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So you’re thinking of leveling up your watercolor art game? You’ve come to the right place! And even if you’re just starting out and want to start with some of the best products right away, I’ve done the research for you!
I started painting with watercolors 6 years ago when I was still living in China (Note: I am originally from the Philippines, but lived in China for several years, but that's another story for another blog post). I was heavily pregnant with my youngest and couldn’t work, so I decided to revisit my Art hobby and try something new. I’ve always been interested in art and have been making pencil sketches for as long as I can remember. Since then, I’ve tried numerous brands of watercolors, papers and brushes. Before that, I didn’t even know the difference between watercolor and gouache!
Here’s a painting I did years ago of my daughter, when I finally discovered watercolor…
It opened a whole new world for me when I started using “proper” watercolor supplies. After we moved to Michigan, I got so excited to find that almost all the brands I’d been drooling over online, were available on almost everyone’s favorite online shopping website…Amazon! I jumped right in and tried out different types of paper and watercolors, and spent a lot of money in the process. Good thing I was also able to start taking commissions for my pet portraits.
After trying out different things, I’ve finally got a list of go to items. As a disclaimer, I do get a small commission for every purchase of the items listed if you click through the links below. This helps me be able to maintain this website and hopefully be able to continue to share my experiences with you as an artist.
Without further ado…!
Mijello Mission Gold Watercolors
I can’t tell you how much I love this brand of watercolors. I bought me a set three years ago, and countless watercolor paintings later, I still haven’t used up that same set. The pigments are bright and colorfast, and a little bit really goes a long way! If you’re planning on selling your original paintings, you can’t go wrong with Mijello Mission Gold!
I mean, just look at these vibrant colors! This painting sold as soon as I posted it on Facebook!
Daniel Smith Watercolors
Another one of my favorites is the Daniel Smith Watercolors. If you're going for a splurge, you should buy the set of 10 5ml tubes. The neutral tint is great when deepening the shade of your watercolors to really present those values in your painting. I sometimes layer the neutral tint first to establish values before adding color. The transparency of these paints is amazing!
Arteza is a winner when it comes to its affordability and quality. The quality of these watercolors rival those of more expensive brands. I love using the earth colors as they remain dark when dry. We all know how watercolors lose tend to fade out a bit when it dries. These watercolors are easy to blend and produce vibrant paintings! Arteza has been pumping out some very high quality products since it entered the art supplies scene. These watercolors are available in different palette combinations. There are so many options!
I recommend this Earth Colors set if you're into landscapes. It comes with 12 half pans and a water brush pen so you're always ready for that impromptu plein air painting! I'm getting this set for when I go on hikes around Michigan this summer with my family.
They also have this amazing metallic set which is great for adding interest and variety to your paintings. Make those golden fall colors shine!
Arches Hot Pressed Watercolor Paper
When I was first learning how to paint using watercolors, I had no idea how much the type of paper mattered. I came across the Arches watercolor papers when I moved to the States. I could hardly wait the three days that it took for my order to come from Amazon!
Arches is a favorite amongst many professional Watercolor artists for good reason. It can take most of the watercolor techniques that tend to be rougher on other brands. It's made of 100% cotton and is popular among professional watercolor artists.
Fabriano Artistico Bright White Hot Pressed Watercolor Paper
Fabriano Artistico Hot Pressed Watercolor Paper is my go-to paper for my pet portraits. It's bright white quality makes it the perfect backdrop that let's my portraits stand out. I love using hot pressed papers due it it's smoothness that allows me to make more detailed paintings. They have recently released this new Enhanced Quality version for improved color lifting and increased surface resistance. It's supposed to also be vegan-friendly. I usually buy the size 9x12, which is a good size for my pet portraits and landscapes. This size fits perfectly on my scanner, which easily allows me to create and sell prints of my art.
Canson XL Hot Pressed Watercolor Paper
This budget but mighty watercolor paper is amazing for those watercolor studies. It doesn't buckle as much considering it isn't 100% cotton. If you're looking for a cheaper option without sacrificing quality and ease of use, Canson is your best friend. It's great for portraits, and landscapes and is great for those ink and wash techniques.
Here's one of the first paintings I sold using Canson XL. This is perfect for when you're practicing new techniques or for painting studies and don't want to spend your money on expensive paper. It's a warm white color and has a little texture, but isn't a deal-breaker. Just check out this painting I created of Fishtown!
Monte Marte Art Paint Brushes
Finally, when it comes to paintbrushes, I can't recommend this set from Monte Marte enough. This set comes with 15 different brush sizes and types. The bristles stay in place, so you won't have to worry about loose bristles ruining your painting. I use the flat and angled brushes a lot especially for painting architecture. The small brushes are perfect for highly detailed paintings. These are my go-to for pet portraits.
And there you have it! Hopefully this guide has helped you decide which products to include in your watercolor kit. I've been painting for several years now, and have been very satisfied with all of these products. If you like to sell your art, like I do, you always want to go for the best value when it comes to materials.