Starting With Watercolors: Part 1 – Shopping!

The day I came home from a local art store with watercolor paper, a palette, paints and brushes, I hadn’t intended to pick up this new hobby. Looking back four weeks later, though, I’m glad that I did!

Beginning new things is always scary. And you don’t get better at things immediately, no matter how hard you try. But, if you put effort into making any new hobby fun, you’ll always learn something in the process!

This is the story of how I started painting with watercolors, and where I’m at today. I’m not writing this as an expert who is going to help you become a master artist because I certainly am not. Instead, I hope to help others like me muddle through the thousands of advice articles out there and just get started with their watercolors!

Buy your supplies – ANY supplies. Just get some!!

The day that I came home from a local art store with watercolor paper, a palette, paints, and brushes, I hadn’t intended to pick up this new hobby. Let’s just say I got distracted in the store. Looking back two months later, though, I’m glad that I did!

Beginning new things is always scary. And you don’t get better at them immediately, no matter how hard you try. But, if you put effort into making any new hobby fun, you’ll always learn something in the process!

This is post is simply going through how I started painting with watercolors. I’m not writing this as an expert who is going to help you become a master artist because I certainly am not. Instead, I hope to help others like me muddle through the thousands of advice articles out there and just get started with exploring watercolors for themselves!

Here are the items I recommend getting to start playing with watercolors:

 

a very inexpensive set of watercolor paints that has 12 – 18 colors for cheap
Mine was 18 colors for about 10 bucks. They’re not high quality in any sense. You can either buy a palette or tube paint. Don’t think too much about it – until you understand the medium better, there’s no reason to get caught up on which is better or which is better for you. I bought tubes because I move a lot and thought this would be easier.

 

a palette with the same number of spots as you bought paints if you bought tubes
While I didn’t learn the proper way to put paints into palettes, I just squeezed a bit of each color into my palette and have found it’s working great for me to learn and practice each day, even if the paints are cracking a bit.

a mixing palette (not necessary, but fun!)
This guy was less than a dollar and is my favorite when mixing up a lot of colors for one piece of work!

a set of brushes 
I recommend getting one that has every size from 2 to 10 or 12 and costs less than 10 dollars. You can see which sizes you like working with then. Watercolor brushes come in rectangular heads and pointy heads. I had no idea what the difference really was, so I bought both. I use them all, especially when experimenting.

a big, square brush
I also went back to the store to get a few more brushes (including a big, square brush) after my first few days of using watercolors, because most tutorials for beginners included learning how to do basic washes which are often done best with one of these brushes to wet the paper first!

A very small, detail brush (size 00 or 000)
This is so you can see if you like tiny brushes. I like tiny brushes. I want more tiny brushes. But just get one for now. This plus the 2 size brushes from your set will be enough until you learn what you like!

Paper!
There are all kinds of paper. I don’t really understand all the differences yet, and that’s okay. What I did was buy small post card sized paper by one company in one weight, then I bought 2 large sets of paper by different companies and in different weights. I cut these up into various sizes paper when I use them to suit my needs. I have a favorite among the ones I bought, and lots of bloggers & Instagrammers will tell you their favorites — but the only way to know what you’ll love is to try them out!! Just buy a few and use them as you experiment with watercolors to see what suits your developing style.

Things you will probably have at home already:

  • a pencil and a good eraser
  • an old towel or rag for soaking up excess water from your brushes, etc.
  • paper towels
  • tissues
  • two old cups (I use a mug and an old plastic yogurt container) for water while painting
  • glass bottles or something else to store your brushes in. Don’t worry too much about how you store you cheap-o brushes. When you invest in more expensive one, you can search up some real tutorials on how to store brushes so that they’ll last forever!

And that’s it! It’s not exactly a short shopping list, but by spending very little money and very little time, you can get started just experimenting. See what you like. Play around. Don’t stress the details just yet. If you stress the details at this stage, chances are, you’ll lose your passion for painting very quickly. Find what you love about painting, and then learning the details to see what else you want to invest in will not be a stressor. Instead, it will be part of the joy!

Good luck on starting your watercolor journey!

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