WATERCOLOURS  Using good quality materials will make a huge difference to your watercolour paintings. Try not to use cheap or student quality paints unless you really have to as these will really slow down your progress.
Pans or Tubes: I work with both and each have their own merits. It’s quite difficult to get a large quantity of paint from a pan so they are not the best if you are doing large washes, so I tend to use this type of watercolour for smaller pieces of work, sketching and life drawing. If you want to create larger, more vibrant watercolour paintings, you will need more pigment and therefore tubes of paint are a better option.

There are so many different options for a basic colour palette, you will find many artists will have their own versions. This is my suggested selection as a start point and you can extend it over time, depending on what you want to paint. If you are planning on painting portraits you will want to include different colours from those of a landscape artist. I also have another palette of colours that I use for flowers, which I will add to this site at some stage

Sepia (W&N) Indigo (W&N)
Paynes Gray (W&N)
French Ultramarine Blue (W&N)
Cobalt Blue (W&N)
Cobalt Turquoise Light (W&N)
Viridian (W&N)
Lemon Yellow (DS)
Naples Yellow (W&N)
Cadmium Orange (W&N)
Perylene Maroon (DR)
Light Red (W&N)
Cadmium Red (W&N)
Permanent Alizarin Crimson (W&N)
Permanent Violet (H)

Useful extras
Opera Rose (H)
Shell Pink (H)
Lavender (H)
Moonglow (DS)
Leaf Green (H)

Key W&N – Winsor & Newton DR – Daler Rowney DS – Daniel Smith H – Holbein


I work with these colours in a Liz Deakin watercolour box. After trying out many different watercolour palettes, I found this one suits me best. It’s closable and has deep wells for mixing washes and I’m really pleased with it. It’s available from Jacksons Art Supplies and Ken Bromley and costs about £15.

PAPER Buy the best quality paper you can afford at the time. Watercolour washes will come out completely differently on poor quality paper and you can waste a lot of time and paint working on cheap paper, getting more and more frustrated with your results.

Bockingford is a good option, but Arches and Saunders Waterford are better. I tend to use a NOT surface which has a slight roughness. The other options are Hot Pressed (very smooth) and Rough. The most economical way to buy your paper is in large sheets which you can then cut down to size. If you buy anything under 200lb you will probably need to stretch the paper (not as difficult as people think) or else buy it in glued paper blocks (more expensive I’m afraid).

BRUSHES Sable brushes are the best, but quite expensive. Rosemary and Co. sell the best brushes and have a huge range of both sable and synthetic. This is a wonderful British company with years of experience and they offer a great service. I have a few sable brushes, but tend to use synthetics most of the time. You only really need 3 or 4 different sizes and shapes (I know a lot of artists have 1 favourite one that they use for almost everything). However, if cost is an issue for you, I would recommend starting with these 4 from the SAA (Society for All Artists) and Ken Bromley Art Supplies, and then buy whatever takes your fancy as you develop your painting skills.

SAA Silver all-rounder brush size 10 SAA Silver big flat brush 1.5inch SAA Silver rigger brush 02 Ken Bromley Artists’ Value Round Profile Brush size 12