What I use.....

What I use.....

Hi, I am often asked what paints I use ? What is the best paper? etc etc and so at the risk of boring the pants off non watercolour artists I will show you the things I use. I don't profess to have all the answers by any means,and I am always open to try new things,  I am very much of the school that ' if it works for you then go for it'. I think there are no hard and fast rules but I do have things that I prefer not to do( like using black and white) but I don't worry about what others choose to do.


I use Winsor and Newton Professional watercolour paints and some Winsor and Newton Cotman watercolours. I also buy colours that really take my fancy like Daniel Smith 'moon glow'. But I don't get too hung up on transparency or not and I have several colours I use more than others. Yellow Ochre, Cadmium red , yellow and orange, Cerulean blue, Cobalt blue, Burnt umber,Alizarin Crmson, Lemon yellow, Paynes Grey and Sap green.


I buy them in tubes and squeeze them into a metal palette


I use Series Seven Finest Sable again by Winsor and Newton.They are expensive but they hold water beautifully and come to a lovely fine point. I only have about six of these I do have a huge variety of other brushes just picked up along the way. I have favourites among them because of the way they feel in my hands or they hold water. But my series seven brushes are the ones I use most.


 I have tried several types but have in recent years almost exclusively used Bockingford Watercolour Paper, Cold pressed 300gsm, rough. I love it it is very forgiving and I have got so used to how the paint works on it that I struggle when I use anything else. I even notice when a new batch paints differently.

Everything else...

I draw using 2b pencils, I use winsor and newton Art Masking Fluid ( removable)

, I use a squirty bottle to spray the paints before I use them and sometimes the paper,

I use Winsor and Newton watercolour Inks occasionally especially for gold or silver highlights. I sometimes flick some white acrylic on the paper or use salt on wet paint


. I have a big water pot and a day light lamp for consistent lighting. 


I use masking tape to tape the paper to a MDF board,


I rarely use a hairdryer and when I can I let the paint dry naturally , often it is best to leave it be and go and do something for a while.Kitchen roll is the final thing I couldn't paint without it.

I ( like many artists) cannot resist an art shop I love looking at new materials and trying new things. However if I am honest I do use the same things again and again and once you find the things that suit you then great. Practice is what really counts, after you have good quality materials then just paint as much as you can. Finally talk to other artists they have great tips and knowledge and are in my experience very happy to share. 

I do hope this has been helpful to some of you, and I promise I am not being sponsored by Winsor and Newton !




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Hi Rachel, I really enjoy your detailed, yet loose style. I am a watercolor artist in the States and found your website while searching for bumble bees. I am wondering what brand of scanner you use for your art. I have an Epson which is great for photos, but it doesn’t pick up the fine washes of color in my work. Or perhaps you have all your work professionally photographed. I hope to hear from you. Thank you for your blogs; I just love them.

Deb O'Brien

Hi Rachel, Love your work and have really enjoyed reading through your blog. I’m very envious of how you have been able to give up your previous work to pursue your talent and earn a living from it.

I’m new to painting (at 57) and doing an art course at my local adult education centre. I now want to set up a serious basic palette and love the idea of using tube paints in a metal
palette that can be returned to. What palette are you using in the picture above? I’m looking for a metal palette that has empty “pans” to put tube paint in, if you get my drift!

Thanks very much,


Very impressed, I love the way you paint, loose, bright colors. I appreciate your information, I am going to get the same supplies maybe my Art will be better.

Mary k Adams

Thank you. I love your paintings you post online, the looseness, simplicity and freshness. I’ve just started using rough paper. I use Sennelier paints as they don’t dry out and I live in a very dry climate. Thank you for sharing your art!

Mary Ellen Garcia

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