Below is a list of materials and brands I recommend for my watercolor class. Quality matters a lot when painting with watercolor. Do your best to look for deals on better quality supplies, and try to resist inexpensive but cheap quality materials.
A few guidelines regarding paper as of 10/30/20:
Paper matters more than any other material when painting in watercolor.
Loose paper costs the least, pads and journals are more expensive, and blocks (stacks of paper that are glued flat on the sides so they won’t buckle) are the most expensive. If a block is cheaper per square inch than another option, the block is probably poor quality. The first is online, that last three can be picked up from Flax in Oakland.
Jerry’s Artarama has 10″ x 14″ Arches 140# cold press pads for $15. I cannot make promises regarding their shipping time, but their prices are always very good.
If you want to avoid paying for shipping, don’t want to wait and don’t mind picking up directly from a store, you can purchase materials on the Flax Oakland website and place a request to pick up product at the door, no need to go inside. I have gone inside this business by appointment during Covid and it was empty and it is a large, open space, I felt much safer than at the average grocery store. Blick on 10th St. near Gilman in Berkeley is also open to customers.
The best deal for the best paper $7 for a full sheet of Natural White Arches 140# cold press paper. These sheets are huge, 22″ x 30″, and you will need to cut them down to your preferred size.
If you really a spiral bound notebook, I suggest the Field Watercolor Journal although the paper is not as good quality as Arches.
If you want to try a Block, I suggest the Fluid Watercolor Paper Block, which has the same paper at the journal above.
Prices below are based on prices I found on amazon, and do not include shipping.
Size #10 round watercolor brush ($5-$15). If #10 is not available, you can go up or down a size. Princeton is a good, reasonably priced brand. Watercolor brushes have short handles and soft bristles that come to a point when wet. Synthetic brushes are springy, and animal hair brushes (real or imitation) are softer, more expensive and hold a ton of paint, and both are fine to paint with. Really cheap brushes shed hairs and don’t come to a fine point. You can try brushes in other shapes in class and decide if you they are worth purchasing.
Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Paint Sketchers’ Pocket Box- 12 colors ($17-30) This set is a quick way to get a range of colors at an affordable price. Van Gogh is also pretty good and inexpensive, as well as White Knights. Do NOT buy Pentel, Angora, Arteza, Koi, Sargent or brand paints- these are very poor quality and don’t perform well.
Additional tools you should have are:
Paper towels, a 1-qt sized clean plastic container to hold water, number 2 pencil, a pencil sharpener and an eraser. Optional items include salt, Pigma Micron .5 mm felt tip pens, and removable art masking fluid and permanent white gouache.