Snuggled with 3 babes, covered in who knows what and hasn’t seen anyone outside our home in 2 months (remember quarantine?! That’s when I turned 30. Literally the worst time in the world to turn 30… but i digress…)
I opened a preciously wrapped paint palette, and not just any palette — a watercolor palette. Now, my husband knew art was soothing for my soul, especially during quarantine. I painted myself, my kids painted, and we did it literally (yes, literally) everyday.
For me, the palette was more than just a palette — it was a sign that not only did my husband want me to do this, but he supported me in it. And even though I was terrified of watercolor, that gift turned into a crazy dream that I couldn’t have even imagined .
The right tools make a huge difference in ANYTHING.
You can’t put a square peg into a round hole. And if you could, would you really want to?!
So I’ve created the ULTIMATE list of tools to help you paint with watercolor — and trust me, these tools will truly LEVEL UP your painting (whether you’re new to the game or you’ve been around for a while!)
FLATS, FILBERTS, AND ROUNDS, OH MY!
Here’s the thing about paintbrushes — everyone has a favorite. Some like the round, some like the flat, some like a filbert, and so on. Choosing your favorite is basically a rite of passage in the art world.
Think of the pen you choose 9 times out of 10 when there are tons of choices in the drawer. My choice almost every time is round brushes.
A round brush is actually not at all what it sounds like (or what I thought it was!). Round brushes have pear-shaped bristle that comes to a single point at the end. Why do I love round brushes so much? They’re SO VERSATILE.
Painting large? Round brush. (size 10+)
Painting small? Round brush. (size 4 or 6)
Painting details? Round brush. (size 4 or smaller)
A lot of artists also use flat brushes, which is great, but for simplicity I like to stick with one brush or a couple of brushes for the same reason I use a capsule wardrobe in my closet — I like simple, and taking away all the choices makes my life 10x easier because I’m not making all the extra decisions in the midst of creating a beautiful painting.
Want me to let you in on a little secret?! PAPER MAKES A DIFFERENCE! It’s not going to make or break your painting (I mean, super cheap paper won’t withstand the force of painting with water so I wouldn’t even try that…) but NICE paper makes a huge difference. Colors are more colorful. Hues are deeper, values show up better. Mistakes can be FIXED.
My favorite paper is Fabriano Artistico 140 lb cold press. I also like Strathmore 400 series for studies and extra small pieces.
Ah, the paint. Let me tell you — I’ve used many different kinds of paint. I’ve made my own paint palettes — that’s a story in itself…
But PAINT is arguably THE most important part of painting with watercolor. The depth of the pigment makes a true difference in how your painting will come out in the end—whether the colors will look mushed together or whether you’ll be able to see the delicate balance and nuances of each hue and value.
My first palette of watercolor (real watercolor paint) was Aquafine by Daler-Rowney. It’s a travel paint palette that was truly a perfect beginning to my watercolor adventure. I’d highly recommend it — enough colors to feel confident without having to mix too much and not too many to get overwhelmed. *Remember, I’m all about simplicity!
So there you have it — it’s short and sweet but it truly is the ULTIMATE list of tools to help you paint with watercolor.
Want to dive a bit deeper?! Check out my Intro to Watercolor Supplies FREEBIE where we go over supplies, studio safety, and you get a step by step guide to paint a beautiful watercolor floral bouquet — no sketching or drawing required!