WATERCOLOR SUPPLIES and Recommended Books

Option 1:

If you prefer, you can order a “Beginner’s Kit” from me for $60
(about 15% off the cost of buying it all yourself), which includes:

- 12 sheets (9x12”) of Arches or Fabriano top-quality paper
- half a tube of each of ten watercolor paints
- a portable folding palette
- four quality synthetic brushes

If you'd like a kit, just let me know. You can pay for the kit along
with the class, via PayPal (see the Sign-Up page), Venmo or Zelle,
or you can pay for it in cash at the first class.
PLEASE NOTE: You can't run out of paint during class --
refills are included. (Other necessary supplies, which you
doubtless already own, are listed below.)

You *may* want to purchase more paper ($16 per pad) as the
 class progresses, but most students find this kit is enough to
last through six weeks.

Option 2:

If you prefer to buy your own materials, please refer to the list below. It may look overwhelming at first, but one visit to an art store (or half an hour online) will take care of everything you need. Detailed information about materials and art stores follow.

SHOPPING LIST: If you buy your own supplies, copy this list, print it out, and show it to the clerk.

 PAPER: Buy ONE of the following:

1. One PAD of Arches paper 9x12” or larger. It has a black and green cover. Be sure to get COLD PRESSED paper. Available online, and at Utrecht and New York Central Art Supply, for about $13-15; highly recommended. You can always buy a pad from me in the studio for $13.

2. OR:  3 sheets of ARCHES or FABRIANO brand watercolor paper, each 30 x 22” or larger (about $5 to $7 per sheet). Ask for sheets of  "140-pound, cold press paper"

3.  OR:  one BLOCK of Arches paper, at least 8x10” (beware: blocks are WAY more expensive than pads, hard to use, and not recommended).

**ABSOLUTELY DO NOT**  buy "student" or "studio" Strathmore, Canson, Montvale, or Fabriano pads, or any other cheaper pad that says “ideal for students” -- they're not! You'll be wasting your money and buying a lot of grief. Trust me -- quality is a must here, and worth the price.

Ask the art store clerk to pick two decent synthetic brushes for you. Utrecht and Princeton are good, inexpensive brands. Cost runs $5 to $15.    
  • A 1-inch  OR  three-quarter-inch wide flat brush
  • A round (pointed) brush (#10 12, or 14; the bristles should be at least 1.25" to 1.5" long)
  • Utrecht's own brand has a great kit of 4 watercolor brushes, including a flat with a Lucite handle. Ask the clerk.
  • You can also buy a set of 6 Princeton brand brushes from me for $16.

  • for wetting the paper: either a clean blusher brush (fairly large, old or new), or a 2" or 3" wide hake (pronounced “hockey”) goat hair brush 
  • a small #6 or #5 round pointed brush for details
  • a thin “rigger” or "liner" brush

These student-grade paints are inexpensive, mostly $3-$4 per tube, but very good quality:

  • Van Gogh - sold at Dick Blick stores
  • Grumbacher Academy - check online first
  • Cotman (Winsor & Newton student grade) - but avoid their Permanent Rose color

If you care to spend more, the professional-grade paints offer similar colors and characteristics, but with improved lightfastness, intensity, and overall quality. Recommeded brands, from cheapest to most expensive, are:
  • M. Graham brand (less expensive but excellent)
  • Utrecht brand 
  • Daniel Smith brand
  • Winsor & Newton
  • Holbein
Student Grade,
on a budget:
Grumbacher Academy

Professional but affordable:
M. Graham, Utrecht,
Professional Grade,
most expensive:
Winsor & Newton
and the Daniel Smith brands  

