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My Top 5 Art Supplies - Part 2

Last week I talked about three of my top 5 art supplies, and today I'll be covering the last two: Watercolours and brushes.

You might be wondering why I have watercolours as one of my top 5 art supplies. After talking to many friends, I've realized that it isn't the most popular medium since people don't usually know how to get started. There's a big jump from the kids watercolour paints in preschools to higher level paints, and it can be hard to know how to approach the shift. My goal is that you will at least have a better understanding of what you need to start out with this exciting and versatile medium.

To review

Last week I introduced my favourite art supplies. (If you haven't checked out that post, I would recommend reading it before moving on to this one!) My top 5 art supplies are:

  • Fineliner Pens

  • Mechanical Pencil

  • Pencil Crayons

  • Watercolour Paints

  • Paint Brushes

On their own, each of these has the potential to make solid pieces of art (with the exception of paint brushes... unless you're super creative and make some sort of sculpture with them). However, I chose these top 5 supplies because there is so much potential for them to work together as well! For example, I often use pencils to lightly sketch my design, then use watercolours to add colour and depth, then I layer pencil crayon on top of that to add texture, and finally I use fineliner pens to add a bit more detail and really make the darkest colours pop!

With this context in mind, let's dive into the details.

#4: Watercolour Paints

The first thing to note is that there are a few different forms in which you can buy watercolours. The most common are in pans or tubes. I will be focussing primarily on these two. You can also purchase them in bottles (similar to ink), markers, or pencils. Watercolour pencils are also somewhat common, however I personally have never been pleased with their performance compared to pans and tubes.


Pans of watercolours usually look something like this photo. How they work is the watercolours start in a thick, liquid state (sometimes out of a tube), and then are placed in the small pans to dry. Then the pans are often placed in a tin container or another holding device.

I personally prefer pans of watercolour because they are lightweight, easy to carry, and really easy to store since they aren't wet. You can purchase the pans separately from the tins as well, which is really nice since you don't have to replace the tin every time the paint runs out. I like this tin because it has different areas to mix colours right on the tray. However, some simply have a lid that covers the paint.

When purchasing pans of watercolours, there are so many options. Generally speaking, craft stores have a pretty good variety to choose from. I got most of my paints from an artist who makes her own small batches of the watercolours, but most art brands will work well too! There is a large range of prices based on what brand you go with, so you can choose a set that matches your budget and preferences. From my experience, a nice set usually starts at 20 - 30 dollars.


Another great option is watercolour tubes. Like many other types of paint, the watercolours are stored in aluminum tubes. However, watercolour tubes are quite small compared to oil or acrylic paint because the pigment inside is still meant to be watered down. These tubes can come in sets or be purchased individually. Like watercolour pans, there is a very large range of prices that these can come in, so try to find a set that fits your budget. If you really enjoy watercolours as a medium, you might consider investing in a higher quality set later down the road!

A great (and very affordable) set for beginners is the Staedtler Watercolour Paints set. This is the set that I used when starting out with watercolours, and when teaching others how to paint.

The set I have used the most is the Sakura Koi set. It works pretty well and allows artists to have a lot of control while working with the paints.

#4: Paint Brushes

Ok, so if you are wanting to use watercolour paints, it is pretty obvious that you will need to use brushes as well. One thing that I notice when people are trying to buy watercolour brushes is that lots of times people just reach for a huge pack of really fancy looking ones. Although there are multiple types of brushes that have their own special purposes, I tend to only stick to about 4 or 5 different ones on a regular basis. I'm not going to go into a ton of detail into what brands work the best... because honestly, most of the brushes I use aren't anything crazy fancy. However, I do recommend that you buy each of these brushes individually at an arts and craft store.

Round Brushes

Round brushes are super commonly used when painting with watercolours. Usually the bristles of the brush are long and pointed at the end. This allows for a lot of paint to be stored inside the brush while still having the capability of making fine lines. They're great. I recommend getting a large, medium, and very small round brush. The large brushes are good for laying down a wash of colour, small brushes are great for detail, and medium brushes work well for everything in between!

Flat Brushes

Flat brushes are really nice to use as well. I usually like to use a flat brush when I am filling a larger area with an even colour. Since there is a higher surface area touching the paper, it is easier to fill the space with colour while using only minimal brush strokes. I would recommend getting a large and small one.

Conclusion to Part 2

I hope that this was helpful for getting you started with purchasing watercolours and brushes! In the future, I hope to make a post about watercolour techniques, so stay posted!

All the best!

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