WATERCOLOUR-
THE BEGINNING

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How exciting that you have chosen to join the wonderful world of watercolours.

 

To begin the journey into the world of watercolour painting you must first (unfortunately) spend some money on art materials. You must always endeavour to buy the best materials you can afford, for watercolour painting is difficult enough without having to fight with inferior equipment.

 

This as a basic list of materials needed:

  • a container for holding water, eg a medium jar/plastic container

  • rag for cleaning brushes

  • tissues for cleaning palette

  • a board for attaching paper to. Size – no smaller than 35 cm x 46 cm

  • masking tape

  • watercolour palette or old plate

  • 2B pencil

  • eraser

  • paints (see below)

  • brushes (see below)

  • watercolour paper (see below)

  • note pad for taking notes

There are four major items you will need to buy and they are:

  • Paints

  • Brushes

  • Paper

  • Palette

Even though we will be talking about materials as part of the course, below is a little information to help you purchase. If it all seems too difficult, an option is to buy a prepared beginner basic kit available for this workshop. The kit will include paints, paper, palette and a brush (with an option to add more brushes and a good board for stretching paper). Information regarding the kit is available here.

 
 

WATERCOLOURS

 

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PAINTS

There are many brands of paint available. The well known brands come in two ranges - named Artist Quality and Student Quality. Please buy tubes of paint (not pans).

 

Please avoid buying packets of cheap paints such as Maries or Reeves, or paints from places like the Reject Shop, as the quality is very poor and will only frustrate both you and me.
 

As the names imply, Artist Quality paints are of a higher quality than Student Quality paints and consequently are more expensive. If you cannot afford or justify Artist Quality paints, there is nothing wrong with using Student Quality paints at the beginning and moving up to Artist Quality later.

 

Below is a list of common brands in both qualities.

 

ARTIST QUALITY                                                        

  • Miameri Blu

  • Winsor and Newton

  • Rembrandt

  • Rowney

  • Art Spectrum

 STUDENT QUALITY

  • Venezia

  • Cotman

  • Talens

  • Georgian

  • Art Prism

LIST OF COLOURS

The difficulty with suggesting colours is that often colour names are not consistent across brands.

However, I suggest you buy the following (or equivalent):

  • Ultramarine Blue

  • Pthalo Blue

  • Lemon Yellow

  • Cadmium Yellow

  • Cadmium Red

  • Alizarin Crimson

  • Raw Sienna

  • Burnt Sienna

  • Pthalo Green

The person in the art shop should be able to help you with buying the equivalent of these colours. If not, go to another art shop.

 
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BRUSHES

Choosing a brush can be a very confusing experience. The quality can range from cheap synthetic brushes to Kolinsky Sable brushes that cost as much as gold by weight.

 

All brushes have a number on them which indicates the size. The larger the number, the larger the brush. This is only relevant if you are comparing the same type of brushes in the same brand. Ideally it is good to have three brushes. However, you can begin with one brush, but three gives you more flexibility. If purchasing only one brush initially, the Art Spectrum Sablinsky 550 (Size 12) would be a good option, but there are many different options (your art shop should be able to help). Eventually the next two brushes you buy should be a wash/mop brush and also a small pointed brush (possibly a small version of the first brush you buy).  Eventually a Rigger brush may be useful.

 

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PAPER

This is an area where I feel that you should buy the best quality you can afford. Good paper works with you, while cheap papers can make painting in watercolours so much more difficult. In general, buy the well known brands such as:

  • Saunders Waterford

  • Arches

  • Fabriano

There are others, but these are the major brands.

 

Paper comes in different weights, ranging from 90 gsm to 800gsm. I tend to suggest using around 300gsm. 

If you wish to save money you can buy 180gsm paper, but you may need to stretch it before painting on it, but this is not always necessary.

 

You can buy watercolour paper in pads, blocks or as sheets or rolls. I suggest you buy individual sheets as this is one of the most cost effective ways to  buy paper. I suggest you buy a few full sheets (maybe 3 or 4) of 300gsm medium textured paper and cut them into quarters. The brand you buy is up to you, but I find Arches and Saunders Waterford to be two of the best brands.

 

PALETTE

For palette you can use an old plate, but the advantage of buying a proper watercolour palette is that you can squeeze your paints out in a particular order and protect them with a lid. I suggest you buy a palette with a lid, a large flat mixing space and deep wells for storing the paint.

 

As stated earlier, art materials will be covered in depth in the course, but you do need art materials to begin with. Above are some suggestions. Your local art shop should be able to help (but be careful as they can also give bad advice), or buy the beginners basic kit I can provide.

 

Remember if you wish to purchase a prepared beginners basic kit, you can do so here.


If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me