Watercolour Supplies

A Note About Pigments

I have listed the actual pigment used for each colour; that is the specific letters and numbers after the name. No matter what brand of paint you buy, you should be able to find the pigment listed on it and with very few exceptions know that you have the correct colour. Each company chooses the name of their colours, so for example Red PV 19 may be called Red Rose Deep in one brand and Permanent Rose in another. Learn to look for the specific pigment.

Artist-Quality Watercolour Paint

Note: Use artist-quality, not student-quality watercolour paint. This helps ensure rich colour, consistency and permanency. Winsor & Newton Artist (NOT Cotman) quality is good. Da Vinci brand and Daniel Smith are also good in most pigments and more cost effective. When ‘any brand’ is listed below, you will save money by buying DaVinci brand. However, Burnt Sienna from Winsor & Newton is far superior, and I consider it well worth the extra cost.

Essentials (WN=Winsor Newton)

  • Ultramarine Blue PB 29 – any brand
  • Phthalo Blue (green shade) PB 15 – any brand
  • Phthalo Green (yellow shade) PG 7 – any brand
  • Cadmium Yellow Light PY 35 – any brand
  • Red PV 19 – Red Rose Deep Quin. in Da Vinci or Perm.Rose in WN
  • Permanent Alizarin Crimson PR 206 – best from WN
  • Burnt Sienna PR 101 from WN is essential
  • White gouache – Pebeo makes a large tube of white gouache that is inexpensive and integrates well with any watercolour paint.

Optional Frequently Used Pigments

  • Orange – Vermillion Hue in Da Vinci
  • Yellow Ochre PY 43 in Da Vinci
First Snow, by Cheryl O


The new Synthetic brushes are excellent buys. A medium Size Round (Size 10), a 1.5 cm square, plus a 2.5 cm square brush are the essentials. OPTIONAL: a rigger or liner for details, and a larger round can be useful. A large (5 or 6 cm) hake brush is good for pre-wetting paper, and if you like to work larger. You may wish to experiment with other brush shapes and sizes.


The most cost-effective way to buy good quality paper is by the sheet. Ask the staff, the sheets are tucked away in drawers. I recommend an acid free (not PH Neutral) 140 lb. sheet with `Cold Pressed’ surface. Canson is a good brand. Buy 2 sheets or their 11 x 15 pad (blue cover) is often a good price point. Often I will recommend what size of sheet to bring to the first class in the art course write up. For most classes you do not need to pre-stretch your paper, but do tape it to some sort of board for support. You can buy inexpensive light-weight plastic boards at art supply stores for this purpose. Cut it slightly larger than 16″ x 20″ and you will be able to tape a watercolour sheet that size onto it. If you would like to know how to prestretch watercolour paper, most often used for wet and wild techniques,  click here

Miscellaneous Supplies

Any white palette (I use wax paper over a piece of white cardboard), 1 sheet of graphite paper (light gray), soft pencil (4B), HB pencil, pencil sharpener, sticky tac or hold-it (better than a kneadable easer), ball point pen, large plastic container for water, shop towels (see note below), small piece of hand soap, 3 ring binder for notes, masking or painter’s tape, 12″ ruler, scissors, and photos for reference (inspiration!).

About Paper Towels

The blue “shop towels” found at hardware stores are much more absorbent, and can be rinsed out at the end of the painting session and reused multiple times before throwing them away. Much better for the environment, and also more pleasant to work with than paper towels.