Plein Air Workshop Information

Materials List - Watercolor

There will be no watercolor demonstrations, but if a few students use watercolor, that will be fine.


I use a prismatic palette made up of a warm and a cool of each primary: Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Red Light, Permanent Alizarin, Ultramarine Blue, and Cobalt Blue, and Titanium White. Sometimes I will add a green (usally Viridian), and sometimes I will substitute a color or two from the following list for one of the above six. (Cadmium Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Red, Cerulean or Thalo Blue, Thalo Green, Cobalt Violet Deep)


I will be using canvas panels. I recommend smaller sizes for the workshop (no larger than 12x16). The lessons to be learned in plein air painting are more easily grasped without the burden of covering large areas of canvas. For example, you get more learning "bang for your buck" by doing two 8x10s in a three-hour time frame than by doing one larger panel.


If you have an outdoor setup that is comfortable, bring that. I will be using a pochade box for smaller canvases, and my adapted Russian easel for larger pieces (see the logistics chapter of my book). A painting umbrella is strongly recommended.

Sketchbook and Soft Lead Pencil (2B)

This are very important items. Any sketchbook will do. I prefer smaller sizes for working in the field.

Oil Painting Medium, Solvents, Paper Towels

I use the oil painting medium recommended in Ralph Mayer's The Artists' Handbook of Materials and Techniques. It's one part turpentine, one part stand oil, and one part damar varnish. I use kerosene to clean my brushes as it prolongs the life of the bristles. Odorless Mineral spirits is also a good choice.

I also frequently use Cobalt Blue, Viridian, Permanent Violet, Permanent Alizarin. When these colors are used, they are usually substituted for the first 6. It is not necessary to bring all of these. The frist 6 will suffice.

As far as brands, any good artist-quality paint will do. I have been using a log of DaVince these days, mostly because it comes in the large 37 ml tubes. I use a lot of paint!


First is a good large wash brush. For a half sheet or larger, I use a 2" Robert Simmons "Sky Flow" synthetic hair brush. Sometimes I will even use that on a quarter-sheet. For smaller sizes, I like a 1" flat (either synthetic or sable). Another wash brush that I like is a #36 Rober Simmons "Goliath", a large, round, synthetic-hair wash brush.

A selection of smaller brushes (like a #12, #8, and #4, and sometimes a very small, a #0 or #00 comes in handy). Kolinsky sable is the best, but not necessary. Synthetic-hair brushes are not as elegant to use, but the results can be the same. There are some good synthetic blends. One of my favorites is the "Prolene" brand brush, a combination of sable and synthetic. A very good brush at a great price. Last, but not least, I always carry a small bristle brush for softening and working edges. A #4 filbert is a good choice.

Use this information as a guideline. It is not necessary to have every brush listed.


I will be using an enameled-tin, folding Holbein metal palette in the large size. These are a little pricey these days. There are copies that work just as good for less than half the price, although they won't last as long. If you have a palette that is comfortable, bring that. There are any number of good plastic palettes on the market.