Dylla is the art lead on Homesthetics, the artist that through a simple sketch, technical drawing or watercolor painting makes the world a better place. Pastels, watercolors, oil paints and digital art are what Dylla breathes, on the website through wonderful sketches and paintings she tests everything from paper, pencils and brushes to styluses.
The effects of a beautiful piece have a way of capturing the eyes of an observer.
And many existing artists love watercolor as a painting medium because of the many benefits they get from using it.
Firstly, watercolors are easy to use for anyone, be it beginners or experienced artists. Another good thing about watercolors is that they are relatively cheaper if compared to other coloring mediums.
Now, there are many upcoming artists who are drawn to the art of painting with this medium. But how does one prepare for painting with watercolors? There are a lot of things to consider having and buying.
If you too are a practicing artist, don’t worry! We have your back. Today, we will give you a list of all the things/supplies that you must have in order to set up your very own watercolor studio.
Keep in mind that these materials are both necessary and inexpensive, therefore, anybody can get them without having to spend so much.
The first thing you’d need is, of course, watercolor paints.
You probably have seen watercolors come in different packaging – tubes, pan sets or pencils.
If you are wondering which one to get as a beginner, we would suggest going for pan sets because firstly, they are easy to carry around and they do not consume too much space in the studio or on the shelf.
Secondly, these paints are organized, hence, preventing the user from creating a lot of mess during the painting process.
When looking for watercolor pan sets as a beginner, choose one which is student grade as they are much cheaper than those which are artist or professional grade.
Student-grade watercolors are good for practicing because you don’t have to focus much on the mixing process as you will do with professional or artist grades.
However, if you feel unsure about buying a whole set of watercolors, you can buy sample sets of any brand which you like. They will cost you much lesser than the actual colors would. Hence, this is a good way to find out if a watercolor painting set is the right one for you.
There are a lot of sketchbook varieties out there and choosing one can be tricky because each and every one of them seems important.
However, we would suggest buying one with thick sheets that are about 300 gsm since the colors are water-based and can penetrate through the paper if it is too thin.
Not only that but if you choose a much lighter or thin paper, there is a high chance your painting will not last as long as you expect because the paper may warp anytime soon.
The size of the notebook also matters a lot because you don’t want to end up regretting having bought a sketchbook that is too big or too small.
When picking out the right size, think about how practical it is for you. The practicability of the sketchbook depends on where you work often, how you carry the sketchbook, and so on.
Finally, we would also recommend finding the right orientation: horizontal or vertical. This again depends on what and how you want to paint. If you choose landscapes, then a horizontal-oriented sketchbook is the right one for you as it provides more space width-wise.
As we have discussed a little about sheets in a sketchbook and how thick they should be, now we are going to look at something similar; these are watercolor papers.
Paper is one of the most essential supplies when it comes to watercolor painting. What makes a piece of art great is not only the right paints but the right quality of the paper as well.
There are papers that are specifically designed for watercolors, and they are known as “watercolor papers”. These are not the same as regular papers we use every day, or like sketching papers.
These absorb moisture very well and do not allow the paint to bleed through on the other side of the paper. Besides that, these papers also provide enough texture to make your painting look excellent.
However, just like how normal papers are measured, these watercolor sheets are also rated by their size, weight, and texture.
And just as choosing sketchbook sheets, we suggest you go with watercolor papers that are about 300 gsm or 140 lb which are cold-pressed. Also, choose papers that are acid-free or pH neutral because they will preserve the quality of your painting and help it age well.
The importance of pencils is inevitable even if we are doing a watercolor painting.
Many artists use pencils to create an underdrawing before they start off with the actual painting. The reason they use a pencil for this is because it provides outlines which make the work easier.
However, a pencil can do so much more than just outline the piece. It can contribute to the overall beauty of the painting by enhancing small details. Moreover, lead pencils blend very well with watercolors.
Besides lead pencils, you can choose to outline the work with other colored pencils which you see fit. And that’s the best part about it – we get to be creative with this step.
If you use pens to darken a few areas or just for working with other details, you will notice amazing changes in the painting.
Although watercolor painting by itself is already magnificent, adding pen effects will take it to a whole different level. But then again, not just any pen will do.
For watercolor paintings, we recommend going for micron pens. If you can, refrain from using ballpoint pens because they do not have pointy nips.
If you like to sketch and paint at the same time, using micron pens will surely help make a great piece of painting.
With micron pens, you can easily slide through the details of the painting without making a mess. These are also much suitable for rough surfaces and cold-pressed papers since you don’t require to put on a lot of pressure on the nip while drawing.
One more benefit we get from using micron pens in watercolor paintings is that they tend to blend well with the rest of the colors, making them look harmonized. Ballpoint pens, on the other hand, do not produce the same effects. Rather, you can tell that the ink does not belong there.
We understand if you are a beginner, that you would want to start off with only a couple of brushes first, and that’s a good thing.
But we must say that you should not be content with only a few brushes you have in hand. The reason we are saying this is because there are a lot of brushes that provide different effects because of their shapes and sizes.
If you only stick to the few ones you have, there is a lesser chance for your work to improve.
Even if you plan to buy a few brushes for the beginning of your watercolor journey, make sure that each brush is distantly different from the other so that you can see the different effects that each brush has on the painting.
If you have gained a certain level of experience, that’s when you start trying out different brushes every now and then.
However, even if you are on a budget, be sure to get good-quality brushes so that they will serve you for years to come as well.
