View Full Version : Total Newbie

07-04-2001, 01:30 AM
Hello everyone!

I have yet to even purchase paper, brushes and paint - other than paint-by-numbers as a kid and the livingroom walls - I haven't painted anything. I'm interested in watercolors, and would like suggestions on a 'starter' toolkit. I understand some items may be pricey, and am not afraid to spend a few bucks for the right tools, but also don't want to go overboard first time out. I've purchased a few books and really can't wait to try my hand at it.

What are your expert opinions on what to purchase my first time at the art supply? :confused:

I'm also looking for instructors or classes, and having no luck - course, I've only been looking the past week or two. I'm in Orange County, California - any recommendations ?

Thanks so much for your help !:)

07-04-2001, 03:06 AM
Welcome Faafil to wetcanvas.
I am suprised you havnt been inundated with advice on what to get to start up in the wonderful(sometimes scary)medium of Watercolour.
Maybe first knowing that watercolour paint is a colour pigment mixed with binder and sometimes a filler which is soluable in water. When applied to paper of various kinds the water evaporates off and leaves the pigment in and on the paper.
Your tools of enjoyment should be the best you can afford within reason. Brushes of pure sable hair maybe Nos 2, 6, and 10 plus a number 2 rigger ( very long and thin and cool for doing all sorts of things.) A 1" or 2" Hake brush or another suitable wash brush for laying down lovely washes.Thats about it for beginning brushes.
Paints, again the best that you can afford in whats generally called artist quality by most manufacturers. There are some very good student quality paints put out by some of the reputable people like Winsor Newton or Daler Rowney etc. You dont need many to kick off with, a warm red, a cool red, the same in blue and yellow. With these you will be able to make most of the colours you will need at the start. There are also pans of paint which usuallty come in a tin box and take a bit of work to get a wash but are handy for outside work. A white dinner plate or some small white chinese saucers will do for mixing your paints.Two or three containers for holding your clean water( I use margarine punnets). Always mix your paints with clean water and you should stay away from creating mud.
Some water colour paper of reasonable weight 140lb(300gsm), a board to place your paper on, a 2b pencil to lightly sketch your ideas on the paper and a putty rubber for erasing.
Last but not least you will need infinate patience an enquiring mind and nerves of steel as you venture into the wonderful world of Watercolour. Have a look at some of Rod Webbs on line lessons at the begining of the watercolour forum.Get in ther and enjoy and have fun.Paint like a Millionaire and again Welcome.
Billyg :D:D:D:D

07-04-2001, 04:09 AM
Faafil welcome to WetCanvas and the wonderful world of watercolor painting.

BillyG's post is very complete IMO, but I would like to add a note about the paper. Good paper is expensive, but worth the cost. I would recommend using Arches 300 pound paper until you get some experience. Where ever you buy your paper have then cut the first sheet into pieces about 7.5" by 11", these are just right to get started.

Good Luck,


07-04-2001, 04:29 AM
Billy has covered most, I also agree with Javier that good quality paper is important or you will be dissappointed with the results,

07-04-2001, 06:35 AM
Hi Faafil - welcome to WetCanvas. Some terrific advice above. Would like to add my 2 cents worth re plate to mix paints on. I use one of those old fashioned white enamelled plates with the blue rim. You can pick them up very cheaply at garage sales or second-hand stores. They are very white and show up the colours well, and they don't break if you carry them around or drop them. Also mine has a wide rim where I put my blobs of paint from the tube.
I wish you success and lots of fun. :)

07-04-2001, 07:29 AM

Follow all of the above excellent advice....then wet that brush and get started !

I had painted nothing but walls until about 3 years ago when I took a beginning watercolor class. Now I LOVE IT !!!

You can learn a LOT from your books....paint a LOT and don't be afraid to try things.

I agree about the 300 LB paper. No soaking or stretching.

I would just add to the list a plastic palette with a lid.

Happy Painting !:D We'll be looking for your works to be posted soon !


07-04-2001, 07:33 AM
Hello and welcome. Happy 4th of July !
margarine punnets = margarine tubs
putty eraser = kneaded eraser

Three cheers for all the above, I use the 140 lb paper for practice work and than hit the good stuff 260lb or 300lb. The classes on this site are very good try one. Here in upstate New York we don't have any stores that sell watercolor
stuff so I buy on line from Dick Blick or Pearl Paint. I am new to this medium too and just compleated my 4th painting.Don't be afraid to post your art people are very nice here and the help you get is worth a Million.
Hey, have fun and enjoy.:clap:

07-04-2001, 09:43 AM
Welcome Faavil, you'll love watercolor.....plenty of good suggestions here, do get the good stuff!..........Karen

07-04-2001, 11:16 AM
Wow, I posted my newbie questions before bed last nite, and what a wonderful surprise to wake up and find all of your responses ! :)

Thank you so much for your warm welcome and great advice - I just can't wait to get started!

I'm going to the Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach today, and plan to soak in everything I can, take pictures, talk to people, and hopefully try my hand with brush this weekend.

