What You Need to Paint with Watercolor: Best Watercolor Supplies for Beginners

Shared on 14 June 2022, by Rowan

If you don’t know exactly what watercolor is, often known as aquarelle, it is a painting technique in which pigments are suspended in a water-based solution. Watercolor refers to both the material and the finished piece of art. Watercolor works well with colored pencils, watercolor pencils, and ink for creating mixed media pieces. Watercolor is primarily used on paper. Watercolor paints are generally one of the better mediums for beginning painters because they are less expensive than other mediums, and easier to prepare and work with.

Painting with watercolors, on the other hand, might be challenging. It is a difficult medium to master, owing to its merciless and unpredictable nature. It can be very tough to repair mistakes because you cannot erase watercolors, and they are not opaque so painting over them is out of the question. If you layer too much, you might destroy your paper. In addition to this, its fluid nature makes it difficult to regulate.

However, it is exactly these characteristics that help make watercolor such an appealing medium to artists. Watercolor painting can be difficult to learn, but that is part of why it is such an intriguing medium. It is beautiful when layered correctly, and it has a stunning effect when you master it.

If you’re a beginner at watercolor, it can be difficult to know what you’ll need. So here are my suggestions for exactly what to buy if you’re just getting into watercolor painting, whether you plan to make grand masterpieces that bring to life your imagination, paint-on-the-go landscapes of the world around you, or create cute watercolor paintings of beloved pets.

Find all recommended supplies in one handy list and buy what you need; powered by Share-A-Cart. Share-A-Cart is a free tool that helps you share the entire cart with anyone else with only a single click on dozens of online retailers and millions of web stores. Simple. Easy. Faster shopping for all.

Watercolor Paintbrushes

Brushes are used to transfer paint from the palette to the canvas. They provide us with more control over our medium and help us work with our paintings and watercolor. Watercolor paintbrushes are very important, and that is why it is good to invest at least a little into higher-quality paintbrushes (even as a beginner). Because watercolor is a very runny medium, you will want a paintbrush that isn’t going to struggle with holding a lot of water. You will also want to ensure that you are using a brush that will not lose its shape the moment it is immersed in the medium, or on paper.

This set of brushes has a good variety of sizes (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12). While it is not actual Kolinsky Sable hair (many of those brushes can cost upwards of a thousand), it is a great alternative. These brushes confidently hold a lot of water, so your paint will be laid down vibrantly and you won’t have to redip your brush every second. They lay down color smoothly, and whilst most brushes do shed, these do not shed too much after the first use. The paintbrushes themselves hold their shape incredibly well with repeated use, which can be difficult to find with lower price watercolor paintbrushes!

Detail Paintbrushes

Detail paintbrushes are a good tool for creating fine lines and tiny brush strokes. They are good to have on hand for any watercolor painting where precision is key.

Detail paintbrushes are also important for watercolor painting, as the small details can really be what brings your painting to life! Whether it is highlights in the eyes, or lining your painting, detail paintbrushes can help you expand your watercolor skills and also allow you to avoid using other mediums in your piece.

Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Paint

Cheaper watercolor paints, as well as pan watercolor paints, can be difficult to mix and blend to create new colors. These tubed Winsor & Newton watercolor paints have a great piece for their quantity and quality, and they are much easier to blend. You can also use an empty watercolor pan to put these in, in order to travel with them or have easier access. They dry into a hard, shiny medium which is perfect for making your own paint tins.

This set is incredibly vibrant and easy to work with. The opacity of the colors is much easier to adjust with these watercolor paints, so you can get more opaque watercolor coverage with these. While the tubes may seem like the amount of paint they hold isn’t enough, with watercolor, you will often find yourself heavily diluting the paint you use. Hence, these paints can last you a long, long time. Additionally, their metal tubes prevent them from becoming dried out.

The Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Paint Set is incredible for its price point, considering these are some of the highest quality watercolor paints on the market. We highly recommend them for both beginner watercolor artists and advanced watercolor artists. If you take your watercolor seriously, this is the paint set for you!

Paint Palette

This one is pretty straightforward. Watercolor is a very watery medium, so you’ll want to be mixing on a plastic surface rather than paper. The latter will absorb your pigment while you are mixing it, which is not what you want. You will need a palette even if you are not trying to create any new shades or colors with watercolor paint. This is because watercolor paint requires that you dilute it in order to achieve your desired opacity and effect. This is easier to check and do and keep consistent, using a palette. It is very difficult to do this by just eyeballing it, and if you’re constantly testing on paper, then you will be wasting paint.

Watercolor Paper

Paper is, surprisingly, the most important tool you have for watercolor paintings. This is because unlike other mediums, like acrylic or oil, watercolor will struggle to withstand most surfaces and it can destroy the integrity of a paper that isn’t made for watercolor. If you use watercolor on regular sketchbook paper, you will find it warps heavily and it might even completely go through or tear the paper.

If you’re a beginner, you will want a paper for your watercolor paintings that will hold through a lot of abuse and a lot of water. The Strathmore 300 Series Watercolor Paper is ideal for this.

Back to Blog