Favorite Watercolor Supplies

Hey everyone!

i get so many questions about my supplies, that i thought i’d take the time to sit down, find links for all my favorites at different price points, and write up a comprehensive list for you all.

i work in a variety of media, so i’m going to add to the list over time so it stays all in one place. But i’m starting with my favorite watercolor supplies today. Choice of supplies is highly personal, so i don’t intend this post to be definitive about what is best. These are merely MY FAVORITES and supplies that i keep stocked in my own studio. None of these manufacturers are sponsoring this post. And even if they were, i would never share or recommend a product i didn’t use and really like, myself. The links below are affiliate links. But feel free to use them or not. i’m happy to share regardless. : )



My favorites are always Cold Press papers. i prefer the toothier/rougher surface than the smoothness of Hot Press. An art instructor in college always told us to remember the difference this way; Hot Press is smooth as though a hot iron was used. Cold Press is bumpy like your skin when you’re cold. The texture of Cold Press is so quintessentially watercolor for me. Plus, i do think it’s more forgiving if you aren’t a master. i’m definitely not a master! One down side is that it’s more challenging to scan since the textured surface in unpainted areas is picked up as color/shading and needs to be edited away of you intend to reproduce the art. Meh. It’s a small price to pay for me. But to each her own. Here are my go-to choices at 3 budget levels.

$Canson Cold Press tablet with perforated pages just fine for everyday and for tossing in your bag  |  Montval Watercolor Pad, 5.5″X8.5″ Top Wire

$$Fabriano Artistico Cold Press Paper – i like this one a lot. Love the surface and the way it absorbs the watercolor.   |  Fabriano Artistico Watercolor Extra White Block 9″x12″ 300gsm CP 20 Sheets

$$$Arches Cold Press Watercolor Block – This is largely considered the gold standard. it’s pretty spectacular. The “block” means the pages are glued on all sides (you have to cut them free with an x-acto blade) to help prevent buckling as you paint with lots of water. i use this paper when i do a commissioned painting. It really is superior. You can lift color and the paper doesn’t turn to mush. : )  |  Watercolor Block, Cold Press 10″X14″



Essentially, i always want the description of the watercolors to have “transparent,” or “clear and bright” in it somewhere. My prfereed palette for my work is very airy and feminine. So while some folks might look for paints that yield rich darks and jewel tones (which some of these do),the best watercolors for me are ones that can offer vivid color even in watery washes. The least expensive sets out there usually have more binders/less pigment and can tend to dry duller and muddier. That said, you can drop $400+ on the most high end watercolors…..so….finding a happy medium is like finding the holy grail. i certainly haven’t tried every brand out there, but i’ve tried a lot and these are the sets i’ve been leaning on most heavily the past year or so.

$Angora Pan Set – This is my “cheapie set” that i use for quick little sketches. The colors are very nice and while some are a bit chalkier/opaque…it’s still a great pan set for the price and travels well. i don’t mind if my kids use it too. The lid is hinged and makes for a good blending palette. The color selection is fun and whimsical with periwinkle and coral; not just your basic primary colors. |  Angora Watercolor 36 Pan Set

$$ – Sakura XNCW-30N Koi Field 30 Assorted Watercolors with Brush Sketch Set – i have this set and it’s a really nice quality without breaking the bank. The included mini water brush means all you have to do is find some paper and you’re good to go, anywhere you go. |  Sakura XNCW-30N Koi Field 30 Assorted Watercolors with Brush Sketch Set

 $$$Mission Gold Tube Watercolors Set of 36 with Pallet/Case – This is one of my favorite sets. Had it on my wish list for a while and my parents gave it to me for Christmas. They are so sweet. : ) It has tube watercolors, not dry bricks/pans…so a little less convenient for traveling…. but the colors are intense and bright and clear. This set was definitely more expensive when i got mine! It looks pretty reasonable now! So maybe you can snag a deal.  |  Mission Gold Water Color Palette Set, 36 Colors

BONUS**** LOVE!! i HAVE to mention Nicholson’s Peerless Transparent Watercolors in any conversation about watercolor. i LOVE mine!!!…but they are certainly unique. They come as a loose card deck with dried pigment on individual cards….so you either have to splay the cards out on the table to use them, or make yourself a little palette. Lots of artistshave done tutorials on youtube for  little travel folios with card swatches attached inside. (Jane Davenport’s Tutorial is pretty darned good) i did this for mine and it’s awesome. These paints are the BEST!!! Gorgeous, beautifully intense, yet transparent colors. i LOVE them! The price point is totally within reach, so definitely snag some to play around with.  |  Peerless Watercolor Complete Edition Book



If i could only have one brush…i’d have a number 8 or 10 round tapered sable brush. My 2nd (and completely opposite) love is a Pentel Aquash water brush because it is so versatile. Generally, sable, squirrel and other natural hair brushes are best for watercolor because they hold more water/color. Synthetic brushes can do a fine job too.

