This is a very-incomplete list of brushes, papers, and paints which I consider essential to my work. Over the past 25 years I have settled on a few key tools which seem to help me do a better job.
I really don’t have any “tricks” although they seem to be quite prevalent in watercolor. I use no opaque colors and no masking of any kind. I use a few favorite brushes consisting of a 2-inch hake brush, a 3/4-inch flat wash aquarelle and a few sable rounds. In addition I sometimes use a rigger. I often use synthetic bristle brushes and find them to be suitable. For students they are just fine.
My paper is 140 or 300 lb. Arches cold pressed, soaked and stapled to a board. I have discovered a nice mounting board that is lightweight and takes repeated stapling. It is called “”Incredible art board”” and available from most art supply sources. I get mine from Dick Blick, who I have ordered from online for many years. I usually tape the outside edges to avoid having to paint into the stapled area.
Sometime ago I began a quest to find the most permanent watercolor pigments. That led me to Daniel Smith Co. who was working on their own line of high quality paints of which most were rated permanent. I eventually switched my entire palette to Daniel Smith watercolors, and still use them primarily. However I do supplement my colors with some from Winsor & Newton, which I also like a lot.
A word about my palette. I use two Eldajon palettes which each have three deep mixing wells and 12 slant wells for holding paint. One is set up with warm colors, and the other with cool and neutrals. I have used the same palettes for over 25 years. There are several online art supply companies which stock them however I recently learned that the manufacturer is no longer making them. I may just buy up what I can find and stock them myself. There are many other excellent palettes on the market, and at each of my workshops I see as many styles as there are students. The key is to use whatever works for you.
When painting en plein air I use two different set-ups. If I’m going out close to home or in my vehicle, I’ll take a comfortable lawn chair, and the same palettes I use in my studio. However if I am backpacking or traveling in Europe I always carry a neat little folding paint box from Winsor and Newton. I have tried several and this one works the best for me. It has logged jillions of miles all over the globe and has held up well. The key is that it is small enough to carry in my pocket or shoulder bag along with paper, brushes, expandable water jar, towel, and water. I found out a long time ago that unless I am always carrying my paints with me, I won’t be ready when the impulse strikes.
I think by nature artists are “gear junkies” and we want to try out every new thing that comes along. That’s okay if you have the time and money, but if you don’t , just settle in on a few good quality tools and supplies that you can trust. You will find that your work gets better, and you get faster when you equipment works for you.