Thanks again, and have a safe and happy 4th!!

Mary Lou

07-04-2001, 11:19 AM
Hi Faafil and welcome. Good paper, paints (forget the student grade:) ) and brushes are key. Buy quality rather than quantity. Why waste your blood, sweat and tears on poor tools. My pet recommendation is to stick to pure kolinsky sable brushes. Isabey is my favourite, with W & N series 7 a close second, but Yarka and Escoda make good brushes too. I have one synthetic brush which I use when I want to mix up a quantity of paint.

You will get as many different recommendations as there are artists, so start with a minimum until you discover what suits you.

Good Luck and Enjoy!!

Rose Queen
07-04-2001, 02:50 PM
If you don't mind a bit of a Sunday drive, I'd recommend the beginning watercolor class taught by John Trees on Sunday afternoons at Pasadena City College extension. John also teaches drawing in the morning on the same days. He's a wonderfully organized and supportive teacher and I think you'd really learn a lot in his classes. He only teaches beginners, so you'll be in good company. I've taken both of his classes and he's just terrific. Too many art teachers are artists who just can't convey the material effectively; John's not one of those!

PCC doesn't have its fall course listings posted yet, but check this link after July 16 and they should be up: http://www.pcclearn.org/kaleido1.htm

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07-05-2001, 04:23 PM
Thank you Rose Queen - this sounds exactly like what I'm looking for... I've bookmarked the page and will definitely check it out after the 16th. Sunday afternoons would be a great time, especially because the traffic will be lighter...


07-05-2001, 06:10 PM
You've got great advice above, but like others, I'll add my 2 cents worth! :D
There are tons of great books for beginners - check your local library.
One I recommend, if you can find it, is "Painting Greeting Cards in Watercolor" by Jacqueline Penney (1997)

I found that painting small to begin with is much less intimidating (and cheaper), and I ended up with some fabulous cards to give as gifts! :D

Oh, and welcome to WC! I look forward to seeing some of your work, Faafil! :D

07-06-2001, 02:28 PM
There's a watercolor gallery in the city of Orange, in the Old Town area, where all of those antique stores are. The gallery is just off Glassell -- a door or two away from the corner; I'm sorry that I do not know the name of it or the name of the street it's on. Anyway, I believe the owner gives classes. Something she said when I was there made me think so.

Also, good advice above. I would just say you might want to hold off on getting the "best" brushes until you know for sure you like painting with watercolors. A great brush can cost a hundred dollars or more. In the beginning the brush is not going to make that much difference to you (since you have nothing to compare it to). However, great paper will definitely add to your enjoyment immediately; bad paper might just put you off watercolors for good. I like Arches; it's easily available and it's good paper. I started with a 7 x 10 block (20 sheets in a block) of Arches cold-pressed, and I would do the same thing again.

Have fun, and let us know how it's going.


07-06-2001, 08:26 PM
Wow, it's only been a few days, and I feel like part of a new 'family'.... :)

Kandiman and Victoria, thanks for your advice and suggestions...and to everyone for your kind words of encouragement...

As I said, hopefully this weekend I'll have the opportunity to wet a brush and try this wonderful medium... I've always admired (and maybe envied) those of you who have this awesome ability - and I'm anxious to start !!! I've tried to locate a couple of supply stores in my area, and unfortunately, the first two are no longer there! :( I'll keep searching tho... :) I'm sure I'll have better luck tomorrow... I don't know if I could wait for a mail order !! I want to make a good investment (and as you all have suggested) not go overboard at the same time.

Thanks again, have a great and inspiring weekend !

07-07-2001, 03:39 PM
I started with the Frank Clarke watercolour set. He lives in Ireland, and his methods are very clear, and you produce some very good pictures, next I went onto books by David Bellamy, like 'Watercolour Landscape Course'. Anything that gives you easy introductions to watercolour are good enough to start you on. Then it's just a matter of developing your own style. My first brushes in the Frank Clarke set cost me 40.00, that has all you need to get going. Hope you are doing some great pictures.

07-09-2001, 11:32 PM
I live north of you and take classes in San Marino. She offers classes several days of the week. If you are interested, send me an e-mail and I'll send you the information. I know it may be a little far for you to travel but this teacher is the best. I started with her about 3 years ago and had never even had a paint brush in my hand. I now have several paintings hanging in my house and several people begging for me to paint more! My e-mail address is [email protected]
Good luck and happy painting:clap:

07-10-2001, 03:40 AM
Hello Yvonne and Diceman...

Thanks for the info ! Yvonne, I'll send you a note - San Marino is about 40 miles from me, and Pasadena about the same (Rose mentioned classes at Pasadena City College).

I finally made my first purchases today, and just can't wait to get started. It was too late when I got home to start (what with fixing dinner, etc..), but maybe one night after work this week... can't wait !

Thanks again !

