John Singer Sargent – Portrait Painting   -  Supply List

“Painting is quite hard enough without adding to your difficulties by keeping your tools in bad condition. You want good thick brushes that will hold the paint and that will resist in a sense the stroke on the canvas.”

John Singer Sargent


Below is a list of the colors used by John Singer Sargent. It is not necessary to purchase the exact colors but try to have something similar on your palette. Since colors vary by brand and some are different today than in Sargent’s time, I have included the names of colors that I have found serve the same purpose. 

Paints - Sargent’s colors included.

Mars Yellow or Iron Oxide Yellow - I use Transparent Yellow Oxide. (Yellow Ochre or Raw Siena also work but are not as versatile.)
Cadmium yellow

Emerald Green
Vermillion – I have found that Chinese Vermillion is the closest match.
Mars Red – I have used Terra Rosa, Earth Red or Pozzouli Earth
French Ultramarine
Cobalt blue
Ivory Black
Burnt Sienna
Mars brown or Vandyck Brown – this can be mixed using other colors. I also like to have raw Umber on my palette
White - Sargent would have used lead white which is toxic, so choose either - Flake or Titanium white.

I like the brands: Winsor and Newton, Rembrandt, Sennelier, Williamsburg or Gamblin (avoid student grade or any paint containing the wood hue)


9 x 12(approx.)  fine weave canvas, toned light gray – for head studies bring to first class
20 x 24 (approx.) – fine weave canvas, toned light gray – for final painting bring to 3rd class


Flat or round bristle brushes in various sizes:

#1, #2, #4, #6 (sizes vary by manufacturer)

I like the brands: Sliver brush Grand Prix and Winsor and Newton.   



Odorless Mineral Spirits, Gamsol or Turpenoid (NO Turpentine or “Turpenoid Natural”)



Wood, Glass or Palette Paper

I like a Masterson Palette Box & glass cut to fit (glass sold at Michael's) with a piece of neutral gray paper underneath. If you a disposable palette pad choose gray instead of white. It is better to judge colors on gray rather than while



razor/utility knife (for cleaning/scraping palette)

vine charcoal for drawing

Trash bags (you will need to take your trash home with you)

Paper Towels or Rags – I like Scott Brand Shop Paper Towels(blue) and Viva because they don't leave fibers

Container with tight lid for solvent - I like the Silicoil Brush Cleaning Tank.

Small metal cup for clean solvent – an empty tuna will do 



Adrienne Wyman Kralick