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2014 ROCKPORT, MA Workshop    Basic Watercolor materials list       

Plein Air Painting Materials and Equipment

Instructor --- Elizabeth Greaf 

USE OF THE RIGHT MATERIALS IS ALSO ESSENTIAL   You can find a major cost savings at some of
the art supply catalog sites listed at the bottom.    Try to avoid getting your more costly supplies at local hobby stores.  Their art supplies are limited, expensive, and sometimes in bad condition from customer handling.

Plan to travel light, you may have to transport your gear over gravel or grass.  This list looks long but is not as much as appears.  It is your choice of equipment that can get out of hand.  I choose the equipment that I'll take based on conditions, local amenities such as tables, weather, terrain, and the distance of the painting site from the parking lot.




  • HB drawing pencil.
  • Erasers  
  • Staedtler Mars Brand Plastic Eraser
  • Sketchbook (9 X 12") for planning watercolor paintings and for keeping a drawing / note-taking journal. I prefer the Strathmore Recycled book with the spiral binding on the left.
  • Small Pencil Sharpener


Watercolor Supplies:

Another Note about watercolor supplies
--- the better the materials you obtain, the happier you will be with your work. 


Watercolor brushes have shorter handles than oil and are made of fur or synthetics.  The synthetic brushes are better than most of the “hair” brushes with the exception of sable. Only use synthetic, sable, or a blend but most important is the quality of the individual brush.  All brushes need good “spring” when wet, round brushes MUST come to a good point. 


  • ½” flat 
  • #6 Round (Tiny brushes are not needed, use a fine pointed larger brush instead, stubby brushes are useless.) If you want a small brush, get a #4.  
  • #10 or # 8 Round is helpful to cover larger areas but not essential when you start.

1” flat brush such as used in painting wood molding, for wetting large areas quickly, inexpensive brushes are fine here,
look in the hardware store or get a very large round watercolor brush.  (Optional)


Preferably in tubes.  (Absolutely no black or white paint to be used for classes with this instructor and “sets” do not have the right colors).  Winsor Newton is one of the best brands of the different watercolor paints, their tubes are either labeled “Professional"  They do have a student grade, "Cotman" but you'll get much better results with the "Professional" paints. I also use “Daniel Smith” watercolor paints.


Please have these colors, they are specifically selected to enable you to have a basic palette that will fully meet your needs.


  • Lemon Yellow   
  • Cadmium Yellow Medium
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Cadmium Scarlet or Cadmium Red Medium
  • Permanent Rose
  • French Ultramarine Blue (Not the green shade)
  • Cerulean Blue 
  • Sap Green
  • Hookers Green
  • Burnt Sienna

Other useful colors, but not essential, include Cobalt Blue, Thalo blue and green,

Naples yellow, and three from Daniel Smith:  Buff Titanium, Green Gold, and Moonglow.


Watercolor Paper 

140 pound cold pressed watercolor block.  12” X 16” or larger, preferably Arches brand(much cheaper at Jerry’s or Cheap Joes than at local chain hobby stores. If you are new to blocks check with me before opening your first block.  The block is very helpful when working in a breezy, outdoor setting.  Cheaper paper will not give you good results!  This block has 20 pages of paper glued together at the edges and supported on a heavy backing.



Miscellaneous Supplies 

Palette for watercolor paint

  • It should have a lid or tight fitting cover and several compartments for mixing color plus multiple small compartments to hold paint.  For travel, I use a small one that folds shut, has at least 20 places for paint around the edges and is divided into 5 paint mixing areas.       Examples are at Jerry’s #13461 or Cheap Joes #Q220.

Masking liquid and accessories  to keep areas of your paper white.  

  • Masking Liquid

        “Incredible White Mask or Winsor Newton brand mask.  (In white, removable)  No color!

  • #4 round, synthetic, brush with a good point is needed to apply the mask.  (Not your painting brush.)
  • Rubber cement pickup to remove the mask, it looks like an approximately 2” square piece of rubber and is often found in the glue section of the supply store.
  • Small amount of liquid dish soap should be used to help protect the brush or nib
  • Small container for water.

2 containers for water (plastic containers such as margarine cups for travel) plus the one to be used if you mask. 

Paper towels for both painting and cleanup.  These are essential.

An Xacto knife (#11 blade) and
a small T-square would be useful as you progress with your work but are not required  for the workshop.

At least 4 heavy clips to hold paper to your board in windy situations, if you don’t use a block of paper.

A small amount of table salt and a small piece of sand paper may be useful for special effects.


Equipment For Working Outdoors: 

  • Water for your painting and cleaning of brushes.


  • You will most likely want a folding chair or stool.


  • Whether standing or sitting you should consider carrying something to hold your palette,

        water, and brushes while you are working with them.  A sturdy box or folding camp table can do it.


  • Easels are optional.  It is possible to hold a watercolor block or board on your lap and paint while sitting on a stool or

        on the ground but can be a bit uncomfortable over a long session.  You know best how you can work comfortably
        for several hours.  Some artists prefer to use an easel out of doors but they can be heavy and awkward in wind.  


  • Extra plastic cups, such as from margarine, can be put under the narrow legs of

        easels to keep them from sinking into sand when painting at the beach.


  • Something to collect your trash while painting.


  • A simple way to transport your gear, canvas bags work better than hard art bins.  Sometimes luggage carts with large wheels are helpful if your gear will fit on them.  Some people like “ArtComber” (Jerry’s Artarama).  It is a great idea but some participants have been disappointed in its durability.  It does combine the ability to carry your gear and a

         seat on rollers.

        Luggage carts or similar dollies can be helpful but are best with large wheels on them.


  • Some type of weight and/or clamps to hold down anything that a windy day might turn into a frustrating distraction.


  • Other creature comforts such as drinking water, lunch, snacks.


  • Clothing, insect repellant, hat with a brim or visor, sun protection, chap stick, as appropriate for the weather.  


  • A plastic poncho if there is a possibility of showers and to sit on, if the ground is damp.

​You may want to obtain a copy of my Brochure on "Painting Outdoors".  It gives more information about planning your paint out and using the various equipment.


Some Catalogs for art supplies:


The Jerry’s Catalog                                                800 U-Artist              www.jerryscatalog.com

Cheap Joe’s                                                          800 227-2788            www.cheapjoes.com

Daniel Smith                                                        800 426-6740            www.danielsmith.com

Dick Blick Art Materials                                          800 828-4548            www.dickblick.com

If you have any questions about this list please contact Elizabeth Greaf at classes@artbyeliz.com.   
www.artbyeliz.com            List Revised 04/05/2014

Art by Elizabeth Greaf