So you are a newbie and you would like to know the best watercolor paints for beginners. There are so many options available today as an artist. Go to any online or brick and mortar art supply store and you will find a wide selection of watercolor supplies. First you have to choose between student and artist grade paints. Once you decide which grade, you are then presented with various forms of paint like tubes, pans, sets and liquid watercolors. Yikes! Where does one start!?
There really is no wrong or right way for a beginner to start. It really does come down to preference. Some beginners will like pans over tubes and vice versa. Some beginners do not have a big budget and therefore are unable to invest in artist quality supplies.
Keep in mind, you will get what you pay for. Artist quality paints are of higher quality. They contain more pigments and less fillers and will behave differently than student grade paints. One of the biggest differences is vibrancy. Since artist quality paints contain more pigment, they are naturally going to have more vibrancy. You are going to use a lot more student quality paints to achieve the same level of vibrancy.
With student grade paints, you will notice a lot of “hue” in the color name:Cadmium Yellow Deep Hue, Hooker’s Green Deep Hue, etc. This simply means that they are using a different pigment that is similar to the artist quality pigment, but ultimately not the same.
My advice? Purchase good quality beginner watercolor paints as well as a few tubes of artist quality paint. Then do your own tests and comparisons to see how each behaves and which ones you prefer working with.
I have listed below some of the most popular beginner watercolor paints as well as a few very popular artist quality paints that you can purchase online from a Dickblick.com. I am an affiliate of DickBlick.com, which means I will receive a small commission if you purchase via the links below. Dick Blick has a great selection, awesome prices, fast shipping and great customer service. It is the only place I shop for art supplies.
Student Grade Watercolor Paint
Below are several of the more popular and what I feel are the best watercolor paints for beginners to experiment with. Click the “buy” button if you wish to purchase any of these items online at a discount over at Dick Blick Art Materials.
Cotman, from the makers of Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolors, offers a comparatively inexpensive selection of good-quality watercolors. The Cotman line includes both traditional pigments and reliable synthetic colors that replace some of the more rare and expensive pigments used in the Professional Watercolors.
Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolors represent superb value and are compatible with acrylics and gouache to produce combinations of opacity and transparency. They have excellent tinting strength.
Easy to dispense in the classroom!Use them directly from the bottle for intense single-stroke color, ordilute them with up to four parts water to create a wash effect. Dye-based. Some colors may fade.
Grumbacher Academy has been the best-selling brand of watercolors in the United States for years. Their palette of 60 colors features traditional ingredients, time-tested formulas, careful manufacturing, and attention to quality.
Academy offers extravagant color at an affordable price. Grumbacher uses only the finest pigments, finely ground and evenly dispersed for producing the vibrant washes and subtle gradations that make watercolor so appealing.
Academy is of such quality that it is often used by professionals. Academy colors that have dried on the palette are easily resoluble with water. This cuts down on waste, and allows artists to make their own semi-moist colors for outdoor painting.
Available in 7.5 ml tubes.
A brand for serious artists of all levels with an eye for quality, Van Gogh Watercolors are intense, lively, and very transparent with high tinting strength. Every brilliant color in the line features the highest degree of lightfastness — decades later your work will display the same color as it did the day you painted it.
Due to the purity of the colors, Van Gogh Watercolors are extremely easy to mix and wash to create the subtlest of differences in shade.
Van Gogh Watercolors are made in the Netherlands. Each tube contains 10 ml (.34 oz).
Artist Grade Watercolor Paints
If you fancy testing out some professional artist grade watercolor paints, then choose from the items below. These are some of the most popular artist grade paints on the market today. Click the “buy” button to purchase these over at Dick Blick Art Materials at a discounted price.
Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors
Available in an astounding range of more than 235 colors, Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors are made by hand in Seattle, Washington. This superior-quality watercolor line includes historical hues, amazing earths, and some of the brightest and boldest quinacridones ever formulated.
More highly pigmented and finely ground than any watercolors on the market, Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors also boast superior lightfastness, with 235 of the colors rated LR I or II. They have excellent brushing properties, resulting in clear, clean washes even when colors are layered.
Daniel Smith’s PrimaTek Watercolors let you flood your work with antiquity’s most precious hues, such as Hematite, Tiger’s Eye, Rhodonite, and Lapis Lazuli — gemstones and minerals that have captured artists’ imaginations for hundreds if not thousands of years. These colors are made with authentic mineral pigments. Their effects are amazing and diverse, from warm and subtle to sparkling and vibrant.
The Extra Fine Luminescent Watercolors employ miniscule particles of titanium-coated mica to achieve their dazzling properties. Use them alone or mix them with standard colors for striking effects. Iridescent/Pearlescent colors appear almost colorless straight from the tube, but when applied over a dark ground they create a fascinating sense of depth, along with intense color and sheen. Interference colors take on different hues depending on how the light is striking them from various points of view. For example, Interference Green looks like a shimmering, pearly green from one angle, but from another refracts a reddish hue. Duochrome colors bounce between two distinct colors depending on the reflective light — pure visual excitement!
Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolors
Since 1835, when Henry Newton and William Winsor introduced the first moist watercolors to the world, much of Winsor & Newton’s reputation for supreme quality has stemmed from its Professional Watercolor range. More than 180 years later, the original Winsor & Newton moist watercolor continues to be formulated and manufactured according to the company’s founding principles — to create an unparalleled watercolor range that offers professional artists the widest and most balanced choice of pigments with the greatest possible permanence.
Through strict adherence to these founding principles, Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolors offer brilliance, transparency, and purity of color unparalleled by any other brand. For the 21st century, these key qualities are achieved through a combination of choice of raw materials, custom-made machinery, and expert formulation by experienced chemists and artists.
Today, the Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolor range benefits from continued advancements in pigment technology and production methods, building on the company’s already high standards to produce even brighter, more transparent, and more stable colors. Equally important, many of the formulations remain the same — proving that they cannot be bettered!
Sennelier is pleased to introduce the newest evolution of its watercolor line.
Continuing its traditional color palette used by French Impressionist painters, Sennelier has now expanded the Sennelier Artists’ Watercolor line to 98 colors to include more rich darks.
Additionally, Sennelier has increased the paint’s honey content, lending it a smooth consistency and extraordinary luminosity. Honey helps the paint stay wet longer on the palette and makes it easier to reconstitute if it has already cured.
Although Sennelier still grinds each pigment and its medium on a granite surface to obtain extra-fine consistency, the entire Sennelier line has been updated to reflect 21st century advances in pigment composition, resulting in the lightfastness desired by today’s painters.
Colors are available in two tube sizes — 10 ml (0.33 oz) and 21 ml (0.71 oz).