Watercolor for Beginners - a down and dirty guide

by Lydia Makepeace

I’ve been asked several times recently about how to get started with watercolor painting, and what supplies are needed, so I thought I’d put together the most basic watercolor kit probably ever assembled. If you want play around, try something new, even paint for the first time this is the guide for you!


1) paint

No true “Bare Bones Kit” is complete without the primary colors - red, yellow, and blue.

2) water

I use an old juice glass or yogurt container to hold my paint water. It’s best to have two cups of water - one for cleaning your brush and the other to rewet it.

3) brush

Before buying a brush, run your finger back and forth across the bristles to make sure the brush maintains a nice point or edge. Also give the bristles a gentle tug to make sure the brush won’t “shed” while you’re painting. (I’ve been known to use my fingers or q-tips to paint with too.)

4) paper

Paper tends to buckle when water is applied so the heavier the weight of the paper, the better. 

5) palette

Go raid your cupboards! Any white dinner plate will do. No white plates? You can use the lids to plastic containers too.

6) paper towel

Use paper towel to clean your brushes and remove excess water.

Detailed supply list, including suggested brands HERE

The Bare Bones Watercolor Kit - a down and dirty guide for watercolor beginners // www.lydiamakepeace.com

Get Painting!

I hope this simple list helps get you started and makes beginning a little less intimidating. It’s often advised that you buy the best supplies you can afford. I’ve found though, that when I’m just starting out I usually can’t afford professional quality supplies or I’m afraid of wasting really expensive materials. Start out simple and expand as your budget allows and skills develop. 

Another hurdle when you’re just beginning to paint is not knowing what to paint. I highly highly recommend Watercolor Class by Michael Crespo. It’s my favorite watercolor instruction book and helps when I feel stuck or want to improve my skills.

For more art making tips and information follow me on Pinterest and be sure to check out the special boards I’ve created - Art Making and Weapons of Mass Creation

To see some of my watercolor creations visit my Etsy shop!