After years of experimenting and refining my choices, I’m excited to share my favorite watercolor supplies. I’m confident that these recommendations will help you create stunning watercolor paintings and fuel your artistic journey. Here are my best supplies for watercolor painting. If you buy through the links, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost. I only recommend what I use and love!
There are so many different brands and qualities of watercolor! Pans, tubes, bottles… you can feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities. I’m a strong advocate for primary colors and for high-quality pigments. Watercolor is unpredictable, but having lightfast, strong pigments is a way to success.
I prefer buying tubes. Even if they may seem expensive, comparing the price per ml will soon find that tubes are more economical than pans. A 15 ml tube can fill about seven half-pans, so I’ll let you do the maths!
Daniel Smith never fails in quality, and with this set, you have warm and cool primary colors, so you can mix any color you like. Later on, you can add convenience colors like Turquoise, Sepia, and Yellow Ochre… depending on what you paint and your style. If you find yourself mixing the same colors repeatedly, it’s time to buy it ready-made!
You will need a palette to squeeze your paint inside and another one to mix your colors.
If you paint plein air, you can squeeze your fresh paint in half pans and carry a small palette with mixing wells included. I like this metallic one, as it’s protective and light.
This is very personal, some like ceramic, plastic, plates, tiles… I like this one by Mijello, it’s airtight, and you have a lot of space for mixing.
Paper for watercolor painting
Unlike gouache, where the surface doesn’t really matter, watercolor requires specific papers. You have so many options. At first, you’ll buy cheap paper at the dollar store maybe, and you may be disappointed. The cheap paper doesn’t handle the water well; you can’t rub and erase your mistakes.
Paper in pads
My favorite paper is Arches Watercolor Paper. It’s my go-to choice for several reasons:
Absorbency: Arches paper is made from 100% cotton, which provides excellent absorbency for watercolors. This ensures that the paint flows smoothly and effortlessly on the surface, making it easier to achieve the desired effects. I always work in 140 lb (300 gsm) as the paper is heavy enough to handle a lot of water without warping or buckling.
Durability: This top-notch watercolor paper is robust and can withstand multiple layers of paint, corrections, and even scrubbing. It won’t easily tear, buckle, or pill, and this quality is essential for watercolor artists who like experimenting with various techniques.
Texture: Arches watercolor paper is available in rough, cold-pressed, and hot-pressed textures. This variety allows you to choose the perfect surface for your painting style and preferences. For portraits, I l like hot press, and for landscapes, I’ll go for cold press.
I love painting in sketchbooks for several reasons. I also have thematic sketchbooks, small ones, and large ones… My favorite brand is Strathmore. They have white or ivory paper, heavy ones, softcovers, hardbounds… you’ll surely find something for your needs.
The right set of brushes can make a world of difference in your watercolor painting experience. I love the brushes by Princeton, this set has the minimum sizes and shapes you need and is animal-free.
It may seem expensive when you buy everything at once, but believe me, investing in high-quality watercolor supplies can significantly improve your painting experience and the final results of your artwork.