Many of you really liked my recent post All About My Watercolor Brushes. So I thought I would make another article for you, this time all about my watercolor paints.
I use artist quality paints, mostly out of tubes and primarily Winsor & Newton brand as well as some Daniel Smith.
Let me know what you think or if you have any other questions in the comments section on the bottom of this post.
Questions that I frequently get asked are:
- Are artist quality watercolor paints really worth the money?
- Are paints in tubes or pans better to use, what is the difference?
- How long will my watercolor paint last in my palette?
- Why buy a pre-mixed color (like green) when you can mix it yourself?
- How many colors do I need to start out with?
Are artist quality watercolor paints really worth the money?
Yes they are really worth it! Artist quality paints have more actual pigment and less filler or binder in them, like gum arabic. they will give you a much more brilliant colour with more depth compared to a student brand paint. They are more money but you need less paint and you will not need to add as much to your painting thus it makes it easier to get brilliant results with less risk of over-working your painting.
Are paints in tubes or pans better to use, what is the difference?
You can use either, I mostly use paints in tubes, that is because I like to squeeze out the color onto a large dinner plate that allows me plenty of space to mix colors. I have a smaller travel palette with pans in it that I use when I paint outdoors. Some people find pans easier to get a deeper color out of because of the surface area you can drag your brush back and forth on. But if you squeeze out enough color onto your palette tube paints allow the same. I also now refill my empty pans with my tube paint and just let it dry. It is after all the same paint, just a different way of storing it. Choose whatever format you prefer and are most comfortable with.
How long will my watercolor paint last in my palette?
Quite a long time! As long as you use enough water to pick up color off them they are good to use after being squeezed out of the tube for years! The only challenge I have is keeping cat hair out of them, I periodically go through my palette with an old brush, some watercolor and paper towel and clean off my paints so my colors stay bright and clear.
Why buy a pre-mixed color (like green) when you can mix it yourself?
This is completely up to you. I tend to buy pre-mixed greens as it saves me time not having to mix more colors and I find it provides me with a deeper color of green and is more consistent. I do usually add something to my green, like another color of green, or another color. Yellow will brighten and warm up your green, blue will cool it down, red or pink will mute it, and purple will create a grey-green or even a blackish color.
How many colors do I need to start out with?
I have quite a few colors on my palette these days but I didn't start out with that many, 6-9 colors is a good amount to start out with, all you need is a warm and a cool version of each primary color (red, blue and yellow). If you want to add to that then I would choose, paynes grey, permanent rose, and burnt sienna. I like to mix burnt sienna and paynes grey together to make a blackish brown that I use a lot when I paint animals and birds. Pink is hard to mix from red in watercolor since we do not use white paint, thus permanent rose is a good addition to the basic palette, and if you want to treat yourself a little more, you could add dioxazine violet (winsor violet), as this is a nice rich purple color that is great for mixing with grey and browns on animals and using as an underglaze to brighten darker colors. It also mixes very nicely with permanent rose or french ultramarine blue for different violet variations. You can check out all the colors on my palette here.
A starter list of Winsor & Newton paint colors:
- winsor lemon
- new gamboge
- scarlet lake
- alizaron crimson
- cerulean blue
- ultramarine blue
- permanent rose
- burnt sienna
- payne's grey