WATERCOLOUR- THE BEGINNING
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 possibly can, for watercolour painting is difficult enough without having to fight against inferior equipment.
This as a basic list of materials needed:
- A container for holding water-e.g. a jar or Beechworth honey pot.
- Rag for cleaning brush
- Tissues for cleaning palette
- A board for attaching paper to. Size –no smaller than 35X46 cm
- Masking tape
- Watercolour palette or old plate
- 2B pencil. I like to use a retractable or pacer pencil (saves sharpening)
- Paints (covered later)
- Brushes (covered later)
- Watercolour Paper (covered later)
- Note pad for taking notes
Basically there is a huge range of choices when it comes to buying watercolour supplies. Prices and quality vary dramatically, but generally you get what you pay for.
There are four major items you will need to buy and they are Paints, Paper, Brushes and Palette. Each of these is covered in more detail below.
There are many brands of paint available. The well known brand come in two ranges named Artist Quality and Student Quality.
(Please try to avoid buying packets of cheap paints such as Maries or Reeves or paints from the reject shop as this 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.
They have less of the binder called gum arabic and this is one of the reasons they are richer in colour and last longer than student quality paints.
If you can not 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.
Miameri Blu Venezia
Winsor and Newton Cotman
Art Spectrum Art Prism
LIST OF COLOURS IS ON A SEPARATE SHEET
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.
When buying a brush there are three things to look for. Firstly the brush must have good water holding qualities. Generally synthetic brushes hold less water than natural fibres.
Another element to look for is the point. The brush should have a good point to give you more flexibility in regard to the type of brush marks you can make. To test a
Brush in the shop, ask for some water then give the brush a good wash to get rid of the “hair gel” that they use to make all brushes look pointed. Then run the brush through your closed hand. If the brush doesn’t retain a point then don’t buy it.
Finally the spring back quality of the brush is to be observed. This isn’t crucial, but is important to some people. When the brush is loaded with water, run it across the palm of your hand. If the hairs remain bent over and don’t spring back to a certain degree then you may find this frustrating when painting. Again, some people don’t mind this and just use a feather light touch when using these types of brushes.
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 series of brushes in the same brand.
To begin with you will only need one brush.
Maybe the Art Spectrum Sablinsky 550, but there are many different options.
Eventually the next two brushes you buy will be a wash/mop brush and also a small pointed brush (possibly a small version of the first brush you buy) and then eventually a rigger brush may be useful.
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:
There are others, but these are the major brands.
Good paper is actually made from cotton fibres and not wood pulp. A paper that has 100% cotton rag embossed on it is made form cotton and is usually a superior paper.
Paper comes in different weights ranging from 90 gsm to 800gsm. I tend to suggest using around 300gsm as this is heavy enough to prevent excessive buckling and light enough not to cost a fortune.
If you wish to save money you can buy 180gsm paper, but you will need to stretch it before painting on it.
Papers also come with three different textures. These textures vary between brands, but are labeled as:
Smooth – called Hot Press
Medium – called Cold Press or Not
Rough – called Rough
Good watercolour paper is also “sized”. This means a size has been put in and on the paper to prevent the paper from behaving like blotting paper.
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 (apart from buying a roll, but this is buying in bulk).
I suggest you buy a few full sheets 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.
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.
NOTE: If you buy your materials from 324 THE STUDIO in Wodonga, Robyn will be able to help with your selection and make recommendations.
If you have any questions about the notes please phone me on:
Or visit my studio/gallery at
127 High Street Yackandandah
Welcome to watercolour