I have been painting in watercolor for over twelve years. When I first started out I didn’t know anything about paper or paint or even brushes. For months I used the wrong paper and it showed! Over the years I’ve tried different paints, papers and brushes. I created the “Watercolor Basics” pdf to give you the information I was missing when I started. I want you to start your watercolor journey with the right tools and tips, so that you’ll have success and develop a love of watercolor like I did!
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Quite by accident I almost doubled the size of the watercolor paper I was using and I’m so glad. For years I happily painted on 8″ x 8″ paper. When I went on Amazon, I ordered the Fluid Watercolor paper in 12″ x 12″ instead of my normal 8″ x 8″. When the package arrived the pads looked huge!
At first I was disappointed, but then thought, “I’ll try them out. Maybe I’ve outgrown that small size anyway.” Months later I can’t imagine working so small! Lately I’ve been taking advantage of the fact that the pages are bound together on 2 sides. I sometimes paint with the paper still attached to the pad, instead of removing it and taping it down to a board.
Here is a collection of my “mini” 8″ x 8″ paintings.
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- Canson Multimedia sketchbook. Love the thicker paper in this sketchbook. I can add watercolor without the pages buckling.
- Fluid Cold Press watercolor paper. I especially love the square shape of this high quality thick watercolor paper!
- Uniball signo 207 bold gel pen. I love how smooth these pens are when I want to add ink details to my paintings.
- Palette with cover.
- Painters tape – to tape down my paper
- Grumbacher watercolor brush. Favorite sizes: 8, 6, 4, and 2
- Van Gogh watercolor paints
- Holbein Gouache mixing set of 5. I love adding the opaque look of gouache to my paintings!
- Derwent drawing pencils. Especially with figures, I like to sketch in pencil before starting a painting.
- Kneaded eraser. For erasing and leaving only faint lines when I begin to paint.
- Paper towel – I have to have a piece of paper towel to suck water off the brush when I need a drier brush. Or to blot the brush after dipping in the water. It’s a good way to check the brush is clean.
- iPad – I do everything on my iPad – google reference photos, take photos, write posts, create digital art, look through and post on Instagram, read WordPress blogs, and more. I made the investment when my Kindle cracked and it was the best thing I did. I couldn’t live without it!
- ZXU Stylus pen – for drawing on the ipad. I use the apps Adobe Draw and Adobe Sketch because they link up with Photoshop and Illustrator on my desktop.
Other stuff in my supply tray:
- Reeves watercolor pencils for adding details
- Tombow markers for handletter
- Tray from a holiday gift “basket” to hold everything
- Plastic egg container for mixing colors to keep the paints in my palette “pure”
- Back of the watercolor paper pads – to tape down my paper so it doesn’t buckle when it gets wet
- Recycled container (Ricotta or sour cream) for water
- Cracked mug for my brushes. It was too pretty to throw away!
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What size, shape do you like to work in? When I finally started using watercolor paper (I know what was I waiting for?) I came across Fluid Watercolor Paper 8″ square pad or “Easy Block” as they call it. I love working with this size and shape!
As you can tell by the image above, I do it often. I don’t know what it is, but I love the square shape and the size is small enough that I don’t feel…intimidated. I tape down the edges and end up with a .5″-1″ border which I love.
After falling in love with my first Fluid pad, I went back to Blick to get more and they didn’t have any!! I figured no big deal, I’ll just cut the paper, but it wasn’t the same. On my next trip to Blick they had it in stock, so I bought a couple. I’m out again so I’m anxious to get back to Blick and get more.
I’m starting to envision having a show, where all my pieces are 8″ x 8″. I can dream right? 🙂
Which one do YOU like better? Above is my first attempt. I started very wet – probably too wet. It was for fun and I really didn’t have any expectations. So I worked wet, messy and quick. But when it was finished I thought – It’s kind of cool. There is some real potential here. Maybe I should try it again and be more careful.
Below is my second attempt.
With the first one, I did the background sky/water and sun all at the same time.
With the second one. I first painted the sun and reflection, waited until it was almost dry and then added the blue.
The inspiration for these paintings came from a cool photo I found in the book “A Pocket Guide to Seashells & the Seashore.” The picture credit is “Digital Vision.” I was drawn to the colors. Specifically, that all the color was in the background and the foreground (the reeds) were black.
I was trying out a new paper – unsuccessfully. I’ve been using Strathmore “Bristol” for my watercolors, because it is bright white and smooth. For these paintings I used Strathmore “Vellum.” I know that I need to find better watercolor paper! I just don’t love the textured watercolor paper. I also bought an Arches hot press art board to try out.