Watercolor Supplies – What Do You Need to Get Started?

It’s probably no surprise to you that I absolutely love watercolor.  I’ve dedicated nearly half of my life to this art form and with each passing year grown more and more in love with its…well…mischievous personality.    

One reason I love watercolor so much is that before I really knew I was going to make this art form my livelihood – getting started with this magical art form really wasn’t that hard.    The amount of choices, however, available to you is very overwhelming.  And can be in fact very challenging – but in all honesty, you don’t need a lot to get started with this whimsical world.   All you truly need is a good set of basics to get started and really stimulate your imagination.  

Watercolor Supplies to Get Started

Below is a list of the core basics that I would start with. I’m going to breaking these supplies into two categories – the inexpensive exploring stage and the making an investment. All of these supplies are great and I love them all – but artist-grade quality products are my fav to work with since they make the painting process so much easier. That being said – they also can cost a pretty penny. So if you have to pick and choose – I wanted to give you a list that is more digestible and easy to navigate for whether you just want to explore watercolor or really make an investment toward a better quality supply. Also if you purchase any of the supplies listed below via their link – I will own a small commission to help support the channel and this content. So thanks in advance! Without further ado – here are the supplies I would recommend for just getting started!

Watercolor Paper

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The main objective you are looking for when purchasing a good quality watercolor paper is sturdy and reliable cotton fiber paper. Cotton will allow the paints on your paper to absorb evenly and give you smoother more vibrant colors.  

Cheaper Alternative

——-> Paul Rubens Watercolor Journal (Hot Press Paper 140lb)

Making an Investment

——-> Hahnemule Cold Press Paper 140LB

——-> Arches Cold Press Paper 300LB

Six Primary Colors

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The main objective I love when choosing paint colors is non -granulating bright pop colors that mix well with other paints. Since I am a Modern Watercolorist – I like to have both modern and traditional primaries in my set – plus a slew of other colors to mix with them. Below I’ve included a list of my core primaries plus a cheaper alternative of student grade paints that have an excellent color payoff.  


——-> Huge Color Variety for those Not Wanting to Mix – Kuretake Watercolor Set 48 Colors

Making an Investment

——-> Primary Blue (Traditional) – Winsor + Newton – Winsor Blue (Green Shade)

——-> Primary Magenta (Traditional) – Winsor + Newton – Permanent Rose

——-> Primary Yellow (Traditional) – Winsor + Newton – Winsor Yellow

——-> Primary Blue (Modern) – Holbein – Horizon Blue or Winsor + Newton – Manganese Blue Hue

——-> Primary Magenta (Modern) – Holbein – Opera (Quinacridone Opera) (Not Lightfast)

——-> Primary Yellow (Modern) – Schmincke – Lemon Yellow or Winsor – Lemon Yellow

Watercolor Palette

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: For this supply – you really want a sleek white smooth surface that will allow you to store as well as mix your paints together. I personally like to paint in one location in my house – so a ceramic palette works best for me – but if you like to travel with your paints make sure to get a reliable watercolor palette with a lid.  I’ve included my suggestions below – plus small little mixing trays that I love to use with my watercolor palette.


——-> Metal Palette – Color Around Aluminum Watercolor Palette (20 Wells)

——-> Porcelain/Ceramic Dinner Plates – Used as Mixing Trays

Making an Investment

——-> Porcelain Palette – JACKSON’S : PORCELAIN PALETTE

Watercolor Brushes

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: There is a wide assortment of watercolor brushes that truly make your life so much easier – but if I absolutely had to choose my favorites they would be the supplies listed below. Though I rarely use my flat brushes – my round brushes are my life force in a painting. I’m going to be honest with you – I use all of the brushes listed below and for different reasons. But if you have to start out – make the investment and get a good quality watercolor brush set – like Black Velvet’s. It will make your life and painting experience so much easier and fun!


——-> Black Velvet Silver Line Brushes (Round Brush Set)

Making an Investment

——-> Blick Natural Kolinsky Hair Brushes (sizes 4, 8, 12 Round Brushes)


These are the core supplies to get you started in watercolor.  Anything else can be added to this list and if you’re feeling even more adventurous you could try adding ink or gold iridescences to stimulate your creativity and polish off your paintings.  But overall – your primary supplies will include the four previously mentioned plus water and of course a stack of paper towels.


If you would like even more information on the supplies listed below PLUS why I chose them – please make sure to watch my behind-the-scenes video inside of watercolor misfit land (link below). The video is over 20minutes long and packed full of my thoughts and feelings on these supplies + it’s free to watch. Simply join the community and then click to watch. That simple! I hope to see you there!


About Author

Hi there! My name is Carrie and I'm a Watercolor Misfit! What's a Watercolor Misfit? Well, anyone who is willing to try new things and not afraid to get their hands covered in paint! So what do you say, are you a Misfit-ian?

1 Comment

  • Carrie
    April 21, 2022 at 7:21 pm

    Hello! Love your work! So Beautiful!!! What dryer are you using? :)


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