My Painting Equipment
SKETCHING AND DRAWING
I always use a classic metal-bodied Caran D’Ache 2mm clutch pencil for all of my sketching out and use a soft 6B lead. Many year’s ago, I watched a video of an extraordinarily skilled artist that worked mainly in pencil. He advocated clutch pencils for their flexibility, i.e. you can use the lead long or short to suit your requirements, and the weight of the pencil remains consistent. Hence, you become incredibly familiar with it. This recommendation has always stuck with me.
I also like that the lead sharpener is inside the cap, so I never have to worry about keeping a pencil sharpener with me! For the inevitable errors, I’m rarely far away from a kneadable putty rubber of some description.
A sheet of Saunders Waterford rough (top) and a sheet of Arches rough.
I’ve tried many different papers, each of which I’ve been happy with until I try the next make of paper! One constant, however, is that I always paint on rought paper. I find this most sypmpathetic to my painting style and the range of marks and textures that I employ, from smooth, graduated washes to energetic broken dry brush marks. My paper journey has taken in Bockingford, Saunders Waterford and Arches.
However, my favourite paper is Saunders Waterford High White rough, 140lb/300 gsm for some time now. I mainly paint on half imperial or quarter imperial sheets of paper for size.
There are so many different watercolour brands from which to choose! Each one offers such a bewildering array of enticing colours that it can be hard to know where to start. Some early advice that I received was to start with a relatively modest choice of colours, and, many years on, that’s pretty much where I still am today.
My earliest influences, Edward Seago and Edward Wesson used a similar range of colours, particularly suited to the English landscape. Their preferences seemed like as good a starting point as any for me. Both favoured Winsor and Newton paints, and I’ve followed in their footsteps. Based on this foundation then, my current palette features the following colours from the Winsor and Newton Professional Range:
- Winsor Yellow
- Yellow Ochre
- Burnt Sienna
- Light Red
- Alizarin Crimson
- Burnt Umber
- Cobalt Blue
- French Ultramarine Blue
- Winsor Blue
I’ve found this to be an incredible palette of colours – (and one that I think is especially suited to the more muted colours of the English landscape!). You can make almost everything that most people will need from this palette. Another advantage is that because you have to mix to get all your greens, for instance, you get to know your palette better.
As I’ve developed and moved on to some more urban scenes, I’ve added the following colours to this basic palette:
- Cerulean Blue
- Neutral Tint
- Cadmium Red (traffic lights etc.)
- Titanium White (only ever used sparingly for the odd sunlit highlight)
I do try out other colours – I recently bought a Winsor Violet to play with – but the ones listed above are my staples.
Even though I’ve been painting for many years, I’m still getting to know my palette. What can all the colours do, and how can they best work together, their individual and combined characteristics.
So, I don’t suggest that this selection is in any way definitive. It’s just the selection of paints that I currently use, which may be helpful to be aware of when looking at any of my paintings.
I’m afraid I don’t have enough time to cover the entire gamut of brushes that I’ve tried, but here’s a selection of my current favourites with links to where you can find out more about each of them.
The following Escoda ranges of brushes:
- Escoda Ultimo synthetic mop brushes
- Escoda Aquario Mop brushes
- Escoda Aquario Gold Joseph Zbukvic brushes
- Escoda sable watercolour brushes
- Escoda Versatil synthetic rigger brushes
- Escoda Reservoir rigger brush
- Escoda Round Toray synthetic brushes
Again, I’ve tried lots of different palettes. For a long time, my a long time, my favourites were from the Holbein range of enamelled palettes, the Holbein 1000 and the smaller Holbein 500. Both have ample space for being generous with mixes and washes.
In 2018 though, and after a tremendous amount of research, consideration and procrastination, I invested in a Binning Monro Palette from The Little Brass Box Company.
For small sketches and for travelling with, my favourite palette is my beloved Frazer Price Palette Box. It isn’t the best palette in the world by any means. Still, I love the history and heritage of these palettes – plus, I’ve been able to customise it to better suit my style of painting – and I do like a bit of personalisation!
I prefer to paint standing up, so I use an easel for all of my painting (except for just sketching). I use a lightweight camera tripod and have a selection of painting boards fitted with camera tripod adaptors such as this one from Ken Bromley.
My favourite easel set up is an old aluminium Winsor and Newton oil painters box that I’ve customised to suit my needs. It’s not lightweight but fully loaded with paints and brushes etc. it’s similar in weight to many of the large wooden easels favoured by oil painters. Here are some photos of it in action!
- Bucket of water
- Water spray
- Kitchen towel
- Tool for scraping
I hope that this may be of some interest and maybe even some assistance to others.
Have I missed anything? What’s the one item of equipment, colour of paint or type of brush that’s most dear to you? Let me know in the comments section below; it’d be great to hear from you. As I say, this list is a work in progress, so I’m always on the lookout for anything that will contribute to me being a better painter – or even just a happier one!