I’m an art supply hoarder. Yep I said it – I definitely have a problem. I’ve tried hundreds of watercolor supplies and wasted thousands of dollars just trying to find that perfect supply that would spark my creativity. I love trying my hand at anything new – just to switch things up. But that wasn’t always the case. I remember when I first started painting with watercolor – the paint aisle was intimidating enough not to mention brushes and paper supplies. There was so much available to me and I had NO CLUE what I actually needed let alone what was actually good.
That’s why I’m putting together this post. Because even though I have hundreds of supplies to fill my art studio with – I really only use a couple of key supplies over and over again on a daily basis. And hopefully – this will answer that dreaded question of yours – what do you actually need to start painting with watercolor?
Now that you have a pretty good idea of what you need – let me now share with you my recommendations…
Personally I prefer Arches or Fabriano – but sometimes that’s out of a newbie’s price range. If so – Watercolor Bee Paper is a superb choice! It’s cheap and made of 100% cotton – making it a dream to paint on.
I really like the brands Schmincke, Winsor and Newton and Holbein Watercolors. But these can be pricey – especially Schmincke. So if you are completely new to watercolor and aren’t sure if you want to make it a hobby yet – try your hand at some Kuretake Gansai Tambi 36 Color Set. It’s a large pan set filled with colors! This will give you a wide range of paints to learn with and not have to worry right away about mixing. Plus – for the price – they are very pigmented. Well, except for some of the blues – so I recommend picking up some tube paint watercolor blues to compensate for. I recommend Horizon Blue from Holbein and Winsor Blue (green shade from Winsor and Newton). Those two are gorgeous colors!
If you want to start off right – I recommend picking up these synthetic/natural hair brushes. They are great for detail work as well as large washes and give you an idea of sizes when it comes to brushes. For your flat brush – I recommend just picking up an inexpensive one from Michaels or your local art store.
This was a supply that took me years to figure out how important it actually was. I used to just use a tote board or field drawing board for my watercolors – but noticed that it kept warping – especially when using large amounts of water. So – while at our local Home Depot with my husband – I ran into a man who knew of someone that painted with watercolor. He mentioned how his friend used Birch Wood boards from the lumber section and cut them down into small pieces. Since birch wood resists water and is a very heavy duty wood – it won’t warp or even leave puddles of water behind my paper. So – if you are considering pursuing watercolor as a main hobby – PICK THIS UP!
Not much to say about this supply – just simple pick up some masking tape or drafting tape to secure your paper to your wood board.
When starting watercolor – if you plan on using tube paints – you are going to need a palette. But which one is the best? Well, for starters you want a palette that can hold your paints – but also make it easy to create “pools” or puddles of paint in your palette. And…. alot of the palettes out there are awful for creating “pooling.” So to solve that problem – I recommend using two palettes – a storage palette and a mixing palette also known as a mixing platter. For your storage palette – I recently ran across a new palette that is quickly becoming a fav – the Mijello Bulletproof Glass Palette. It can hold alot of paints – so great to grow with but also is pretty sweet with pooling. It’s not perfect – but really nice.
The next palette I recommend is a Mixing platter – this is where you can easily “pool” those paints and gage your color hue while mixing as well as how much you have mixed. I use a tasting plate – as shown below. But you can pick up any white ceramic or porcelain plate where ever.
Porcelain Tasting Plates from World Market (mixing palette)
As stated earlier, pencils with a harder lead – such as 6H or 9H pencils will leave lighter lines on your paper as well as sharper and cleaner lines – which is great when you don’t want those super dark intense pencils lines your mechanical pencils can leave. I’ve included a link below for the types of pencils I use ?
And finally graphite paper is always nice to use when you want to transfer a drawing from your sketchbook to your watercolor paper. These are super easy to use and keeps those unwanted eraser marks and smudges from ruining your watercolor paper.