Recommended Watercolour Artist Supplies
I get asked so often what tools and supplies I would recommend to fellow artists, particularly those just starting out with watercolours. Over the last couple of years, I've tried and tested a pretty wide variety of products, learning about my own style and creative needs along the way.
I've put together a definitive list of all the products I really couldn't be without and why, and I'll try and answer some of your most popular questions along the way too!
S K E T C H B O O K
I use Pink Pig Sketchbooks for all of my creative design work. I love being able to have really thick, true watercolour card available in sketchbook form, and the range of papers and sketchbook sizes to choose from is huge!
My absolute favourite paper is their Ameleie watercolour range. I tend to work with the Matte finish more, as having no texture is ideal when needing to transfer work to a digital format. When I want more traditional watercolour paper, the Textured finish is perfect.
I'm usually alternating between an A5, A4, and 8 X 8" square sketchbooks, but for initial sketches with clients I always use a 'Pigscape' sketchbook. The paper is thinner, but still thick enough for me to sketch and sometimes paint without bleeding through. The unique shape also works really well for sketching out options, you can see everything and compare easily.
W A T E R C O L O U R
Prima Watercolour Confections 'Classics' Palette
Prima are famous for their themed Watercolour Confections palettes. They are brilliant as all the colours in one set have similar or complimentary tones, and so they all work beautifully together. However I've always struggled with pre-mixed colours, preferring to blend the exact tone myself for a more accurate finish, so I always end up reaching for their 'Classics' palette. 10 highly pigmented, quality colours that can be blended into endless colours. The travel tin is great too, I don't need to carry a mixing palette with me anymore!
Letter Sparrow Watercolour Palette
I only recently discovered Letter Sparrow. We worked together on a mini palette, and Kelly very kindly sent me a finished palette once we'd set the colours. I have to say it's opened my eyes on artisan watercolours! The biggest benefit here for me is that the colours are absolutely stunning, with no blending required. I am definitely going to look at investing in a few of the colours I use most often, the convenience of a colour actually looking great without mixing is a big deal for me!
Kelly also sells dot cards, which are a perfect intro to a new watercolour company. You can test the colour range and pigmentation before you choose your pans!
B R U S H E S
Winsor and Newton Series 7
Some artists have a seemingly endless supply of brush sizes, shapes and brands, but I'm actually just the opposite. I'm not sure if it's because I tend to work within a set size range, but I find it really hard to deviate from my two trusty brushes! They are Winsor and Newton Series 7, in sizes 000 and 001. 001 is a nice all rounder size for me, I use it for all my mixing, and painting florals and botanicals. The tiny 000 brush is perfect for very fine detail. Some artists can work with just the tip of a larger brush, but I prefer having a lot of control over how much paint is on the brush.
The brushes you prefer using can really depend on your style, but one things for sure; if you invest in quality brushes, you won't be replacing them anytime soon! You'll also notice how much more paint they can hold, and how fine the point can still be, even on a fairly large brush.
F I N I S H I N G T O U C H E S
Dr P.H Martins Bleed Proof White
I recently did a blog post all about the benefits of Bleed Proof White which you can read here, but in summary you will not find a more opaque white! Utterly bleed proof and velvety smooth, I use this for all highlights on my watercolour work, as well as any calligraphy work on black/dark cardstock.
No matter what the colour, if I'm adding something metallic I always reach for Finetec! They are highly pigmented, with an incredible sparkle that leaps off the page. I use Moon Gold for a soft, pale gold, and Arabic Gold for a more glowing yellow gold. The Rose Gold is stunning too, and all colours are available as single pans, so you can build up your collection based on what you need.
Finetec also works brilliantly as calligraphy ink. It has a slightly thicker consistency than some inks and needs to be applied with a brush to the nib, but the results are amazing.
Kuretake Sumi Ink
My style of work can often involve some calligraphy or lettering, so I needed to find a top quality ink. Sumi is the only ink I write with, I love it! The black is solid, and the ink so smooth you can produce super fine strokes without any dragging at all. Sumi ink also dries more matte than some alternatives (such as India Ink) which is something I prefer. It also makes it easier to digitise calligraphy where needed - no shine to try and avoid!
E X T R A T O O L S
Mini Spray Bottle!
I use a tiny little spray bottle filled with water to spray over my palette as I start working. It's faster than continually adding water to your brush then cleaning after wetting each colour, and it makes a perfect travel companion, having just enough water to paint with.
This is more an add on than an essential, but since discovering it I have never looked back!
Have you ever needed to check the layout or sizing of part of a sketch, and ended up masking taping it to your window to trace the new layer on?! Yeah, me too. Luckily for us technology has given us...the lightpad. I absolutely rely on this tool! If I'm doing anything and feel it's time to check how the next stage will look, or how big an element is gonna need to be, I plug the lightpad in, lay the design on top and then lay a sketch of the new section down, and suddenly I have all the freedom I had standing at the window sketching...without the armache!
I also love that my pad is lightweight, and no thicker than a small pad of paper. You can buy my lightpad here.
That's all my essentials! Hopefully I've answered some questions and given you guys a few new products to check out, if you have questions or want more info just let me know in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them.