The first instruction I give students on the first day of class is to test out each color in their palette. Every color behaves a little differently depending on the brand of paint and the pigment used in the paint. Qor brand flows more freely due to it’s synthetic binder, and cheap paints hardly move at all. Paint from the tube of paint dries differently on the palette; honey based paints like Sennelier stay a little sticky, and very granulating colors like ultramarine blue or white gouache may become rock hard and fall out of the palette. Students will develop a relationship with each color, but this is the initial introduction.
You can watch a demonstration of this process here. Note that I recommend students use 100% cotton paper and either Van Gogh, Cotman or White Knights or any brand of professional quality paint. Prima brand is not recommended in spite of claims of being professional quality.
You can watch a better demonstration of how to use two containers of water to clean your brushes here. Be sure to remove your brushes from the water when you are done cleaning them. Long term immersion will cause the wood in the handle will expand, the metal ferrule will loosen and the lacquer on the handle will pop off.
In this exercise you will apply paint and clear water side by side for a gradation effect. You can add more water with a brush, or clean and dry the brush on a paper towel to gently suck up excess paint like a sponge. You can see a variety of ways to remove paint in this video by Steve of Mind of Watercolor.
Below is my tester sheet for my White Knights 24 Watercolor Set