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best watercolour equipment for beginners

Your Equipment lists

Welcome!   SOME NOTES: If you are starting stage 1 please read:
  • Jenny prefers her students to paint with Artist Quality equipment....that is paint, paper and brushes.  She believes that 'student grade' equipment will yield 'student grade' results and will often be disappointing.  While it costs more initially, it is vastly more economical and results are far superior.  

  • If you want to buy Winsor & Newton paint, I recommend you use my PAINT store page (under equipment list tab.) You will save a fortune. Other brands, buy local.

  • Please keep store receipts.  

  • there are many options for brushes and paint.  Please consider carefully.   The 'good' brushes can cost just a little more then the 'mediocre ones'. Read the list carefully, and just choose one brush, you don't need lots.

  • PLEASE!!!  iF IT ISN'T ON THE LIST don't buy it.   
    - Please don't buy items sales staff give you saying 'Jenny likes that' without checking that it is ON the list. 
    - Please do not buy things from later Stages. We have a lot to discuss before then!! I want you to be fully informed to prevent 'mistake' purchases. 
    Please don't be talked into alternative substitutes or buy something 'near enough'.  I prefer you get the correct item late, than wast your money.

  • If YOU ARE DOING ONLINE ZOOM CLASS - of course, paint with whatever you want. (except for the paper, which is compulsory).
    However, you will find that many cheaper paints and brushes etc, will NOT behave the way it should when you go to paint in a professional watercolour technique.


   Level 1 equipment

Paint brands:
You can choose

  • Recommended: Winsor & Newton from UK (buy extremely cheaply on the PAINT SHOP PAGE.)

  • Recommended: Art Spectrum from Australia (cheapest to buy in Australia, from Australian stores.)

  • Daniel Smith, Schmincke, Holbein and other artist quality brands. 

  • Colours for Stage 1

    1 x tube Cobalt Blue (genuine cobalt PB28) s4
    1 x tube Aureolin (Yellow) py40
    1 x tube Permanent Rose (PV19) s3 
    1 x tube Burnt Sienna in winsor & newton brand only (BUY from Paint Shop page above.)
    after the first couple of weeks we will ALSO use: 
    1 x tube Raw Sienna - In Winsor & Newton, or if art spectrum, get light hue, not natural dark.
    1 x tube French Ultramarine Blue. (not hue)

    THE VERY BEST PRICES: I have researched heavily, the prices of watercolour paint, and have found the very best way to purchase the best paint in the cheapest way.   This will save you literally $100's over the course.  Jackson's UK  has unbelievably cheap prices on Winsor & Newton paint, in 5ml, 14ml, and 37 ml options and I have a link to it all on the PAINT SHOP PAGE.
    Of course you save the most $ on the 37ml tube comparitively.  But if you are brand new to watercolour you may want to try smaller tubes.
    It is NOT SUGGESTED that you purchase Art Spectrum paint or other Australian made or bulky products from the Paint Shop website, buy instead locally from our Art shops.   


Paper: (for more info see Q& A below.)  Note: Buy these locally.

  • 2 FULL sheets of Arches 300gsm Rough watercolour paper. (COMPULSORY) It's about $18 a full sheet.  These are great big sheets.   They measure about 57 x 76cm. (I'll show you how to divide it up later.)

  • A cheap sketch drawing book (cartridge paper or similar, to draw in.) A4 size

  • Optional EXTRA PURCHASE:  but a good idea as it saves your expensive paper when you're just practicing!  -  A small CHEAP student quality watercolour pad eg:  'Mont Marte brand, Cotman, Reeves,  brand or other.  This is an optional extra purchase, NOT instead of the Arches.  

Brush: - please choose ONE of these:  (but If you already have a size 10 Kolinsky sable, use that!): A couple of choices also on the Paint Shop page.

  • A  natural, round SQUIRREL MOP - they are around $25- $35 -ENSURE it has a good point and it's ferrule (where the hair joins the handle) is around 7.5mm across. 
    Possible Brands available are:  (choose one only) 
    Nevskaya Palitra series 2113 Squirrel mop size 7 preferred. NO bigger. these are superb brushes.  Available from LarryPost Brookvale (order online for post, or pickup from their Brookvale warehouse outlet - LarryPost is not a shop but an outlet.) Recommended. Approx. $32.  Love this brush, lovely long hairs, spectacular point and holds so much water. Ring them or check online for stock.