My rule of thumb shopping for brushes at  your local craft store…..don’t buy the bargain brushes. Beware bulk packs that seem too cheap to be true. Tug a little on brush bristles to see if they come out easily. Invest in the $8, $10 or $20 brushes and just own a few. Watercolor brushes are easy to take care of and can last forever (unlike acrylic brushes for me ~ i wreck them after a year or so! : )) 2-5 excellent watercolor brushes are worth the investment in my opinion. They won’t fight you. My paintings are better for them.

$Pentel Aquash Water brush – Perfect for travel and tossing in your bag. The water reservoir in the handle lasts surprisingly long if you are painting in a small sketchbook. The “Fine” tip size has a nice fine/pointy taper. i haven’t had luck with other brands of water brushes.  There is a marked difference in my experience.  |  Pentel Arts Aquash Water Brush Assorted Tips, Pack of 3 (FRHBFMBP3)

$ Simply Simmons Synthetic – Round 8 – This brush is so inexpensive, it’s hard to believe it performs as well as it does. i find myself reaching for it time and again. It holds a good amount of water, has great spring-back and keeps it’s lovely tapered point very well. i have a size 10 also. Great choice if you’re just starting or aren’t wanting to invest in those crazy expensive sable brushes yet : )  |  Robert Simmons Simply Simmons Watercolor & Acrylic Short-Handle Brushes 8 round synthetic mix

$ Black Velvet Silver – Round 2 (Squirrel/Risslon) – i do a lot of detailed work when i paint portraits…hair, eyes, clothing textures. i love this soft, tapered brush because it manages to be fine AND holds a good amount of water at the same time. i reach for it again and again.  Black Velvet Silver – Round 2 (Squirrel/Risslon)

$$Princeton Synthetic Sable Set – This set is not too expensive and has all the brushes i’d really need for a painting. Nothing fancy, but a good starter set that includes a #10 round Taper, which is my go-to.  |  Princeton Heritage, Golden Taklon Brushes for Warercolor & Acrylic, Series 4050 Synthetic Sable, Professional Set

 $$$ Kolinsky Sable (Many companies make Kolinsky sables – this is just one.) i only own my FAVORITE shape/style of brushes in this fabrication.  One brush can cost multiple $100s of dollars. Awesome if you have the budget. But i’m not sure if they are one hundred dollars more awesome? Like i said, i have 2 in small sizes that are less of a huge ticket price. When i paint small, they are definitely the ones i grab. But not sure i’ll add the huge ones to my collection anytime soon. The size 8 linked here is lovely.  |  Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable Watercolor Brush – Round 8

i hope this roundup of some of my personal favorite watercolor supplies was helpful. Remember, every artist is different and the selection of your tools and supplies is highly personal. Experiment to find what works best for you!

Stay tuned for my next post on some favorite Acrylic Painting Supplies. xo, s















Watercoloring Sweet Moments in Time

FlowerGirlBackFLUFFi love painting traditional facial portraits. It has always been a big part of my art business. But i’ve really started to appreciate the subtlety and storytelling of a portrait where the face does NOT take center stage. i’m talking about figures facing away, or with heads and eyelids lowered, maybe with just the curve of a cheek visible. Painting a little one in a certain dress, a particular moment of action, or the perfect candid pose has become an obsession for me.

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i love that the artwork becomes so much more timeless, romantic, ethereal and even decorative/graphic. Paintings like these are less formal in the sense that they needn’t be placed on the stairway wall, or in the family room. They easily work on a bedroom, playroom or entryway wall to convey an emotion or set a mood.


Hope you enjoy these few from this past week.

If you would like to discuss commissioning a painting like this from a favorite photo, please drop me a note via the contact page on this website. The images in this post are all examples of commissions that would run between $125-$155.  THANKS!!

For All the Brave Ones


My sweet friend, Amy, asked me if i had a coloring page i could share for her child’s class service project. They are making “BE BRAVE” craft/coloring folders for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, in honor of their classmate. i was happy to make one, of course. And then thought…… it’d be even better if i shared it with my whole community. There are too many brave kids fighting cancer. i realize life isn’t fair…..but it just seems unbearably wrong.

If you know a little brave heart who is fighting this battle….or any child who might find strength or hope in this message right now, please help yourself. Just click the image for your download.

much love, s

Thank You Very Much – made easier


i am a super thankful person. i really am. i really appreciate when folks take the time to come celebrate birthdays with my boys and bring them sweet gifts. i used to be so on top of all my thank-you-related correspondence. But this year, the universe and Murphy’s law conspired against me and created a cluster of drama and distraction that knocked me off my game.  And i am embarrassed to say i still owe (or my kids still owe) thank you cards from a birthday party we had in AUGUST!

