Gathering up the Extras
After you have the basics of brush, paint, and paper, you still need a few extras to make painting more than a possibility. The good news is that you can find most of these extra supplies around the house.
Water container: You need water to rinse your brush, so you need a container to hold water. Your container doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be as simple as a plastic cup, as long as it’s stable enough not to tip over. You can go the fancy route and buy a container with ridges in the bottom to give you something to rub your brush over to loosen sticky paint, although watercolor paint is pretty gentle and rinses completely and easily. Divided containers let you have a dirty-water rinse well and a clean-water rinse well. Some containers have a rim with holes where you can stand brushes upright for easy access.
Palette: A palette is a white container to put paints on. You need a white palette because white is the best color to gauge colors against. (When you think of a palette, you may imagine a kidney-shaped wooden board hand-held by an artist wearing a beret. That’s an oil painter’s palette. Oil paints are thick and don’t run. Watercolor is liquid so you need a deeper palette.)
A very simple watercolor palette is a disposable foam plate, but you can choose from many styles if you want to purchase one-round and square shapes are the most popular.
Most palettes have a mixing area and wells around the perimeter to hold paints. The number of wells varies, so decide whether you want many wells to hold lots of different colors or fewer but larger wells to hold more paint and accommodate bigger brushes. Some palettes have lids to prevent paint from spilling, which is especially nice if you plan to take your supplies to classes.
Sponge: Dampen the sponge, wring it out, and place it beside your water container. You rinse your brushes in the water container and touch the brush against the sponge to get rid of any excess water. This prevents getting too much water on your painting. When you finish painting for the day, place the damp sponge in your lidded palette to keep the paints moist for the next day.
A box of tissues or a roll of paper towels: Tissues are handy as blotters when you have too much water on the painting. Paper towels or old cloth towels work well too. Having a tissue at the ready in your nondominant hand is a good plan. You can control water in your brush or dab at a puddle in your painting.
Spray bottle: You need to have some type of spray bottle handy so you can wet down paint on your palette when it dries out and wet down your paper as needed. My favorite spray bottle is an old pump-action window cleaner bottle. Unfortunately, this type of bottle may be difficult to find. A trigger sprayer is a handy tool. It can be fun to collect different spray patterns for different splatters in the paint.
Miscellaneous goodies to collect: Here are more items I use in different projects in this book: a stapler and staples, masking fluid, bar or liquid soap, a blow-dryer, old toothbrush, brush holder for storage, pencil, graphite paper, a red ballpoint pen, credit card or plastic knife for scraping, razor blade, sketchbook for thumbnail sketches, tracing paper, and a kneaded eraser. Optional supplies include gum arabic, a board to stretch paper on (1⁄2-inch Gatorfoam), and gloves for handling paper. You don’t need all of these supplies at once. Acquire them as needed.