Inquiring minds want to know, "How many tiny brushes + watercolor pans are too much?"

Seems like there is always a need in my art supplies for a brush or new color. Almost feels like there is something missing + I'm always on the look out for it. How is that even possible with brushes that have never been used + 22 plus watercolors from which to choose.

I usually work intuitively + a bit methodically. First, picking colors + brushes based on the emotional or visual connection to a landscape or image. Then working from the largest brush for color blocking to the tiniest brush for fine details. Adding layers as needed. Working through the piece until it looks + feels "right". Getting there can be quite challenging. Wondering if there is a better way may be an underlying reason for constantly searching for something to help. 

After a recent studio cleaning + art supply purchase, lots of questions came to mind. Do you even use all these brushes? What does each do best? Do you know the purpose, medium, or mark for them all? Why do you keep buying the same tiny brush? Is it really the best option? Is there a better option you haven't discovered? Do all of these colors work well together? Why does it feel like something is missing in your palette? Is the answer here, yet unknown? How many tiny brushes + watercolor pans are too much? Ignorance may be an other underlying reason for constantly searching for who knows what.

"Happiness is a place between too little and too much."

This quote graces our walls + serves as a gentle reminder of how we choose to live. With those words in mind, I set out to know my tools better before creating another painting or making another purchase. Hoping to find answers to some, if not all, of those questions. 

watercolor brushes

For the watercolor brushes, it was a matter of simply choosing my strongest color(s) + making marks. Making hatches or blobs. Dragging the brush the width of the page with little to full pressure. Creating washes. Observing what happened + taking notes when needed. 

watercolor brush samples 1

These pages have full descriptions of the brush followed by comments about its performance.  Did the point hold up? How fine were the marks? Does it offer variety? What is the load capacity for pigment vs. water? How well did it perform overall?

watercolor brush samples 2

watercolor brush samples 3

For the watercolor pans, things got a bit more complicated. Color mixing charts are a fairly new addition to my art practice, but I have found them invaluable in learning how colors work + play with each other. There are a few specialty colors in my palette that are not good for mixing leaving me with 22 watercolors to chart. That is certainly a bit much, but is it too much?

watercolor pans

Full disclosure, this process has left me confused + frustrated many a time. It took a while for me to understand how it actually worked. There are numerous ways to do it with videos + articles galore to help anyone wanting to learn. This is simply what worked for me. Each column + row is labeled with the colorname's initials. The first column is for the colors in pure form. The remaining columns are dedicated to one watercolor pan mixed with all the other colors. From top to bottom + left to right, the colors are listed in the same order. Simply follow the row horizontally + the column vertically to know the full range of a color.

color mixing chart

Going to spare you all the answers + things learned through this process save one. How many tiny brushes + watercolor pans are too much? Turns out, surprisingly, I have four too much + one too little.

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