Starting something new can be overwhelming. The problem is not knowing where to start.

Whether you are a watercolor beginner, coming from another medium or are restarting after a long break, watercolor remains challenging. However, I will help you select the basics supplies you need to get started with good results.

This video will teach you how to select your brushes, paints and paper to create great watercolors.

You’ll learn:

  • Types of watercolor brushes and what sizes to get
  • Different paints categories and their properties
  • Which paper to select and for what reasons

In the video you will also learn a few tips to get you properly started with your first painting.

Brushes

Watercolor brushes can be divided in four hair categories:

  • Synthetic, made usually of nylon or taklon, they are cheap and very responsive.
  • Hair, (badger, hog, camel, goat…) hold paint very well but I do not find very interesting for watercolor.
  • Sable, which is a squirrel with very fine hair and therefore hold a lot of water and pigment.
  • Kolinsky sable which are the finest brushes for watercolor and also the most expensive. I love painting with them but some artist prefer the nervousness of a synthetic.

To get started I would recommend you get some synthetic brushes and then later on,  add some Kolinsky sable.

Here are the brushes I would recommend getting first, the reasons for this selection is given in the video.

Additional brushes

 

Paints

Between all the brands and colors picking paints can feel overwhelming. So you will learn  about the different grades of paint, and what is best when starting watercolors.

Grades

You have three different grades of paint:

  • Academy, cheaply made and used by masses at schools.
  • Student, made with pigment mixtures and fillers.
  • Professional, made with the best pigments.

I will encourage you to stay clear of academy paints as you won’t be able to mix or have interesting effects with it. Multiple friends were frustrated with their watercolor results, because they were using academic paints.  Windsor and Newton Cotman would be an acceptable option when starting out, and is more cost friendly. One of the biggest differences between student and professional is the fillers and binders that are added to the student grades. Professional are pure pigments with a high quality binder. The professional colors are more vibrant, mix better and resist better to light. Which is important if you don’t want your art to fade overtime.

Format

Paints distributed in tubes or pans also called godets. I prefer tubes when painting at home. Also, it is easier for beginners to have more vibrant colors from tubes than pans.

Color

Color choices are truly a matter of personal preferences. Here is a list that is just a suggestion:

  • Cerulean Blue
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Raw Umber
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • Vermilion (red)
  • Cadmium Light red
  • Aureolin Yellow
  • Yellow ocher
  • Raw Sienna
  • Burnt Umber

From this list you can see that I stayed within primary colors (blue, red, yellow). But I suggest a warm and a cool of each color (also called hue). Because you can mix those six colors together and get an extended range of color. To those, I also added four earth tones which are necessary in a lot of paintings (see this article for a review and painting with those different earth tones).

Paper

When it comes to paper you should not go cheap or get cheap pad watercolor papers. You can find online, or at your local art store Arches 140 lbs. cold press paper 22x30 in size. They have it in bulk or by the sheet. Arches paper is 100% cotton where most of your “watercolor” pad papers are made of wood pulps and other materials that do not work well with watercolor.

Thank you all so much for your support and hope this information is helpful. If you have any questions let me know in the comments below.

 

Comment what are your favorite watercolor supplies that you couldn’t be without!

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