Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Basic Watercolor Supplies

Last week I shared some of what I've been going through as far as finding what I want to be doing, here. It has been a long process but basically it all boils down to me missing my artistic roots. I've been creative through out this year, but it's been fun little DIY projects around the house and nothing that I've really used my knowledge of art and design for.

So, to solve this issue I decided I wanted to pursue fine art and its techniques and history with YOU! I'm not sure how long this will last, or how good I will be at it but I do know that I will be doing what I enjoy and hope you enjoy it too!

For my first lesson (hahah yeah right) I figured I could chat with y'all about all these watercolors I've been sharing on my Instagram feed and adding to my shop. Watercolor is something that I've always LOOOVVVVEEEDDD but didn't get a chance to do much of in the past 4 years. Watercolor is so naturally pretty that sometimes the best pieces are when all you do is drop in color. It's amazing!

This post is going to be kinda boring. But if you are interested in pursuing watercolor these are a few basic things you need to know before you dive in. These tips should help you have a smoother transition between regular (acrylic) paint to the world of water color.

Lets talk about brushes. There are all kinds of brushes with all different purposes. The best brushes are pricey, so as a student I obviously went for middle of the line. The high end watercolor brushes are made of Red Sable (type of mink) hair, yep just like a fur coat. So these have become super expensive because of the nature of the material. There are other types of hair (like squirrel) that also make great brushes, but they still remain on the upper end of brushes. I have synthetic brushes. I am NO PRO but do enjoy my brushes. 
Something that is really important is that you keep your watercolor brushes separate from all your other brushes. Watercolor reacts to oil so once you mix brushes with other types of paint (or even just handle them too much with your hands) they can deteriorate quicker and give you not so pretty lines. 

Next up is obviously the paint. Well with watercolor you have lots of options. If you aren't confident in your painting ability (you don't need to be, and I will touch on this later!) then go for a watercolor crayon or pencil! This allows you to get the pigment down on the paper and then blend with water. It is a great way to introduce yourself to how watercolor will move on the paper and even better if you are really interested in details. 

But if you are interested in the most common form of watercolor then you probably have a pallet of paint with either tubes or cakes. I prefer tubes because I can lay out my pallet exactly the way I like. But that doesn't mean tubes are any better for beginners!
Obviously there are different brands of paints and as a beginner it is hard to tell what you need. So I would say stay with student grade paints until you decide if you really wanna pursue watercolor. These paints will give you everything you need to learn from watercolor while not breaking the bank.
I have 2 sets of tube paints one is Reeves and the other is Windsor Newton, I prefer my Windsor Newton pallet but that is because of the colors that came in the pallet pack.
When you purchase watercolors remember that it is better to buy the basic most natural colors possible so you can mix with out making muddy colors. My pallet consists of Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red, Cadmium yellow, Viridian green, ultramarine, ivory black, and Chinese white.

Finally, lets talk about paper! Paper is soooooo important with watercolor, it literally can make or break a painting. If you know you are going to be doing lots of washes then you need to find a thicker/ heavier weight paper. Similar to this Strathmore 140lb pad. The weight is important because the heavier the paper the less likely it is to warp when you add your washes.

But I also have a smaller pad that is only 90lb. This pad does warp when you use washes, but if you are interested in adding inks or other dry media lighter weight paper can be the way to go.  You can also have your personal opinion on paper, I really love paper that can rip nicely. I feel like watercolor is such a natural process that sometimes the edges need to be a bit natural too.

I know this was a lot of technical information packed in to one post. And if I'm honest this isn't even close to all the detail I could have shared with you. This is just the basic of the basic information. I hope this will give you a little help when you walk in the craft store and are overwhelmed with the selection of beginner paints, papers, and brushes. If y'all have any other questions about how to find your starter set let me know! 

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  1. Aw, you're gonna make me want to start painting again! It's funny, I'm the opposite place you were: I went from being a freelance artist (on the side) painting watercolors and then changed career paths because I found interior decorating to be much more productive.

    I hope this opens new doors for you and gives you what you need! I kept my watercolor supplies in case I want to create something for fun or to decorate my walls. I look forward to being refreshed with your wisdom and seeing what unfolds for you!

    1. Thank you for your sweet words! I love interior design and would jump at a chance for that too, but this little town just doesn't have much to offer on any creative front! So here goes nothing, trying to share my knowledge with the world wide web :) Hope I get you painting again ;)

  2. This is great! I took tons of studio art classes in college, but we NEVER did water color. It's always been something I've been interested in, but I didn't know where to begin.

  3. I love your introduction here! I enjoy how it was concise, but still super informative. I've been breaking out my watercolors lately too and it feels sooo nice haha

  4. You are inspiring me to get my paints back out too. I used to do oils, and haven't worked with them in years. I'll have to throw the paints out and get fresh, but I still have brushes and canvases ready to go. I'd love to learn about watercolors. Thanks for the creative post!

    1. Oh I love oils too! I have only taken 1 class with them so I don't know much and am honestly still intimidated by them! But they are so smooth and beautiful to work with!


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