I’ve always loved the quote “the journey of a thousand miles begins with just a single step.” My problem is I tend to get super excited about the journey – until I start to think about what I have to pack. My excitement soon turns to dread and suddenly that single step seems more like a giant leap.
I remember the first time walking into a large Craft Store as a teenager – so excited to purchase my first set of “real” watercolors. That is until I turned down the aisle filled with watercolor supplies. Suddenly my hard earned cash seemed so small and the decision of what brand and supplies to buy became daunting.
After pursuing watercolor for over twenty years now and purchasing way too many supplies – I’m here to tell you that technically there are only 7 supplies that you actually need to get started with watercolor…
Watercolor Paper is probably the most important supply you will purchase of these seven. Since watercolor is all about water – it’s crucial you invest in the right kind of paper. 100% Cotton paper at a weight 140lb is best. This type of paper is super absorbent but durable – meaning it will soak up your paints evenly and allow a little wiggle room for mistakes/water abuse. An inexpensive – yet fairly good quality paper I recommend is Paul Rubens Watercolor Journal. If you want to dabble in watercolor without busting your bank account this is a good product to try out. :)
Brushes are the next supply on our list. If you want to invest in a good quality set of brushes – I highly recommend snatching up Silver Black Velvet Brush Set – from Susan Louise Moyer. This set includes 3 round brushes – sizes 12, 8, & 4. What makes these brushes better than your basic craft brushes is that they are made with a mix of natural squirrel hair plus synthetic hair – making them great at absorbing paint as well as water.
Next you are going to need something to store your paints when not in use. Any Watercolor palette will do – but for me personally I like metal palettes. They are durable and travel friendly.
This next supply isn’t mentioned often by watercolorists – but for me personally I couldn’t live without it – and that is a Mixing Tray! Since watercolor is all about mixing paint to water ratios and getting those precise balances – I use a ceramic or porcelain mixing tray. Why use ceramic or porcelain? Well, the key is in the pooling or your paint. If you have ever mixed paints on a plastic or even a metal palette – you problem have noticed your paint separating into little beads or droplets. This is BAD. Why? Because it prevents us from gaging how much paint we have mixed as well as our paint to water ratio. Instead – we need to mix our colors in pools. Ceramic and or porcelain is great for this! Hence the reason having a mixing tray. Personally – I picked up a small ceramic plate from world market to use as my mixing tray – but feel free to use a plate from the dollar store or a thrift shop. You just want something that is smooth and white to use as a mixing surface.
The next supply you will need is a set of paints. If you are interested in purchasing a limited set of artist grade colors with maximum color pay off – make sure to purchase your primary colors (magenta, yellow, and a cool blue or cyan). I have an entire post on just this topic which I will link here. So if you are interested in my paint suggestions make sure to check it out!
The next supply you want to have at your finger tips is a pencil. Use any brand or kind you desire – but be aware the harder the lead the lighter your lines will be. So if you desire super light lines with precision a General’s Kimberly Drawing Pencil – 9H is a great find.
And finally you will need water! I recommend having two containers of water and really get into the habit of using one for dirty water and one for clean. This will help keep your colors bright and vibrant as you paint without being contaminated by your dirty water.
Now there are lots of other supplies you could add to this list – but these are your core basics when it comes to watercolor. So I hope you enjoyed this and thanks for taking sometime to read my thoughts! :)
Please note – if you purchase any of the supplies from the links above – I get a small commission which helps support the channel and blog. So thanks in advance! :)