Start painting watercolor

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Learning to paint watercolor and buying sensible stuff is not easy. The absolute beginner is faced with thousands of choices of different colors, brushes and paper, not to mention all the conflicting information about materials and techniques that can be found online. Anyone who just wants to try watercolor and is not willing to make an investment of several hundred dollars, here are some (in my opinion) good advice.

In addition to having watercolor paints, paper and brushes, you should have an idea of what to do with the stuff. There is a wealth of information on the Internet, read and watch videos about watercolor painting. Much of the information is contradictory, some saying one thing and others the opposite. But all in all, you are probably creating an idea about the basics of watercolor technique with the help of the Internet. The most important thing, however, is that you paint a lot, it is the only way to learn watercolor, to do it often.


For the absolute beginner, it is probably best to buy a paint set, in a previous article, I wrote that you should buy good but few colors. But for those who are completely new to watercolor, this is perhaps too difficult. Buy a box with student grade watercolor paints, these are paints of a slightly simpler quality. They contain less pigment than the really good colors and all expensive pigments have been replaced with cheaper alternatives.

8 to 12 colors can be a good start, a small box in other words. The vast majority have a sensible composition of colors. Buy colors from a well-known manufacturer, some examples:

Winsor & Newton Cotman Sketchers’ box – 12 colors – $ 20 approx
Lukas Studio Travel Box – 12 colors – $ 15 approx
Van Gogh Watercolor pocket box – 12 colors – $ 25 approx

The price of watercolor paints varies greatly between different stores, look for the cheapest, according to PriceRunner Sweden the price of Sketchers’ box from Winsor & Newton Cotman varies from $ 15 – $ 43.


I recommend buying a small (no. 4-6) and a large (no. 12-16), both should be round brushes. Simple quality of synthetic hair is good enough to test watercolor painting. The brush is not as important as paper and paints. Do not let the seller convince you of the opposite, they like to sell expensive brushes and bad paper, make the opposite choice.


Blocks are easier than loose sheets, The same paper in blocks compared to sheets is more expensive and in my opinion it is better to use paper in sheets. But to make it simple, I still think that the beginner should get blocks. I understand that $ 70 is too expensive, that’s what a high quality block that is approx. 12 x 16 inches costs, but since paper is the most important material, it should not be too simple.

Feel free to buy wood paper that is cheaper than those made of cotton. For $ 20 – 25 you can get a block of simple paper in size 12 X 16 inches with 12 to 20 sheets. The thickness of the papers is not so important, but rather 140 lb than 90. Examples of reliable manufacturers: Langton, Fabriano, Bockingford, Hahnemühle, Canson Montval and others. avoid cheaper than that, the cheapest papers can not be painted on.

Other watercolor stuff

You probably have a rinsing water container at home. I usually use emptied larger glass jars for this purpose, so do not throw away all pickled beetroot or cucumber jars, wash them and use them as rinsing jars for watercolor. Otherwise, a drinking glass also works well.

You also need something to mix colors in. Buy a cheap plastic palette for one or two dollars. This is better than using the watercolor box lid.

If you are going to transport your brushes, you should do so in a simple brush case. If you are only going to paint at home, keep them standing in a cup or similar.


For about $ 50, you should be able to buy all the watercolor stuff needed to start painting. If you follow these tips, you will get at least decent things that can actually be painted with.

There are sets with everything that the beginner needs: paper, several different brushes and many colors that cost much less. With such paints and paper it is not possible to paint watercolor, they are pure rubbish. Do not fall into the trap and make this simple and cheap choice. Buy sensible things.

If you get a taste for watercolor painting, you might get better things later. Buying a single brush or a paint is not that expensive, over time you get a complete set of good watercolor paints and a few different brushes. Maybe even different papers of varying type. If you are curious and try a little different stuff, you will learn more.

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