Watercolor Tutorial FAQs
Dennis is happy to answer any watercolor questions you have! Just send your watercolor questions using the form.
To answer some of my student's most common questions, I've compiled a great list of supplies below. Over the last few years of doing the workshop and a lifetime of painting on location, I have reduced my supplies to the following essentials so this is my official Workshop Supply List for my watercolor workshops.
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Light jacket or sweatshirt. Long lightweight pants or jeans work best. I always bring a couple pairs of shorts also. A large white shirt is handy as a smock and the long sleeves keep the sun off (I got a used one at Goodwill). Wear a brimmed hat. Sunglasses are useful but I don’t paint with them on. Comfortable shoes and plenty of socks. I don’t wear sandals because sometimes we might walk over rough terrain however, everywhere we go is a short and easy walk. One casual outfit for evening is nice. Taos is a laid back community and anything goes but, by evening, it is nice to change from your painting clothes.
Sun block is essential - time flies when you are painting outside and before you know it you have been under the sun for several hours. Insect spray is a good idea and I sometimes even spray the ground where I set up. I have a small folding umbrella I take every year but I have yet to use it. I do have a painting plan in case of a rainy or extremely windy day. Sports bottle for drinking water.
I use three different set-ups according to location, time available and my mood.
1) A simple set-up is to use a fold-up camping chair ($10-$15 at Sporting store, Target, etc.). With this I hold my painting in my lap and set my water and palette on the ground next to me. This works great because the camping chair is low to the ground.
2) My personal favorite for demonstrating and traveling is a small paint box by Guerrilla Painter. For a catalog from Judsons Art Outfitters (get it as it is full of great stuff), you can call (970)221-9044 or look it up at www.judsonsart.com.
I also noticed that Meiningers and Cheap Joe’s offer them as well. The Guerrilla Paint Box snaps on to a lightweight, collapsible tripod also made by Guerrilla. One of the reasons I like this is I don’t have to use the tripod and I can sit in the camping chair and only use the pochade box.
3) A French easel, especially the half-size, is another good choice.
NOTE: I can’t emphasize enough that the less you have to carry, the better. I recommend a bag or back pack that holds all your art supplies. A few days before I go, I get out all of my supplies and set everything up as if I was painting to make sure everything works. One year when I set up my tripod a few days early, one of the legs fell off and I had time to deal with it. Take your painting supplies outside and walk to the end of the block to make sure you are comfortable carrying everything!
PALETTE, PAINTS, & BRUSHES
Your palette should definitely have a lid to keep the colors fresh from day to day. My plastic palette came with my pochade box and fits in it perfectly. I use Winsor Newton tube colors with a couple of Holbein. Everyone has their favorite brands and colors so bring whatever you like. Here are the ones I use:
Cadmium Red Medium (WN)
Alizarin Crimson (WN)
Rose Dore (WN)
Cadmium Yellow Light (WN)
Lemon Yellow (H)
Yellow Ochre (WN)
Raw Sienna (WN)
Burnt Sienna (WN)
Raw Umber (WN)
Olive Green (WN)
Terre Verte (WN) the actual color of sage brush
Perylene Green (WN)
Cerulean Blue (H)
Colbalt Blue (WN)
Ultramarine Blue (WN) also know as french ultramarine blue
Cobalt Violet (WN) one of my favorite mixers
Mineral Violet (H)
I bring a plastic bag of my tube paints that I keep in my hotel room and I freshen up my colors every night.
I use travel brushes because the handle twists off and goes back on to protect the brush. A bamboo mat also works great to roll up regular brushes and keep them safe. I favor #6, #8 and #10 round sable brush. Synthetics also work well.
WATERCOLOR PAPER AND SKETCHBOOKS
I like the Aquabee Super Deluxe Sketch Book which comes in several sizes. The pages work for both drawing and watercolor and I have done some of my favorite paintings in this book. If you are going to paint in a sketchbook, make sure that it says it works for watercolor. I prefer watercolor blocks because they are already stretched. The 8”x 10” or 9”x 12” or 12”x 16” are the best sizes to use for painting on location. Fabriano is a top choice paper. Fluid Watercolor Blocks also work well and are less expensive. The paper should be cold press 140lb. You may want a notebook or you can take notes in your sketchbook. A mechanical pencil is great for drawing because you don’t need a sharpener. Also a #6 or #7 pencil is good for value studies. Don’t forget a kneaded eraser.
Water container and spray bottle.
Tissue without lotion or paper towel (Viva being the best). Some of my students also use white rags that can be washed and reused.
Viewfinder - the landscape outdoors can be overwhelming and looking through a viewfinder helps to isolate and simplify the scene in front of you. You can easily make one out of a jewelry box, just cut a square out of the box! Or you can also use a precut mat frame or even a thick piece of paper with a square cut out of it.
Camera - for taking photos of the scene so you can reference them later if you want to finish a painting or want to paint it again.