Watercolour painting tutorial

Getting started ~ Watercolour Equipment

Watercolour brushes come in all shapes and sizes and can range from the very expensive to the affordable. I would recommend not skimping on brushes and therefore buying the best you can afford. The most expensive are sable brushes but sable-blends, ox hair and synthetic brushes are also on the market. It is worth shopping around to get the best deal. When I started to paint I bought a pack of four brushes on offer and these have lasted many years. Flat brushes are ideal for laying washes but it learn watercolour tutorial, brushes is the round brushes that are the ones I use most for watercolour painting. These come in a variety of sizes from 0 to 24. Fortunately, you do not need one of each; the ones I use the most are 6, 8, 10 and 12. Finally, riggers are long haired brushes that are great for adding the finer details to your watercolour painting – a number 2 is recommended.

learn watercolour tutorial, water colour paper Watercolour paper varies in thickness (or weight), surface and size. It is available in individual sheets, blocks or pads. Again, I would not recommend skimping on watercolour paper as the cheaper varieties will not do your painting justice. The main thing to consider is the weight because the heavier paper is more suitable to the watercolour medium and offers more satisfying results. Also, light paper (for example 190 gsm or 90 lb) needs to be stretched before use whereas heavier papers can be used immediately. My personal choice is blocks of 140 lb watercolour paper that do not need stretching. The surface of watercolour paper can be hot pressed (smooth) or cold pressed (textured) known as Not. Unsurprisingly there are degrees of texture but all are good for washes and dry-brush painting. You will find a weight and surface that suits your style, so it is worth experimenting.

learn watercolour tutorial, water colour paints Watercolour paints come in either tubes or pans. Pans are OK for small watercolour sketches but I prefer using tubes as they are less messy and more practical for mixing large quantities. The big question is which colours? A limited palette will be the best. First it cuts down on cost, and second a limited palette will allow you to get to know the colours and their behaviours. It is worth investing in artists’ watercolours rather than students’ as they are generally of better quality. You will find that 8ml to 12ml tubes will last quite a while. The suggested colours for your limited palette are French Ultramarine, Winsor Blue, Cadmium Yellow, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Light Red, and Payne’s Grey.

A couple of options for your watercolour palette: either plastic or ceramic. Plastic ‘bubbles’ the colour washes whereas ceramic creates satisfying pools of colour. If you have a set of pan watercolours, no doubt it came with a plastic or metal lid in which to mix the watercolour. Personally, neither is satisfactory and I highly recommended spending a bit more on a ceramic palette.

Water Pots are the cheapest bit! Two pots are needed; one for washing brushes and the other as a clean water reserve. I use old jam jars, but any clear container will do. Clearly with all this water about I recommend having some kitchen towel handy to mop up any accidents but importantly to dry the brushes.

Soft pencils should be used for lightly sketching the outline of your watercolour painting. To do this, use a pencil that ranges from 2B to 4B. If you make a mistake do not use a normal eraser. Use a putty eraser instead as it will not affect the watercolour paper or the wash that you laid upon it!

Bottles of masking fluid are readily available in art shops. The fluid is used to create mask areas over which a dark wash is to be applied. Only when the dark wash is dry, the fluid can be rubbed off with the fingertip to reveal the original white paper underneath. Words of caution though before you use it … use an old brush and wash immediately after use. Otherwise you will find that the brush is caked with immovable rubbery substance. I have lost too many brushes not following my own advice and now hardly use masking fluid at all.

An easel is not really required. I like to work from my lap and then am able to rotate the painting whichever way I choose. When the paint is drying I always leave it at a 10-15 degree angle in order for the colours to flow in the chosen direction. An easel may be handy for this but resting the block on something else is just as good. As with most things, trial and error is the only way to learn to paint with watercolours.

For all your watercolour and art equipment, see the following links for some good deals:

Artifolk is the place to go for a fantastic range of art materials, crafts and related gifts for all ages and all abilities.

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Jacksons' Art Supplies is the UK’s leading art materials mail-order company.

Lawrence is the UK's premier supplier of artists' materials.

London Graphics Centre is recognised as the UK's leading supplier of fine art supplies and graphics materials.

Rainbow Island Art for discounted art supplies online in the UK.

Studio Arts for Art Materials, Gallery, Crafts and Cardmaking.

Studio Art Shop is a specialist craft supplier.

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