A painter's main tool box plus a number of smaller boxes are needed for all your tools so they can be found quickly. In addition it is important to know if any one of them is missing so it can be found before it is required for a specific painting job later.
We have said earlier watercolors require constant attention and if instant reaction is needed to achieve success then having to search for a missing tool will jeopardize the quality of the final work.
For your main toolbox use a workingman’s toolbox now usually made from black and garish colored plastic. These toolboxes are cheap but will last a long time for a painter because the weight it will carry will not be very much.
These toolboxes have a large main compartment and many small ones in a tray below the lid and another series of small compartments in the lid. The main part of the toolbox is clear for larger items.
These toolboxes are light but strong enough for your needs and come in various sizes. The one I have is 9 inches square in section and about 1ft 3ins long. Buy smaller ones as well for related tool sub-collections.
Many specific-use small boxes are also needed. A flat box is best for Rotring type technical pens and stencils. A back-up box is needed for pigment tubes. A matchbox bound with plastic tape is best for old-fashioned razor blades. Another separate box is needed for thumb pins - drawing pins - and just pins. Boxes too are needed for crayons calligraphy penholders and lettering brushes. Keep erasers - putty ink and pencil rubbers of all types in their own box. Retain wide flat tins for pencils and crayons.
Other tools are a collection of odd objects useful when painting watercolors. Normal painting implements are well known from childhood but some are not so obvious. Others are not known and some are used in unfamiliar ways.
For example - twigs - these are ideal for painting tree branches. Larger twigs cut to points and flat sharp edges are used for painting fallen branches or tree trunks. For the larger twig branch and trunk strokes use bamboo end cut as required. Keep a store of hard dry twigs - use them singly dipped in pigment. The technique of using them cannot be described here but twigs are very effective tools.
Toothbrushes are useful to indicate textures and surface relief. They were often used in Architectural drawings and on models for simulate grassed areas. A little watercolor on the toothbrush is flicked with forefinger.
Also a two part hinged tube liquid atomizer is cheap quick and useful for spraying dots. This is used by blowing through the open hinged middle part with one end directed at the paper the other dipped in a small bottle reservoir. The ultimate atomizer is the fantastic graphic artist's airbrush. This is now often overtaken by computer program software.
Gauzes and nets used to obtain geometric textures grids and patterns such as those on check breakfast table cloths appear to offer some advantages but I have not found them successful.
Sponges are good especially for the rookie painter to obtain cloud effects. The best sponges are those that look like cheese with holes in them - not loofahs or foam pads.
Use kitchen towels or the harder paper napkins for cleaning and mopping up. Use these only for cleaning never on the painting surface.
Use large rolls of kitchen paper as cheap drafting paper. These are slightly transparent usually biscuit color and act as a cheap quick substitute for tracing.
Use templates circles squares triangles French Curves. Get Le Corbusier crate-box metal alphabets templates. Also railway curves are a fantastic helping almost every type of drawing. Keep these to yourself – do not lend. A plastic stay-where-you-bend-it rule for irregular curves is worth its weight in gold.
Compasses - 6 and 12inch scales - metric - 50m survey tape. Large and small adjustable plastic setsquares are imperative. A Tee square of proper size is a must have. Buy a 360-degree accurate divided protractor with lift knob. Maps. Two cheap North Point compasses are very useful. A good magnifier glass is useful to have. Nylon fishing line is strong and invisible for hanging pictures at exhibitions. Keep a small hairdryer - talcum powder. A Stanley knife - compasses and dividers - beam compass – a surgeon's knife - chrome edge-of-paper holders – a clock – a calculator and a diary. Buy obtain or collect each of these as needed as needed to reflect your own work.
For this variety of tools it is prudent to keep them properly stored. When it is necessary to work out of doors take everything with you. You never know what you will need to solve some on the spot problem. In this way time and effort will not be wasted and partially completed work not spoiled for want of a little more paint.
Bear in mind the above tools are a general list of items which can be added to the basic list of materials mentioned in earlier articles.
John Blenkin is a retired architect and is now a watercolor painter and article writer. His interests are wide covering both technical and philosophical subjects. He also writes online articles on the technique of watercolor painting.