Let’s talk about supplies!
When I was first getting started painting with watercolors, it was pretty overwhelming to try to figure out what supplies I needed. It seemed like there were so many options out there and all at different price points! The truth is, unlike a lot of other creative endeavors, watercolor has an incredibly low barrier to entry and the initial investment you have to make is so minimal to get everything you need. I love that about watercolor!
I’ll break down my supplies into four categories: Paper, Brushes, Paints, and Miscallaneous. Additionally, I’ll link to each product that I mention on Amazon so that you know exactly what to get. Let’s get started!
I am personally a fan of 140 lb, 300 g, cold press paper. This quality of paper will have no problem holding the water you need it to which is essential to getting good results. I prefer cold press because it has a nice texture that I think adds a lot of interest and dimension to paintings. Let’s talk about brands and price points.
- Canson Watercolor Pad – This is an amazing introductory paper and definitely the paper with the best value. I actually can’t believe how good the quality is for the price. Even though I will often use a more expensive paper now for my final paintings, I almost always warm up on this paper and I am still amazed by how well it holds up to lots of water and color.
- Strathmore Watercolor Pad – With this paper you’re getting about half as many sheets for the same price as the Canson Pad but the quality goes way up. I love to paint on this paper and I think it’s a fantastic alternative to the more expensive Arches paper.
- Arches Cold Press Watercolor Pad – By far the nicest paper but by far the most expensive. I bought this when I was no longer getting the results I felt I should be getting with the more inexpensive papers. Even so, I still don’t consistently use this paper because I find that I put too much pressure on myself to paint something really good when the paper is expensive haha.
I only use 3 brushes about 95% of the time and none of them were very expensive. Watercolor brushes have an incredible amount of versatility. You can make the smallest of strokes or large leaves all with the same brush (I talk a lot more about this in my Skillshare class). Brushes are such a personal thing, I would almost recommend buying some kind of variety pack and then noticing which type of brushes you are always reaching for. With that said, here’s my essential brushes list.
- Large Round Brush – A good round brush has the ability to create the smallest of lines to the largest of shapes all depending on how much pressure you put on it. Since even the big brushes can create tiny lines, get a really big brush. You’ll get way more use out of it.
- Small Round Brush – Okay so I know I just said that a large round brush can create small lines but it takes a lot of focus and control to consistently achieve those small strokes. Therefore, for my detail work I prefer using a slightly small round brush.
- Large Flat Brush – A large flat brush is by far my most used brush! It can create the most interesting strokes, I absolutely love it. See it in action in my Skillshare class.
Start wherever you can with paint. If you can afford nice paint, you will never go back! But for starting out, even the cheapest paints will work totally fine. The important thing is that you get started painting, you can always upgrade later on!
I started with this set and it worked great for awhile but when I got to a level where I wanted to mix more vibrant colors and experiment with wet in wet technique, I needed an upgrade. Now I use Winsor and Newton professional watercolors and they are incredible! But they are also really expensive. I will say though, I still use a lot of my colors from when I first bought them. I really like getting tubes of paint, squeezing color into my palette, and then letting it dry out overnight. When I want to paint again, I spray down my palette with a spray bottle and the colors are just as vibrant as ever. Using this technique, each paint tube will have a really long life.
Would you like to know my most used colors? Leave a comment below and let me know!
Here’s a few last things you will want to have handy before you start.
- Paint palette – Of course you will want one of these if you are using paint from tubes. I prefer a folding palette, it protects your paints when you’re moving the palette around.
- Spray Bottle – These are by far the best way to re wet the colors in your pain palette when you sit down to paint again after letting them all dry.
- Paper Towel – This will come in handy all the time while you’re painting. Blot out extra water, create texture, etc. The possibilities are endless!
- Water and Container – I love using a mason jar.
As a final thought, when I first began painting I did crazy amounts of research because I wanted to make sure I was painting the “right” way. Newsflash: there is no “right” way to paint! And that is one of the things I love most about art. But no doubt, it can be really overwhelming to get started on the right foot. If you found this article helpful, subscribe to my newsletter for exclusive content and check out my Skillshare class! It has tons of helpful information to get you started painting beautiful abstract leaves and florals with watercolor. Follow the link below to get a completely FREE 2 month trial to Skillshare so you can view my class!