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Beginning Watercolors Classes through Kennewick Community Education

What to bring:

  • Yourself, ready to have some fun! 🙂
  • Craft sponge brush – at least 2 inches wide. Even wider is better. You can find these for a great price in the paint section at hardware stores
  • Small water mister (small with a fine spray). Dollar Stores and Hair/Beauty Supply stores are great places to find these.
  • 2 water containers – cottage cheese type containers work fine, but anything similar you have around the house will work
  • Paper towels (Bounty or Viva work best!)
  • Blow dryer
  • Masking tape – keep it narrow in width (1 inch max). Blue painter’s tape you can find at hardware stores, paint section, works great.
  • $15 to pay the instructor a materials fee at class for everything else

If you have your own paints, brushes, palette, paper, etc., feel free to bring what you have and we’ll negotiate a reduced materials fee.

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I Want to buy my Own Watercolor Stuff, Where do I Start?

If you are digging this watercolor thing and want to start purchasing your own materials, read on.

NOTE: For the Beginning Watercolor/Mixed Media class only, we do a project that requires several specialty items. So, even if you have and bring your own supplies, please still expect to pay a portion of the materials fee.

Here’s what I suggest as a starting point to do the style of watercolor painting I do. PLEASE BE AWARE you will need to order your materials online for the most part. Finding them locally is nigh on impossible, or very expensive. 🙂

If you’d like me to do the shopping, I do usually have one or two beginner kits put together and available for purchase at any given time. See what I have available here.


140 lb, cold press watercolor paper (please avoid the paper on spiral bound tablets, they will be very frustrating to you as a beginner). Watercolor ‘blocks’ are OK though and you can sometimes find these locally (Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, Craft Warehouse). I prefer Arches brand, but there are many kinds you might want to try. I order the 22 x 30 sheets. Here’s a link to what I buy through Cheap Joe’s Art Supply House. The link goes to a five sheet quantity, although you can choose different quantities.

Hobby Lobby does carry Arches paper now, but it’s quite a bit more expensive than buying it online.
Even as a beginner, paper is one of two things I don’t recommend skimping on. Student grade, inexpensive paper, will be very discouraging for you as a beginner. Don’t get lured in by the price! The second is paint. More on that later.


Size 10 & 12 rounds

  • Cheap Joe’s Starving Artist brand is a very economical way to start out. Here’s a link to their round brushes starter set.
  • If you want to up the ante a bit, try Cheap Joe’s Golden Fleece brand.
  • If you’re ready to go big time, watch for the Rhapsody sable brush set to go on sale on Jerry’s Artarama website. You can find them here.

1 inch Flat. Cheap Joe’s Starving Artist brand has a great flat brush to start with. I still use mine to this day! Here’s a link to their flat brushes starter set.

Rigger (any size). Here’s a link to a Golden Fleece size 3. I use rigger brushes to paint skinny trees, twigs, and other fun things.

Mop. Craft Warehouse sometimes carries a Robert Simmons brand watercolor mop that will work. You can buy one at Cheap Joe’s here.

My absolute favorite mop brushes are Stratford & York “Jet” mops. There is only ONE place in the U.S. that sells them! Black Horse Fine Art Supply. Here are the brush details. They come in two sizes…large and extra Large.


Swordliner. This is a “fun to have” brush, not a requirement by any means, but I get asked about it a lot so here’s where to find my favorite. You can paint great bamboo leaves with them. Like my favorite mop brushes, there is only ONE place in the U.S. that sells them! Black Horse Fine Art Supply. They come in three sizes.


Liner. Another fun to have brush. Here’s a link to my personal favorite, Robert Simmons Expression E51 Liner Size 0. I use this brush with the Schminke metallic powders.


No need to spend a lot of money here, although you could! Here are my two favorites. Palettes are really a personal preference though…lots to choose from. Keep it inexpensive until you figure out your preference.

BOARD (what you put your watercolor paper on, and then paint on :))

I like gator boards quite a bit, but once again there are choices and it can be personal preference. Suggest you check out the websites below and pick something low cost to start until you discover what works for you.

To get a ¼ sheet gator board (12 x 16, this is the size we use in class), click here.

