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Must have watercolour supplies for beginners

Hello lovely artists!

I hope you all enjoyed our recent workshop on beginners' watercolour techniques as much as I did. It was wonderful to see your creativity flowing and your enthusiasm shining through. As promised, here’s a rundown of the supplies we used during the class, along with a few recommendations to help you continue your watercolour journey at home.

Watercolour painting of dancer in blue with Kuretake Paints by Kerry Slack

Paint Recommendations

For vibrant and large pan paints, I highly recommend the Kuretake GANSAI TAMBI 36 Colours Set. The colours are rich and lively, perfect for making your artwork pop. In our class, we used a mixture of tube watercolours, including brands like Pebeo and Cotman. These are student-grade paints that offer good quality without breaking the bank, ideal for beginners experimenting with different techniques.

For those of you feeling more adventurous I demonstrated watercolour inks.  The ones I use are artist quality Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus Fine Art Watercolours.   However, there are student grade versions available.

One thing to note on watercolour paints,  they fade when exposed to bright sunlight eventually, some more than others.  That’s why it’s important to frame them behind glass or perspex, keep them out of bright sunlight or purchase artist quality paints that are light fast.

Paper Recommendations

Choosing the right paper is crucial for your watercolour paintings so it's important to stay away from the cheapest paper, i.e. from The Works. I recommend using Cold or (NOT) pressed watercolour paper, which has a lovely texture that works well with a loose fluid watercolour style. This is the type of paper I use in my own illustrations as well as in class. Look for paper that's quite thick, around 300gsm/140lb. This thickness helps prevent the paper from warping when you apply water.

Some great brands to consider are Bockingford, Saunders Waterford, Milford, Canson, and Fabriano. In the early days, it's best to stick with one type of paper until you gain confidence with your watercolour techniques. You’ll notice that these papers come in different shades, from brilliant white to more subdued tones. They also come in various formats: loose sheets, pads gummed on the top, and pads gummed all the way around. The 'all around' gummed pads are particularly useful for wet-on-wet techniques, as they help prevent the paper from buckling.

For some of my advanced classes, we use 100% cotton paper. Though more expensive, this paper can hold a lot of water for longer periods, allowing for smoother blends. Brands like Arches and Magnani 1404 Italian Cotton Paper are excellent choices if you're looking to invest in higher-quality materials.

Brush Recommendations

For brushes, I prefer using synthetic brushes. They have a good point and are slightly stiffer than traditional animal hair brushes, giving you more control, especially as a beginner. I typically use a round 2 and a round 6. These brushes are affordable and can be found individually or in sets from most art supply stores—Hobby Craft is a great option.

Watercolour brushes for vegans

Traditional watercolour artists often favour animal hair brushes for their superior water and paint-holding capacity. However, due to my beliefs, I use synthetic alternatives. There are some excellent synthetic brushes that hold more water, such as DaVinci Casaneo, Escoda Versatil Sintetico, and Silver Ruby Satin. These might be slightly pricier but are worth the investment.

Optional Extras - Palettes

In the workshop, we used disposable paper palettes from The Works. However, a simple white ceramic side plate from home works wonderfully too. It allows you to reactivate any dried paint the next time with water, reducing waste. If you're looking for something prettier and bespoke, I highly recommend Sneha's handmade ceramic palettes. I have two myself, and she offers a variety of styles. Sneha is a local Harrow ceramicist, and supporting local artists is always a plus!

Adding a Touch of Gold

In some of my classes, I use a bit of gold paint which everyone seems to love. The gold paint that comes with the Gansai Tambi set is lovely, but if you adore adding a splash of gold, Schmincke Aqua Bronze is fantastic. It's a powder that you mix with water and comes in various shades of gold.

Masking Fluid

I also demonstrated masking fluid from Daler Rowney. This is like a watery glue that you paint over areas you want to keep white. It's handy in some instances, though I rarely use it now.


Jackson’s art Supplies,  Bromley’s Art Supplies and Cass Art all supply an incredible range of art materials.  Hobby Craft and Amazon are good for some of the common mid range supplies but check prices as often the art shops are better value.

Final Tips

As a beginner, you don't need much to get started. Stick with one brand of mid-range/student grade paper, two synthetic round brushes with a good point and one brand of paints until you build your watercolour confidence. Use a kneaded putty eraser to erase pencil marks, never an ordinary eraser - that damages the paper's surface. Remember to date your work on the back and keep it safe to track your progress.

I hope this guide helps you in selecting your watercolour supplies. Remember, the right tools can make a big difference in your artistic journey.

Thank you for being a part of our creative community and happy painting!

Warm wishes



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