This post is designed to demonstrate both the tools and I use, and some points about why I choose them.  There is a video below that shows you my “everyday” tools, and I’ll elaborate more here.

Let’s start with the brushes.  I have one or two that I go to when I need a broad wash, or even a broad dry brush.  First is my Richeson 1 1/2″ flat. I use it for both large wet washes, and large area’s that need some dry brush effect.  The other one is my Isabey (Squirrel, if I recall correctly).  It is the most expensive brush I own.  I use it for wet, loose washes, but honestly, my “do everything” brush was not expensive.  It is still, by far, my favorite.  It is a Cheap Joe’s branded brush, the line was called “Water Hawk”  and I don’t think you can buy them anymore.  I bought my first set maybe 15 years ago, and I really only have the size 14 left, so I went to order more and couldn’t find them.  I asked customer service and they sent me to the “Dream Catcher” series.  I ordered them, and they are very similar, but not as great as the “Water Hawk” series was.  Even so, they are (in my opinion) the best water color brush value on the market.  I still pull out that #14 Water Hawk first, but if I need to go in tighter, I use the Dream Catcher #10 to do that work.  It doesn’t hold quite as much water and it comes to a beautiful point…who needs a 6 when a well made 10 can do the job!?!  I have a lot of brushes, and quite a few that I purchased for watercolor, made their way into my acrylic work, because they just didn’t have the flexibility, water retention and movement that I wanted with a watercolor brush.

Now lets talk about what I paint ON.  I actually am pretty adventurous when it comes to painting surfaces, but I have found that some are just better for what they designed for.  So, canvas, for example.  I enjoy painting watercolor on canvas, but I generally find I want to pop the color more and end up going with acrylic, though I use acrylic very much like I use watercolor in glazes (that is another topic!).

Here is a watercolor on canvas painting I did.  It is actually 3 canvases, done one at at time, then screwed together and framed together.  Honestly, I did the center section first.  When I really looked at it, I thought, “I think it needs more sky”.  So, I did the top panel, making sure I used the same colors as in the sky in the middle panel, and here is another reason to love watercolor.  Look how the sky moves down.  My painting table is on a slight slant, and that happened naturally.  I love that!  Any way, then I looked at the two together and thought, “hmm. now the bottom needs more.  I need to add the lake!”  So, out came another canvas the same size (12 x 36) and I painted the bottom part.  Finally, I felt that it was done.  All together it is 36 x 36, I called “Serenity” and it is all watercolor on canvas.



I have done a good bit of work on claybord.  Specifically, Ampersand claybord and Ampersand Aquabord.  The regular textured claybord works well with Watercolor, and if you want to do alot of lifting, it is definitely the way to do.  The added benefit is that it does not have to go behind glass, BUT it must be sprayed with a fixative to protect the surface from moisture.  I don’t find that it makes any changes in color or value. (Note, the same is not true if you are using a varnish/fixative on a soft pastel.  It will darken the values and alter the color…but again, that is another topic!)

So, here is one I did on Claybord (textured). The beauty of working on the claybord, as I mentioned, is the lifting ability you have.  All those highlights were lifted, and after the painting was completely dry.  This is also why it is imperative to seal it.  It doesn’t take alot of moisture, to lift it away!

Budding Beautywm

I also really enjoy painting watercolor on Yupo paper (there are several videos of that here on this site and on my YouTube channel.  (search for Gallerygerl).  It is dangerously fun!  Yupo is a “slick” surface and the watercolor sits on top of it.  That means it moves everywhere, or you move it anywhere until it dries, which takes a while, even in New Mexico.  I have a full length video to finish editing on that topic.  It’s also good to start your painting session with a small painting on Yupo.  It will help you loosen up! :)

Here are two different examples of watercolor on Yupo paper.  The first one is a simple floral, and it literally took 30 seconds or so to do.  I’m not kidding.


The next example, is a layered watercolor on Yupo.  There are more than 30 various layers here.  It was totally an experiment and I didn’t know if it would work.  Normally, going back with new watercolor on top of dried watercolor, on Yupo, would literally remove what was there before and blend that hue with whatever hue is on your brush.  What I did to solve that is the basis of another full length video that is in the edit stage.  It is called, “The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends”

The Road Goes on Forever and Party Nevr Ends.

My ultimate favorite though, the surface I go back to when I’m really feeling “watercolory” is Arches 140lb Cold Press paper.  I generally buy 10 packs of 10 full sheets.  Yes, that is 100 full sheets.  That should tell you for sure, it is my go to for watercolor.  And here is the truth, no I don’t stretch it.  and I don’t even tape it down to a board, unless I’m really going wet, and sometimes not even then! So, in keeping with the above, here is a good example of true form, watercolor on 140Lb Arches Cold Press Watercolor Paper. This painting is on a a 1/2 sheet (22 x 15 1/2). “Golden Light, Night Drama”

Night Dramawm


So,  there are some great examples of watercolor used on various painting surfaces. I hope you can see the varying effects of how what you paint on, can alter how the watercolor behaves and what the overall effect is, in the end piece.  And below is  the video about those tools that I discussed in this post.  Happy painting!

So many people have said to me, “I could never paint watercolor! It is so hard to work with.”  I couldn’t disagree more.  While I understand that there is a delicate balance between water and color, or pigment, I absolutely love the way it moves, the surprises and elements of happy accidents can give you a new direction or even an end result that is absolutely delightful.  While I also paint with acrylic and pastel (I love those too), watercolor came  first for me once I transitioned from pencil to paint!

Some qualities I particularly enjoy are watching how different pigments work together..or don’t. Learning that balance between  water and pigment, and how to manipulate it is a forever learning experience.  How the pigment suspends, or breaks down it water.  Some pigments, like Antwerp Blue, actually seem to run to the water, seeking it out.  I love the transparent colors and demonstrating the differences between transparent and opaque colors.  It’s a dance.

When I’m working with acrylic, I actually use it in very much the same methods as I do with watercolor…in layered glazes. I use water with the acrylic to help it move (mostly because I’m addicted to the movement of watercolor) but have to be careful not to use too much water or it breaks down the color too much.

But this is a discussion of watercolor.  It’s really important to know your colors.  Know what they are like full strength and how they “grade” down to their lightest light.  Know what colors mix well and what shades result.  What colors are complementary?  Your color wheel can help with that, and I use other tools too.  Check out the video below and I’ll show you some very handy tools you can use to really get familiar with the colors in your palette.  There is more to read after the video, so don’t go away just yet!

So, now that you’ve seen the video, here is the secret.  Creating those charts was not my idea.  It came from the most valuable book I ever purchased on the topic of Watercolor: “The Watercolor Painter’s Pocket Palette” by Moira Clinch.  Click on the ad to buy it from Amazon sellers. And, till next time, happy painting!

It intimidates.  At least, so I’m told.  “Oooh, but watercolor is so hard!”  Come now, really?  Water, pigment and a wide array paintable surfaces, from paper (of all kinds) to canvas to wood (even a violin!) bring me nothing but delight! Scary? Not in the least.  Soothing….for sure.  Take a look:

YouTube DirektAhhhh..painting on Yupo Paper!