Learning to Watercolor – Preferred Tools of a Watercolorist
Sketchbook, Drawing Paper and Drawing Pencils
To plan a painting composition, an artist usually begins by sketching the subject on drawing paper or a sketchbook using drawing pencils. When satisfied with the composition, the artist can then transfer it onto a sheet of watercolor paper before beginning the painting. The outline drawing is then used as a guide for the composition.
Something as simple as newsprint paper and a standard lead pencil is sufficient for this purpose.
Watercolor paper comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and paper qualities. Paper most preferred by watercolorists includes:
Watercolor pads of cold-pressed 90-lb or 140-lb 100% cotton, acid-free
Full or half sheets of cold-pressed 140-lb or 300-lb 100% cotton, acid-free
Optional: Watercolor paper blocks The same quality as watercolor sheets in a variety of standard sizes from 3.9 x 9.8 inches to 18 x 24 inches
Tools Used For Stretching Watercolor Paper
There are a variety of methods for stretching watercolor paper. But, the basic tools include a heavy board to paste, or tape and staple, a wet sheet of watercolor paper on to and allowing it to dry flat. The preferred tools include:
Drawing board or heavy "gator" boards
Glue paste or glue tape, stapler and staples or thumb tacks
Blotters for absorbing excess water from the paper
Artists quality watercolor paint, packaged in 5 ml or 14 ml tubes, is most commonly used by watercolorists.
A basic color palette contains one cool and one warm hue for each of the primary, secondary and tertiary colors in the color wheel.
Each artist over time develops a preference of color hues to use as their basic color palette.
Palette Tray, Plate or Cups, and Water Containers
These items are used to hold and mix watercolor paints and water to dilute the paints and for cleaning watercolor brushes.
The standard watercolor brush is made of natural animal hair. Pure red sable is the most popular choice because it handles paint well and retains its shape for many years. Watercolor brushes are also made of camel hair, pony hair, ox hair and synthetic hair.
Brush shapes used by watercolorist include:
Round: This is the 'all purpose' brush shape used for large washes to small fine strokes.
Flat: This brush shape is used for laying straight-edged shapes such as buildings and landscape horizons.
Wash: This wide-shaped brush makes laying large background areas quick and easy.
Masking fluid is a white or pastel tinted liquid that is used to coat and protect areas of white on the watercolor paper for creating highlights. After the masking application dries and the painting is finished and completely dry, the masking fluid is rubbed off to expose the highlights.
Watercolor Easel, Table Easel or Drawing Table
A watercolor easel or drawing table allows for working on a flat surface while painting wet-in-wet. It also has the ability to adjust the painting angle from horizontal to a slanting tilt for laying washes and painting in an upright position.
The alternative work surface can be a kitchen table, desk or any table-height flat surface and a table easel with adjustable tilting angles.