The Best Guide To Watercolor Painting Tools
Looking for information on the most important watercolor painting tools? I’ve got you covered, don’t worry ! I’ve had lessons and class exposure so I have been able to get familiar with the all too important watercolor supplies list to bridge the gap between nice and necessary.
It’s certainly a different ball game altogether than the materials you need for oils and acrylic mastery. Personally, I found this kind of work relaxing; as the emphasis is greater on softer color transitions and being observant of how the colors “bleed” into one another.
If this sounds appealing to you as an artform, let’s dive right into the kinds of watercolor paint and supplies you are going to need!
Watercolor Paint Supplies
My first experience with needing watercolor paint and supplies started with taking classes way back when – third grade, to be exact. Lots of fun and what exciting news to find that I would be using actual tubes of paint – no more of those amateurish oval-shaped “paint boxes” that I was practicing with:)
I hope I don’t sound belittling here, because there is a more professional-grade type of watercolors that are set up in a contained box and referred to as “pans” – they are usually round or square/rectangular in shape.
They are much better for traveling and not regular use since you have to moisten them quite a bit to get them to do what you want and that may not allow for making more sophisticated details possible like wet-on-wet techniques. So it’s in your best interest to look for a set in tubes if you aren’t going from place to place.
Watercolor tube paints are generally small when compared to their acrylic cousins. Remember they are called “watercolors” for a reason, a little will go a long way! A good quality set will include all the primaries plus more tonal colors like brown umber and burnt sienna brown and two shades of green.
The sets I owned did contain a white tube but I think it must have been a formality because white is one color that will not be represented here much at all (See below “Masking Fluid” section)
Essential Watercolor Supplies List
In addition to paints this about covers the biggest essentials you will need to get started on the right foot.
In a nutshell, your first priorities are going to be paper, brushes and palettes. Let’s look at that right now and the specifics of each…and then the “extras” that can be used to improve your technique.
The paper you use ideally needs to have a certain thickness and “grain” to it…it needs to be in order to take the paint and not get soaked through.
The best choice is 140 lb, which is about the medium thickness and weight, and comes in pads that hold about 10 or so sheets and may be cheaper than buying sheets individually.
There are some weights that are less and greater than this amount, the less may get more damp easily and the thicker type is good too, but may cost more.
Important: Regardless of brand or whether it’s a pad or individual sheets be sure it’s “archival quality” and acid free.
Watercolor brushes tend to have softer tufts as you cannot have coarse bristles when dealing with the nuances of watercolor paint. Please see my main post about brushes as I elaborate a little more in terms of shape, sizes and materials.
You do need to have a slightly wider angled brush which will get most of the use for larger areas in projects.
In my first class I had a 2″ sponge applicator brush when learning about wet-on-wet techniques. You will definitely get a lot of use out of one of these and they are not that expensive, or hard to find. They will also guide you through color “lifting” in various areas to produce a desired effect.
You will need a different type of palette than the classic kidney-bean shape of artist yore…a watercolor palette (below, right) needs to have deeper “bowl” shaped compartments to accommodate the emphasis on blending and washes.
In the third grade art class – and even in high school – this wasn’t discussed (perhaps since it’s a more advanced technique) but later on I learned about masking fluid, which is a product used to dab onto small areas of a work-in-progress, such as the painting of things that have lots of various tonal values.
Basically, you remove the fluid after it dries and the pristine white is revealed perfectly.
When I first applied the fluid it really made a difference. “White watercolors” are simply unheard of to the real professionals. Watercolors are transparent in application so “white” doesn’t have a place there. Only in its close cousin, gouache, is white used at times.
Watercolor Artist set, 36 Colors10 Pack – Poly Foam BrushesWinsor & Newton Art Masking Fluid, 75mlStrathmore Watercolor Paper Pad 11Watercolor Paint Set by Crafts 4 All 24 Premium QualityDarice 7-Well Porcelain Palette, 6-Inch
Additional Supplies for Watercolor Painting
These items are considered the “extras” and can help your watercolor game out even further.
Masonite boards – These boards are used in the event of doing wet-on-wet painting and to affix the paper for best results to a smooth surface. I did this in class for a landscape painting, using a special tape to secure the paper by the edges to the masonite board.
The work will buckle slightly under the moisture, but it will otherwise be a smooth application.
I’m unsure currently of the type of tape used, but I am familiar with household painter’s tape…it needs to be a kind that can peel off easily from the edges and not leave paper fibers behind. or worse yet, pull off fibers.
Art clipboard – These are large and made of masonite as well and can secure your work as you go.
To sum up, start with the first list and as you get more experience and learn more consider the addition of the “nice” watercolor painting tools.
To the left is one of my “bragging rights” pieces of watercolor artwork, if I may. I did this piece a long time ago 🙂 I really need to find some more of my old pieces of work using these techniques….if and when I do I will update this post.
I’m having a serious waxing poetic moment here remembering all these fun techniques!
Good luck to you and may you have a great time on your watercoloring art journey 🙂