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What do I use? My watercolour materials list

Hi there!

If you are interested in trying some watercolour painting yourself, or you are interested in how I do my work, here is a list of the materials that I use to produce the majority of my watercolour paintings.

This list is specific to my preferences, my style of painting, my experience with the medium and my current knowledge of what materials are available to me etc. and is not a rule book for the exact materials you should and should not use. There are so many different options of additional mediums and a myriad of brands of varied quality and price that will contribute to the end result of your painting. Even so, I thought the insight of what I currently use may be helpful to you.


Though I do have the odd Holbein and Schminke brand of watercolour paint I essentially only use Winsor & Newton watercolours. The reason for this is that I just happened to choose to buy W&N based on their reputation when I began to take watercolour painting seriously and I just haven't found the need or the excuse to explore other brands very much. I am open to doing so should the occasion arise! All of my paints that I use on my regular work are top artists' quality and in tubes. Here is a list of the colours I feel are most essential to my work:

Alizarin Crimson

Cadmium Red

Lemon Yellow

Cadmium Yellow

Yellow Ochre

Sap Green

Hooker's Green



Dioxazine Violet

Burnt Umber

Van Dyke brown (which I have from Schminke)

Actually, I lied. I have experimented with another brand and type of watercolour paints. I bought a set of Dr. Ph. Martin's Hydrus Fine Art liquid watercolours a few years ago. The vibrancy is fantastic and I use these paints whenever I'm working on low pressure, fun painting for myself and I want to utilise the wet-in-wet technique a lot within the piece. The liquid watercolours have not clicked with me enough for me to ever use them for my best work but I have absolutely no complaints with the quality of the paints themselves. It's just not my style.


For all my best work I will use Arches Hot-Pressed 100% cotton Watercolour Paper 300gsm. I buy the A4 and A3 pads and also sometimes have a stock of the full size sheets that I can cut to size or use as they are for large scale pieces. Occasionally I have used the rough, cold-pressed paper in these large scale pieces if I liked the effect for the particular subject I was working on and I usually use a heavier weight paper for that size too (640gsm).

For my low-pressure, fun pieces when archival longevity is not as important I'll happily use Canson Montval Watercolour Paper 185gsm in medium cold-pressed texture. The texture is really minimal in this brand and to tell you the truth I didn't even realise it was technically 'medium' texture until just now when I checked. So... cool.


For 99% of all my painting I use Winsor & Newton Series 7 Finest Sable Round Watercolour brushes in sizes 00-7 (though I very rarely make it up to the 7 in my work!). These brushes are excellent and I can basically achieve everything that I want to with them. I keep all my older brushes that have lost their tips and use them for mixing colours on my palette (to save further wearing out of my best brushes) or for the odd job in my painting process that doesn't require the fine point.

I do pick up the odd square brush about once a year but only ever for a bit of playing around with. I bought a squirrel hair brush that I can't for the life of me figure out how to use and I own a fan brush that it appears I have never used. I guess I just like round brushes.


I use a couple of ceramic, white dinner plates that I picked up for $0.50 each at Target. One day I may buy a pretty palette for prettiness sake but these work just fine.

Other stuff

2x Water Jars- One for painting and tidying with, the other for washing my brushes. Pick a jar that is big enough and fairly wide so that you won't need to change the water constantly, it won't tip over easily and so the mouth of the jar isn't narrow and annoying.

Board supports- I've got a random assortment of odd sized wooden boards that I've sealed with varnish. If I plan on using more water than usual then I'll tape the edges of my paper down to hold the paper flat before I begin painting.

Scrap watercolour paper offcuts- I mix all my colours for my paintings and just constantly test them on my scrap piece of paper as I go just to be sure the colour is what i'm wanting to apply.

Low Tack Tape- It helps with taping my board down or the occasional masking job in an artwork. Low tac (go for the blue one) reduces the chances of tearing your art while removing the tape from your paper, but be warned that there is such a thing as 'too low tack' (the green one). As in, I myself have bought a roll of low tack tape that is so low in tack that it, in fact, does not stick at all. It is 'no tack' tape. It is stupid and why was it even invented?

Paper Towel/Cotton Rag- For absorbing the excess water from my brushes and occasionally for lifting out (a painting technique).

Graphite/mechanical pencils, rubber/kneadable erasers, rulers, a home-made light box that I intend on upgrading (it still works great though, thanks Dad), my A4 scanner, A3 printer, Adobe Photoshop (mainly used for planning my compositions and editing the scans of my completed paintings) and I absolutely depend on audible/podcasts/music/movies playing in the background to get through the monotonous parts of my paintings. It's almost like I can't paint if I don't have something to listen to.

There are even more things that I can/have used for my watercolour paintings but these are the things that spring to mind that I either depend on using for every piece or that I just like to use for most of my work. I hope this was a helpful insight!

Lauren Xx

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