Let's Talk Art Supplies

Every artist has their favorites but had to start with something. This post will have my personal thoughts on PAINT. We will start with watercolor painting (since that is my primary medium of choice),

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Watercolors come in two grades: student and professional. If you are a beginner you might want to start with student quality since there is not much difference other than the cost, which makes it lighter on your wallet. Professional, or artist quality, watercolor paint is typically made with more pigment and comes in a wider range of colors.

Next, you will want to decide whether tubes or pans.

Tubes are filled with liquid paint. This makes it a bit messier to bring on the road, but easier for mixing and painting on a larger scale. However, it’s easier to use more paint quickly with tubes, so it can mean buying paint more often.

Pans, which are only activated when touched with a wet brush, are great for their portability. As the amount of pigment you can take each time is limited, it’s a bit more difficult to paint large scale projects, but each pan will go a long way.


  • Winsor & Newton tubes are sold individually and in sets. The Cotman line is for beginners and for all artist levels. I use the tubes because not all colors are available in pans and I might like to have Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine, and Cerulean Blue. (link is to Michael's arts and crafts)

  • Winsor & Newton pan sets (pictured right above) come in 12 half-pans and the pans can be replaced with a variety of colors.

  • The travel set of pans that I use is Sakura Koi 24-pan set. (half-pans pictured below). The set comes with a refillable water brush and detachable mixing palette. It is amazing how long the pans last. I paint almost every day and you can see the pans still have plenty of paint. I also like to use this set because it establishes my color palette and people recognize my color use. See my blog post here: Color, color, and more color

One other top-of-the line brand is Holbein. Made in Japan, Holbein watercolors claim to be “more finely ground than any other artist watercolor,” leaving a smooth, non-granular texture. They tend not to dry out in the tube and have a wide range of colors that are vibrant and intense according to reviewers.

I have never used them. My frugal self can't seem to justify a 24-tube set for $119.44.

Finally, shop around. The joy of watercolor painting could be just the thing for you. It really doesn't matter whether you start with tubes or pans, or the watercolor set that someone gave your child for Christmas and has never been opened. Make some happy paintings.

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