December Challenge: Reflect on your Watercolor Journey
The Perfect Shopping Lists for the Watercolor Artist At All Budgets
All my watercolor recommendations for every budget! Get ready to spoil your favorite artist this season!
*This article contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I may receive a small commission from your purchase so I can continue to test out watercolor supplies and keep delivering this thorough content! ;)
How to Organize Your Watercolor Palettes
Got Artist's Block?!?! What To Do When You Don't Know What To Paint
5 Ways To Get The Most Out of Your Watercolor Tube Paints
November Challenge: Make Time To Paint
How Water Affects your Watercolor Painting
In order to take your painting to the next level, you’re going to need to learn how water affects your watercolor painting.
As a watercolor artist or wannabe, you're in the unique position of trying to manage water. Or if you’re a little on the controlling side, like this gal, you may be trying to let the water take control. Either way, a good watercolor artist knows how water affects paint, and what you can do to either help or hinder the way of the water.
How Water will Affect your Watercolor Painting
While watercoloring, water has a unique juxtapositional role to play. It both causes problems and creates solutions. Crazy, right!
Once you learn how to control the water while painting, you’ll also be able to unleash its many powers.
Let's discuss them, shall we!?!
Creating Paint Puddles
In your mixing area on your palette you'll create paint puddles, or a mixture of paint and water. When you're covering large areas, make sure you have a large paint puddle ready. Control the saturation of your paint puddle by adding more paint (darker) or more water (lighter).
Depending on the size of your paper and the amount of space you’re covering, your water puddle may be pretty large, or you may want to take it to a deeper palate or you can use my personal faves a soy sauce dish or egg holder. Checkout my egg holder palate in the photo!
The Right Consistency
When mixing up your paint puddles, you're going to want a nice smooth consistency. Think latte, rather than water or a milkshake. I love me a milkshake, and they might bring all the boys to the yard, but they ain’t gonna make for a great painting, so mix your paint puddles thoroughly, and save the ice cream for after then painting is done!
Dirty Water vs. Clean Water
If your water starts to get too muddy or cloudy, it is time to change your water!
It is helpful to have two water cups: one for warm colors (reds, oranges, yellows) and one for cool colors (blues, purples, greens).
Now, I have to be honest. I often get lazy and just use whatever ol’ water is lying around, so it’s up to you on this one – just know that the color of your water can affect your colors! If you want an earthier color, the muddier the water the better ;)
Identifying Wet and Dry Paint
If the paper seems shiny, it is not dry. You can also hover your finger over the page - if it feels cool, like a tiny cool breath, it is still wet.
Common Fixes for Water-y Watercolor Issues
Watercoloring comes with quite a few opes, ahhhs, and oopsie daisies, but it is a remarkably forgiving medium. Use some of these tips to solve these common watercolor woes.
Oops! The Brush is too Dry
Sometimes the problem isn’t the water – it’s with the brush! It may not be absorbent enough.
If your brush is too dry, you need to load your brush up more.
If it keeps happening, you may need a bigger paint puddle, a larger brush to cover a big area, or your brush may not have the capacity for a large amount of water and you'll need a different brush. Check out this video where I'm geeking out over all of my favorite brushes!
Oops! The Paint is too Wet
If your paint is too wet on the page, this can make the pigment slosh around more than you might want and make the watercolor very uncontrollable.
Don’t worry! All is not lost. You can soak up some of the water with a dry paint brush or a corner of a paper towel.
I love myself a little easy fix, and this is a good one!
When part of your painting dries unevenly, it can create a harsh line. You can soften this by going over it gently with a damp brush. It's kind of like ironing out the wrinkles!
Oops! I Made a Mistake
Speaking of fixes –
If you make a mistake and the paper is still wet, you can use your brush or a paper towel to gently lift the paint.
If the paint has already dried, you can use a little water and a stiff brush, a colorless blender, a "fix it" brush (Princeton Brushes has one), or even a magic eraser!
Brush and Water Control
When you first start out, watercoloring can make you feel a bit like a messy baker. Try as you might, you always end up with a little too much of this or over mixing that – and it often takes a lot of practice before you get the hang of whatever it is you’re trying to make.
Working on your brush and water control are exactly the same.
It’s going to take some time to make your splatters look unplanned, your washes to look even, and your bleeds to heed to your bidding.
Watercoloring is one of those mediums that you definitely have to ‘get a feel for.’
