Where can I buy supplies for watercolor painting?

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Answered by: Kathy, An Expert in the Painting With Watercolor Category
As a child, you probably played with watercolor paints in the little metal container with the colorful ovals and the small brush. That little pan of bright watercolor jewels was likely a staple in your school supply list. Today, however, watercolor beginners will want to work with more sophisticated supplies.

So where can we buy supplies for watercolor painting? Art supply stores (Dick Blick), arts and crafts stores (Michael's, Joann Fabric and Crafts, Hobby Lobby), and even college book stores all sell watercolor supplies. Extensive lines of supplies are available online through sites such as cheapjoes.com and danielsmith.com. Watch for coupons and sales to get the best bargains on your painting supplies. Sign up for e-mail mailing lists to receive notices of the best deals and coupons.

Now that we know where to buy, we need to know what to buy. Generally speaking, we need at least three things: paint, brushes, and paper. (Generally speaking, because of course we can paint with twigs, Q-tips and feathers, among many other things, and we don't have to paint on paper. Assuming we are going the more conventional route, though, paint, brushes, and paper.)

Watercolors come in economy and expensive models, just like most products. Student-grade watercolors are less expensive, but as in many other areas of life, we get what we pay for. Artist-grade watercolors are well worth the price, assuming you're serious about learning to paint. (If you're not sure which paints are student-grade and which are artist-grade, ask for assistance from personnel at the store or the website where you're shopping.) Avoid buying a lot of paint before you're sure you want to pursue watercolor painting seriously.

Watercolor paint is available in tubes (about the consistency of toothpaste) and pans (small dry cakes similar to those you painted with in elementary school, only rectangular). If you know how to mix colors (and that's a very valuable skill to cultivate), you can paint very successfully with a limited palette. In general, it's good to have a warm and cool variant of each of the three primary colors (yellow, blue, and red) for a minimum of six colors, to begin.

Watercolor brushes can be expensive sable models or much less expensive synthetics. They can range from a few dollars to more than $100 in price. It is not necessary to buy brushes that are specifically for watercolor painting; however, brushes that have been used with oil paints can't be used for watercolors.

Watercolor paper also varies widely in price and quality. A small, inexpensive pad can cost less than $10, while a more expensive pad can cost $60 and up. Paper is generally divided into cold press (somewhat rough finish and best for beginners), hot press (smooth finish), and rough. Watercolorists also work on special watercolor canvas, among other surfaces.

There is much to learn about where and how to buy supplies for watercolor painting. To discover more about watercolor painting, take a class, and get a good start from a pro.

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