Watercolor Brush Painting

Art Education

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5 Inexpensive Watercolor Supplies you need for your Middle School Art Room

Watercolor supplies for your middle school art room don’t need to focus on expensive watercolor sets to guarantee success for your students. I find that a 16 color pan of Crayola Watercolors can have a magical effect when combined with the right watercolor supplies. Here are my 5 inexpensive watercolor supplies that I make sure I have every year.

Quality Watercolor Brush:

I love Crayola watercolor sets and have achieved really great results with their vibrant colors, however, the brush supplied with the paint can be problematic for students. With a replacement brush that has great absorbency and points well, your students will be able to create incredible control when used properly. A size 10 Nasco Pro-formance natural hair brush is all we use in my classroom. After teaching students how to properly point and hold the brush, the most beautiful and delicate lines can be created even with a single brush that points well and holds water. Well worth the extra step!

Quality Watercolor Paper:

Crayola watercolor pans are very inexpensive and most students have been working with watercolor since Pre-K. How then, can you change their mind about the misconceptions of out-of-control watercolor paintings? The answer is a good paper! Splurging on some heavy-weight watercolor paper will make a fantastic difference in their ability to control and work the watercolor paint. I use Strathmore 300lb paper for student use and have great results. We practice techniques on 90lb drawing paper and after some formative assessment, we move on to our final watercolor paper with confidence and little waste. With a decent brush and nice watercolor paper, your students will amaze themselves!

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Artist Tape:

Students will often want to paint right to the edge of the paper when not instructed otherwise. We use Artist Tape in ½” and 1” widths to help create wash boxes. I encourage students to measure small tick marks to help them line up their tape but with these widths, many students who are ruler-phobic even find great success. Be sure to instruct students to attach the tape securely to avoid bleeding, but you can use a hair dryer to loosen the tackiness if you find their paper is tearing as they release their wash box tape. It’s so satisfying for students to see that crisp, clean line… they’ll immediately feel like professional artists!

White crayons:

Professional artists will use masking fluid/frisket to mask areas of white, but I find that for student use, a white crayon works MAGIC in their eyes. I stock up on Crayola white crayons and show students how to use the crayons to block out areas of white within their paintings. Most students have tried some type of resist before but using the white crayons somehow elevates the experience for them with high success rates. The crayons tend to work nicely for student use without the mess and damage to unwashed brushes. I keep some masking fluid on hand for my advanced students but I couldn’t live without a supply of white crayons.


Stretching watercolor paper can be an easy step to skip, but some scrap chipboard will work as a great, inexpensive painting board. Cut your chipboard into common sizes or just larger than your intended painting project and you’ll be set. Tape the paper down using Artist tape and apply your clean water wash and allow it to dry. You’ll find it easier to move the work from the desk to the drying rack and reminds students of the importance of preparing their paper for watercolor.


With so many options available for watercolor cakes and pans, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Crayola watercolors are often a tool that students have come to love or hate by the time they make it to the middle school art room, but with the right instruction and helpful supplies, they will amaze themselves with the new possibilities found in a familiar supply they may have overlooked for years.

Hello...thanks for stopping by!

Most people call me Kristina, many have called me Mrs. Toolan, and my favorite little people call me Mom!

After more than 24 years in the middle school and high school classrooms fine art and digital media, I wanted to share my experience with you!

I help middle school & high school teachers, like you, create art rooms built for student growth & creative expression even if you don’t have a background in art!

Kristina Toolan
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