Practice noticing what it feels like to pick up paint with your brush. If it feels like too much, try tapping the paper towel with the tip of your brush. If it feels like your brush is too dry, make a larger paint puddle.
Keep practicing the same movement or stroke over and over until you gain some consistency in both the depth of color and the shape of the movement.
Watercolor is filled with unexpected delights, so don’t fret or freak out if the water doesn’t behave exactly how you want – remember, it may be an oops, but it’s a beautiful oops!Happy Painting!
Budget Friendly Watercolor Supplies for Beginners
If you are exploring watercolor, but you don’t want to invest too much right away, then these budget friendly watercolor supplies for beginners are where it’s at!!!
My friend, I am freaking out over here because so much goodness can totally come from affordable supplies, and I cannot wait to show them to you!
I have spent hours unwrapping, testing, and swatching, and I think I have it narrowed down to my absolute faves!
Remember, if you're absolutely LOVING watercolor and think you want to take this relationship to the next step, you’ll want to head on over to my Guide to My Essential Watercolor Supplies, or you can download my supply list below!
First up, let’s talk paints!!
The Best Affordable Watercolor Paints for Beginners
After trying oodles of different paint sets with mixed results, I am laying down my official watercolor paint recommendation that is perfect for you beginners and pros who are looking for a great bang for your buck!
Norberg & Linden * Watercolor Paint Set- Pack of 36 colors plus some paper!
I actually bought this set on a whim for my daughter, and I am Suuuuu-per pleased with it!!!
I can honestly say that it is a great paint set for both grownups and toddlers alike!
I love love LOVE all the fun, vibrant colors, and it performs well with watercolor. Although it is not as lightfast (basically this means it will fade over time) as a professional-grade set, it was definitely a delightful painting experience!
Note: This set comes with a little pad of paper and some brushes, but the brushes are a joke, so you’ll definitely want to pick up some better brushes. (Don’t worry – my suggestions for that are below!)
Before we move on, I also have a runner-up in this category.
I have to take a moment to give a little shoutout to the the Winsor and Newton Cotman Watercolor Paints for folks wanting to dig more into color mixing.
I personally use Winsor and Newton professional tube paint, so this was the affordable option that is closest to the paints that I use, and, my friends, it did not disappoint!
This kit has all the colors you need to mix any color you want, and it performs very similarly to the professional kits.
The biggest difference between this watercolor paint and the professional-grade paints is in the light fastness (how it ages exposed to sunlight without fading) and the depth of color – but it is still a great little kit to get started.
It also comes in a cute little case that would be perfect for travel – just saying!
The Best Affordable Watercolor Paper for Beginners
When it comes to watercolor, nothing is more important than paper!!
So – before we jump into the affordable options, I want to talk about my go-to boo, Arches 140lb cold-press paper.
Arches Cold Press 140 lb is my choice for every-day watercolor painting, and although it doesn’t fall under the ‘affordable’ category, I highly recommend it if you're starting to get serious about watercolor!
Now, on to my budget-friendly pick – drum roll please!
Artisto Watercolor Pads (9x12”, 2 pads of 30)!!
This Artisto watercolor paper had just the right amount of toothiness, and it is sturdy! It doesn’t buckle too much, and that is where a lot of water on the paper is going to hold.
I stumbled upon this paper after I got it for my daughter a while back, and I LOOOOOVE it! It is a great option for beginners or for looking for a good practice paper!
It isn't Arches...but it's got something going on!
The Best Affordable Watercolor Brushes for Beginners
I’ve got to get real honest here – brushes that come with affordable sets are all sacks of garbage!
Yep, I said it and I meant it.
Many of them didn’t give me any precision, and they were really hard to get any water control with.
After filling pages and pages of pages testing out different brushes from all of the affordable watercolor sets I purchased, I had to hand them over to the toddler, and go with a mixed set from a tried and true company that knows what it’s doing!
Princeton Real Values Series Brushes
In complete transparency, I am obsessed with Princeton Brushes, and when I started playing around with their Real Values Set, I was not disappointed!
This Princeton Real Values Set comes with all of the brushes that you need to get started!
So, there you have it –
My full list of budget-friendly watercolor supplies for beginners and budget conscious pros alike. To save you some time, here is the full list one last time.
- Norberg & Linden * Watercolor Paint Set- Pack of 36 colors plus some paper!
