Watercolour Guide Beginners Materials

maimeri ultramarine pb29, mixing purple, watercolor guide and tips for beginners, debi riley art

Secrets… I don’t have any I won’t share!  I’m quite happy to pass along the art tips, techniques and shortcuts I’ve learned over the years….with a little ‘mini’  Watercolour Guide.

maimeri ultramarine pb29
maimeri ultramarine mix


Art Materials for Watercolour Beginners

What should I buy?  Where do I find them?


Start Slow and Build Up

Should I get all the paints right away?

Start with just a couple of versatile colours. Treat yourself to quality that will encourage your efforts. Don’t splash out with 8-12 tubes, 5 brushes, and a couple of pads of paper. Why?  Cost. And its too easy to get overwhelmed by too many colours.

You’d be better off, for right now, with 2 tubes of paint. One good full sheet of paper to cut up and just one brush.  You can slowly, add to these as you go.



Which colours should I get?


If you decide to get 2 colours, I’d suggest prussian blue pb27 and burnt sienna PBr7 as these will pair up to create some lovely landscapes. Beautiful range of blues, greens, browns, rusty oranges are all possible.

If you decide to get 3 colours, I’d suggest cobalt blue pb28, winsor lemon py175 and permanent rose pv19;  this triad makes an ideal group for 100’s of colour mixes. Everything from soft lavenders, moss greens, fiery scarlets and sunflower yellows.


Then, when you are ready….  That is, when mud is no longer a major factor in your paintings. The next paints would be Ultramarine blue pb29  and  burnt sienna PBr7.  These 2 combined will create ideal greys, blacks and chocolates. Plus, when mixed with the other paints you will increase your colour mixing range immensely.

Down the track,  would be Prussian blue pb27 and Raw Sienna PBr7 (or Quinacridone Gold, or Nickel Azo Yellow, or Quinacridone Sienna.) Cerulean blue genuine,  Indanthrone blue,  Permanent Alizarin Crimson.


Note  we are staying away from the Opaque thick paints like Cadmiums, Yellow Ochre, Brick Red.  Too easy to get mud from these as beginners.

Paint brands I have had success with most of their range are:   Daniel Smith, Winsor and Newton, Blockx, Graham,  Holbein, Art Spectrum, Maimeri.

Maimeri watercolours, ultramarine blue pb29, debiriley.com
Maimeri watercolours

You can see that the Maimeri watercolour Ultramarine Blue pb29 is quite a rich deep blue and merges beautifully with the red violet of Verzino PR122  creating a most lovely purple.



Watercolour Brushes that make good choices for Beginners would be:   the Rekab 320s #2 squirrel hair brush, if you can only get 1 brush, this is the brush to get.   Other brushes I often use are a wide Hake, a flat nylon brush, a Chinese brush,  and a long rigger. Thats it.


Watercolour Handbook Werner Mertz, debiriley.com
Watercolour Handbook Werner Mertz

The Werner Mertz Watercolor Paper Handbook is one of the best references for beginners to review to help guide their choices on paper selection.  It has detailed in depth text with paintings on the specific papers described.



Watercolour Paper is more economical to buy in packets of 10 sheets, or even a single full sheet rather than in small ready to use pads which will be marked up quite a bit. You pay for that convenience.

A good 100% cotton rag paper is the most helpful and far cheaper in the long run, as you can use front and back sides. As well as rinse it off, dry it, and paint again using watercolours.  The paper that will withstand rough and tumble use is Arches Rough 300gsm.

Cellulose papers just don’t have the oomph and sturdiness to hold up properly and to let you scrape, gouge, and lift paint off without tearing, streaking and blotting.



A nice big Palette rather than a teensy tiny one will allow for mixing up the correct amount of paint the first go.  Tiny palettes are notorious for this problem.   Cheap Joes, Jerrys, etc. will have quite an assortment of palettes to choose from.


cobalt violet art spectrum, daniel smith watercolours debiriley.com
Cobalt Violet Pv14 and watercolour Paints


Where to Purchase your art supplies?

Where’s the best place to get my art supplies?


I live in Perth, W.A.  Australia so I need to carefully source my materials. Freight to one of the most isolated cities in the world, is expensive.

My solution, I look online.


I’ve been a regular with several online art supply stores over the past 25 years and have built up a trust factor with them.  Some are overseas, some are within the country. I do have to weigh up the freight shipping cost factor.  It is all about cost justification.


Daniel Smith Art Supplies   based in Seattle, Washington  has a excellent range of watercolour paints. I can rely on their products. I’ve been doing so since 1991.

Cheap Joe’s  Art  has a huge range of all sorts of art and craft materials; papers, brushes, palette knives, paints, inks, you name it and I’m sure they have it. A fun place to window shop.

Jerry’s Artarama  is another great resource with a versatile range of art and craft products that one can easily, and accidentally,   get a little ‘art happy’  in.

Jacksons Art shop has several shops in Perth, has multiple stores in Australia; staff have always been more than helpful, courteous and friendly.  A good range

Oxlades  in Australia has opened up a brand in north Perth that offers some lovely artist quality materials with a great range of papers, paints and supplies.

The Art Shop in Victoria Australia has a nice online shop that offers great brushes and paints,  Rekab brushes and  Venezia paints.

The Art Scene  in Sydney, Australia has an excellent range of art supplies, books, papers, inks, paints for the artist.



My new Page,  Watercolour Guide is now up;

and for you watercolour enthusiasts, I’m going to be continuing the Watercolour Guide Project and updating it regularly.  So,  be sure to check in on it every so often to see what is new there!



Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at society6.com/debiriley and, redbubble.com/people/debijriley/shop

25 thoughts on “Watercolour Guide Beginners Materials

      1. Thank you Very much – I really do appreciate every comment, like, share and view. So thank you, for your kindness. (I went ahead and did the edit… will to with) cheers, Debi


  1. Lovely post! I think it is a great overview for beginning artists indeed! And the page is also amazing and so comprehensive. I personally really love my Winstor and Newton watercolours (I got slightly exited when I saw them mentioned)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hi Sophie, and thank you so much for your kind comments! + looking at the new Page too 🙂 ‘the work in progress’ lol I appreciate your stopping in and having a look and Follow! thanks ! Debi

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Debi, what a wealth of information. I need a new brush, I will see if my Dick Blick store carries what you recommend.
    Another wonderful watercolor class.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m SO delighted to see this blogpost! Thank you for sharing exactly what my teen son (and me too!) needed to know….he’s been asking about watercolor painting and this provides the perfect start. Dakota Art store will carry these basics. Next, we will tune in to your new page (?) for some start up ideas. Can you recommend an online tutorial that you think a teen would enjoy? Thank you thank you 🍁

    Liked by 1 person

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