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  1. #1
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    Need advice on basic watercolor supplies :)

    Hello everyone ! I need advice before buying watercolor supplies

    • What mediums/brushes and what supplies in general do I need for watercolor painting ?
    • What colors are most useful/worth buying ?
    • Perhaps you have specific brand/item to recommend ?


    Since I'm from Europe, Poland, I have access to:
    • basic watercolors in tube from Winsor&newton, Daniel smith or Van Gogh
    • All kinds of brushes, but I already have plenty of both, synthetic and bristle brushes in various shapes and sizes, square round and fancy ones that I won't probably use.
    • Strathmore and Sm-LT mixed media paper for watercolors 280g or 300g


    All supplies are from : http://www.szal-art.pl/language-En/ but I can try to get other brands and better tools if you guys recommend them

    However, I want to to know if I will need any other mediums or oils like in oil painting, or perhaps there's something I should know before buying the right kind of paper for watercolor.

    Any tips for working with this medium and on supplies that I should buy are appreciated
    Hey ! Visit my sketchbook
    , and leave me some critique
    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...)-Sketchbook-)


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  4. #2
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    Honestly when going into something new I see what the 'starter sets' have. Mess around with those for a bit, and then I have a better idea what I would need in phase 2.
    My commentary is a gift to you.

  5. #3
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    For watercolours you don't need any mediums like oils. Get thick watercolour paper, even for practice as you'll need to learn how to manage the paint and doing it on thin paper will not help. W&N is fine.

  6. #4
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    @modi123 Whelps, the usual kits and starters don't have good quality materials , and I'm trying to buy supplies that will at least last for a bit, and not be thrown away immediately.

    @Black Spot
    As always, valuable and quality advice ! thank you
    Hey ! Visit my sketchbook
    , and leave me some critique
    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...)-Sketchbook-)

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    By paper as a block so you don't have to tape it down to a board much easier to carry and use. 640 GSM paper is best but 300 GSM will do in a block. I like Arches paper but try some different brands of the same weights. I use Neptune synthetic brushes, flat, round quill and a mottler. Size for the brushes depends on the size you work. You can probably find local equivalents if you can't order online. Any artists grade paint will do. A good simple palette of red, yellow, blue, white, black is a good place to start. Once you are comfortable mixing color and getting accurate results you can expand the palette to suit your taste.

  8. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    By paper as a block so you don't have to tape it down to a board much easier to carry and use. 640 GSM paper is best but 300 GSM will do in a block. I like Arches paper but try some different brands of the same weights. I use Neptune synthetic brushes, flat, round quill and a mottler. Size for the brushes depends on the size you work. You can probably find local equivalents if you can't order online. Any artists grade paint will do. A good simple palette of red, yellow, blue, white, black is a good place to start. Once you are comfortable mixing color and getting accurate results you can expand the palette to suit your taste.
    Yea I use squirrel as they hold so much water and have good sharp point in round would you be better to start with one color and work monochromatic for while so you get used how to control water/ paint ratio, I dont think you need white, it will be harder and if you mess up then you mess up that will be more like opaque watercolor if white is used, for transparent you use paper as your white, you can't get lighter by painting over it like with opaque paints, that's why planning is key with it like where you leave whites and what to paint first second.... light to dark, background to foreground, Carcamo has class on schoolism if you are interested, https://www.schoolism.com/school.php?id=43 but try it first if you like medium
    https://keenewilson.com/page/12220/focus-on-watercolor

  9. #7
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    The white isn't for white areas, those you leave blank; it's to adjust the chroma of the pigment when mixing color with a limited palette.

  10. #8
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    Hmmm.... What do you wanna paint? I have favorites all depending what I'm painting....

    If this is your first experience with watercolor I'd recommend a W&N Cotman starter set of the ones you mentioned, but I can see the website also have Sennelier starter kits? Youtube has a lot of great reviews
    Just be aware that some starter kits might come with an alizarin crimson (pr 83) which is not at all lightfast! Currently I replaced the one in my travel palette with a Van Gogh mix of quinachridone rose and madder lake light... Haven't properly tested it yet though The Cerulean from Van Gogh has white in it, the blue is super pretty, but will "mud" things if not careful, and doesn't glaze well.
    Important to keep in mind with watercolor:
    - Lightfastness
    -Opacity/transparency
    -Granulation

    If you wanna go all out watersplashes, you probably need a cotton paper, or a cotton/cellulose paper of 300gsm, the same if you plan on layering/glazing a lot.
    Recently I bought some Hahnemühle mould made paper that should be 100% cotton, but it lifts... Much!
    Fabriano Artistico is my preference for cotton paper, but there are many other great ones out there.
    For light washes over ink, I'd recommend just cellulose paper. I love the Canson Montval for ink + watercolor, not all papers takes dip pen like this one
    Note the paper surface! Hot press = smooth, cold press = fine texture (versatile for everything), and then there's rough, mostly for larger landscapes I think? Canson Montval is pretty smooth, yet said to be cold press. Some of the "student grade" (cellulose) papers have a really annoying texture (imo), see if you can find a close up photo on the paper surface before buying, alternatively I use thick smooth drawing paper of minimum 170gsm.
    ....Actually, I think you'll be fine with the Strathmore for starters

