Georgia Mansur – Toolbox Tips: Watercolor Supplies and Workspace Setup for Successful Painting

Photo of Georgia Mansur

Hi, my name is Georgia Mansur and I am going to share with you some tips that will help improve your painting practice as well as ensure your creative experience is as enjoyable and successful as possible. Some things may seem like common sense but in my teaching travels about 8 months a year around the world, I have discovered that common sense is… well, not that common!

Simple things like loading your brush properly will circumvent so many potential issues further down the track so I hope to set you up right from the get-go to optimize your creative time.

So, let’s start with our work space or creative zone. I realize not everyone has ideal conditions to create and some may be (like me in the beginning) painting on the kitchen table before getting a dedicated work space or studio.

Let’s work with what I consider the 10 necessities ~ Here is my studio setup:

1. Good natural light. If you don’t have this I would consider the range of day globes that simulate natural light and are easy to obtain from most art supply stores.

2. Clutter free desk or table to avoid distractions. This is actually pretty important, it is difficult to create freely when you have to keep moving things or knocking over items that get in your way. It’s nice to start fresh and clear.

3. Tilting surface (like a drafting table or easel) or support board to control washes.

4. Water container ~ I use a double, one for first wash and second rinse to keep colours clean. Remember to change water often. Ensure if you are right handed or left to set up your water and palette ergonomically so you are not reaching across your paper or risking unintentional drips.

Georgia's right handed, right side set up: fine mister, small color mixing bowls, sponge, two water containers.

Georgia’s right handed, right side set up: fine mister, small color mixing dishes, sponge, two water containers.

5. Paper towels and sponge to absorb excess moisture and control proper brush loading.

6. Palette with deep wells and plenty of mixing cells or dishes so you don’t have to keep remixing colour halfway through your wash.

Georgia Mansur brush set up and other watercolor painting supplies

Georgia Mansur brush set up and tools for painting with watercolors

7. Brushes and tools ~ My watercolour brushes are a good mix of Sables and synthetics, flats, rounds, mops and riggers, including very useful scrubbing type brushes in med and large sizes for lifting. Each brush has a specific function and I will talk more about that in a later post on brushwork.

8. FINE mist spray bottle to assist with wetting palette to reactivate colour, fracturing, flooding and other spray options. I will give you more specifics on those techniques later and you can also get the complete sample board experience to make your own technique ‘cheat sheet’ in my DVD ‘Watercolour Tips and Techniques’.

9. Use the right paper for the Job. For me that usually means 140 lb. ROUGH watercolor paper because it holds up against the abuse I give it and also withstands being super wet and can take many types of mixed media processes I use. If you are planning on doing fine details and lots of drawing I would recommend a hot press slick surface instead. I generally use a pad in my studio and tape it to a timber or gator board so I can tilt the surface when necessary. For plein air painting I use an adhesive block of paper so I don’t have to tape it down or carry a backing board.

Georgia Mansur's round palette of DANIEL SMITH Watercolors

Georgia Mansur’s round palette of DANIEL SMITH Watercolors

10. Paint and Palette. I use a circular palette that is in line with the colour wheel for easy mixing and understanding of warm and cools, positioning the complementaries opposite each other. This setup allows you to learn the colour wheel like a keyboard not having to think about the names of colours in full flight and keeps your colours organized~ warm on one side and cool on the other~ a simple concept but many people don’t consider its importance.

I use the Georgia Mansur Palette of Watercolors by DANIEL SMITH with 16 colours I can’t live without. With this palette you can paint just about anything under the sun, a good mix of transparent, opaque and semi opaque, warms and cools.

Georgia Mansur's DANIEL SMITH Watercolors and how she arranges them

Georgia Mansur’s DANIEL SMITH Watercolors and how she arranges them

Georgia Mansur’s DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Palette:
Lemon Yellow
Cadmium Yellow Deep Hue
Quinacridone Gold
Alizarin Crimson
Opera Pink
Cadmium Red Medium Hue
Quinacridone Magenta
Carbazole Violet
Neutral Tint
French Ultramarine
Indanthrone Blue
Cobalt Blue
Phthalo Turquoise
Raw Umber
Transparent Red Oxide

When you are starting out it’s a good idea to use a limited palette to achieve colour harmony, but I am always experimenting with new delicious colours! I love some of the fresh new colours just created at DANIEL SMITH and have quickly become favourites. Lavender, Aussie Red Gold and Wisteria and another fave is Lunar Black for its crazy ‘crazing’ qualities! I could go on but you get the idea and you will need to try them for yourself to see what is a good fit for you.

Georgia Mansur's Workstation set up for painting with watercolors, set up for right handed painting

Georgia Mansur’s Workstation set up for painting with watercolors, set up for right handed painting

Summing up, these necessities might be a larger initial investment than you had in mind but I feel compromising on quality is a false economy, especially if you are a beginner. You won’t get the results you hope to achieve with cheap and nasty paper and will be so frustrated. We want to avoid unnecessary frustration so don’t skimp on good paper, the right brushes or artist quality pure pigment paint and you will have a much better chance of success from your very first strokes. Setting up your workstation in a logical and efficient manner will save you a lot of headaches.

Watercolour is challenging enough without handicapping yourself with inferior materials so please indulge and use the highest quality materials possible for your future masterpieces ~ you deserve it!

I hope you will join me at one of my upcoming workshops.
Till next time, g’day!

About Georgia
Georgia Mansur is active in the Cultural Community in Australia and Overseas, including:

• AGRA (Australian Guild of Realist Artists)
• ADFAS (Australian Decorative and Fine Arts)
• CAC (California Art Club)
• IPAP (International Plein Air Painters)
• LPAPA (Laguna Plein Air Painters Assoc.)
• NWS (National Watercolor Society)
• CWA (California Watercolor Assoc.),
• AWS American Watercolor Society,
• AIS American Impressionist Society.
Georgia was a featured water media presenter and faculty member at the Plein Air Convention in Monterey, California and is one of the top 100 watermedia artists featured in North Light Book’s ‘SPLASH 15’. She is a respected watercolor artist and popular instructor worldwide. Please visit her website and blog or email directly for info on upcoming workshops and events.


Why I love DANIEL SMITH Watercolors

“Using DANIEL SMITH watercolor has opened up exciting new creative possibilities – the Quinacridones and Iridescents offer new options for creating with sparkling effects. The high quality pure pigment loads ensure that I get delicious darks and juicy vibrancy in my work.”
-Georgia Mansur

Georgia Mansur - DANIEL SMITH Watercolors and Dot Card

Georgia Mansur – DANIEL SMITH Watercolors and Dot Card