If you’re learning to paint and feel a bit overwhelmed whenever you walk into an art store, I understand how that feels. When you look photos of artists at work in their studios, they’re always surrounded by tables crowded with jars, brushes and palettes encrusted with years of dried up goop. Not to mention all the tubes of paint oozing everywhere.
Once you figure out how to pick what’s essential and put together a minimalist kit, it becomes less intimidating. Here’s my setup that gets me through a painting:
1. A small collection of brushes that I rotate through. Several brushes in the picture are old ones I keep around for when I’m messing around testing colours. I could get by with just a small round brush for 90% of a painting.
2. A white porcelin dish for mixing colours. A white plate works too.
3. A small lid for holding water.
4. Assorted watercolour pencils (make sure they’re artist grade....the pigments are top quality and will resist fading over time) If I’m unable to mix certain colours, I’ll add new pencils. I used to use tube paint but I have way more fun with watercolour pencils. They remind me of Skittles.
That’s my painting kit. I find having a simple selection of tools less distracting and more productive. You don’t want to waste time deciding between dozens of brushes when you should be concentrating on your subject.
For a recent painting of an Eastern Kingbird, I used only what is pictured here. The white pencil was used to add highlights.