If you’re thinking about starting with watercolors, there are two types of watercolor supplies you’ll need. You’ll need items you have to buy at an art store (or of course online), and items you can get elsewhere. The latter, you may already have in your home.
So let’s go over both of these.
To buy from the art store
You’ll need three things – watercolor brushes, watercolor paper, and watercolor paints.
Can you use other types of brushes for watercolors? Sure.
But watercolor brushes are specifically made for watercolors. You’ll notice that watercolor brushes matter. Of the three though, they’re the least important expenditure. I’d suggest getting cheap watercolor brushes in the beginning if you have a limited budget.
Watercolor paper? Once again, start off with cheap watercolor paper. Your first ten paintings will be throwaway anyways. Watercolor isn’t an easy medium by any means.
Don’t get frustrated! Like I just said, your first ten paintings will be throwaway anyways. If you manage to paint something amazing in your first ten tries, you’re way ahead of the curve.
And lastly, the paints.
I’ve seen artists get by with cheap watercolor paints and make some pretty cool stuff. The artist is more important than the tool.
That said, cheap watercolor paper is not archive quality. What does that mean? It means exactly that. One hundred years from now, that piece of work will look like complete shit because it will deteriorate. Archival quality paper is made to last for hundreds of years.
As you get better, you’re going to want better tools. It’s the same thing with anything.
For now, you’ll be fine with cheap watercolor paints. You’ll learn the difference as you go. It’s way more important at first to hone your technique than it is to use professional grade tools.
You may already have these
You’ll also need pencils, erasers, a surface, jars, scratch paper, paper towels, a sponge, and clean water.
Save your jars. My wife and I eat a lot of Kimchi. It’s supposed to be good for your gut flora. I actually like the taste too, especially the spicy stuff.
These jars are the perfect size for both storing your brushes and also for the water. You’ll need two jars for water. One jar, you use to clean your brush and the second one, you use as the final rinse.
Do both jars matter? Yes. Unless you want your painting to look like mud. I’m very religious about rinsing from two jars.
Water obviously. Tap water does the trick unless you live in a place with really bad tap water. If your tap water is terrible, you’ll have to buy water.
Paper towels and a sponge. You don’t absolutely need a sponge. But now that I have sponges, I use them.
You use the sponges to get the perfect amount of water on your brush. Some artists also use them for effects (like clouds for instance).
You’ll use the paper towels for everything from cleaning up messes to more effects. Always keep paper towels handy. Murphy’s Law states that the one time you forget the paper towels will be the one time you really need them!
Scratch paper for testing colors. You’ll do so much work with colors. How much water you use changes the colors. Plus, you might do a lot of color mixing as well. You’ll need to test the results before they go onto your real painting surface.
Pencils and erasers obviously. You don’t have to, but a lot of watercolor artists will draw their ideas on the watercolor paper before painting. I actually ink my watercolors, but that’s after drawing with pencil first.
As for your surface – I literally paint on the floor because I have a bad back. You may prefer an easel. Up to you.
Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll try to get back to you on a timely manner.