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  • ViewCatcher (gray plastic crop/view finder tool) available at most art stores 

  • Mechanical pencil or 2B pencil, kneaded rubber eraser for sketching

  • Ink pens: I use a variety of Micron or Pitt pens, but any fine waterproof pen will work

  • Sunscreen, bug spray and a hat for being outdoors all day

  • Paper towels for blotting or spills


I use a variety of papers and sketchbooks for painting. I use Etchr Sketchbooks and Handbook Watercolor Journals. I will be demonstrating in watercolor sketchbooks  (8” x 8” or 9” x 12”) and on Arches watercolor pads. Please use a sketchbook with good quality watercolor paper, as a mixed media book with thin paper will not allow you to achieve good results.


Any folding watercolor palette with spaces for pigment and a large mixing area is fine. You’ll also need a couple of small water bottles with reliable seals for your painting water. I have several Nalgene bottles because they are leakproof. 

Here are the colors I generally use. If you already have colors you like, please use those. I use many brands of paint including Daniel Smith, M. Graham, Holbein and Winsor Newton. I prefer to fill empty half pans in my palette with tube colors (rather than using pre-filled half pans) since fresh paint is creamier and needs less water to be released, but if you have pans that is fine as long as they are not dried out!

ESSENTIALS (I use these twelve often):

YELLOWS:Azo Yellow, Quinacridone Gold

BLUES: Cerulean Blue, Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue, Prussian Blue

REDS: Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red, Quinacridone Rose

EARTH COLORS: Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber

OPTIONAL (I use these sometimes):

Translucent Orange (Schminke), Naples Yellow, Turquoise Blue, Phthalo Green, Cobalt Green, Sap Green, Yellow Ochre, Lavender, Cobalt Violet, Indanthrene Blue, Indigo, Sepia, Payne’s Grey, Titanium White watercolor (I use this straight from the tube so it is never on the palette) or White Gouache for highlights.


I use a wide variety of brushes but if you have one good travel round (#8 or #10) with a sharp point (synthetic or sable) and a squirrel mop (#8) for big washes, you can paint most of your sketch with these. I also like to use a rigger brush for wires and branches (#3). Good travel brush brands are Rosemary, Da Vinci and Escoda.

I have also recently partnered with art supplier Jack Richeson & Co. to offer brush sets. 

There is a really nice small plein air set that comes packaged with a great viewfinder (Viewcatcher mentioned above).
I love the variety of rounds and flats in the set. 

This is the same set that James Gurney uses, if you follow his work.

These are available at Judson’s:

There’s also a bigger set that I use for larger plein air paintings:


I travel with a folding stool. You can use anything from a $2 dollar store stool to a $75 Walkstool but it should be something you are comfortable sitting on for at least an hour, and one that is not too tall so you can reach your paints if they are on the ground. 

We will certainly be outdoors, so you should be familiar with working on your lap or on an easel. 

I travel with a folding watercolour easel for demonstrations. If you have one, feel free to use it or work on your lap if you are more comfortable that way.

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MISA - Madeline Island School of the Arts
978 Middle Road
PO Box 536
La Pointe, WI 54850
(715) 747-2054
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