One of the many wonderful things about watercolor is that you can make beautiful work with inexpensive materials. In fact, I used these basic materials exclusively for the first couple years of being a professional artist! If you’re taking my watercolor Skillshare classes or working from my watercolor book, these supplies are a great place to start.In this list, I provide two different brand options for each kind of materials.
Cost: Around $18 USD
What I like about it: All the projects in my book are created using these exact colors. Because you can mix up every color of the rainbow using only primary colors, this simple set is everything you need. I prefer pre-hardened paint sets vs. tube sets for beginners because everything is already set up for you. The included travel paintbrush is also nice, but it is very small so I’d recommend getting a couple other paintbrushes as well. See the paintbrush section below!
Cost: Around $29 USD
What I like about it: This set has a few more color options than the Winsor & Newton set, so if you’re unfamiliar with mixing colors this will make it a bit easier to get started. The brush pen is fun because it actually holds water in the handle, which means that you don’t need to pack a jar of water to take with you if you’re painting while traveling or hiking. However, I’d recommend getting a brush set in addition to the brush pen, since it can sometimes be hard to control how much water comes out of the brush pen.
Name of set: Winsor & Newton Cotman Short Handle Brush Set
Cost: Around $17 USD
What I like about it: This brush set of four contains the brush sizes and shapes that I use most often in my work. There’s a Round 1, 4, & 6 and One Stroke 3/8". These are nice quality brushes that I still use for most of my work!
Name of set: Princeton Select Artiste Series 3750 Paint Brushes
Cost: Around $12 USD
What I like about it: This brush set of five assorted brush sizes and shapes. While these brushes are advertised for being watercolor, acrylic, OR oil brushes, I think they’re an amazing set for watercolor. And they’re extremely affordable!
Name of Paper: Arches Cold Pressed Watercolour Paper 140 Lb.
Cost: Around $37 USD
What I like about it: When it comes to paper, I am willing to splurge a little bit more because you will have much better luck with nice paper. This Arches paper is what I use for all my final artwork, and I use the Strathmore paper below for my practice paintings and sketches. It is thick enough that you can blot up mistakes when you need to, and it comes pre-stretched in a block so that your paper won’t bend or buckle while you’re painting.
Name of Paper: Strathmore Cold-Pressed Watercolor Paper 140 Lb.
Cost: Around $11 USD
What I like about it: This is a more inexpensive alternative to the Arches paper, but it will still give you nice results. This paper comes on a spiral ring, so it isn’t pre-stretched. Because of that, it helps to tape down this paper to a table with artists’ tape while you’re working so that you don’t get weird buckling when water is added to the page. This is my favorite paper for practicing new techniques and working on my skills. You can also purchase Strathmore paper in watercolor block form if you’d rather not tape it down.
I’ve listed a few other materials that you’ll need below. However, there’s no need to have a specific brand for these materials and you might already have them around the house!
Jar of water
Sketching pencil. Use a light, hard pencil like a 2H–4H so that you can easily erase your lines.
Artist tape. This is an acid-free tape that you can use to tape your paper to the table if you don’t have a pre-stretched paper block. This keeps the page from buckling with water.
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