  • or if you want a synthetic, the  Cindy Lane Neef Mahogany Kazan Mop (synthetic) 2013 size "00" is good.    If you prefer NON-animal hair, I I Like this Neef Mahogany Kazan  Mop  - it performs beautifully and almost exactly the same as a squirrel mop. I've tested this brush myself.  Available for Art Smart instore and on their website.  It retails for around $26.95, No bigger than the 00. (It should be around 7mm wide at the base of the hair - just incase they change their sizing system.)  
    Rosemary & Co's Series 170, size 0/0.
    LOVE the Rosemary & Co Series 170 in size  0/0  - 7.8mm ferrule (preferred) - no bigger,  (or the R9 travel squirrel - 7.4mm ferrule which is a little smaller).  You can probably get these at all the art stores and should cost around $30 (TBA)  
    And I like the Da Vinci Series 418, squirrel mop size 2, available on line, at the Art Scene, and various other places online, (at Senior   (Make sure it is a size #2 around 7.5mm across.)   These are slightly more expensive at around $32 - $39.
    Or any other brand, very pointed, very full natural squirrel mop, with a ferrule diam app 8mm.  
    - Master's Mop by Neef series 118 - another synthetic which performs quite well. size 00 should be around the right size (it should be 7-8mm at the base of the hairs. NO bigger. REtail around $20.
    -Atelier Squirrel Quill 40 series 5025S size 40 around $40 available from Sydney art store.
    -Isabey Kazan squirrel quill mop series 6234 (easily available online),
    -Jacksons Pure squirrel mop brush series 828, (online),
    -Rekab squirrel mop, -Dynasty, Renaissance, - Alvaro Castegnet -Da Vinci, -Art Spectrum and more. 
    OPTION:  If you NEED to get a cheaper brush, buy one of the Neef ones mentioned above. It needs to be a 'round' one around 7-8mm wide at the base, with a very good point, and that is nice and full and soft.  (see the pictures of the squirrel up the top? similar shape please.) Please don't buy nylon.  


  • a Painting board (this is compulsory) Minimum size of A3 but prefer a bit bigger.  NO CLIP.
    Just a flat board, or piece of GATORboard, plywood, masonite, perspex, corflute  even a painting canvas board, or similar non flexible light material that you can tape paper to.  It needs to be strong & water resistant as you will be taping your art paper on and off this board.  Best Dimensions:   approx. 45-50 x 35-40cm. Or buy one from art store.  Around $5 - $15.  Art Smart at seaforth sell great perpex. It's just the right size for 1/4 sheet, and it's so cheap!  Note, too big or heavy is hard to carry and won't fit on your table. 

  • A Palette - (this is necessary) -  Jenny uses a lidded white palette with large, deep wells and plenty of mixing space.  You can find these online and in art shops -
    Jenny likes the Australian Neef brand the best, Jenny uses the very big Neef SW4 at home.and the Neef StayWet 2 (SW2) (2wells in lid) around $29  (see pic below)  **Update, this palette seems to have just come back into stock!! (see Larry Post in Brookvale,  Senior Art, Art Shop etc, online.)  
    Another cheaper  brand, only around $16, is the Art Spectrum Colour Keeper  **HOWEVER you will need to rough up the bottom of each paint well of the latter, with sandpaper for the paint to stick in. It has a tendency to slide out when dry, AND it is a little harder to clean as the corners are square and not rounded as in the Neef. 
    By the end of term, if you are carrying on to Stg2, it would be best to buy one of these types of palettes.  If you prefer you can choose one of these options until later:  
    OPTION Either 2 x white dinner sized plates are fine, (not plastic disposable plates as they have a strange effect on the paint)  or you can buy white art palettes at $2 shops cheaper than the art shop.  (NOT an oil palette -the one with the thumb hole!)  Any cheap thing will do for the moment as long as it has plenty of mixing space, is white, and has fairly large spots for the paint.  NOTE: There is a good discussion about palettes below in Q & A, please don't bring a tiny palette. 

  • If you want a bigger, more expensive watercolour palette, go for the NEEF SW4  it has 4 wells/dents in the lid, and the paint wells are arranged around the perimeter of the palette. It should cost around $50 and will last forever.

  • PLUS:

  • A roll of regular cream masking tape (2cm wide approx.) from Bunnings, Woollies, Coles etc.  Should be nice and cheap.  NON coloured Painter's tape is ok, but more expensive and not necessary.  NOT Plastic tape.  NOT coloured.

  • A 4B pencil - not hb or 6b. 

  • An old towel, or plastic drop sheet, or plastic picnic tablecloth  to cover your table.

  • an old towelling handtowel, washer, or similar.  (this will be getting dirty!) to use as a brush wiper.  A teatowel is not good enough.  

  • Pen and note paper if desired.

  • Clean white soft eraser or a grey kneadable rubber.

  • Large Water container -  Either clear or white. A white 2L icecream container is ideal. (why white? because you can see how dirty it is.) 

  • A tilting block.  This can be:  a yoga block, a block of wood, a cardboard box...but must be a solid, level, stable item.  (not a tissue box) of the correct dimensions for leaning your board on (to make it slant). dimensions approx  approximately 12-15cm tall, 5cm wide, at least 15cm long. (it MUST BE wide enough to stand on it's own)  Note: We WILL need to slant our boards at times. but please don't buy an easel.  We'll discuss this in later stages. 

  • Face to face classes: please bring
    a coffee cup!


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