For a ½ sheet gator board (twice as big), try this one Grafix 16-Inch by 24-Inch Incredible Art Board

NEWSFLASH! Lowe’s now has plexiglass boards that are quite spiffy. Get the 24 x 18 piece of plexi and have Lowe’s cut it in half for you, and then have them cut two inches off the other end. The result? A spiffy 12 x 16 (¼ sheet) watercolor board.

If you’d rather buy a piece of plexi online, you can get a ½ sheet size here (16 x 24).
Craig Frames 16x24 Acrylic for Picture Frame Poster Frame .090″ Clear (CFACRC)


Paints are the other thing I don’t recommend skimping on, even as a beginner. Makes it too hard on you! 🙂 Also, make the investment in buying tube paint, not pan paint, even if it means buying fewer colors due to the higher cost. You won’t be sorry. Also, be wary of any tube paints that say student or academy…they are less expensive, but the quality is low. The student grade paints tend to be very chalky, thick, and are not transparent, which is part of the beauty of the watercolor medium. They remind me of painting with tempura like we did in grade school. Look for professional or artist’s quality. (Avoid Grumbacher, Academy, Cotman, Koi, or the sets you can get at CostCo.)

Metallic Powders. I get asked about these a lot, so here’s where to find them. Not required, by any means! They are called Schminke Tro-Col metallic powders. You can find them on Amazon now. Here are links to my three favorite colors:

Artist/Professional Quality Tube Paints. For you, starting out, a really reasonable artist quality paint is Cheap Joe’s house brand, American Journey. You can see the many, many colors they have available here. The size tube you want is 15 ml.

If you’d like to know what I personally paint with when I’m not teaching–although I use American Journey brand now too–see the list below for some of my favorite colors. Although I’m always trying new things, my favorite brand is still Holbein. Here’s a link to all of Cheap Joe’s Holbein watercolor paints. And here are my favorite colors/brands (at least today).

  • Quinacridone Red
  • Pyrrole Red
  • Bright Rose
  • Quinacridone Pink*
  • Opera (Pink)
  • Scarlet Lake**
  • Brilliant Orange
  • Permanent Yellow Orange
  • Permanent Yellow Lemon
  • Leaf Green
  • Permanent Green #1 and 2
  • Hooker’s Green
  • Green Gold*
  • Peacock Blue
  • Turquoise Blue (semi-transparent)
  • Royal Blue
  • Red Violet***
  • Bright Violet
  • Permanent Violet
  • Blue Violet***
  • Payne’s Grey
  • Quinacridone Burnt Orange*
  • Iridori Antique White (opaque/gouache). This one seems to be hard for folks to find, so here’s a direct link.

*Daniel Smith brand

**Winsor Newton brand

***Schmincke brand

Once again, all of the above paints are Holbein brand, except as noted. I order online via:

For the Daniel Smith brand paints

  • Daniel Smith brand When ordering from Daniel Smith, I’d really appreciate it if you’d use my Teacher Referral Program number. Thanks! It is TRP 00449

You can now buy artist quality watercolor paints at Hobby Lobby. The brand they carry is Winsor Newton. Not my personal favorite, but they do carry it. Craft Warehouse carries M. Graham. Be aware, it’s pricey to buy it there vs. online.

So, if you bring your own watercolor painting supplies, the materials fee will be waived or partially waived (depending on if you consume or borrow any of my art supplies).

If you have questions, feel free to email me at chris(at)chrisblevinswatercolors(dot)com. Look forward to seeing you! 🙂

Are you on Pinterest? Check out my board, Watercolor Ideas & Tutorials. Lots of great examples of watercolor paintings, plus tutorials and tips.

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Painting with Alcohol Inks – Resource List

First, bad news. Some of the key things you need to start painting with Alcohol Inks on your own are not available locally, or are very expensive compared to online sources. Now, good news. I put starter kits together and they are available in two versions.