"Lemon Yellow" or "Azo Yellow Light"  Van Gogh or Utrecht brand
Lemon Yellow or "Winsor Yellow"
 "Indian Yellow" also known as...  New Gamboge 
Permanent Red Light
  Van Gogh
Similar colors are available in all paints: Winsor Red
"Quinacridone Rose"
 Van Gogh brand
All are top quality at a more reasonable price than W&N. "Permanent Rose"  
M. Graham or
Winsor & Newton
"Ultramarine Blue" 
M. Graham brand is only at Dick Blick art supply, Bond St. off Bway.  "Ultramarine Blue" Winsor&Newton
 "Prussian Blue"
Van Gogh
 "Prussian Blue"
Winsor & Newton
“Sap Green” 
any brand
Each brand is slightly different, but similar. “Permanent Sap Green” 
Below are three
"earth colors":
“Burnt Umber”   Van Gogh or W&N Cotman “Burnt Umber”    Winsor&Newton
"Burnt Siena"
Van Gogh, W&N Cotman, or Utrecht
 "Burnt Siena"
“Raw Siena” or "Yellow Ochre"
Van Gogh or W&N Cotman

"Raw Siena" Winsor&Newton


Buy a small plastic palette with a hinged cover to hold your paints (mixing dishes are provided in class, but it’s handy to have a covered palette).  Small is fine; most art stores have them for $4 to $6. If you have lots of room to work at home, you might want a larger, flat palette (many tupes available at all art stores, but not essential).

At home you'll need these “NECESSARY ITEMS” on the list below. You can always borrow them from me in class as well.
They are: Paper towels and Kleenex, a pencil, a ruler, a small plastic spray bottle for water (available in the studio to borrow, or buy for $2), a few ordinary plastic supermarket bags, a "kneaded eraser," available for $1 in the studio or in any art/stationery store. And of course, your own brushes, paints, and paper.

If you get more seriously into watercolor, you may want these for later on; no need to buy them now, though.

A piece of lightweight corrugated plastic, or a piece of foamcore, or heavy-cardboard mat covered with Contac paper, cut to 9x12" or a bit bigger. If you can't find this, you can just borrow mine in class.

White artist tape if you want to tape your paper to the board (about $5-7 a roll, depending on width). The adhesive will not harm your paper, and it's re-usable over and over again. An easier way: buy "bulldog clips" to clip your paper to the board. Again, this is for later, and I can lend you all these things in class.

No need to read further.
But if you're interested, here are some useful details about watercolor supplies...


This is your single most important item. Please buy ARCHES brand only! (properly pronounced “Arsh”, but everone says "arches") Buy the "140-pound, cold-press sheets". One 30" x 22" sheet can be cut into quarters or sixths or eighths, and costs about $6-7.

Please bring at least one full sheet, cut into smaller pieces like eighths or sixths, to the first class. Protect them flat in a stiff folder, or carry them in a large magazine.

OR, you can buy Arches paper in pads or blocks if you prefer, at least 9”x12”. Note that PADS are much less expensive than BLOCKS. You can always buy the pads from me, for about $16 each (depending on how the Euro is doing).

NOTE: Never, NEVER, NEVER buy cheaper Canson, Strathmore, Fabriano, or Montvale “ideal for students” padsthey will doom you to failure and frustration. Trust me on this. Top-quality paper is your top priority, and well worth the cost.  

Arches does not make "student-grade" paper, so you can't go wrong with it. You can buy top-quality pads of Arches for $16 and up at Dick Blick art supplies...but call first, they're often out of stock.  (See “where to shop” below) or via Internet. I always have them in the studio for purchase.

We will use about 2 sheets per class session. For homework, you can paint on paper as large as you like -- but at least 5x7”.


Please Note:  DO NOT use acrylic or oil brushes -- they are too stiff and not suitable for watercolor.

Try to buy your brushes in person. Ask a knowledgeable art store clerk to pick two decent quality student grade watercolor brushes for you. Expect to spend $8 to $19 tops per brush. Princeton brand brushes have been generally good, and the Utrecht brand (only at Dick Blick stores) is very good. You can also buy "Creative Inspiration" brushes in the studio; they are excellent quality at a low price., about $15 for 8 brushes.