Palettes are necessary for mixing any kind of paint.
Yes, there are DIY alternatives or other surfaces which are good enough for mixing colors – and that is great!
But there are certain benefits of using palettes. First of all, they are specifically made for the purpose of mixing colors and all good artists prefer using them.
Secondly, there are varieties of palettes made to suit different paint mixing purposes and have different surfaces.
If you are an artist who works once in a while, then a paper palette would be a great choice since you can discard them after you’re done. Paper palettes can be used for a maximum of three times continuously before disposing.
But if painting is your daily hobby, there are so many palettes out there with various features to suit your preferences. For instance, a plastic palette with a thumb hole is great when you’re working for many hours because it is lightweight and comfortable.
Also, unlike random surfaces, palettes these days are washable, scrapable, or even foldable. These features make them desirable for certain preferences.
Artist Tote Board
An artist’s tote board provides a flat support for when you are painting.
You can use any board with a smooth surface for this. But we would recommend getting a tote board because it is designed for artists and their work.
Most boards have clips to hold the paper in place. They also come with a smooth rubber band to ensure your painting does not move or tilt.
You may be wondering why tracing paper is on the list of watercolor supplies.
If you are a beginner, tracing papers can come in very handy.
For instance, there is an art that you want to imitate and recreate, but it’s too complicated. What you can do is use tracing paper and trace every outline.
After that, use the “rub method” of transferring the outline onto the actual watercolor paper and you’re good to go!
But choosing tracing papers is not a task where you have to take much caution; any kind of tracing paper will do. If you need a tip, we would suggest looking for cheap ones which have enough transparency and won’t easily tear while tracing.
Drafting or Masking Tape
Artists will do anything to make sure their paintings remain in good and straight shape while painting so it does not curl up at the touch of water-based paints.
From choosing the right watercolor paper to using the right amount of paints, they also have found another technique to prevent papers from crippling; and that’s taping the paper down.
For this technique, you can either use masking/drafting tape or gummed paper.
Using gummed paper ensures that the paper remains flat on top of a surface. However, gummed papers can get too rigid to remove and at times, require to use of a blade or any sharp object to detach it from the paper.
We do not recommend using force to tear off the tape from the paper because that will only damage the painting.
A masking tape, however, is not as strong as gummed paper. It still holds it in place, but will not be as flat as it should be when using gummed paper. That means you still need to straighten it when the painting is dry.
Nonetheless, the masked tape can be removed easily without harming the condition of the paper.
A hair spray bottle will come in handy during the painting process.
If you want different effects on the painting, use a water spray bottle. It has become a technique for achieving and trying out different textures.
It depends on the distance and the amount of water used for spraying, you can work with different kinds of effects.
A glass jar is where you store all brushes used for painting after you’re done cleaning and drying them.
It does not necessarily have to be made of glass but we mentioned it because it provides better storage and you can see through the glass whenever you have to choose a preferred brush with a name on it.
We would recommend using a medium-sized glass jar if you own only a few brushes now.
But if you have a lot of brushes, make sure to store them in a glass jar which is much bigger so that when you put in a brush, it does not touch the bristles of other brushes and increase the chance of warping or getting damaged too early. There should be enough space in the jar when moving the brushes.
We also suggest getting three glass jars for your brushes because you can use one for rough cleaning, one for proper cleaning, and the last for storing your brushes.
Liquid latex, which is commonly known as masking fluid, is used to create blank white spots on the painting. These are areas where you don’t want the paint to touch.
Sometimes, when working with watercolors, it becomes hard to avoid certain areas in which you want to stay white (like painting dozens of stars, for example). And in this case, using masked fluid would be an excellent choice.
Masking fluids protect the areas by repelling any liquid and then you can peel it off when finished. Those areas will still remain blank as your desired effect..
Masking fluid can come really handy once you start to get the hang of using it.
Another one of the best non-traditional techniques is using a sponge for achieving different effects in watercolor painting.
If you want to paint small textures which will probably take forever using a brush, then a sponge is the best option for this. It is comparably faster to achieve a texture that you like.
Any type of sponges will work for watercolor painting. However, if you want to explore different textures, we would recommend using a natural sponge.
A natural sponge comes in different textures and there’s no telling which pattern you’re getting next, hence, it also becomes a great option for achieving a spontaneous painting.
But if you want to manipulate and have more control over the pattern outcome, you can always cut the sponge and trim it to get the desired texture. If not, there are always sponges available online or at an art store that has a variety of sponges with different textures.
Needless to say, this is an obvious tool needed for watercolor painting. How else are you going to mix watercolor paints without water?
But the reason it is worth mentioning here is that some of us can be a little careless at times and forget the most necessary materials because they’re too small to notice that they’re missing.
When you’re painting at home, we see there’s no need to pay attention to small things like these. Even when there’s no water jar kept separately for painting, you can always use a bowl or something else to substitute that.
But a water jar becomes necessary when you go plein air. Either keep a separate one for this purpose or buy brushes that come along with a barrel that you can use it to store the water.
Having a jar helps you stay organized as a painter. There is no need to keep looking for a different bowl/container every time you have to paint.
By practicing keeping a separate water jar, it will become a habit to carry it wherever you go plein air; you will automatically remember to store it along with the other supplies.
So these are all the basic supplies you’ll need for your studio. Few of them are available online or at a local art store, while for some, you can use alternatives without having to shed some extra money.
We hope this article was helpful and we’d like to see you again soon.