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Expand your kit
Once you've got the painting bug, it can be fun to expand your beginner kit with extra paints, a palette, paper, an easel and even a daylight lamp. Here are some favorites:
1. Explore our recommended supply lists on Amazon or Jackson's:
2. Browse our favorite extra supplies by type:
As your skills develop you may want to work with higher quality paper, or at larger sizes. Remember, you'll want hotpressed paper that's at least 300gsm/140lb thick.
Bockingford make a great paper at under £1/$1 a sheet
Arches is a premium paper but a favourite:
Paints from the Starter Kit can be used to make colours similar to the ones below, so you can use them initially, adding to your collection gradually so you have all the 18 colours I have in my palette (which will make your colour mixing easier). If you'd like to see whether paints you already have can be substituted, check the pigment number and substitution information I've provided on this page.
Winsor & Newton 5ml tubes:
Winsor Blue (Green Shade)
Cobalt Turquoise Light
Schmincke Transparent Orange, 15ml
Gouache, Permanent White, 14ml
The full paint set
Click here to buy the full set of all 18 paints from Jackson’s in the UK.
I use a flat, ceramic palette so I can see how the colour mix will look on the paper. I squeeze my paints out around the edge.
For this, I use a ceramic palette with spaces around the edge for paint, similar to the one below. A flat, square plate also works well.
When you’re painting from a photo, you’ll need to keep it nearby for frequent reference. The best way to look at your reference photo is on an iPad, as the screen shows the colours well, and you can zoom in to look at the details.
To position your tablet in just the right spot for painting, try one of these stands.
Tips on supplies from our members
Thousands of artists have been in your shoes before, feeling inspired to paint, but not sure of which supplies to start with. Here's advice from real members of our school:
“I started with what I had, student grade paint… and a very cheap paper. I very quickly learned that I would never use cheap grade paper again! I played with student paints for a while… What a HUGE difference in my final results by using Quality Paper and Artist grade Pigments!
Bottom line, my cheap paper, brushes and student grade paints sit in a drawer unused…. a waste of money and time….. I ask for paints, brushes and paper for Christmas and Birthday gifts.” - Nancy P
“Quality of watercolor supplies are very important. I see it as an investment. Anna has chosen quality products and takes the guess work out of mixing colors. The paints last an amazingly long time.” - Sue
“I started out with super-cheap paper and a watercolor set a neighbor lent me. Nothing high grade. My brushes were nothing special. But it was enough to get me started -and- enough to let me see that I had enough interest to justify an investment in the paper/paints/brushes you recommend.
Watercolor has to be about the least expensive hobby around! And every hobby requires some expenditure! I think some of these paints could last for years and years and years. It’s an investment I am delighted I made.” - Patrice
“I lead a reasonably frugal lifestyle and have many hobbies. I never buy coffee when I am out, and rarely go out to eat.
For instance, skipping two lattes equals one new tube of paint. This has allowed me to be able to afford quality supplies for my passion.” - Eileen
“I understand the reluctance to spend, especially if it’s a new hobby. You aren’t sure whether you’ll like it so don’t want to spend too much.
My view is that with watercolor, if you don’t spend and have the best materials you probably won’t do well and therefore won’t like it! It makes sense to set yourself up for success so that you can truly give it your best go. ” - Nancy
“Watercolor is the cheapest hobby that I do. I initially bought everything you recommended and the brands you suggested. I still have many of the original paint tubes after years of use. I’m happy with the Winsor Newton Professional paints… I had one previous encounter with watercolor classes where student grade supplies and twice the number of paints were recommended. These were so unsatisfactory that I almost gave up the effort.
I’m so happy I found you online and with your supplies and guidance was able to achieve acceptable results from the beginning. For me the student grade supplies were a waste of money. Thank you for being considerate of our wallets!” - El-lott
“I had been taking an in person watercolor class at a local art school so I had certain supplies already. Once I signed up for your online school everything changed! In my humble opinion once you use amazing paper and once you use quality paint and brushes it really makes a HUGE difference...
I find I get amazing results when I use exactly what you say and do things exactly how you instruct. I am more confident and find I can use all your techniques on my own paintings but I do believe it is due to good, quality supplies.” - Cindy
“[I agree it’s] important for beginners to have good paper and professional paints from the start. It’s so easy to be demotivated and put ‘failures’ down to perceived lack of talent when you have actually been let down by the products used.
One tip – if you regularly buy other products from Amazon (and you are not a Prime member) and your basket does not reach the value to qualify for free delivery, try putting a tube of paint in your basket. Rather than pay the delivery charge, this might tip the basket over the line to qualify for free delivery. You pay the same, but you get a ‘free’ tube of paint paid for by Amazon 😄” - David