Intro to Watercolor and Gouache
Class 1: Friday, 9/22/17 - 11/17/17, 4-6 pm, Yellow Barn, 9 sessions, $270
Class 2: Friday, 1/19/18 - 3/23/18, 4-6 pm, Yellow Barn, 10 sessions, $295
Watercolor and gouache are two of the most versatile and user-friendly mediums for a painter. No toxic mediums are necessary, transport is easy, and clean up is quick. Learn to paint with a direct approach and take advantage of the unique qualities that each paint offers. Our plans will include interpreting still life, the figure, working on location indoors, and possibly going outdoors (weather permitting). Model fee is separate and will be determined in class. Individual styles encouraged, and all levels of students are welcome. Minimum age 16.
Please scroll below for the supply list.
In my classes, students may choose to work strictly in watercolor, strictly in gouache, or in a combination of both. You don’t need too many supplies in each medium to get by. Shopping at local stores can be good for emergency items or the occasional good sale, but ordering ahead online will save you a considerable amount of money. I mostly order from Dick Blick, Cheap Joe’s, Fine Art Store, and Ken Bromley.
If you have never ordered from Ken Bromley before, you can use my referral code TTXV3 for your first order. Doing so will give you five times the amount of reward points to be used for future orders.
The best local art store I can think of is Plaza Art. Signing up for their membership program will give you a discount and emails with coupons. Michaels is incredibly expensive for art supplies and is primarily a craft store.
Please buy the best supplies you can afford! Student quality art materials lead to poor results and will seriously hinder your progress. Contrary to some belief, artist quality art materials are actually not that much more expensive.
For those on a budget, I would first get good quality paper, then I would invest in one or two good brushes, and then I would use my remaining money on paint. Paper and brushes come first!
Art supply reviews can be found on my blog.
My personal favorite paper is Saunders Waterford in both 140 lb or 200 lb. It can be bought in loose sheets and in blocks. Loose sheets will handle a light amount of water before buckling. Blocks are good because all sides of the paper are glued down and the painting remains flat. A watercolor block is good for class settings because the paper will not buckle while painting. Nice sizes for beginners are around 9" x 12" or 11" x 14".
If you’ve never used watercolor before, I recommend that you start on Cold Press paper (medium texture). Students may also use Hot Press paper (little to no texture) or Rough paper (heavy texture) if they wish.
Other good papers are Fabriano Artistico and Arches. Please do NOT get Canson paper or student paper.
The best brushes for watercolor are made from natural hair. My favorite brushes for watercolor are the Escoda Tajmyr Series 1212 (regular brushes) and 1214 (travel brushes). These brushes are pure Kolinsky brushes at an excellent price. Winsor & Newton Series 7 brushes are also very nice, but very expensive. Kolinsky brushes are the best because they hold large amounts of paint and maintain a lovely precise point.
Those who prefer layering many washes might enjoy mop brushes. Mop brushes are the best for that technique because they do not disturb previous layers of paint. I have a size 4 Isabey mop brush that comes in handy when I want to paint larger.
For those on a budget, Robert Simmons White Sable brushes are the best synthetic brushes I’ve ever tried.
Suggested sizes are a round 8 and a 12. A size 1 or 2 can be good for small details. Always buy the largest brush you can afford! Well maintained brushes can last a lifetime.
There are very many good paint brands for watercolor paints. For better results, be sure to get artist grade paints instead of student grade. It’s far better to get a few tubes of artist grade paint as opposed to many tubes of student grade. Even if they seem very small, watercolor tubes last an incredibly long time. Brands I mostly use are M. Graham, Winsor & Newton (NOT Cotman), Schmincke Horadam, Daniel Smith, and QoR.
The following is a suggested range of colors, but you do NOT need all of them. They do come in handy at different times, but I myself rarely use more than a few in each individual fine art painting. I very much encourage using a limited palette for good color harmony, especially if you are a beginner! For those just experimenting, starting out, or even those on a budget, you can get by with only Ultramarine Blue, Azo Yellow, Quinacridone Red, and any brown paint that I listed.
Blue: Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Cerulean Blue, Phthalo Blue
Green: Phthalo Green
Yellow: Azo Yellow, Green Gold, Quinacridone Gold (Daniel Smith only)
Orange: Translucent Orange (Schmincke) or Transparent Pyrrole Orange (QoR only)
Red: Quinacridone Red or Quinacridone Rose, Quinacridone Magenta, Permanent Magenta or Quinacridone Violet
Brown: Burnt Sienna (Winsor & Newton only), Quinacridone Burnt Orange (Daniel Smith or QoR) Burnt Umber
Black: Neutral Tint (M. Graham only)
Gouache can be used on illustration board and most heavyweight papers. For those who prefer stiff surfaces, illustration board is good. People who like working on single sheets might like Rives BFK paper (in white, tan, or cream colors). I personally like to use Fabriano Artistico Hot Press blocks.
Unlike watercolor, you do not need expensive brushes to get good results. With gouache, you start off with watercolor brushes and then you switch to oil/acrylic brushes near the end. Flat synthetic watercolor brushes are ideal, and Raphael Kaerell brushes are good to begin with. For the finishing touches, I like the Plaza Bright brushes, but any stiff synthetic brush with a chisel edge will do.
The only brands I recommend are M. Graham and Schmincke Horadam due to their emphasis on lightfastness, single pigment colors, and lack of chalk fillers or opacifiers in their paint. I do NOT recommend Winsor & Newton gouache under any circumstance.
As with watercolor, you do need very many paint colors in gouache. The ones I listed are good to have, but those who are budget conscious could use Ultramarine Blue, Azo Yellow, Quinacridone Rose, Napthol Red, Burnt Sienna (M. Graham only), and Titanium White. Those who are extra budget conscious could use only one red.
Blue: Dark Blue Indigo (Schmincke only) or Delft Blue (Schmincke only), Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Cerulean Blue
Green: Phthalo Green
Yellow: Azo Yellow (M. Graham only) or Cadmium Yellow Light, Gamboge (M. Graham only) or Indian Yellow (Schmincke only)
Red: Quinacridone Rose, Napthol Red, Quinacridone Magenta or Permanent Violet
Brown: Burnt Sienna (M. Graham only), Burnt Umber (M. Graham only)
White: A large tube of Titanium White or Zinc White
Any non-porous opaque white surface will make a good palette for both watercolor and gouache. I do recommend keeping separate palettes for both mediums.
Option 1: A plastic folding palette with individual wells. For beginners, this perhaps the most ideal option to start with. For those who like to paint large, a John Pike Palette is a popular choice. Those who like to paint medium or small might prefer a Mijello Fusion palette.
Option 2: A metal folding palette with individual whole/full pans. Students may use half pans, but I personally find them too small for a decent brush.
Option 3: A porcelain dish. They can be quite cumbersome to tote around to class and to plein air sessions, so I prefer to use my porcelain palettes for studio use only. Once you use a plate for painting, do NOT attempt to reuse it for culinary purposes since the glaze on the plates is absorbent. (A reminder to those with small children to be mindful of said children not using your good china plates as palettes)
Napkins (very important!), Cup for water, Brush Case, Sketchbook