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 dickblick.com. 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!