Winsor Newton Artist's Watercolour Paper (Cold Press) and Lanaquarelle
I prefer using Winsor Newton Artist's Watercolour Paper or Lanaquarelle because it has a great texture and bright white color.
Original paintings are not perfectly flat, so usually it must be framed with a mat. Conservation framing materials will help the painting last a long time. This includes archival backing, museum quality mats and uv filtering glass. It is best to avoid very sunny walls when you put the painting up. If your wall is in full sun, a print may be a better option because the ultrachrome inks are fade resistant.
When I paint outdoors, I tape my paper down on gatorboard with masking tape. I prefer the cream color tape because it is less distracting and doesn't interfere with color perception.
Lessons from Hillary Paige
Early on I took a memorable and wonderful workshop with Hillary Paige in Oaxaca, Mexico. I learned so much from her.
The lessons that have stayed with me are:
(1) Hillary's signature "See, select, and simplify" method
(2) You can mix every color in the rainbow with three colors: Winsor Newton's Cobalt Blue, Winsor Lemon, and Permanent Rose.
(3) A soft, carefree and flowing first wash lays the foundation for subtle edges and tones.
"See Select and Simplify"
I always bring a small sketchbook for the "see, select, and simplify" method. I use Hillary's design for a view-finder, which is a tiny mat with some acetate enhanced with cross hairs. This helps frame the view. When surrounded by stop-in-your-tracks-beautiful landscape, it's not easy to find your composition, and this handy tool helps narrow down the choices.
I quickly draw (well, it's really an indecipherable scribble) what I see in my view finder. Then I draw an even smaller diagram with 3-5 shapes in it, each with a different value. Having worked this out, I now have a "map" for what I'll do on my full sheet of watercolor paper, and I can put the sketchbook and view-finder away.
The First Wash
Starting out with a wet piece of paper, paint can be dropped, dribbled, brushed, sprayed, and flecked over and over to get flowing color. As long as the paper is wet, the watercolor will move. This is a great way to make soft backgrounds.
If you keep some areas dry from the very beginning (and keep track of them) you can preserve some pure whites.
Once everything is completely dry, then additional layers can be introduced to define edges and darken backgrounds. Because watercolor is transparent, those soft shapes are still present behind your new, harder edges. They help tie the foreground to the background.
You can lift and scrub to correct ragged edges that were formed during that first wash.
I use a Holbein Plastic Watercolour Palette to take outside with me. I always orient it the same way. I find I can mix most colors I see with this selection. Every artist has her favorite tubes of colors, and I think that contributes to the personality of the artwork.
My favorites for working outdoors are mostly Winsor Newton. I
Daniel Smith Hansa Yellow Medium
Winsor Green (use as if this were the hottest chile pepper you've ever seen)
Winsor Blue (Red Shade - great for mixing with Brown Madder to produce blacks)
Cobalt Blue (who can live without cobalt blue?)