watercolor paper is very smooth and has almost no tooth (raised texture) to its surface. Since this paper has a very smooth surface it’s ideal for very tight intricate work or illustration. Pigment will also dry more quickly.
2. Cold Pressed Paper. This is the most common type you will find in art and craft supply stores. The surface is lightly textured and paint dries with subtle irregularities (watermarking affects).
3. Rough Pressed Paper. This watercolor paper is the most heavily textured of the three. You can achieve the most watermarking effects from the watercolor alone because it will catch and pool in the indentations of the paper’s surface.
Do not use regular drawing papers to paint on. You will get untold amounts of rippling and buckling in your paper for the afore mentioned reasons. Faber-Castell, Fabriano, Strathmore, and Canson watercolor papers are trustworthy and affordable brands to purchase. Printmaking papers (which are similar to watercolor papers) such as American Masters, Stonehenge, and Reeves BFK can also be used.
1 Month of Watercolor Assignments
#1 Swatch Chart:
Learning how to achieve a wide range of tonal variations in watercolor is essential. For this assignment you will be creating a swatch chart of at least three columns in six variations of color on a sheet of watercolor paper. Columns should be taped off to create clean edges. The color family may be of your own choosing or full spectrum.
#2 Two-Color Flat Wash Still Life:
The flat wash is one of the basic techniques of watercolor painting. For this assignment you will create a still life of 4 dissimilarly colored objects in a shoebox. You will be rendering objects using only a single layer of flat washes.
#3 Patterns Using Resists and Brush Control:
Areas of white space (or negative space) can be achieved through masking and brush control. For this assignment you will create a pattern of your own choosing.
#4 Full Color Still Life with Texture Ground:
Beginning with a texture ground of your choice, you will in this assignment create a still life of 5 dissimilarly colored objects in a shoebox.
Extra Reading Material
Limber Up Your Imagination
Watercolor Lessons and Exercises
Watercolor Tips & Techniques
Use Your Computer to Paint Better Watercolors