- Winsor and Newton Cotman Watercolor Paint
I know that watercolor prices can sometimes be discouraging, so I hope this helps y’all find some supplies, so you can feel good about getting started and making some art!
5 Reasons Why I Fell In Love with Greeting Cards
I have a confession to make...
I own a stationery shop and I cannot remember the last time I sent out a card "just because".
There are a myriad of excuses I could make:
- I don't have time
- I'm too busy making cards for other people to send
- I had a new baby, I'm too tired
- Nobody's had a birthday recently
- I can't find my pen
- People will get it, we're all busy
- I have nothing interesting to say
The list goes on. While this is a classic example of "the cobbler's children have no shoes" I realized it was time to get out of my funk and reignite the fire for my love of greeting cards.
"But how do we do this?!?!" , you ask!
Let me tell you! Just like when you're looking at your husband's stinky socks on the floor for the 1000th time (hypothetically, strictly as an example, babe), it helps to remember about that first date, that first kiss, and all the reasons why you fell in love with your partner to begin with. So is true about the things we're passionate about.
It is all too easy to get swept up in the romance of that new hobby. Manically pinning new ideas, BUYING THE SUPPLIES, actually making something that didn't look like it came out of a bog! But as we do the hobby more, it follows that we may get tired of that hobby, and the sparkle wears off.
So has been true about my passion for greeting cards. The fire has dimmed and I need find a way to envelope myself in the warm fuzzies of letter writing that led me to starting my business! (See what I did there...)
So I lit a candle, poured a glass of wine, slipped into my softest jammies and pondered. What is it that drew me to greeting cards?
Well I'm gonna cut to the chase:
Five Reasons I fell in Love with Greeting Cards
1. They are so dang personal. There is nothing more special than writing a letter that is specifically for its intended recipient. It is a way to say, I get you, I see you, I care about you. I am a total people person who feeds off human connection like a zombie needs brains. It is such a simple, yet deeply satisfying way to connect with someone and show you care at a deeper level.
2. They are tangible. While encouraging texts are great, "hey [fire emoji] you look good today" - you'd rarely have the occasion to just stumble upon it and remember how much that message made you feel ready to seize the day! With cards, however, you might find one under a pile of papers on your desk, in a memory box, under the couch, or even in your sock drawer and be instantly tickled by the note inside. You might have even forgotten that the card existed at all, but here is living proof!
3. It captures a moment in time. Nothing gives me greater joy than reading back through the letters that I sent my parents while I was away at sleep away camp. Literally every day I would write them a letter and berate them for not writing enough, not sending water balloons and lip gloss, pelting them with guilt for their "halfhearted penmanship skills". Woo baby did I lay it on thick. While this isn't a side of myself that I necessarily admire, it does crack me up to see how much the apple doesn't fall far from the tree... (oops!) I don't remember writing those letters, but here they are, my bubbly handwriting with 100 interchanging gelly roll pens that only a pre-teen girl can achieve, for me to giggle at always.
4. HAPPY MAIL! Is there any mail that is as exciting as a hand written card?!?!? NO! Amidst catalogs, coupons, bills, and tax documents, the sweet curlings of a handwritten address on a bespoke envelope with a perfectly paired stamp brings delight that is unparalleled. Bonus points for a colorful envelope! I feel like sending out mail is a way to manifest the happiness that you hope to receive.
5. The rush of the search! Perhaps my absolute favorite part of letter writing is finding the MOST perfect card for your special person. That moment when casual browsing becomes an absolute compulsion to purchase and write a card immediately to let that person know you're thinking about them.
This rush, this twinkle that radiates down to your soul is a feeling like no other.
This, above all the other reasons listed above is what drove me to creating a stationery shop with cards to help you celebrate your special people. My greatest. hope is that you'll see a card there and think to yourself, "holy cannoli if that card ain't the exact sentiment I feel for [insert special person here], I don't know what is!"
Even just writing this is giving me all the warm fuzzy feelings. My hands are itching to rifle through my card drawer and find some kismet cards to send out the door! I'm making a promise to myself to not let life get in the way of one of my life long passions of fostering purposeful human connection.
Will you join me?
Need some inspiration?! Check out our card selection to see if you can find one that is perfect for your favorite human!
One of the questions I get asked most often is "what brush is that?!?!?!" So here is a roundup of my most often used watercolor brushes!