Watercolor Trees II: Preclass

If you’ve taken Watercolor Trees I and been successful with your supplies – you’ll be fine here. Much of this class relies on the detail of a needle brush, so if you were waiting to be convinced – this might do it!

Note that you do NOT need to have all these exact supplies; be sure to read the notes carefully and make wise decisions that won’t break the bank.

Paper and pigments

Good paper is important! There’s not much discussion of paper in the video, so please do read these notes:

Choosing to work on student grade papers will hamper your results, create funky edges, and cause more blooms than a good high quality cold press or rough watercolor paper. It should be 100% cotton, sometimes called “rag” – if a paper doesn’t list that it’s made with cotton, avoid it. A few brands I’ve found just exclaim what great papers they are but won’t say what’s in it. That doesn’t mean painting on them is always bad – but for this class i encourage choosing Arches or Saunders Waterford.

Paper color is a personal preference; Arches has natural or bright white, and there’s only a tiny difference between them. I just ordered some of the Saunders Waterford High White to compare to the regular white – their regular white is more cream than white, and the High White is about double the price. I’ll repoort back in if I find one better than the other!

Cold press vs rough? Again, personal choice. I get way better drybrush effects and beautiful edges on rough, but it can be challenging for small details. (Thus helping avoid getting lost in unnecessary detail!) Most people use cold press. (I don’t recommend hot press at all for this course.)

  • Arches
    • Natural Cold Press 140lb full sheet, 22″ x 30″ BLICK
    • Bright White Cold Press 140lb full sheet, 22″ x 30″ BLICK
    • Natural Rough 140lb full sheet, 22″ x 30″ BLICK
    • Bright White Rough 140lb full sheet, 22″ x 30″ BLICK
  • Saunders Waterford
    • High White Cold Press 140lb full sheet, 22″ x 30″ BLICK
    • White Cold Press 140lb full sheet, 22″ x 30″ BLICK
    • High White Rough 140lb full sheet, 22″ x 30″ BLICK
    • White Rough 140lb full sheet, 22″ x 30″ BLICK
  • Graphix board (or use any hard surface you’d like)
  • White Artist Tape, 3/4″ AMZ or 1″ BLICK
  • See below the video for paint list.

Daniel Smith Watercolors are used in this class, but you can certainly use other artist quality paints. Check the photo below and swatch your colors to see if you have something close. I do not recommend phthalos at this point; they are challenging since they take over wherever they are used.

  • Greens:
  • A blue for skies and water (choose one of these or any blue you like)
  • Neutrals
    • Burnt Sienna (or any warm reddish brown) BLICK | AMZ
    • Yellow Ochre (or any “dirt” kind of color) BLICK | AMZ
  • For fun, yellows, if desired (used very little):
  • Metal palettes:
    • Whiskey Painter metal palette AMZ (closest to mine)
    • Holbein metal palettes BLICK
    • Schmincke palettes and pans BLICK


The following video is one that is scheduled to go live in July – but you get to see it early here! It’s a discussion of brushes, and shows the differences between how natural and synthetic brushes act. I still am not 100% sure what the “Rotmarder” brushes are, but synthetic is my best guess via price and performance.

You do not need this whole list of brushes! These are the ones tested. The four brushes in bold font below are the ones used in class, but if you have something like it, use that!

Note that while looking for links for the brushes, I did find some were very much absent from websites; I’m a little nervous that Winsor & Newton is ending brush production, potentially!? No idea, but they’ve never been this hard to find. Fortunately da Vinci’s Maestro series of brushes are excellent too.

  • Synthetic brushes:
    • Silver Brush Black Velvet, Round 8EH | Blick | AMZ
    • Silver Brush Black Velvet, Round 12 – EH | Blick | AMZ
    • Princeton Aqua Elite 12 Long Blick | AMZ
    • da Vinci Casaneo 12 round Blick | AMZ
    • da Vinci Casaneo 14 round AMZ
  • Natural hair brushes
    • Winsor & Newton Kolinsky Sable Series 7 Round 8 brush – AMZ
    • Winsor & Newton Kolinsky Sable Series 7 Round 10 brushBLICK
    • da Vinci Maestro Kolinsky Sable Round 14 – Blick
    • da Vinci Series 17 Maestro Long Needle Red Sable, Size 9 AMZ
    • da Vinci Rotmarder set of 3 (round sizes 8, 10, 12) AMZ


As preparatory exercise before beginning class, I recommend the exercise shown in this video, making sure you write down your results! Choose a few of your colors to swatch with Tea, Milk, Cream, Honey, and Butter mixtures; then try some large areas with a variety of mixes that touch each other or are dropped into each other. See more tips below the video.

General supplies

  • Water container of some kind – I use a large one, as small ones will get dirty very fast. You may find it helpful to have a few, one for dipping a totally dirty brush, one for medium dirty, and one clean before dipping into a light yellow. Big yogurt containers work great.
  • Spray bottle – any kind of bottle is great, though I find that a small one that fits in the hand works better than something like a windex bottle.