Watercolour Materials

Learning to paint with watercolours is a beautiful and exciting adventure…

Watercolour is the most beautiful and unique art medium I have ever used ~ I love it. For me there is nothing that can rival it. I just love the colours and how they mix so effortlessly with water on beautiful watercolour paper…

Here is a brief summary of the watercolour materials I currently prefer use…

Paint:   the watercolour paints I prefer to use are Daniel Smith watercolours. They are superb professional quality paints and the colours are just stunning. I love colour ~ I always have and always will. So for me having a wide range of gorgeous colours to choose from is important and Daniel Smith’s range of colours is very hard to beat.

Daniel Smith Watercolours
A few of my Daniel Smith Watercolours ~ clockwise from the yellow shade, the colours are: Raw Sienna Light, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red Medium Hue, Carbazole Violet, French Ultramarine, Phthalo Blue Green Shade, Manganese Blue Hue, Prussian Green, Paynes Blue Gray and Buff Titanium

I also use Winsor and Newton artist quality paints too ~ they are lovely paints to use and living in the UK, these are the most widely available watercolour paints in local high street art shops, so I’ve realized it’s a good idea for me to be familiar with them. However, there are so many different brands of wonderful professional quality watercolours out there that I do believe it’s good to experiment with different brands and try new colours when the opportunity presents itself.

These are my three most favourite Winsor & Newton colours – Indian Yellow, Winsor Blue Red Shade and Permanent Rose. All three of them are transparent and from these three pigments you can mix a huge range of colours – vibrant oranges and red, rich purples and mauves, natural greens and browns, soft greys and even black…

When starting out in watercolour painting beginners are often advised to limit their palette to begin with ~ this is advice I’ve completely ignored from the start and never regretted it. Colour is beautiful and exciting. The range of colours available to the watercolourist today are just phenomenal – my advice is exploit it and use it to the full; have the most fun ever experimenting with gorgeous colours and create stunning art work with the unique and stunningly beautiful medium of watercolour…

Paper:   I like to paint on 100% cotton watercolour paper of at least 140 lb/300 gsm thickness or thicker. I mostly use NOT (cold pressed) and Rough paper – I love the gentle texture. Watercolour paper brands I like are Arches, Fabriano Artistico and Saunders Waterford. So far the only cheaper non cotton watercolour paper I really like and would recommend is Bokingford by St Cuthberts Mill (140 lb/300 gsm or thicker) – it’s lovely paper to paint on and great for practicing. But other than that I don’t recommend buying cheap watercolour paper – in my experience my painting results are distinctly inferior when I use them and they are false economy.

Arches ~ beautiful watercolour paper to paint on…

Brushes:   I prefer to paint with natural hair brushes like sable or squirrel – they hold water and pigment so much better than synthetic brushes and my painting results are so much better when I use them. My preferred brush choice is Kolinsky Sable. I have noticed a significant improvement in my painting since I started using them. Yes, they are a bit expensive but if you’re serious about watercolour (and I am…) they are worth the investment…

My beautiful kolinsky sable watercolour brushes by Rosemary & Co. The orange paint on the left is Daniel Smith’s Permanent Orange – a luscious vibrant colour…

Palettes:   At home I like to use ceramic palettes for my watercolours. I also use a few white plates to mix colours on ~ they’re cheap and cheerful but do a great job as paint palettes. When I’m travelling I have a number of small palettes (plastic and enamel) I use which fit easily into my art bag.

Sundry Items:   I use a mixture of sundry items for my watercolour work ~ a spray bottle (for spraying water), salt (for creating texture), cling film/plastic wrap (for creating texture), a sea sponge (for creating texture), paper towel/kitchen roll, a white wax crayon (for wax resist techniques), Scotch Magic Tape (for taping my paper to the board), a putty eraser and a Derwent mechanical pencil for sketching minimal outlines.

These are my current watercolour materials. What I prefer to use may well be very different to what another watercolour artist prefers to use. My watercolour materials/preferences have changed over time as I’ve learnt and grown as an artist. I do think it’s good to keep an open mind and experiment with different brands and new products from time to time…

I hope you’ll find this information useful, especially if you are just starting out on your watercolour journey or maybe thinking about it…

When I started out on my watercolour journey the one piece of advice I picked up repeatedly from a wide assortment of professionals was “buy the best artist materials your budget will allow” and they’re right… ! Excellent quality materials really have made a wonderful difference to my painting results and this has, in turn, encouraged me to continue my watercolour journey, to keep learning, practicing and improving.

Happy painting…

Evelyn