  • With an ink palette – see more and order here
  • Without an ink palette – see more and order here


Alcohol Inks – where to find them

  • I bought the majority of mine at Craft Warehouse here in Kennewick, WA, although they have drastically reduced the alcohol inks and related inventory. 🙁
  • Yu can find them at Amazon, but they can be pretty pricey, expecially with shipping factored in and most suppliers are not Amazon Prime eligible.
  • also carries alcohol inks, and for a small joining fee, you can buy inks for just over $2/each (substantially less than anywhere else I’ve found; locally or online)
  • JoAnn Fabric runs sales on alcohol inks online periodically at a very good price. They carry some in store as well, but once again, the prices are considerably higher when they’re not on sale
  • now carries the Pinata brand of alcohol inks, including a 4 oz size for quite a nice price

Alcohol Inks – what kinds (brands) are there?

  • Ranger (aka Adirondack and Tim Holz) – mostly what I’ve used. Lots of different colors available (me likey!)
  • Pinata – just tried these recently. Pinata brand is more cost friendly than Ranger. You can find them at Joann Fabric,, and on Amazon
  • Spectrum Noir – they make alcohol ink refillable pens, which means you can just buy the alcohol ink refills and use them to paint with (here’s a link to an example). I haven’t tried the refills yet, but am enjoying the pens. The pen sets come in—Brights, Darks, Pastels—which means there are quite a few colors available. The refill containers are twice as big as Ranger. I think there are something like 178 different colors in the Spectrum Noir brand.
  • A newcomer on the scene are Chameleon Pens. You can actually control the dark to light value of the ink and do shading! More about Chameleon Pens here.

What to Paint On?

  • Yupo is my favorite. You can order from Amazon. Just search on Yupo. I prefer the tablets vs. the large sheets. Problem with large sheets is cutting them. My paper cutter isn’t big enough to accommodate!
  • Photo paper works in a pinch, but doesn’t do all the really cool stuff alcohol inks will do on yupo
  • Transparency Film (like what used to get used on overhead projectors)
  • Any non-porous surface (glass, tile, candles, dominoes, metal, ceramic, mirrors. The Dollar Store and Goodwill type places are great for finding glassware

What to Paint With

  • Straight from the bottle!
  • Small cast off watercolor brushes or cheapie craft/multi-media brushes. Liner brushes in particular can be fun to “try” and do details with

