As with any new hobby you can get carried away buying lots and lots of shiny new stuff (I know I do!) However, if you're new to watercolour, try to start with just the basics until you know that you want to pursue it.
Whether you decide to join physical classes or my Online Watercolour School you will need the same basic equipment. When choosing your equipment you should consider the quality versus the price. Buying the right equipment can make a big difference to the quality of your work and can make the whole process actually easier and more enjoyable!
Art equipment and paper come in different qualities. The most expensive is called 'Artist' quality. The paint will have more pigment contained in the mix and paper will be heavier and more robust. 'Student' quality equipment will give you a very similar result but at a much reduced price. I would recommend that this is where you start. A good place to purchase art equipment if you are in the UK is the SAA an online art store which has membership incentives or Jacksons which is a great art store. Outside of the UK, Amazon carry the White Nights paint palettes and Daler Rowney Langton Blocks which I use.
Please note: children's paper and paint are poor quality and will therefore result in disappointing outcomes! Try to buy the best you can afford. If you're confused by the amount of choice out there, please feel free to contact me for guidance before you purchase equipment for class.
There are lots of different options to choose from. I would recommend the following as a good starting point.
Paper Type: Watercolour paper in a Block (pages are in a pad and gummed together around the edges to stop the paper cockling).
Paper also comes in loose sheets (which should be stretched first), glued pads (glued along one edge) or spiral bound.
Paper Weight: 140lb (300gsm) or heavier if you prefer.
Paper Surface: Cold pressed (sometimes referred to as ‘Not’) which has a slight texture. It also comes in ‘Rough’ which is more textured or ‘Hot pressed’ which is very smooth (usually used for detailed or botanical painting).
Watercolour paint comes in pans (blocks of solid paint) or tubes (liquid paint). I tend to use a pan set for most of my work and use tubes when I need to mix larger quantities of colour. I suggest you start with a pan set, then note which colours you use the most and buy these in tubes.
Look for student quality sets such as the Winsor & Newton ‘Cotman’ paints or Daler Rowney ‘Aquafine’ or Sonnet or Ladoga from the Nevskaya Palitra brand from which I use the artist quality White Nights. If you want to use the same paints as me to make life easier feel free to, however, don't worry if you don't, as I will suggest alternative colours and mixing recipes with each painting task.
Brushes come in lots of different types. I tend to use round brushes for most of my painting. These come in a variety of sizes, from tiny to whoppers! A student starter set will be fine to begin with, or start with just two round brushes Size 6 & 10 are a good. These can be a synthetic (manmade) or a synthetic/sable mix. Pure sable brushes are also available but very expensive. Personally I prefer some synthetic in my brush. Lastly you will need a larger brush for washes. This can be either a medium Hake, a half inch square or a mop brush. As you progress, you can add to your collection!
Drawing pencil: HB
Eraser: Plastic or putty
Mixing palette: I use a porcelain/ceramic daisy palette as it is weighty and won't tip as you mix the colour and it also cleans beautifully. Alternatively use a plastic palette (lighter in weight and on your pocket!) or even a white plate.
Masking fluid: Use with brush or ruling pen
Water Container: A jam jar or plastic pot will be fine
Sheets of kitchen towel