07-10-2001, 05:06 AM
Hi Faafil,

Glad you are looking forward to your painting, I certainly love the unexpected, as from the beginning, I don't really know which way the painting will go, so it's always a surprise for me to see the finished article.
I've only done a few paintings so far, but I will put one in the forum soon that really shocked me!!! which is strange, considering I painted it, but that is the beauty of watercolour. I normally don't get pleased with my own work until 2 or 3 days later, then it seems to sink in.
One other thing I do is think of Have Some More Fun!
H - Horizon
S - Sky
M - Middleground
F - Foreground

Take Care.............diceman56

07-12-2001, 01:56 PM
Hi faafil
Just wanted to say Welcome. :)
I use 300 lb Arches with Winsor Newton Artists' Colour

07-12-2001, 04:09 PM
I am a beginner watercolorist and I used winsor & newton cotman starter set for paints and their watercolor pad(16x12,140lb).I also have mop brush for washes for background and a flat brush&liner for detail painting along with a round brush.

Also a board to paint my wc paper on and kraft gummed tape to hold the paper on the board while I'm painting.Also a tuff-tote portfolio to put my drawings and paintings in until I get a chance to frame it.Good luck!:)

07-13-2001, 11:17 AM
Hi everyone !

Well... I finally got the chance yesterday afternoon... how exciting !! First I played around with just seeing how the paint reacts, what the brushes do, etc. on one sheet. I 'thought' I was going to start with a sky, but then played around with the red and yellow to see how they mix next to the blue... I ended up turning it upside down and now the blue is water... hahahaha ! The red and yellow are either a sunrise or sunset.. haven't decided yet...probably sunset, cuz it's way too reddish orange... I set that one aside and then decided to try another... I have the 'Tao of Watercolor' book by J. Carbonetti, and thought, what the heck...try something from there. Wow, I really have a LOT of learning to do... but it was FUN FUN FUN !!!!!!:D :D :D

I definitely need a mop brush, cuz I ended up using an 'unused' freebie blush brush to mess around with, and I liked it (and it even worked pretty good).

Anyway, Diceman, I like that HSMF - I'll remember that !

leaflin and DebAnnWea, thanks for your suggestions. Everyone here has been soooo helpful!

Dare I attach my first attempt? Aw, what the heck! This was soooooo much fun. Maybe I'll figure out later on down the road what to do with it...

Have an outstanding weekend !!

ps: don't laugh too hard...

07-13-2001, 01:38 PM
:clap: yeah you did it. Keep the painting out and look at it every so often something will come to you.

07-13-2001, 08:26 PM
Faafil, this is pretty! I like that you didn't water your colors down too much. I notice you made the farther mountain lighter, so I think you do know something about painting.

07-13-2001, 09:44 PM
It Glows.:D
Beautiful job.

Rich Parman
07-13-2001, 11:06 PM
Hi faafil.
I'm fairly new to watercolors myself and the paints that i started with (and still use till they're gone) Are Van Gough. It is a complete set of paints that come in a little box complete with a brush and a little sponge. While they are not the best paints, they are of reasonably good quality, Good vibrance of color and light steadfastness. And they are not that expensive either.
I hope this has helped a little.

Rich Parman
07-13-2001, 11:12 PM
Well, I see you have gotten your paints!:)
Kool> Very well done!

07-14-2001, 03:48 AM
Congradulations! Beautiful complementary colors!

That first painting is fun, isn't it! I bought my paints the day before I had to move out of my apartment. I wasn't supposed to play with them that night, but I just couldn't resist. I painted in between boxing up dishes. That was two years ago...

07-14-2001, 04:38 AM
Well done Faafil,

If you are like me, it takes a day or so to look at your own work and think 'not bad!' This is great because you have a good outlook on the distance and colours to use. This makes a picture have depth. I too did a rough picture of just colours, and it didn't look like yours, I know I shouldn't have, but it ended in the rubbish bin. Well done again, Have Some More Fun!!!
Take Care..........diceman

07-15-2001, 01:09 PM
Good morning ! (or afternoon, or whenever you read this)...

We went to Big Bear shortly after I posted on Friday morning, and afterwards I kept thinking, 'you dolt, the sky isn't yellow, why did you post that??" :) I was just so excited to have done 'something'.

MissMouse - thank you !! I hope that someday I'll figure what to do with it..

VictoriaS - thank you !! The only thing I know about painting is what I've learned here... you guys are great !

leaflin - thank you !! your comment made ME glow...

Rich - thank you !! It felt pretty kool..

Eliz - the first painting IS definitely fun !! I can't wait to try another this afternoon... thank you !!

Diceman - I just couldn't bear to throw it in the rubbish bin, I had to do something with it. Three stripes of blue, red and yellow didn't even look like a decent flag...:D Even if I don't figure what to do with it, I'll put a cheap frame on it and remember the first attempt... thank you !!

Let me applaud all of you here who have taken the time to help me get started from the very first post - you're the best !! :clap::clap::clap::clap:

Have an outstanding day !

07-15-2001, 02:03 PM
Hi Faafil - you are the artist - that makes you the boss - you can have that sky any colour you wish :):) :)