I want to do a little basic guide on starting with watercolour and what you should know if you want to begin with this wonderful medium. There will be several journals showing different marterial I use.
Chapter 1 - Colourchoice
„Oh... so many lovely colours I will just pick all I think look good“
Don't. Yes they look nice, but don't.
To begin with you don't need a big palette that fits a lot of different colours. You will just end up with using the ones you need and all the others will probably stay untouched.
Don't just randomly buy a lovely palette just for the sake of owning one. If you are really starting with this medium you probably don't want to invest a whole lot of money. So keep the hard earned money close to you until you took a long look at everythink that is offered.
How many colours do I need to begin with?
It's better to start with few colours of good quality instead of a lot of cheap ones.
You will need at least three (yellow, blue and red). Additional to them I personally prefer to also take a brown and and depending on what my primarys are a green or violet.
I don't want to tell you exactly what colour to pick, since it depends on the brands available at your country and personal preference. So take a look at Jane Blundells blog, she mixed and swatched a lot of different brands.
I will write a part covering some limited palettes I use and like but it will mostly be Schmincke and Daniel Smith paints.
Artist or Student grade?
If you take a look at brands then you will see there are student and artist grade paints available.
Example: Schmincke Akademie (student grade) and Schmincke Horadam (artist grade)
Student grade are cheaper than artists grade paints, since they have more binder and less pigment.
Personally I prefer artist grade always over student grade. They are more vibrant (more pigment and less binder) and they last longer than student grade paints.
It's always up to personal preference. You can also do awesome paintings with student grade paint, but you will most likely notice a difference in quality and also in your working flow if you switch to artist grade. I would always invest in quality if you can afford it. That's also a reason why I recommend buying less colors.
PR 101... wait what?
This is a pigment, a red one. Paints contain one or more pigments.
Taking a look at them is actually more important than it seems. If you mix two one pigmented paints, your mix will contain two pigments. The more pigments you mix the more „muddy“ your paint will look. So if you buy and mix colours always keep that in mind! There are a lot of convenient mixes out there. Also keep in mind that if you buy a colour don't get too distracted by it's name. Different brands, different names for colours, different pigments or a mix.
Daniel Smith – Indigo PB60, Pbk6
Schmincke Horadam – Indigo PB15:1, PB66
Always take a look at the pigments used. I will put colour/pigment charts of some brands at the end of the journal.
This is important if you want to put your painting on the wall. Because there are pigments that will fade when exposed to the sun. If you only use a sketchbook, than it is not that important but you may reach a point when you want to show your work
Some brands use numbers other use stars. Take a look at their website to see what it means.
Tubes or pans?
Okay so you have decided on brand and colours you want so it's time to choose between pans and tubes.
Actually... I will always say take the tubes.
Long term cheaper (5ml equals 2-3 half pans or 1 full pan)
You can fill them in pans if you like
You don't have to pre-wet them for mixing and using (your brush likes this)
You don't have to contaminate your pan with another color
You can just leave it on you palette they easily rewet
Some paints are only available at tubes anyway
It's also depending on which format you are working. If you work on a big canvas it will take a while to get all the colour you want from the pans, also your brush may be to big for the small pans.
There are metal, plastic and ceramic ones available, so whats the best?
Use/ buy a cheap plate ( not a plastic one). It's the best. 1€ or less und you got the perfect mixing palette. Yes that easy.
If you have a metal or plastic case they often come with mixing areas. You can also use them but they need to be prepared first, you don't want a big drop of paint without seeing how it looks like. They are really smooth so just take a sponge and rub the mixing areas with the rough side.
Here have some links to Color/Pigment charts
Mijello Mission Gold
Winsor & Newton (klick on color to get your info)
If there are any questions or suggestions please feel free to comment