Do not invest in costly sable brushes, even if money is no object. They are actually much more difficult for a beginner to use.


Please DO NOT buy or use a set of dry cakes of color. I’ve chosen the eight  colors above for best quality and price (mostly under $3/tube). You will probably want to add a few more colors later, but these have been chosen for their superior transparency and non-staining attributes (which means you won’t end up with “mud”).

Please note that if you purchase a Beginner's Kit,
I will refill your paints
if you run out during the 6-week class.

Good-quality student-grade paints include:
Van Gogh
Winsor & Newton Cotman,  
Grumbacher Academy

Please avoid the Blick brand, and the Reeves brand.

Top-quality artist-grade paints include: 

Utrecht Brand: inexpensive but highly rated, a real bargain. 
M. Graham brand is excellent quality and value, with intense color.
Daniel Smith paints (available at Blick  and online at are highly rated overall, and less expensive than W&N.
Winsor & Newton Professional, most expensive, but very good.


Note: I’ll supply you with plastic containers for holding water, plus plastic plates for mixing colors. You can also borrow all the things below. But for painting at home, it's good to have the following on hand: 

Your paints, paper, and brushes, plus...

Kleenex (generic is fine; dont' use paper towels to blot your painting)

Paper towels  or a household sponge to use as a 'mop pad' to control the water in your brush. Bounty’s good, and Viva works best—it has no texture, just in case you need to blot your entire painting.

Ruler or straightedge  

Ordinary pencil, preferably one marked "H" or "HB" instead of "B"

Kneaded eraser, available in any art store and most stationery stores, is much better than others, as it leaves no eraser-bits and won't damage the paper.

A small empty spray bottle for water, available at most drugstores. If you can't find one, I have them for $2.

Plastic bags -- Several ordinary clean ones from the supermarket, to safeguard your paints and paper enroute.

 You probably have most of these around the house, or hit your 99-Cent store.

WHERE TO SHOP for watercolor supplies:

Sadly, there is only one place in the city:
Dick Blick Art Supplies, with four locations in Manhattan. 

They carry Van Gogh and M. Graham paints, and the recommended Arches pads, but call first to make sure the pads are in stock.
    Please note: Michael's carries NO quality watercolor supplies at all.

Dick Blick locations:
- Sixth Ave between 19th and 20th Street
- 13th St. between University and Fifth Aves.  212-777-5353
- 237 W 23rd Street, between 7th and 8th Aves. 212-675-8699
- 1-5 Bond Street, off Broadway just above Bleecker St.  212-533-2444


If you'd rather shop online, try these:  

Of course shipping is extra, so savings may vary. Get on their email 
list, and you get further discounts and sometimes free shipping.

Please be SURE you have all your supplies, or have ordered a Beginner's Kit, before class begins.  


Recommended Books


No book is required.

Art supplies are not cheap, and I don’t want anyone suffering from sticker shock.

However...looking at watercolor images is not only inspirational, but a great help. Of course Pinterest and Youtube have mostly take the place of books for images and instruction, and those are the best places to start. 

In the studio, you're welcome to browse my many books of course. Either way, you'll get a good idea of watercolor's many possibilities.

Nearly every beginner book has the same basic technique information, so if you buy one, choose the book with watercolors in a style that  really appeals to you.

My favorite beginner book: Watercolor: No Experience Necessary 

by Carol Cooper (out of print, but all these are available on amazon)

You Can Paint Watercolors by Alwyn Crawshaw (paperback)   

Watercolor: A New Beginning by Anne Lindsay

Watercolor for the Fun of It: Getting Started by John Lovett  He also has an excellent watercolor website worth exploring,

The Watercolor Book by David Dewey    The one book that contains everything you'll ever need to know, with gorgeous paintings.


The Complete Sketching Book by John Hamilton, an excellent drawing book:  

 The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. A deservedly famous bestseller on how to be more creative, no matter what your art.

                                       * * *

                                                                Top of Page