One of the most common questions I get asked is - what art supplies are you using for your watercolor pieces? Well friends, this post has been years in the making, and I'm so glad to finally share it with you!!
The tools we use truly do drastically impact the art we create, and I want to share my favorite affordable finds and investment pieces that I love using!
photo by Callie Lindsey
Just think about it - you'd rather paint on thick, beautiful quality textured paper that will absorb your paint impeccably than thin paper that lets the paint puddle on top of it, right? You'd rather use paint that is vibrant in color and beautifully brings your client's vision to life, right? (Seriously, watching sketches come to life with color is my favorite thing in the world.) And, knowing which types of paint brushes to use to create what types of shapes or washes is super important, so you save yourself time in your process -right?
photo by the SC Stockshop
With that said, I'll be the first to admit that when I reunited with watercolors after college, the first place I went was Michaels and I picked up one of the combo packs of watercolor tubes from a brand named Reeves (and later realized I was using gouache not watercolor - but that's a blog post for another day!), and paint brushes with pretty colored handles, because I didn't know what to look for or purchase!
After using those supplies for a while, and finding that my bristles of my brushes would feather and fall out, and that my paint wouldn't spread far enough or be as creamy and vibrant as I wanted it to be - I took to Google and did lots of research!
Save yourself that time Googling, and simply download my favorite art supplies list below ;)
WANT THE SUPPLIES LIST?
GET THIS LIST & WEEKLY WATERCOLOR VIDEO TUTORIALS
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I thought it would also be fun to answer some of my most commonly asked questions about art supplies here!
DO YOU USE TUBES OF PAINT, OR FLAT PAINT PALETTES?
I personally prefer using tubes of paint rather than flat paint palettes, simply because I love having the ability to easily mix colors! Sometimes the colors that come straight out of the tube (like my favorite indigo color) are perfect as-is. But many times, like with pinks and greens, I need to mix two or three colors together to get the perfect shade for my custom project.
Plus, those tubes of paint are just too darn cute!
DO YOU PREFER COLD PRESS OR HOT PRESS PAPER?
First of all, what is the difference between cold press and hot press watercolor paper? I cover this in the downloadable supplies list, but essentially cold press paper has a beautiful texture to it, and hot press paper is smooth. Cold press watercolor paper is the traditional type of paper, and hot press is a bit more modern!
I prefer cold press paper, because the watercolor paint absorbs so beautifully into the texture and grooves of the paper! In my experience, watercolor puddles a tad more on top of smooth hot press paper, and takes longer to dry.
A lot of artists prefer to use hot press paper when digitizing watercolors, as it is seemingly a little easier to remove the watercolor paper background when it's smooth. But, I cover my step-by-step process of how I remove my cold press watercolor paper texture from the background of my designs in my Digitizing Watercolors course (which will be launching soon in the SJM Art School - learn more here!!) - so no need to fret! I highly recommend cold press :)
WHERE DO YOU BUY YOUR ART SUPPLIES?
I always try to find the local specialty art supplies store in my city. For instance, I love shopping at Asel Art Supply here in Dallas, and my go-to art store in Knoxville was Jerry's Artarama. You could shop at a larger chain store like Michaels or Hobby Lobby, but the specialty stores will always have a wider selection of supplies, will carry finer art supplies, and will usually have more affordable pricing.
However, sometimes certain supplies are out of stock, or they don't carry the exact brand I love! In that case, I head to www.dickblick.com (...pardon my French). They're an online retailer (they have stores in certain cities too, and they're huge!) for wholesale priced art supplies. Horrible name, but they're my go-to! They're also great for buying in bulk as you get more discounts that way - so stock up on paper for a few months so you don't have to worry about replenishing your supplies!
Do you have any questions about my favorite watercolor supplies after reading this post and looking through the list? Leave a comment below, and I'll answer your questions in another blog post!