Yikes. NOT proud of myself.

The boys actually wrote out about half the cards….then i MIGHT have misplaced them…..but that’s another story we won’t dwell on.

SO!! if any of this is familiar (please tell me i’m not the only one). And if any of YOU GUYS need to get back on track like me,  then these little cards i made are perfect for you. They are an update/upgrade on some other fill-in thank you cards i made way, way back. I’ve got them all set up to print in 2 different sizes; your choice.


You’ll never be out of Thank You Notes again…and they couldn’t be easier for your littles to fill out. You can snag your download below.

Add to Cart

Hope you enjoy!



A Giving Heart Giveaway for Mother’s Day

A Giving Heart Coloring Book for Mother's Day Bundle

The release date of my newest book, A Giving Heart, has finally arrived! And I’m excited to give away 7 prize bundles to celebrate!

This book is so close to my heart. It is full of inspiring quotes and scripture verses celebrating motherhood. It also features lots of pages without text. For those pages, I created fun florals, mandalas, and images that represent many of the things the mamas in my life really love. Um, there is a page full of coffee/tea/hot chocolate mugs, a page with a sewing machine, and a page with brushes and easel, a page with a camera, an angel, and more! I put a lot of thought into creating something for everyone. I hope you will find lots of pages that resonate with you!

The pages are printed with art on one side only in a square format. This makes your masterpieces easy to remove and frame. Work on the art together with your mom, grandmom, or children. Make it a togetherness activity and frame the results as a memory.

Whether you ARE a mom, HAVE a mom, or PLAY THE PART of a mom, this book is for you. We’ve released it just in time for Mother’s Day and there is a beautiful bookplate page in the front to fill in if you are giving it as a gift. If you are a dad, snag a book and have your kids get it started by coloring a page they think best represents their mom before wrapping it.

I have such amazing memories of coloring with my mom when i was a kid. It was such a great time to talk to each other and make something beautiful at the same time. I’d love this book to be the vehicle for that kind of memory-making for all of you, too.

A Giving Heart Coloring Book for Mother's Day  - Win a copy! I’ve put together 7 prize bundles if you’d like to enter below. Winner will receive a signed copy of the book, a color-able card with envelope  just perfect for Mother’s Day giving, plus an art print featuring one of the pages in the book colored by yours truly. The print measures 9×9 and is made on beautiful matte paper, signed on the back, then packaged with rigid backing in a clear cello sleeve. The bundle is worth about $35 retail and would be such a sweet gift to give or keep.

A Giving Heart Coloring Book for Mother's Day Show some love to a wonderful mother in your life. And please, please spread the word for me by sharing this post if you’d like.  I truly appreciate it!

There are several ways to enter via Rafflecopter below, plus an entry if you leave a comment here on this post telling me about a special motherhood memory you have, either with a mother figure in your life, or with your own kids/grandkids. I can’t wait to read them all.

PS – whether you win a book or buy one, i’d LOVE to see photos of you using it, or finished pages you’ve colored. please share on social media with the hashtag #AGivingHeartColoringBook

A Giving Heart Giveaway Prize Package Includes:

A Signed Copy of A Giving Heart

Physical Print of the Crowded Flowers Illustration I Colored

A Color-able Mother’s Day Card Created from the Mom Make it all Better Page in the Book




a Rafflecopter giveaway

*No purchase necessary to enter or win. A purchase or payment will not increase your chances of winning. A Giving Heart Giveaway begins on 4/4/17 and ends at midnight on 4/11/17. Entrants must be legal residents of the U.S., and DC who are at least 18 years of age. Void outside the U.S., and DC, and where prohibited. One (1) Mother’s Day Gift approximately valued at $35 will be awarded to seven (7) winners. Odds of winning depend upon the number of eligible entries received. Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter.com on 4/12/17 and announced by 4/14/17 at this post and will be contacted via email. Winners will have 24 hours to respond before a new winner will be selected. Void where prohibited. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook or Instagram.











Love in Wonderland

I got to do a super fun commission recently for a customer who always makes my day with her unique ideas and excitement over the whole creative process. I was asked to make a keepsake piece of artwork for a bride, to be given at her bridal shower. The theme of the party was to be “Wonderland.” The concept was to combine some aspects of fashion illustration (the bride is quite the fashionista and has chosen beautiful attire for her big day) and some components of Wonderland. Here are some images of the basic process as it got underway.


Then here are some closeups that had a bit of gold sparkle. * and if you look closely, you will see some “patriotic” flowers that represent the groom.

JillWonderlandFINAL-WM_2 JillWonderlandFINAL-WM_3 JillWonderlandFINAL-WM_4

Finally, I really got inspired to create wrappings for the gift that would hint at elements of  the art. I found some plain white tissue paper flowers at Target, and spattered them with watercolor to represent the huge watercolor blooms in the art.


