• Beginner Art Supplies for Aspiring Watercolor Artists

    Beginner Art Supplies for Aspiring Watercolor Artists

    I've had quite a few folks reach out to me over the years and ask how to get started with watercolor, but more importantly what tools to use and where to buy them. I will start out and say, that you can put as little or as much into watercolor supplies as you want. The range of price can be vary from low to high.

    What I have found with watercolor supplies is that you will see better quality at higher price range points, but a mid range watercolor tool can benefit both beginners and more advanced artists. 

    My suggestion would be to not start out with buying a ton of supplies just yet, but gradually work your way up in quality and quantity as you continue to paint. Growing your library of tools for watercolor will help you curate tools that you truly enjoy and love. If taken care of, watercolor supplies can last you you years! 

    1. Watercolor Paper

    If you're into stationary like me, I love the smell and feel of brand new paper! Needless to say, there are lot of different watercolor papers out there that come in both Cold and Hot press formats. 

    • Cold Press: Has texture on the paper
      (Best if you want that classic background watercolor texture to your artwork) 
    • Hot Press: Has a smooth texture
      (Best if you want a smooth watercolor finish and for scanning artwork) 

    I use both types of papers, but tend to lean more towards the hot press paper for my floral designs, especially when I scan them into my computer to create patterns, but for a beginner I would suggest using cold press to get used to painting on the texture first. 

    Here are some of my favorite beginner watercolor papers: 


    440-1 400 Series Watercolor Pad, 9"x12" Wire Bound, 12 Sheets

    You can't go wrong with Strathmore, they are a classic in watercolor paper and great for that beginning price point. 



    Foldover, 9x12 inch, 20 Sheets

    Canson is another great brand for watercolor paper and they provide a lot of different sizes and paper textures. 

    2. Watercolor Paint

    Welcome to the first day of the rest your watercolor life! Truly watercolor paint comes with both quality, texture and preference. You can find smooth and chalky textures, pale to vibrant pigments and so many different color pallets and options to choose from. Watercolor paint can truly be overwhelming if you don't know where to begin first.

    I like to start out with a mid range watercolor paint, because if you start on the very low end (think for kids) you're going to get frustrated with both the texture and pigment and not learn the proper way to fill your brush and how to control the flow of pigment. 

    For beginners, I would suggest purchasing a half pan set. What this means is that the watercolor paints are already pre-made in a small square pan in a pallet. This allows you to truly focus on painting and less about purchasing separate watercolor tubes, pallet, and then filling those in. As you get more advanced in your watercolor journey that is something you could absolutely do if you wanted a more customized watercolor pallet. 

    My absolute favorite brand for beginners is Windsor and Newton Cotman line, they are a great watercolor brand with smooth paints and vibrant colors. 

    Windsor and Newton Cotman Watercolor Paint Set

    Sketchers' Pocket Set, 12 Half Pans w/ Brush

    What I love about this set is that if provides you with all the basic primary colors that you can mix together to explore color theory. It's also small and compact so you can pick it up and take it anywhere with you and doesn't take up a lot of storage in your home. 

    While it does come with a tiny watercolor brush, I think its great to keep in there if you are on the go, but for really exploring watercolor art I am going to suggest some brushes down below for a more holistic brush experience.

    3. Watercolor Brushes

    Oh watercolor brushes, who doesn't love bristles falling off and into your paints while they are working? You know I don't! This is where I get a little more particular on quality for brushes, because what brush you use really can make or break your artwork.

    You can work on mid range paper, so so watercolor paints but when it comes to a good brush, the actual applicator that pulls everything together, you need something thats going to work and work well. This is a place that if you cheap out on buying a brush that is poor quality you are going to have a lot of frustration. 

    This is why I recommend a good quality watercolor brush. With that said, I don't believe you need a whole set of brushes to start out with. You can spend a little more on one or two really great brushes and practice and learn on those first. 

    For my watercolor artwork preference which is loose floral designs, I prefer two brush sizes: 

    Brush Size 8: For those smaller details 
    Brush Size 12: For those looser watercolor floral petals and leaves

    You can go up even higher if you want even thicker pieces of brush strokes, but its entirely up to you!

    Princeton Artist Brush Neptune (Size 8)
    Watercolor Series 4750, Round Synthetic Squirrel, Size 8

    Perfect for those smaller watercolor details.

    Princeton Artist Brush Neptune (Size 12)
    Watercolor Series 4750, Round Synthetic Squirrel, Size 12

    Great for those loose watercolor florals for leaves and petals.

    Well there you have it! Complete set to begin your watercolor journey. Don't forget some paper towels and a water small water cup to clean your brushes between colors. I hope this supply outline guide helps you as you begin your watercolor journey and please, don't hesitate to reach out to me with any questions you may have. 

    <3 Hillary

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