    The brushes I use the most are Chinese, and then some synthetic. With fine detail, synthetics are sometimes better, especially on paper where the paint lifts. Natural hair brushes has a tendency to "bend" if not wet enough, it's good for mark making like foliage, but crap for sharp details like thin branches, so detail with synthetic it is for me
    For larger even surface washes, you'll have to go with a brush that can hold a decent amount of water...
    If you paint on a cellulose surface, I'd recommend mainly soft synthetics, but use an extremely light touch to avoid lifting when layering wet over dry paint!
    When you say "bristle brushes", you mean those stiff ones? They shouldn't be used on watercolor paper, it might ruin the paper surface

  11. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    The white isn't for white areas, those you leave blank; it's to adjust the chroma of the pigment when mixing color with a limited palette.
    Does white affect drying time? as gouache dries really fast. Personally I don't use white, as I wanna learn planning process, you can get really good stuff with it, Nathan Fowkes one example and of course Sargent but he had lot more other things going going on than white in hes watercolor , and its just different mindset and effect that you are looking for.
    Last edited by stonec; 3 Weeks Ago at 10:31 AM.

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    Heya I see you got some very good and elaborate answers already, so I don't have much to add except for: start with a small colelction. you really just need some paper, I even use under 300gsm (like 180 gsm), that'll make stuff harder but- it can work. I use Schmincke watercolors but I think any professional-ish brand will work, especially for a starting set. I got this Schmincke color set 10 years ago and am still using it happily. I try to use medium price brushes, because the cheapest ones are... well, there's a reason for the price. However I got a few "good" brushes once and the bristles also started to fall out only a few months into use so I'd say buy your supplies little by little and trial and erro your way through brushes and paper. Don't buy large blocks in the beginning. What I'm trying to say is: don't stress too much about which exact supplies to get and try out some things in small quantities.

  13. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by stonec View Post
    Does white affect drying time? as gouache dries really fast. Personally, I don't use white, as I wanna learn planning process, you can get really good stuff with it, Nathan Fowkes one example and of course Sargent but he had lot more other things going on than white in his watercolor and its just different mindset and effect that you are looking for.
    It doesn't change the drying time at all, it just a way to have a more accurate control over color. It can dull a color if overused but overusing any color will ruin a painting as much as using the wrong color. It is no different than any other color, it has a level of transparency and opaqueness depending on the specific white you use. Zinc is more transparent than titanium.
    This idea people have that artists shouldn't use white is just so wrong-headed on so many levels, many lighter colors have white pigment or some other opaque lightening agent in them to make the color. Lots of colors are not really transparent, some are only semitransparent and some are opaque like yellow ochre even though people think they are transparent. Out of the almost 100 colors Winsor Newton sells only about a 3rd are actually transparent colors.

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  15. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    It doesn't change the drying time at all, it just a way to have a more accurate control over color. It can dull a color if overused but overusing any color will ruin a painting as much as using the wrong color. It is no different than any other color, it has a level of transparency and opaqueness depending on the specific white you use. Zinc is more transparent than titanium.
    This idea people have that artists shouldn't use white is just so wrong-headed on so many levels, many lighter colors have white pigment or some other opaque lightening agent in them to make the color. Lots of colors are not really transparent, some are only semitransparent and some are opaque like yellow ochre even though people think they are transparent. Out of the almost 100 colors Winsor Newton sells only about a 3rd are actually transparent colors.
    I have always thought that if you add white its opaque, I have actually thinking about experimenting with white but after when I'm getting used to process that I'm learning and I wanna branch out from it as Carcamo doesn't use white, in he demos, only last demo when painting when it was done without it and that was with opaque manner with titanium.

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    here is a color chart of all the watercolor hues put out by Winsor Newton showing transparent, semi-transparent, semi-opaque and opaque pigments


    Name:  colorchart.jpg
Views: 289
Size:  174.7 KB

  17. #14
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    You have made your point long ago but I don't want to repeat myself on why I'm not using it, would you like someone to come your class without it if you are using it.

  18. #15
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    I guide people in my classes I don't order them to do things one way. In my demos, I do paintings a number of different ways to show the advantages and disadvantages of specific techniques.

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  20. #16
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    For special effects: A toothbrush, a sponge, and some rock salt, instead of a "medium."

  21. #17
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    For paper in 300gsm weight I like Stonehenge cold press, Fabriano ultra white in soft press, or Arches cold press. But definitely get any 100% cotton paper in that weight, it's much more forgiving than any cellulose based paper. Sometimes I like to paint on Canson's 100% cotton printmaking papers (buff or gray) just for fun. I'll use whatever synthetic brushes I can find for a reasonable price (usually something like golden Taklon ). My current palette has Hansa yellow, lemon yellow, alizarin crimson hue, permanent red, yellow ocher, Indian red, burnt umber, Payne's gray, ultramarine blue, Prussian or pthalo blue, Peacock blue gouache, sap green or terre verte, with some permanent violet, viridian green, quinacridone rose, and titanium white gouache sneaking in occasionally. Seems like a lot of colors when I type out the list, but they don't all get used. It just depends on what I'm painting.
    "A pig that doesn't fly is just a pig."

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