Watercolor can be both the easiest and most difficult medium to use. In this article I will list and discuss the basic materials needed to teach watercolor to a small group of approximately six teens or adults. (See “Links to Materials” in #9.) I will not discuss how to use watercolors because there are plenty of free videos online that explain very well how a beginner can use watercolor. But I will recommend generally what basic training should include in #8 below.
1. Paint. You can use professional watercolors to teach painting very inexpensively compared to other mediums. For instance, you can use one set of watercolors and create several watercolor tins with those colors. To do this, you would purchase an empty tin for each student. Then place a dab of each color in each tin. Artist grade (professional) watercolors are recommended because student grade has too much filler and student success will suffer.
2. Color Pigments. Watercolors go a long way. I suggest that you select one of two options: A. Daniel Smith Extra Fine Essentials Set. B. The Daniel Smith set plus burnt sienna and opaque white (Chinese white.) (Note: The Essentials Set contains both cool and warm primaries. There is much that can be learned from using this set. Also, Daniel Smith watercolor paints are extremely popular among professional watercolor painters.
3. Paper. Use real watercolor paper, 100% cotton. Buy a sheets then tear (yes tear it to create deckle edges) it down to a quarter sheet or even 1/8 sheet for practice. This 1/8 sheet can be folded in half to make greeting cards. Arches cold press, white 140 lb. seems to be the most widely recommended on social media. (See link below.) Also, I like it as much as any of the other 10 or so brands I have used. (Note: I do not feel the need to stretch my watercolor paper if I am painting on a small sheet of paper. Just tape the paper with blue painter’s tape onto a non-absorbent material like plastic.)
4. Paint Brushes. Use either water brushes (these are brushes that have a reservoir for water in the handle); or use an inexpensive set of synthetic brushes. Eventually the student will want to purchase a kolinsky stable brush if he/she wants to pursue watercolor. However, a Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable Watercolor Brush, round size 6 can cost almost $100…but it can last a lifetime and is worth every penny.
5. Water Containers. If you do not use water brushes then you will need two jars per student, one jar for clean water one jar for dirty water.
6. Pallets. A metal paint tin (case) is both a watercolor container and a pallet. One tin per student is necessary. You may want to use disposable plastic or foam plates as additional palette space. I am recommending a watercolor tin that includes several wells for placing dabs of watercolor from the tube and has a few areas for the pallet.
7. Rags and Paper Towels. Prepare several cotton rags for your students and bring along some paper towels. These must both be lint-free. They are used for creating texture, removing paint from the paper and brushes, and for cleanup.
8. A good training video should include the minimum information: How to place the image on the watercolor paper; several watercolor techniques; and the use of warm and cool pigments, opaque and transparent pigments, staining pigments, and granulating pigments. The issue of toxicity…which occurs in many artist pigments…should be discussed. Also, students need to know how various mediums impact watercolor performance. Some of this information may be listed on the tube or detailed on the manufacturers’ and sellers’ websites.
9. Links to Materials. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I extensively use the following supplies and I have been pleased with them:
DANIEL SMITH 285610005 Extra Fine Essentials Introductory Watercolor, 6 Tubes, 5ml
HEALLILY Empty Watercolor Tins 12 Colors Pigment Pans Metal Tin Palette Box Storage Tray Portable Paint Case for Artist Student Travel (Available in black and 3 sizes.)
Arches Watercolor Paper 140 lb. cold press white 22 in. x 30 in. sheet
Arteza Water Brush Pen - Self-moistening - Portable - Watercolor - (Assorted Tips, Set of 4)
Grace Art Water Color Brush Set WS12 by Grace Art
Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable Watercolor Brush - Round size 6