Stephanie Bower's Vacation Workshop Supply List

Please click HERE to download and print off a copy of the supply list below.


  • a 5” x 8” watercolor sketchbook in landscape format. I recommend the Pentalic as it is true 140lb/300gsm paper. But if you cannot find it, then Moleskine or Hahnemühle

Mechanical pencil

  • .5mm size lead, with extra B and 2B lead.


  • small, kneaded eraser

Pen (optional)

  • If you like to use pen, bring your favorite pen and ink! Good sketching fountain pens are Lamy Safari or Platinum. Make sure the ink is permanent/waterproof such as Platinum Carbon (cartridges fit in Platinum pens) or De Atramentis Document Ink. Permanent felt tip pens are OK too, Pitt Artist markers are great, bring a variety of thicknesses in black and brown.

Straight Edge

  • 8” clear plastic architect’s triangle (30/60 degrees is easiest to use) or small plastic ruler.

Binder Clips

  • 4-5 binder clips to hold down your paper and attach it to your lap board (these are important!!!)

Small portable stool

  • I recommend you look on Amazon to see what you can find. Small and light are important, so check sizes carefully (don’t go below about 13” in height) and look for something made of aluminum, not steel. You can try  the REI camp stools good height, made of aluminum, check to see that it fits in a carry-on suitcase) or the Walkstool (available in different heights, good for taller people, can be ordered on Amazon.) I just found this one on Amazon and this one that look pretty good. Bringing a stool is essential.

    Portable work surface

    • I used to carry a full-size tripod and easel, but I’ve switched to a simple homemade lap board made of corrugated plastic--it works great. This plastic is available in sheets at craft stores. I cut one that fits in my backpack, approx.12”h x 15”w (you can also make it wider to better accommodate your sketchbook). I use binder clips to attach my paint and sketchbook to it, then rest it in my lap when I paint. I also cut a 1 ¾” dia. round hole on the upper left-hand corner and insert an empty 1 ¾” dia. pill bottle to hold my water. You can even cut small holes for your brushes! 
    • Here is the corrugated plastic lap board in action. Sketchbook and watercolor palette are attached with clips. You can also see the hole cut in the board to accommodate the medicine bottle that holds water. Scrap paper is tucked in. It works great and is small, light, and portable.

      Plastic Mesh Zipper Bags

      • 2 small plastic zippered bags for holding your supplies, one for wet and one for dry supplies. I also carry my wet watercolor palette in a very small, zippered bag. Lots of inexpensive options on Amazon.


      • secure backpack or bag for carrying your supplies when sketching outdoors.


      • sunscreen, hat, bug repellant

      Watercolor Supplies
      You will need to have a portable watercolor set that includes:

      • Watercolor palette for mixing paints, something light and portable. My recommendations are:
      a) Winsor & Newton ”Sketcher’s Pocket Box”, what I use. (Save the plastic half pans, refill with high grade artists tube paints.)
      b) Metal folding palette, loaded with your own empty half pans and paint, taped in place with double-stick tape
      • Paints: Watercolor paints, half pans (pre-made cubes of paint) or tubes (squirt fresh paint onto palette, small tubes will be plenty.)
      Brands: Winsor & Newton Artists/Professional (not Cotman, poor student grade paints) or Daniel Smith (DS)
      Colors: Blues: French Ultramarine (W&N only), Cobalt Blue, Manganese Blue
      Reds: Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna (W&N only)
      Yellows: New Gamboge, Yellow Ochre, Geothite (DS only)
      Also: Pyrrole Orange (DS), Permanent Sap Green, Perylene Green (DS), Quinacridone Burnt Orange (DS)


      • SHAPE: The goal in a watercolor brush to use the largest one you can afford that comes to a good, sharp point. Larger brushes hold more water/pigment, and you can still paint small details if it has a good point. I don’t paint with anything smaller than a size 10. The classic shape is a “round”, but I also use flat or angled brushes for painting architecture.
      • BRISTLES: You can use expensive Kolinsky Sable brushes or inexpensive synthetics. I use both. Sable holds more water/pigment and has a great spring, more so than synthetic bristles. My favorite is an Escoda Reserva Sable travel brush, size 10. If you have one brush to buy, this is it. Never use your good sable brushes to mix or dig into paint or paper, always use synthetic bristles. I recommend you bring 3 brushes:

      1) Synthetic watercolor brush, “round”, size 8 or 10, regular handle or travel brush.
      A travel brush is ideal as it has a cap that protects the bristles. Escoda Perla size 12 is my favorite all-around brush.
      2) 5/8” Angled or flat brush. Princeton 5/8” angled shader brush.
      3) Natural Kolinsky Sable watercolor brush, “round”, size 8 or 10. If you can, splurge and get the
      Escoda Reserva Travel Brush, size 8 or 10. Size 8 is good for our small sketchbooks. Other travel brush brands are
      Da Vinci and Rosemary.

      Paper towels, a few sheets. I like Bounty brand.
      Small scraps of watercolor paper for testing colors.
      Water bottle with water

      Here is the arrangement of colors in my palette. I squirt paint from tubes into the half pan plastic trays, then place them into the palette in this order, with blues on the left, reds in the center, and yellows on the right.
      Top Row:
      French Ultramarine (WN) – Cobalt blue – Manganese blue – Perm. Alizarin Crimson – Burnt Sienna (WN)—Yellow Ochre
      Bottom Row:
      Perm. Sap Green – Perylene Green (DS) – Geothite (DS) – Quin. Burnt Orange (DS) – Pyrrole Orange (DS) – New Gamboge
      Please get the brands specified, WN is Winsor & Newton and DS is Daniel Smith.

      If you have any questions, let me know at!
      See you in the workshop!

      Reference books (not required)

      • The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Perspective
      • 101 Sketching Tips