Then I wrapped the gift with B&W striped paper to mimic the striped flower stems in the art and coordinate with the B&W ink sketch. I finished with multi-colored floral ribbon and metallic gold ribbon to go along with the shimmery gold paint accents I’d used in the art. I made a matching card using elements from the painting and then decorated the chic black envelope with a glittery gold heart.


i LOVED working on this project and wish everyday could include special commissions just like it. If you would like to work with me on a special keepsake like this, please drop me a line and we’ll see what we can brainstorm together!!

Show Your Colors

Working with Deny Designs, a curated print-on-demand site that creates countless housewares and more using a huge range of art from makers around the world,  these past few years has been a wonderful experience. They are kind people. They continually push their business and brand forward and try new things. They care about their artists. LOVE THEM!

Corfee-DenyColorPaletteADI’ve recently added some new work to my gallery on their site and am super excited about the resulting products. I’ll share some favorites with you over the next few weeks. The artwork above, “Color Palette”, is from a painting i made for my own home. It reminds me of a paintbox, has a totally imperfect, brushstroke-y vibe, and mixes bright colors with more muted, sophisticated tones. It’s the perfect cheaters way to tie a room together while making it feel a bit artsy at the same time. Check it out on table linens, coffee mugs, cell phone cases, duvets, shower curtains and more by clicking here.

And if you want to see all my designs offered across the Deny Designs product line, just click here.

Have a good one. : )

Portraits with whimsy & magic

CorfeeWhimsicalPortraits-TallPinWatercolor, florals, doodles, drips and spatter. i’ve been combining all my favorite painting tidbits into these charming whimsical portraits recently. They make a gorgeous keepsake and look beautiful framed in a nursery or little girl’s room. i scan and keep high resolution digital files of the art, so customers can have the art printed on mugs or in photo books as well. This also allows me to offer additional prints at various sizes so that grandparents, family or friends can have a mini version of the art for their desk as well.

Visit my shop here to purchase one of these darling portraits, and take a look at my other prints and originals while you’re there, too! ; )

Creating with Kids; It’s about much more than the art


i make art with kids a lot. it’s fun and silly and inspiring. i kind of love it.

But i also sometimes come across kids who lack confidence in their creativity.
i get that.
Sometimes it’s hard for kids to realize that there is a subject where you “can”t get it wrong!”
But here’s the powerful part…..it takes barely 5-10 minutes of encouragement …sitting right by them and really “seeing” their art, asking them about it, being impressed by their unique choices in color, or creative back-story or whatever….to build them up sky-high. It’s crazy. It’s beautiful. It’s magic.
It’s the one-on-one….the idea that another person doesn’t see their work as right or wrong….but sees the bits of THEMSELVES that they put into it – and are blown away.
This is why i make art books……not to create an idle activity, or to show kids ONE way to do something…..but to help them express themselves and take pride in the fact that THEIR work is not like anyone else’s….and that is AWESOME.
i’d love you guys to buy my books…not just bc it helps feed my kiddos, who are bottomless pits…..but because the books are tools. And some people really can use a little boost and a little prompt to get the creativity flowing. Use any book, or Pinterest post, or DIY video. It’s all good!! But just sit with your kids as they create, or sit with them to hear about what they’ve just created on their own….i swear you will see a change in them…for the better.
You can link to any of my books here. But honestly, it’s not about me. Use any tool you like to work your magic, and ignite that spark of confidence in your kids. -xo

A Simple Reminder to Color

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i recently got a new iPad Pro. i got it to make life easier, staple myself to my desk less often, and work smarter, not harder. In the past, i’d make coloring pages by sketching on paper, then using marker paper and a light box to ink the sketched design, then scan to my computer, open in Photoshsop, clean up the inevitable blobs and bleeds in certain areas caused by marker on paper (even good paper!), then convert to crisp, clean vectors in Illustrator. The process was taking up more time than necessary, and had me at me computer a lot more than i needed to be. After looking into the Cintiq Companion and the iPad Pro, since both allowed for “anywhere” digital drawing, i chose the iPad Pro for it’s other capabilities and cheaper price tag. i still plan to be in-studio for all my hands-on painting work, so i really juts wanted a way to streamline my sketching and vector work, so it was a good choice for me, i THINK!! : )

SO…..now i have been practicing and getting used to the tools and the responsiveness of the apple pencil, and all that jazz…..so you guys will be getting lots of my experiments shared with you as freebie downloads for a little while. Enjoy!! Once i get a good grip on it, i will be adding lots more clip art and digital files to my etsy shop that will be great for your kiddos, for wall art, for party favors and invites, and whatever else you can think of.

Happy Monday! Do Good in the world today!! xo,s