Poorman's Watercolors; Painting on a Budget

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About: Hi, I'm sleek777. I'm an avid crafter, sculptor, creator and entrepreneur. I use instructables for inspiration and connecting with other artists.

Before you are ready to begin a foray into the amazing world of watercolor painting, you must have supplies. Unfortunately, as with any new hobby, that means you have to be ready to spend a lot of money. Which I know from personal experience! This Instructables is here to teach you how to begin painting, without breaking the bank. I have provided links and or pictures of all the item you need to gather.

My credentials? I am a self taught artist and a self proclaimed art supply hoarder. I have been painting, sculpting, drawing and my whole life. I thought I'd share all I've learned about saving money in the expensive world of art supplies.

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Step 1: Workspace

A good workspace is a must! Preferably it is clean and well lit. As you can see from the pic, all of my materials are assembled on a flat tile. I got this from Home Depot for the under $5, and then put some foam strips underneath to prevent it from scratching my desk. It is important to have a smooth and clean surface because to keep a watercolor paper from warping, you will need to tape it down. When I paint I always tape the paper to the tile and don't have to worry about water damaging the rest of my workspace (my desk).

Step 2: Choosing the Paint

There are two main types of watercolor, one type of paint comes in a tube and one that you may be familiar with from your kindergarten days, paint that comes in pans with cakes of color. (I have included an article about the differences.) I personally use the cakes of paint, because I take my time mixing colors and am notorious for getting paint all over myself.

I have also included the link for the brand of watercolors I use (Bianyo). While I'm not a paint connoisseur, this brand has served me very well. I would definitely recommend it for a beginner. There are 3 different sizes, ranging from 24 colors to 36. It doesn't matter very much what size you choose, as you can mix just about any color with some time and a little patience. The price is $11 for a pan with 24 colors, $17 for 30 and $20 for a pan with 36 colors.

Note: The two more expensive kits come with a brush pen and some paper... The paper is very poor quality, but the brush pen has been useful to me for adding drops of water to colors that I'm mixing.

(The article)

https://www.liveabout.com/choosing-between-pan-and...

(The paint)

https://www.amazon.com/Bianyo-Watercolor-Professio...

Step 3: Paper

If you have ever spilled anything on normal office paper, you will know that it is NOT what you want for watercolors. I use the Canson XL Series Mixed Media Paper ($12). It is great because you can use it for just about anything and it's amazing with watercolors. I will note that if you add too much water, or over paint, fragments of the paper will sometimes rub off. Remember, even with heavy watercolor paper: You will need to tape it down to prevent warping!

https://www.amazon.com/Canson-Heavyweight-Texture-...

Step 4: Paintbrushes

I got my paintbrushes at (the best store) IKEA for $3. I have another set of expensive brushes, but the ones from IKEA were just as good, if not better quality. You can pick these up in the kiddie art section of the store. My only complaint would be that the white of the paintbrush dyes easily. Even when you clean it thoroughly, it may still be colored. It doesn't effect painting at all, but it's good to know.

https://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/101933...

Step 5: Household Items

These household items have been extremely useful when I paint. There are two well washed spaghetti sauce jars to fill with water. Pro tip: Use two jars of water, one to dip your paintbrush in first and another to dip in second. You don't have to take as much time emptying and refilling your water that way!

The second item is a washcloth or a rag. It's important you have that to clean up all the spilled water or wipe the paint off yourself. It could also be used to clean brushes, but with the two-jar system you won't really need too.

And of course cotton balls and cotton swabs are essential. If you put too much paint or water, cotton balls absorb all excess water really well. Same with the cotton swabs, but they're for a smaller or more contained area.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Most artists use gauche to put highlights in a piece... But nice gauche brands are expensive! I use *GASP* acrylic paint in a pinch. If you want to be really cheap you can get a "Jot Correction Marker" at the Dollar Store for a buck. It doesn't work as well as paint, but does ok for white highlights. I also sometimes use black fine-liner markers for finishing touches.

Step 7: Enjoy!

Now that you've assembled all you need to begin... Get out there and start painting! Try your hardest and don't give up after the first attempt. Skill takes time and a lot of Youtube tutorials! And stay tuned, I plan on creating some great watercolor tutorials very soon.

If you liked this Instructable, please comment below, or vote for it in the Paint Challenge! And if you have any other tips and tricks for beginners, feel free to comment as well. Thank you and happy painting!

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    6 Discussions

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    Dumbphone

    7 weeks ago

    Your work is amazing. Thank you for sharing this tutorial on a style of painting I do want to try.

    1 reply
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    sleek777Dumbphone

    Reply 7 weeks ago

    Thank you, I'm glad I could help. Good luck and happy painting!

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    KirstenR10

    7 weeks ago

    You do beautiful work. I am new to watercolour and currently use water colour pencils. I may look into the paints you recommend as I'd like to try water colour as an art medium. Thank you.

    1 reply
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    sleek777KirstenR10

    Reply 7 weeks ago

    Thank you so much! I’m glad this was helpful. I wish you the best of luck as you begin painting watercolors.

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    sleek777seamster

    Reply 7 weeks ago

    Thanks! I'm glad they were helpful. :)