(Please note: This post may contain the occasional affiliate link, which can help me earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you! You can find the full disclosure here).
I recently went to a huge art store with my daughter because she needed some new watercolor supplies. (I live near Paris, France, and there are only a couple of stores like this in the city). The interior is amazing. They have everything an artist could possibly need ! And above all they have a tantalizing range of beautiful watercolors !
I was like a kid in a candy store !
I could spend hours in a place like this contemplating splendid bits of equipment that I haven’t tried yet.
One of the biggest problems when you’re a beginner is knowing which painting supplies to put on your list. The best advice is always to get only what you need, keep it simple, and choose the best quality items you can afford.
There’s no need to buy a lot of expensive items you may never use, but in order to paint successfully you need some essential pieces of equipment.
If you want to make the right choices from the beginning, I suggest that you read the articles below before you spend a lot of precious time searching, and lots of hard earned money.
The art supplies that I recommend here are among my favorites. These are things which I use myself, so I’m happy to endorse them because they were chosen after a lot of time and consideration. They include materials and equipment which I’ve tried and tested, and I’ll tell you every time why I think they’re great, and also the things to avoid when you’re looking for new equipment.
There’s a huge array of art supplies on the market. I hope that the advice and ideas you find here will save you some time, and help you find the best value for money supplies. The aim of this guide is to help you learn how to choose the right watercolor equipment so that you don’t waste money and get discouraged !
If you’re in a hurry and you want to grab the best equipment to get started, here is my “beginner’s essential checklist”. This is a minimal list of equipment and a limited color palette so you can get cracking and begin enjoying the beautiful art of watercolors.
The watercolor paints that I use and HIGHLY recommend are Daniel Smith artist quality watercolor. An excellent way to get to know these paints is the Daniel Smith Essentials Introductory set, including 6 warm and cool primary colors. It’s a great starter set for those who want to try artist quality watercolors.
If you only get one brush to begin painting I recommend you get the Black Velvet Squirrel and Risslon round size 8 brush by Silver Brush Ltd. This brush is a blend of natural and synthetic fibers. Natural fibers often give the best results, but don’t let the idea of synthetic blends put you off. This brush retains water beautifully. I have even found it handles better than some of my much more expensive sable brushes !
I recommend Arches 140 lb, 100% cotton, cold press watercolor paper. This paper holds all the necessary characteristics for good quality watercolor painting and the subtle texture is excellent for detailed work. Washes lay down smoothly, colors blend beautifully, and it can withstand many layers of paint and the results will still look great!
For those of you looking for an easy way to get started with professional quality watercolor paints , for the first time, Daniel Smith have released a new set of hand poured watercolor pans with an ultimate mixing set of 15 colors. The colors included in this set match the colors that I recommend starting (see the list below) plus a few others for good measure ! If you don't want to make your own pans using tubes, then this is an excellent way for a beginner to try some professional paints.