Watercolor Supplies: What to Buy? 

Buying watercolor supplies is the first step in learning how to watercolor, but they don't have to be expensive. You can make choices based on your budget.  If your budget is modest, you can get what you need for a relatively low cost.  If money is not a problem, there are also lots of expensive options you can explore. Generally, you just need paint, paper and a brush to start.  However, there are some other inexpensive supplies that will make the process of watercolor painting easier.

Let’s start with a list of these basic supplies and move on from there. If you are just starting out, the following list can get you started in creating a completed painting  without spending a bundle:

  • Watercolor paint
  • Watercolor paper
  • Watercolor brushes
  • Palette 
  • Sturdy water container
  • Piece of masonite, plywood or heavy, smooth cardboard. Make it 2 inches larger than your paper on all four sides
  • 1” to 2” painters tape
  • Drawing pad, HB and #2 pencil, 
  • Gray kneaded eraser (should erase graphite)
  • Graphite paper
  • Reference photos or drawings
  • Sturdy pencil holder for the brushes and pencils
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Paper towels
  • A clear storage box for your paints
  • Small hair dryer

Later, Add These Watercolor Supplies

The list above is a good starting point, but as you move forward in your studies and ability, or you have more money to spend, I would also buy:

Your Painting Location

You also want to think about your painting location. Ideally, it would be a comfortable chair and table/desk, preferably next to a window.  If you don’t have a window location, pay attention to the lighting in your painting location. Regular light bulbs will not show your paint colors accurately.  

Instead, buy a daylight bulb for your current lamp, or a daylight lamp such as an Ottlight (I found mine at Hobby Lobby) or the more expensive daylight lamps from Daylight Company.

Watch this short video to see what I mean about lighting and color:

Wood Block Support

It’s also helpful to have a long, smooth block of wood to support your painting surface so that it’s tilted towards you.  This will keep you from having neck and back issues and it will minimize the possibility of smudging wet paint as you lean over your painting.

For the Future

As you build your skill level in watercolor, you may want to purchase or gather other supplies for trying some more advanced watercolor techniques:

  • Table salt
  • Masking film
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • An old toothbrush
  • A glass light table

Most of the supplies listed on this page can be found at any hobby store. You can also order them from Amazon, JerrysArtarama, or Dick Blick. 

Finally, here’s a printable PDF of this page for you to download.

  1. Inside Watercolor Home