• Andrew Ochal

18 Painting Accessories to Make Your Watercolors Sing

Updated: Mar 2


BY ANDREW OCHAL #everythingcreative

Photos: Courtesy of the manufacturers


The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author's employer, Arlene’s Artist Materials. Please contact with any questions.


Whether you are just starting with watercolors or you have been putting wash to paper for years, good accessories can take your craft to the level. After talking with other watercolor artists and many years of my own experimentation I’ve compiled this list of favorites. Plenty of these accessories are affordable, and they make great gifts too.

Before you dive deeper , I recommend taking a class or workshop to get the basics down and familiarize yourself with the medium. Many of the accessories below are meant to aid you in making sure you’re getting the most out of watercolor techniques. For more, check out 4 Helpful Tips to Improve Your Watercolor Skills and our review of Koi Watercolor Pocket Sets.


Caran d'Ache Neocolor II Watercolor Soluble Crayons

The quality of Neocolor II Watercolor Soluble Crayons is universally acknowledged. Their excellent lightfastness, high pigment concentration, and adaptability to a variety of techniques have put them in a class of their own.

Neocolor II Pastels are softer than colored pencils, denser than children’s wax crayons, and extremely responsive to a wet brush. Wet and dry techniques can be combined in the same drawing. Because of their strong pigmentation, light colors cover dark colors and vice-versa.

Neocolors II are soft enough to smudge with your fingertips, yet much firmer than oil pastels. Scrape off one or more layers of color to create an engraved sgraffito effect.


Derwent Watercolor Pencils

These professional-quality water-soluble pencils offer the freedom to switch from drawing to painting in an instant, with no change in tools. Use them to shade on dry paper, then quickly wash over with brush and water to get a blending effect. Derwent Watercolor Pencils can be used on wet paper for intensified colors with softened edges, or wet the pencil first to create rich, textured lines.


Sakura Pigma Micron Multi-Liners

Artists, writers, and illustrators reach for Sakura Pigma Micron Pens to convey their personality, style, or ability, and to safeguard their work with the lasting quality of Pigma ink. Pigma Micron pens are acid-free and archival, making them ideal for watercolors or any application requiring precision and permanence.

Unlike dye-based ink found in most pens and markers, Pigma ink will not feather or bleed, even through the thinnest paper. Pigma ink is derived from a single pigment to ensure color consistency, and is fade proof against sunlight or UV light. Pigma inks will not clog or dry out like most mechanical pens.


Golden QoR Masking Fluid

QoR Masking Fluid is a latex-based medium for masking areas of paper prior to applying color washes. The consistency is perfect for masking finely detailed areas of your watercolor paintings, and it removes easily once dry.


Winsor & Newton Iridescent Medium

Whether you experiment with one or try them all, each medium has a specific property to add to your artistic expression when painting. Mix Iridescent Medium with watercolors or apply it over a dry wash to give iridescent or glitter effects. It is particularly effective when mixed with transparent colors. Tip: Using Iridescent Medium is a great way to replicate the effect of freshly fallen snow.


Pentel Aquash Water Brushes

Ideal for sketching, drawing, and painting, the Pentel Arts Aquash Water Brush has a durable nylon tip that holds its point for better stroke control. Available in a variety of tip sizes, this versatile brush loads easily with water. What's more, the soft, easy-to-squeeze barrel has a shape that prevents it from rolling off surfaces. When filled with water, the Aquash Water Brush is great for use with pocket watercolor sets when painting plein air.


Fineline Precision Applicator and Empty Bottles

Fineline Precision Applicators are perfect for accurate, controlled placement. Use them with masking fluid to draw complex, precise designs with your favorite liquid media. The non-clogging, airtight cap-and-wire system guarantees your favorite masking fluid is ready for immediate use and won't dry out. NOTE: Did you know they're also great with acrylics, inks, gutta, oil paints, silk dyes, stains, henna, waterbased adhesives, glazes, and more.

Available in 18 gauge (0.8 mm) or 20 gauge (0.5 mm) applicator needles.


Holbein Bellows Brush Washer

This sturdy plastic Bellows Brush Washer is great for "plein air" watercolor. It measures 3¾" high when open and 1½" high when closed.


Daniel Smith Transparent Watercolor Ground

Why should watercolor painting be limited to paper? Daniel Smith Watercolor Ground enables you to use watercolors on canvas, other fabrics, wood, plaster, and hardboard, and even metal, plastic, and glass. Just brush it on and let it dry to create an ideal, absorbent surface on virtually any material.


Daler Rowney Pro White

Pro White is a very opaque, white watercolor with superb covering power over colors that normally bleed through white ink. Use it to cover dye colors, markers, all designer colors and any not so happy accidents with your watercolors.


Holbein Watercolor Spray Bottle

This quality constructed atomizer bottle creates a stippled mist which is ideal for many painting techniques. This is a clear, 2 oz (59 ml) plastic bottle with a non-clogging nozzle.


John Pike Universal Watercolor Palette

Consistently considered the artist's top choice, the John Pike Universal Palette is the original plastic palette created and patented by world-renowned artist John Pike in 1960. Unlike copies, it is made of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene resin using the injection mold method. This plastic is incredibly strong and most importantly stain-resistant. It is now approved for use with oil paints.

The John Pike Universal Palette is large — 15" × 10-1/2" × 5/8" — with 20, 1-1/2" paint wells.


Masterson Sta- Wet Palette Super Pro Palette

This is a patented, multi-purpose palette designed to preserve the freshness of acrylics or watercolors for days, even weeks. It begins with a strong, airtight, plastic tray and lid. Depending on the medium you are using, one piece will be the tray and one piece will be the lid. One piece has a recessed area measuring 14½" × 10" (37 cm × 25 cm). The other piece has multiple wells and mixing areas ideal for watercolors.


Art Alternatives 12” Stainless Steel Ruler with Cork Back

Whether you need it to measure, mask/ draw straight lines or even tear watercolor paper a Stainless Steel Ruler with Cork Back is a handy tool to have in your supply arsenal.


Royal Langnickel Silk Sea Sponges

Royal & Langnickel White Silk Sponge have an open texture for stippling. These sponges are highly absorbent with tiny refined pores. Great for either applying or lifting watercolors.


Art Alternatives Artist Tape

The workhorse of all the tapes, Artist Tape features a moderate to low tack adhesive that can be removed without damaging paper surfaces or leaving behind a sticky residue. Great for all mediums especially watercolor.


Art Alternatives Canvas Roll Up Brush Holder

Constructed of heavy canvas with sewn compartments on one side, this brush holder is sturdy enough to protect your brushes. Yet breathable so air can circulate through making sure your brushes are dry and avoiding any mold issues.


Grafix Incredible Art Board, 16”X24”

Incredible Art Board is great for stretching watercolor paper, it won't bend, buckle, or warp. It also provides a smooth surface for mounting paper, prints, and photos. The feather-light material is very durable and water resistant, and it accepts repeated stapling and taping. It measures ½" thick.


All products featured in Arlene’s newsletter were selected by our staff of professional artists. All featured products are available in store at our Albany NY location. Please contact the store for pricing and availability. Local taxes may apply for all orders. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Please contact the store with any questions.


As the founding editor of the Aficionado, Andrew Ochal covers everything from everything about art supplies to what's going on in our creative community (and currently lives and works in Albany with his fiance, Josh, and their puppy Otto).

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