Other Stuph 😉

  • Ink PaletteRanger 30034 Tim Holtz Ink Palette. Made especially for ink…very small, shallow wells
  • Sealer Step 1Krylon 11-Ounce Kamar Varnish Aerosol Spray. The Kamar holds the ink colors in place so that when you put the actual sealer on, the colors don’t change or move around.
  • Sealer Step 2 – Krylon Triple Thick Clear Glaze or a clear engine paint such as this.
  • Mixatives – Ranger and Pinata also make Metallic Mixatives that are fun. They come in several colors (gold, silver, black, white, copper)
  • Metallic MarkersMetallic markers are cool to use with this medium. Sharpie makes some metallic markers in gold, silver, and copper.
  • White Pen – Want to add detail…in white? Want no more, these white pens work great. Uni-ball Signo Angelic UM-120AC Gel Ink Pen – 0.7 mm – White Ink. Available on Amazon here
  • Sharpie/Copic markers – for defining abstract alcohol ink paintings a bit more by adding lines and stuff with markers.
  • Artist pens like Pitt or Micron brands – same as the above, but thinner line thickness.
  • White & Colored Gel Ink Pens – same as above, but fun colors and looks different on the yupo. Sakura Gelly Roll brand. They come in white and all sorts of nifty colors (and sparkly colors).
  • The alcohol ink painting ‘experts’ say 90% alcohol works better than 70%. Until recently, I never used 90% and haven’t been bothered. Locally, I find it at Rite Aid. Ranger also sells Blending Solution, but it’s expensive and regular rubbing alcohol works great, in my opinion
  • Non-stick craft mat/sheet – I’ve researched other sources for these, and have struck out. Although they’re on sale sometimes, usually these are not cheap although I see the price dropping over time. I got mine on Amazon. * Instead of the craft mat sheet, some people use freezer paper. It’s sturdier than wax paper and seems to be a favorite of AI painters
  • Masking Fluid – this is used just like you would in watercolors, to mask off areas of a painting that you want to keep white. Be forewarned, it smells a bit icky, dries quickly and will pretty much ruin any brush you use it with. It’s mostly clear with a slight yellow or blue tint, which means it can be hard to see. It’s also expensive, and goes bad fast. I have a love/hat relationship with masking fluid. LOL.
  • Frisket Film – similar to the fluid, but you can cut it out and apply it to your painting, then peel it off later.
  • Q-tips – use them with alcohol and blending solution to blend and lift ink from a painting.
  • Canned Air – you can use it to blow alcohol ink or plain alcohol around on the paper and get some interesting effects.
  • Cosmetic sponges/pads – use them to lift ink, blend ink, or add texture to a painting.
  • Cotton balls – use to dab a layer of color onto a surface. Especially handy when painting vases, candles, etc.
  • Saran Wrap – to create funky textures
  • Shaving Cream – ditto
  • Spray starch – ditto
  • Tim Holtz® Adirondack® Alcohol Ink Applicator – I had one of these at class. Its applicator that can be used with ink blending foam or felt to create textures. I demonstrated making a mottled background with this at class. Depending on which brand you find, it either comes with blending foam attachments or felt, both of which are available in refill packages.
  • Eyedroppers or Pipettes – use these with alcohol to drip and dribble. I ordered a bunch of pipettes for not much moolah on Amazon.
  • Tim Holtz® Adirondack® Alcohol Ink Fillable Pen – I have one, but haven’t used it yet. Here’s part of the manufacturer’s description: This dual-tipped dry pen can be filled by using just a few drops of your favorite color Alcohol Inks.
  • Inkssentials® Mini Misters – Remember…the size of your mister matters! LOL. Or just get a cheapie mister at the dollar store or hair supply store. In addition to putting plain alcohol in them, you can actually put ink in them! Woo hoo!
  • Gloves – I only use them when teaching. When I’m at home, unless I’m painting an object like glassware, I just get inked up. 🙂 That said, my buddy Suzi stained her wedding ring BLUE. I think she wears gloves now. You might also want to try a Finger Cot and can find them at the drug store
  • Toothpicks – you might want to use a toothpick to help create details (use like a brush to move the ink around).
  • Small applicator bottles – these are the small plastic bottles with a tiny metal applicator tip. For use with alcohol or blending solution. Just one more thing to play with!
  • Alcohol Swabs – you can use these to moisten your whole sheet of Yupo before painting, to remove ink, to blend ink. Also to clean up yourself, your brushes, your painting!
  • Baby Wipes – fun to play with with AIs. Makes for some interesting effects/textures. I have not mastered this yet, by the way.
  • Straws – remember we used these in class? 🙂 You can use a regular straw, cut in half, to blow ink or alcohol/blending solution around. You can also use a coffee straw to drag across and make interesting textures. Just don’t go too crazy or you might pass out. LOL.

Are you on Pinterest? Check out my board, Alcohol Inks on Yupo and other Things. Lots of great examples of AI paintings, plus tutorials and tips.

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Painting from a Photo (Flowers)

  • Water buckets x 2 (although we have several available at the location too…)
  • Board to paint on (some plexi boards also available at the location)
  • Pencil
  • Artist gum eraser
  • Paper – ¼ sheet 11x15 – 140 lb weight watercolor paper. Paper available for purchase at the location
  • Wax free transfer paper – we’ll provide this unles you want to buy some. Brand we’ve used is Saral
  • Assorted round brushes, size 4 to 12
  • Flat wash brush
  • Extra fine point black sharpie marker
  • Watercolor palette
  • Coarse Sea Salt
  • Paper towels
  • Paints — watercolor artist quality
    • Quinacridone Gold – Daniel Smith
    • Cobalt Blue – any brand
    • Bright Rose – Holbein
    • Brilliant Red Violet – Schmincke
    • Sap Green – Holbein
    • Peacock Blue – Holbein
    • Alizarin Crimson – any brand
    • Winsor Green (blue shade) – Winsor & Newton
    • Winsor Blue (red shade) – Winsor & Newton
    • Other colors you love

Craft Warehouse and Hobby Lobby carry Winsor & Newton paints. We;re not sure if they carry these two specific colors, however. I always ordered mine through Cheap Joes.

If you don’t have these colors feel free to improvise with colors you love.

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