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 (or deli containers) work great, but anything similar you have around the house will be fine
  • 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 even better.
  • $20 cash to pay the instructor (that’s me!) 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.

My biggest, bestest tip to give you on supplies? For paper and paint, get the good stuff…even though it costs more. If you buy paints from the Craft stores or CostCo or Walmart, you’ll end up throwing away what you buy (or giving it to the kids/grandkids). The quality is that awful. Also, there is no such thing as “practice paper.” Get the good stuff. OK, I’m off the soapbox now. 🙂

All the other kinds of supplies, I recommend starting out inexpensively. And as you get into the watercolor thing, start upgrading.
The best news? For the first time ever, we have an art supply store in town that carries artist/professional grade watercolor paints and paper. No more ordering online and having two wait two weeks! Hallelujah! It’s called on on the Art on the Columbia. Contact owner LaVonda Kellogg to shop (she’s selling from her home now, but has leased a building and will be opening up shop there (lots of interior work to do first, though). 509-539-6193


140 lb, cold press watercolor paper is your gold standard weight and type of paper. Please avoid the paper on spiral bound tablets, or tablets in general. They will be very frustrating to you as a beginner and you’ll end up wasting your money. Arches 140# cold press is available at Art on the Columbia.

Arches Watercolor ‘blocks’ are OK as well. They can be spiffy for travelling as you don’t need to take a board with you. You can sometimes find ‘blocks’ locally (Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, Craft Warehouse). Look for Arches 140# cold press.

Art on the Columbia also carries #200 lb cold press and #300 pound cold press rough papers. These are even nicer than #140 lb, but are a bit more expensive. A board is often not needed when you paint on the thicker paper though, so these make for a nice option if you plan to take your paint gear when you travel. Art on the Columbia carries both weights of paper, in Arches and Saunders-Waterford brands. I like both. S-W having the slight edge for me.

Remember, 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 thing I recommend you don’t skimp on is paint. More on that later.


Art on the Columbia carries three brands of brushes so far: Richeson, Princeton, ad Silver Black Velvet. All are good.

She has some a round brush starter sets by Richeson for a very reasonable price.

My absolute favorite brand, however, are the Black Velvets. I’d describe them as mid-level price for high-level quality OMGosh, how did I not kow about these brushes until 2016. I LOVE THEM. Did I say, I love them? 🙂 If you wanted to go this route, here are a few that would be a great start:

#6, #10, and #14 round
small or medium mop (depends on if you think you’ll be painting small or medium sized paitings 🙂 )
1″ flat
#2 rigger (or script or liner)
dagger brush (an optional brush, but they are super fun and totally rock for painting leaves)


Palettes are such a personal preference. I suugest go on the inexpensive side until you get your fee wet and decide which of the “good ones” is really going to work for you. Art on the Columbia currently has probably four different types to choose from, starting at just $6.

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

I like gator boards quite a bit (the foam core type boards with the water resistant coating on either side), but once again there are choices and it can be personal preference. Art on the Columbia does not carry gator boards…yet

Art on the Columbia does carry plexiglass boards that are quite spiffy, especially for a wet into wet wash.


Paints are the other thing I don’t recommend skimping on, even as a beginner. Makes it too hard on you! 🙂 Even if it means buying fewer colors due to the higher cost. You won’t be sorry. Things to stay away from tube paints that say student or Grumbacher, Academy, Cotman, or Koi pan paints (vs tube).

Art on the Columbia carries all the colors of my two favorite watercolor paint brands: Holbein and Daniel Smith. This means you have over 400 colors to choose from! Here’s a list of some of my personal favorites, and would make for a pretty kick ass starter (and beyond) set:

Holbein or Daniel Smith Pyrrol Red
Holbein Bright Rose
Daniel Smith Quinacridone Pink
Holbein Opera (Pink)
Holbein Vermillion Hue or Scarlet Lake
Holbein Brilliant Orange
Daniel Smith Quinacridone Burnt Orange
Holbein Permanent Yellow Orange
Holbein Aureolin
Holbein Permanent Yellow Lemon
Holbein Leaf Green
Holbein Permanent Green #1 and 2
Holbein Sap Green
Daniel Smith Green Gold*
Holbein Marine Blue
Holbein Turquoise Blue (semi-transparent)
Holbein or Daniel Smith Cobalt Blue
Daniel Smith Indanthrone Blue
Holbein Bright Violet
Holbein Permanent Violet
Holbein Indigo
Holbein Antique White (or Dr Ph Martin’s Bleed Proof White, which comes in small jar)
Holbein or Daniel Smith Burnt Sienna
Holbein Lamp Black

So, if you bring your own watercolor painting supplies to a Kennewick Community Education class, 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 11×15 – 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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