Botanical artists prefer brushes that can hold a fair amount of paint, but are also fine-tipped for detailed brushwork. The shape you are looking for is “round” and elongated, like the tip of a spear. We occasionally also use stronger, square shaped brushes to remove lines, spots or lift paint. Spare your best brushes by using an old brush when mixing paint.
Botanical artists need strong, smooth papers. We often paint in layers and need the paper to endure this process. Look for paper with a weight of 300 gsm, preferably 100% cotton fibre. The designation you are look for is “hot press”. This smooth type of paper is perfect for retaining fine detail and sharp lines.
I always recommend my students to buy “professional” or “extra fine” watercolour paints if possible. These paints are higher in pigment content and thus make it much easier to achieve a deep colour intensity in your watercolours. In the PDF with Paint Recommendations, I provide a detailed overview of pigments that I use. This includes a list with essential pigments and paints to expand your palette. You can use this list to check what you already have, or would like to buy.
Nothing beats a simple, white ceramic plate to use as a palette. It provides ample space for colour mixing, is easy to clean, and has a nice and smooth surface that allows you to see exactly which hues you are mixing.
Simple HB pencils, a sharper, a ruler, and a regular eraser are more than sufficient to create the line drawings we need to start our botanical paintings.
Natural daylight is the perfect form of light for painting botanical subjects. It makes colour and form look natural. When daylight becomes scarse, you may find it helpful to invest in a Daylight lamp, which enables you to paint and see accurate hues and tones until well after sunset.
…and check the recommendations above for more details.
What I use…
Winsor & Newton Professional, and Daniel Smith Watercolour Paints
A variety of Winsor & Newton Series 7, Raphael, and house brand brushes
Saunders Waterford “hot press” paper (high white, various weights)
Fabriano Artistico paper (high white, 300 gsm)
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