It is not required to do these exercises in a sketchbook! I enjoy working with these small exercises in a sketchbook for two reasons:

         1. Keeps the size small
         2. I use ‘less’ good paper

If you don’t have a sketchbook or do not want to use it on these exercises, please feel free to trim down your student grade paper (if you have some) and save the “nicer” paper for other paintings.

You can even use the backside of paintings that you weren’t planning to keep to do these exercises if it takes the pressure off!

Here is an overview of the supplies I’ll be using in this series of exercises:


Pentalic Aqua Journal 5”x8”

Princeton Heritage 4050 Round Brushes Size 6 & 10

Paints (no specific colors required, just use what you have!)

White Artist Masking Tape (1-inch wide x 60 yds)
Uniball White Signo Gel Pen
Pencil + Eraser (I’m using a B lead pencil)

2 thoughts on “Supplies”

  1. I’ll admit to being something of a geek, but one of the things that I found really confusing when I started with watercolor was how paper is marketed and priced. First I had to learn about “pulp” and “cotton,” then paper weight, then sketchbook bindings (sewn, coil.. perforated, or not)… loose, pad, or block… and the pricing! So I made a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet breaks down paper by multiplying the length x width x number of sheets in the item.. then divides the price of the product by the square inches of one side of a sheet. It’s pretty intuitive that paper without cotton, or lighter weight paper is cheaper, but when it comes to cotton 300# paper Saunders and Arches are treated like they are worth their weight in gold. And comparatively speaking, this is simply not so. Saunders purchased in an 11*15 (quarter sheet) is $.008/square inch. Arches in a 22*30 sheet is .011/inch. By comparison an Etchr notebook comes in at $.036/square inch.. 3x the price for Arches, a “Reflections” (no cotton) comes in at $.014/square inch. The “expensive” watercolor papers compared to sketchbooks are considerably _less_ expensive than even a cheap sketchbook. There is a technique for tearing larger sheets down to size that will render a large sheet into nice 5×7 pages in under 5 minutes. And using quality paper makes water, and watercolor, move more predictably, allowing students to master techniques poor quality paper make into a struggle. I think the reverse of what is conventional wisdom is true: sheets for practice, sketchbooks when you’re confident of what you’re producing and want to preserve it.

    1. First of all, I love that you were a “geek” about it. Paper and pricing are definitely confusing – and the way you broke it down (by sq. inch) makes a lot of sense. I can definitely agree with you: sheets for practice, sketchbooks when you’re confident when it comes to the cost.

      I think actually, many people are more hesitant to “ruin” a sketchbook because of the fact that it’s bound and in a book format – which makes it feel more “valuable” than a sheet. (Which per your findings is actually true!)

      I agree that quality paper is of the utmost importance, and you said it well “using quality paper makes water, and watercolor, move more predictably, allowing students to master techniques poor quality paper make into a struggle”. And if you ask me, I couldn’t agree more that we should all practice on good quality 100% watercolor paper. (I have “graduated” to tearing down a full size to smaller sheets because it’s the most economical).

      I wish that I could eloquently convey your findings to make an argument about using good quality full size sheets! Thank you for sharing.

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