Watercolour Supplies

A Basic Toolkit of Supplies for Watercolour Painting

A Basic Kit For Watercolour Painting
A Basic Kit For Watercolour Painting – Start Small And Build Up Your Kit Gradually

It’s easy to go overboard when buying watercolour supplies, with so many fabulous painting tools to choose from. However, when you are just starting out, I would strongly suggest that you should stick to buying a few basic supplies. Once you have mastered the various techniques and are more experienced, that’s when it is time to start building up a more extensive set of supplies.

For now let’s just discuss basic watercolour supplies. I’ll tell you about some of the tools I use and which supplies are must-haves and which are not really necessary at this stage.

The basic items you need to get started are:

1. A Selection Of Brushes

Although I’ve accumulated many brushes over the years, I only use about 5 or 6 most of the time.  One of my favourites is a size 10 squirrel hair ‘mop’ brush. I like a large capacity all-purpose brush like this as it offers many options. You can cover a large area quickly and then instantly switch to fine detail work as the ‘mop’ head tapers to a fine point.

Buying a couple of flat brushes is a good idea as this will help you save time rinsing just one brush when we want to switch colours. Use one for warm colours and the other for cool. For years I’ve only used flat brushes as I just didn’t feel the need to use rounds. You can simply use a flat brush on its edge for fine lines and just join several of these together when you are painting things like boat masts.

With practice you can manipulate a flat brush to paint almost any shape. My reason for just using a flat brush, even for tricky details was that this gives a sense of design unity to the whole picture. But of course you should try the whole range and find what you’re comfortable with.

A rigger is very handy especially for details like rippled water reflections. I admit a flat brush isn’t ideal for this but I still used it for the sake of harmony.

Although good brushes can be expensive, especially the sables, they are a pleasure to use and with care should last many years.

Finally a really good brush, which is reasonably priced, is the Japanese style Hake. This brush is great for wetting a large area quickly and is very convenient when painting skies, expanses of water and sweeps of foreground.

2. A Palette of Watercolour Paints

When you go to buy paints, you will see there are two types to choose from. One is the artist or professional grade and the other is the student grade. When you are starting out, I would recommend that you buy student grade paints. They are cheaper and are good enough for experimenting and practicing your brush strokes and other painting techniques.

Once you have some experience and are more confident, you should switch over to professional paints. These paints contain purer colour that is more saturated so you get a much better effect and they are definitely worth paying more for. After all, it would be a shame to labour over a painting only to have the cheaper watercolour supplies kill the effect.

3. One or More Sheets of Watercolour Paper

Watercolour paper usually comes in sheets or in blocks of various sizes. These papers come in different weights and various textures too. A typical ‘full sheet’ measures 22″ x 30″ and there are also larger sheets that measure up to 40″ x 60″. For anything larger than that, you will have to buy a roll of watercolour paper.

Whether the papers have a straight edge or a deckle edge depends upon the manufacturer as well as the type of machinery that was used to make the paper. The surface of the watercolour papers can range from very smooth and slick, also called hot press to highly textured or very rough. For beginners, I would recommend the cold press or the slightly textured variety.

When it comes to the weight of the paper, you may find that many people recommend using the 90lb paper, which is considered the student grade paper. I would not advise you to use that however as I think it is too lightweight to try out any technique. For example if you try any surface manipulation or scrubbing, the paper is likely to tear and that can be so frustrating.  Even for beginners, I suggest a heavier grade and the 140lb is in face a good choice to start with.

4. Minor Items

In addition to these basic watercolour supplies, you are also going to need a palette, sponges, pencils and some kind of water container. Before you go shopping for your watercolour supplies, contact me and I will help you make the right choices so you do not end up wasting money unnecessarily.