Art Supplies

The emails I get most often ask about one of two things: how I became a full time artist and what kind of art supplies I use. I love answering both, but the former will require a whopper of a post which I will save for another day. I want to talk supplies first!  The quality of the supplies you use is soooo important.

The most important thing of all is paper. Cold Press 140 lb arches to be exact! I buy these watercolor blocks from It is sort of pricey but it is so worth it. When I paint on other papers, it seriously looks like mush.



Sometimes I want it to look like mush though! So then I use Hot Press paper, which is super smooth. Ala this 40″x60″ dots painting I did this week. HOWEVER, this is just me- I know a world renowned botanical painter who uses hot press and gets the detail-iest detail ever. One thing is universal though- you will probably get a better result on the nice French paper, so practice on that huge pad of paper thin cheap paper, and do the real thing on the arches!



I am just as much a paint snob as I am a paper snob. It is so so so so so important to have good paint. I use Winsor and Newton out of the tubes. I always have burnt sienna and ultramarine blue on hand. I use those two colors in almost everything I do, so they are always on hand.

I also have a love affair with Dr. PH Martins.. The colors are so brilliant. You have to get the “Transparent Watercolors”, not the “Concentrated”. The concentrated just stick to the page and don’t move. These colors are like candy, I especially looooove deep red rose.

One thing I don’t splurge on is brushes and palettes. I can’t even tell you what brand I use. I use cheap plastic palettes and I use natural or synthetic brushes, makes no difference to me. The brushes just can’t be too soft. It’s impossible for me to buy them online without touching them though. So I spend lots of time in art store aisles, just getting a feel for all of the brushes. My idea of heaven is spending an afternoon in Pearl Paint, just picking out brushes and paint. When I was an intern at Diane Von Furstenberg living in the NYU dorms, I would indulge in this one a week. I didn’t work on Mondays, so every Monday I would walk all the way down Broadway to Canal Street, spend some time in Pearl Paint, then swing back up Lafayette and stop in a Chinese bakery along the way for a bubble tea. I don’t get much time to do this any more. Think I will make a point of doing it at least once a year from now on!

9 Responses to “Art Supplies”

  1. ashley says:

    love your work + love this post!! thanks for the tips… can’t wait to try those transparent watercolors! oh, + i love that i’m not the only one who loves to peruse art stores + feel out new brushes. :)

  2. Jan says:

    Caitlin – so happy to see your “advice’ piece – its truly inspiring when painters and artists share. I cant wait to try the transparent liquids. Im heading next week to Maine to paint on Monhegan island for a week , so excited. If I may – I have one more question for you – I like to put some of my paintings on my blog , but find when I scan them the texture of the watercolor paper leaves shadows – any tips on this? Love all your work – thanks so very much for your constant inspiration , Jan Powers

    • caitlin says:

      Hi Jan! Make sure it is super, super flat when you scan it. Then bring it into photoshop and take away the white background around your painting by selecting it and hitting delete. You could also try making it brighter in photoshop, which could eliminate the shadows. Have fun painting!

  3. Caroline Crisp says:

    Thanks for the info! I will have to try the Arches watercolor blocks. When I paint (which isn’t often with 2 jobs) I use Winsor & Newton, but I like some of Holbein’s colors…I think they have some great colors that I don’t see in other lines. Daniel Smith watercolors have lots of colors too, but I haven’t tried them yet. :)

  4. Lynn Rutledge says:

    Thank you; that info is very helpful!

  5. Molly says:

    I wish I had your talent!! I love to just play around with paint (even though I’m terrible), so it will be fun to try out some of your suggestions. Maybe my masterpieces will turn out better. haha!

  6. Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been checking back often to see if it was posted and today, during my lunch break, I was so happy to see it. It did not disappoint. I have used the concentrated Dr. Martins and always wondered what was wrong with me- so now I’ll try the transparent. See, that was a big help!
    Thanks for taking my suggestion seriously….If you ever need some invitations, please look us up or contact at :

    Have a great weekend! All the best, Judy

  7. deb says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful and generous entry. Your work is inspired, happy, and tells a story. Keep it up, and please keep sharing on your process. It helps us aspiring Caitlin’s keep going.

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