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Arts and Crafts - Watercolour Materials

Watercolour Materials and Tips

 You need to plan your painting and sketch it in very lightly and accurately in pencil with minimal disturbance to the paper (yes, I mean rubbing out!) The exception to this would be if you were doing wet in wet accidental type paintings with no drawing. Generally you have to wait for each wash to dry before continuing to paint. (You may find it is good to work on 2 or 3 paintings along together to avoid being idle while you are waiting, or use a hairdryer.) Watercolour paints

You need to be pristine clean, with 2 water tubs – 1 for adding to the paint (distilled preferably) and another for washing your brushes.

Watercolours need to go behind glass, with a mount so that the painting does not touch the glass. Also a waterproof backing is needed. This is to prevent mildew over the years.

Various water based paints have different qualities, such as: Acrylic – which is no longer water soluble when dry and comes in transparent, opaque and fluorescent varieties

Gouache - which is opaque water based paint, water soluble when dry - much like the early poster paints. There is even a range of water soluble oils available these days.artistpalette

Watercolour pencils which give drawn lines or shading, but can form a paint when wetted with water via a brush. 

Finally there are the Pure Watercolours - which usually relates to finely ground water soluble pigments. Watercolour paints come in tubes and in pans 

A Palette needs to have dishes for mixing different coloured washes before applying. If I were using the tubes, I would put out the colours needed in the small hollows and mix washes from them in the large ones by taking a little paint across and adding water.

Brushes need to be soft (usually synthetic these days but I prefer to use pure bristle) and hold plenty of paint.  The larger the painting, the bigger the brushes needed – although some small ones for detail will always always necessarybrushset

Large “mop-like” round ferrule brushes are best for big washes – always care for them by pointing them up after washing & blotting – then store them handle down in a container.

There are also watercolour pencils available which are handy for small "sketches" travelling studies.

Watercolour papers come in different weights, smooth). Most are acid free to help avoid mildew in the future.  Anything lighter in weight than 300 gsm needs to be stretched so that it will not buckle when washes are applied – so personally, I only buy 300 gsm. 

With opaque paints such as acrylic and oils, it is usual to work from dark to light in establishing your composition…however with watercolours it is the other way around.   You need to work from light to dark, preserving the transparent integrity of the washes integrity of the washes artists pan set

Sometimes it might be useful to use masking so that you can apply washes right across over and later peel off the mask to reveal white paper.  Mask comes as film frisk in sheet form and masking fluid in a bottle. g fluid in a bottle. 

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Water Colour Painting

1.To begin painting with watercolours, you'll need certain basic supplies. When purchasing brushes, paint and paper, avoid simply buying the cheapest items, because these will be much lower-quality supplies that will prevent you from achieving the best results. You do not need to buy the most expensive materials, but look for a good compromise between quality and price. After you have a set of basic materials, you'll be ready to practice your watercolour skills.

Round Brush

2.Round brushes have narrow, round tips, and they come in a variety of sizes, indicated by numbers. Start with a size 8 round brush, and move up to a larger size if you want to work on bigger paintings. Sable hair is the highest quality brush hair, but it is more expensive than squirrel or synthetic hair. Look for a brush with a combination of sable hair and synthetic hair for a good compromise between price and quality.

Oval Wash or "Mop" Brush

3.Oval wash brushes have a large, fluffy end for pre-wetting paper and painting water washes. Look for a large flat wash brush in goat hair or squirrel hair. The hair quality of a flat wash brush matters less than it does for other brushes, because you will simply be using this brush to spread water over your paper.

Flat Wash Brush

4.Look for a ½- to 1-inch wide flat wash brush for smaller washes and details. Choose a wider brush if you will be working on larger paintings. Look for an all-sable brush or one with sable hair and squirrel or synthetic hair.

Tube Colours

5.Select primary tube colours in warm and cool versions. You'll need warm and cool versions of blue, yellow and red. You can then mix almost any colour from these colours. Purchase black and white paints if you feel they are absolutely necessary.

Plastic Palette

6.Choose a plastic palette with a sealable lid to keep paints from drying out between sessions. Look for a palette with many individual paint cells around the edges and a mixing area in the middle.


7.Choose a paper size, surface and weight. A standard full sheet of watercolour paper is 22 by 30 inches, but you can find larger sheets if you wish. Surfaces range from smooth (hot press) to textured (rough). Medium texture (cold press) works well for beginners. Paper weights range from 90 lb. to 300 lb. Ninety pound paper cannot withstand very much rubbing or wiping and disintegrates easily. Begin with 140 lb. archival, acid-free paper.

 Paper Towels

8.Keep several rolls of paper towels close by for blotting excess water off of your painting or brushes and for keeping your work area clean.


9.Purchase several sizes of 2H pencils for drawing thumbnail sketches. You might also want to sketch on your watercolour before you begin painting or between sessions.

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