Watercolor Painting Tools - Part 2: Paints!

The quality and brand of watercolor paint you buy is without a doubt, the second most important part to painting successfully. Artist grade paints contain more pigment and less filler than student grade paints. However, the number one rule with anything is to buy only the best that you can afford. It's a waste to spend hundreds of dollars and expect to be a successful painter overnight when "the core of painting successfully lies within the artist".

My Stephen Quiller palette still gets much love to this day!

How do I choose a watercolor paint brand?

There's no universal brand for every artist. The brand of paint you use is very personal and completely up to the artist. A few brands that I LOVE include (prioritized by most preferred to least preferred):  M. Graham, Sennelier, Daniel Smith, and Winsor & Newton. If you must buy student paints, stick to Da Vinci or Winsor and Newton's Cotman line. They are top quality student grade paints and contain less fillers than other student grade paints. However, if you do have the funds - I highly recommend starting with artist grade watercolor paints so you can adjust and familiarize yourself with how these types of paint handle. You can also read about M. Grahams here in an earlier post.


This chart represents each color that is in my Stephen Quiller round porcelain palette

Making Color Charts 

When you start any basic palette, it is crucial that you study and know which colors you want before you go out to buy them and make sure you are buying single pigments only. Single pigments will be indicated on the label (i.e. PY151 vs. PY 151 and PO62 etc) and allow you to mix brighter and cleaner colors. Handprint.com is a great resource when it comes to watercolor painting tools, pigments and information. When you have picked out the colors you want - make a color chart! Arrange your warm colors on one side and cool colors on the other so you can easily work your way around. It's also easier to remember which color is in the paint well.

Filling in my new shiny porcelain palette!

I obviously have too many colors...

19 Winsor and Newton colors cost me around $300 for the 14ML tubes in NYC!

19 Winsor and Newton colors cost me around $300 for the 14ML tubes in NYC!

On the subject of brands, the reason I prefer Winsor and Newton the least (even though they are extremely popular) is two-fold: 1) they dry super hard in your palette and cracks & 2) they are insanely expensive! Of course, they deliver exceptional bright colors as you can see in this chart to your right. I prefer M. Grahams because of the honey in their paints which allows the paint to stay soft in your well and paint is just as bright as the Winsor and Newton brands.

This concludes the very short paint brand review but happy to answer any/all questions you may have! Just leave a comment below :)