Buying watercolour paints sounds like a easy thing to do but when you are faced with all of the wonderful choices presented by the full colour range in the shop or online, things can be a bit daunting.
When starting out it is best to only buy a handful of colours. Even when limiting yourself to just a few choices there are lots of things to consider.
Here are the basics:
Watercolours come in tubes and pans. For most manufacturers there is little difference between the paint they put into the pans from that in the tubes, though there are some manufacturers that add extra ingredients.
Watercolours come in different series. For most manufacturers series one is the cheapest it goes up to terrifying prices from there. The reason that the cost goes up is because the pigments that they use in the paints become rarer or more difficult to produce.
Watercolours will have a little symbol on the packaging to say whether they are transparent, semi-transparent of opaque. Having a combination of these different types of colour can be a wonderful thing to have in your palette.
Watercolour also comes in two different flavours, poisonous and non-poisonous. To find out which you are picking here is a handy tip – If it has a small ‘AP’ symbol on it then it probably isn’t going to kill you if you accidentally dip your brush into your coffee whilst you are painting. If it has a small symbol with ‘CL’ written in it then, if you do pop your brush into your tea whilst working make sure that you have the number of a good priest nearby.
Now, the tricky question of which colours to buy.
I would recommend that you buy six tubes of paint. I always prefer to buy tubes. If you want to use them as pans, you can buy empty watercolour pans from amazon for not very much money at all. Also, if you buy the tubes you can squeeze them out into a big palette or onto a white plate.
My watercolour of choice is Sennelier. I have used them for a few years now. They have a wonderful range of colours and they are very well priced. When wet they release their colour very quickly, due to the honey binder and they cover the paper well. I have also found that you can build up more layers of Sennelier watercolour than other comparable makes, again probably because of the honey that they use.
The colours that I am going to suggest are all series one colours, the cheapest.
I have used these colours often and I think that you can do an awful lot with them. You may wish to supplement them with brighter reds at a later date (but all of the other reds in the Sennelier range are in series 2 or above and therefore a bit pricier). You may wish to add a green or two to the mix at some point as well but certainly spend some time mixing greens from yellows and blues first before you add in a tube of green paint.
I buy most of my art materials from Roundabout Stationery in Leominster.
If you are going to buy yours online then I recommend Jacksons Art
You can find out more about my favourite watercolours here Sennelier
I am not affiliated with Sennelier, Jacksons Art or Roundabout Stationery, all of the opinions expressed are my own.