Sunday, July 12, 2020

Watercolor Painting: Supplies and How To Buy Them

So, if you've been around for a while, you may know that I've been very into watercolor painting the past few years. It started with casually watching videos on Creativebug, which lead to me buying a bunch of cheap supplies from Chinese eBay stores thinking I was so smart to beat the system on expensive supplies. I quickly learned that I wasted that money, lol. Friends, I'm the cheapest person alive and I never spend money on the name brand fancy products because I can always thrift or deal shop or just wait patiently and I will always find things much cheaper than I should. Watercolor painting is the first hobby that has proved this mindset wrong for me. Sure, my paint "painted", my brushes "brushed", and my paper was "paper", but it really solidified how much my supplies were working against me when I did the 31 Flowers to Paint with Yao Cheng daily challenge in 2017. My colors didn't mix well and usually looked unnatural, my paper buckled like crazy causing pools of water that ruined many a flower, my brushed never seemed to hold enough water so I would have to re-wet them all the time, which get annoying very fast. Not only was I trying something new that I had zero confidence in to begin with, but my materials were causing my results to turn out much worse than they needed to. Halfway through that challenge, I bought the Kuretake Gansai Tambi 48 Watercolor Set and some Strathmore 300 Series Watercolor Paper, which definitely helped me finish the challenge but both still had limitations of their own. It seemed that no matter what, I was not going to be able to get super far with the supplies I had purchased, and since I wasn't getting the results I hoped for, I stopped painting for a time. 

Fast forward about a couples of years. It was my birthday and I had recently become obsessed with Josie Lewis, a watercolor painter and all around awesome artist you should check out. She released a custom watercolor set, and since it was my birthday I justified the splurge. Friends, this seems to have opened the art supplies flood gates for me. The paints were fine - I loved the colors - but again, I just wasn't getting the results I saw others getting in the online classes I watched and whatnot. SO, I decided to take the leap into professional grade watercolors like they used in these classes. I started off with the Daniel Smith Introductory Set of 6, which was great, and then grabbed the Daniel Smith Secondary Set, and the rest is history...
I am now a collector of watercolor paints and supplies, lol. And it's the nice stuff. Since making the jump to the professional grade, I've never once wished that my supplies could be just a little bit better or easier to work with. Between the various introductory sets I've grabbed to try out different brands (SchminckeDaniel SmithWinsor & NewtonSennelier, etc, etc), I've jumped WAY in to this rabbit hole. I love the Meeden Palettes you can get on Amazon - they are great quality for a great price - and it just feels so fancy to be making my own pans of watercolor from tube paints. I'm still as cheap as possible, so I love to buy the bigger tubes (which makes them more economical in the long run, plus watercolor paint lasts seriously forever) from or Amazon - these sites can be great for sets as well like the ones linked above. I price compare between the two places on anything I am interested in buying. I have an "Art Stuff" list on Amazon, where I save things I am interested in buying so I can easily check the prices to see if anything has dropped. This has paid off incredibly for me and I was able to get a set of Sennelier paints for next to nothing. I also love to get my Winsor & Newton colors at  my local Hobby Lobby when it's a color they have in store since you can use the constant 40% off coupon on them, making that the cheapest way to buy them. I also recently discovered how much cheaper Jackson's Art is on Schmincke paints. It's such an amazing difference that it's even worth paying the shipping from the UK and you still get the paints cheaper, plus they have a better selection. Thanks to various YouTube artists I watch regularly and my obsession with getting the best deal, I have been able to try most of the main brands on the market, and my current mixed palette is quite the combination. Collecting watercolor supplies has turned into a separate hobby by itself, lol. So in this time that I have not been sewing clothes, and therefor not spending money on supplies for that hobby, I have replaced it with watercolor paint supplies. 
Word to the wise - until August 7th, Jackson's Art is running a sale on their Schmincke paints. They are already about half the price we get in the US, and now there's an additional discount on top of that, plus there are some new limited editions colors I have yet to see from any of the other online stores and they are on sale too. I just made an order myself on a few colors I've been dying to try but haven't been able to justify the almost $30 per tube I would have to pay in the US. I also grabbed some White Nights tubes (for $3.32 each!) and Aquarius pans because you cannot buy them in the states at all and I've heard they are great. Overall, Jackson's is looking to be another favorite store of mine for certain things. 
So now that I've written an entire post about shopping for watercolors, I'm curious: is anyone interested in more info about watercolors in general? I have amassed a lot of different brands and information that I would be happy to pass on through reviews and whatnot. If you're interested in learning watercolor painting, I cannot recommend the classes on Creativebug enough and they have a promotion right now where you can get 3 months for $5. You can't beat that, and all of the watercolor classes are great (I know, I've watched them all). I'm redoing the flower painting 31 day challenge throughout July for World Watercolor Month now that I have better supplies and more experience. So far the results are much improved :)

I've thrown a lot of affiliate thinks out there, but please know that every single one of these things I've linked is a product that I have purchased with my own money and enjoy so much that I want to share it with others. If you're anything like me with learning to paint with watercolor, my advice would be to skip the student grade and cheaper products and just try to get the professional grade supplies at the best price possible. You will be much happier with your progress because your tools won't be fighting against you. And please, if you have any questions about supplies, don't hesitate to ask and I will try to point you in the right direction.

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