Some answers to Some Questions and a Tip–more posts coming soon.

Sylvia (watercolorist in San Diego, California) had some questions on my brushes and a glazing mix I used, so I will paste below my answers. She asked about some of the brushes I used in my 16-part demo (links on this log, videos at Youtube) and a color mixture.  I mentioned on one of the video clips that a good final glaze is Alizarin Crimson and Cobalt Violet–I got that wrong: I should have said Alizarin Crimson and Cobalt Blue.

Here are my answers (with a little revision):

Hi Sylvia,

1.  My flub.  I meant Aliz Crimson and Cobalt Blue, for sure.  Cobalt
violent is a lovely, subtle pigment, but I don’t use it much.  The
Aliz C mixed with Cobalt Blue is a mild violet mix that works well a lot of
the time for shadows and in landscapes generally. (Violet is a good color to add into a landscape, especially as a near-complement to green.)

2. for flat brushes I much prefer synthetic–it is a bit stiffer than
sable and easier to control.  The brushes I used are:
(1) the Quiller/Richeson Professional 1.5″ #7010, synthetic but
feels somewhat like a sable–the best of both worlds–more control but
a sort of soft stroke.
(2) a Strathmore series #386 Ox Hair wash brush, 2″.  Hold a lot
of water/color. I use it mainly for initial-washes work, not for the
body of the painting.

I also like synthetic Daniel Smith and Cotman and Aquarelle/flats in
sizes of mainly 1.5″ down to 1/8″ in widths.  The smaller are for tiny
areas of painting, especially small sketches like 3.5 x 5 or 4×6 or
5×7″‘ which I do a lot of in the field.
For example:
Daniel smith 28-50 Aquarelle (has beveled end to
the handle for scraping)
Daniel Smith 23-4 2 flat (very similar to the
Quiller brushes above)
Cotman 566 (Winsor Newton)
Also check out Cheap Joe’s American Journey interlocked
nylon brushes, in flats and rounds–excellent to paint with and a good

The brush to save your money for is a #8 or #10 round
daVinci-Maestro,Toblinski-Kolinsky (Germany)–these are the brushes
Disney animators use or used when they did a lot of painting of their
animated features.  They have extended points, carry a lot of color,
and provide great control. I have 3, a #10, a #8, and a #4.  My all
time favorite brush to paint with. Charles Reid uses them exclusively,
by the way.

The brushes I use most are: 1 to 1/2″ flats, a rigger/liner #6 or #4
(sable is usually best), and the daVinci rounds. Rounds are good overall in painting.  Flats/Aquarelles are good for moving around a lot of color quickly and for dry-brush effects, some hard-edged effects, and edges of buildings).

Any other questions, anytime, Sylvia.  I enjoy them (you  know, the challenge).

Tip of the day: The absolute best way to learn watercolor is to sketch
outdoors small in a sketchbook–in pencil, and maybe ink your drawing too
with waterproof ink to correct it and make it more readable for
reference later. Then flow in color (once you’re sure the ink is dry).

Try to be playful and carefree when you add color.They say, you run into all the
problems in a small painting that you can have when painting larger.  I agree
with one exception:  You need to paint big too to gain skill at
covering larger areas fairly quickly and without major flubs.

But you can do a lot of small sketches without having to spend a lot
of time on each one and hence get in more practice–the best kind,
really–for the amount of time you spend. Best overall, superb
sketchbook the Aquabee Super Deluxe by Bee Paper (if you go to that site, look in the Wet Media category for Super Deluxe #808).  Lovely paper for
watercolor sketching, pencil, pastel, acrylic (thin), ink.  Best size
9×12′ (room for notes too) or 6×9″ or 9×9″ if you prefer. You can paint on both sides of each 60 sheets if you want.

Many watercolorists wind up liking their sketches better than their finished, larger paintings.  There’s something about the daring, playful spontaneity and charm of them that is hard to match when painting “seriously.”

Related Resources:
Again, (You can see a couple of my sketches on their home page.)  (Wonderful overview of journaling/sketching techniques with lots of examples of artists’ work.)
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