I decided to post explanations and some pictures showing art supplies which we are frequently using in our watercolor, sketching and drawing classes.
You can use watercolor pencils, watercolor paints in tubes or set of pan watercolors when starting out. You do not have to buy everything right away, but small set or some paint tubes are necessary for the first class.
Student grade watercolor paints will not have the same properties as artist grade paints because they contain more fillers and less pigment. There is still always something in between: not too expensive and with acceptable quality. However, it is better you get only a few tubes of excellent paint than 20 tubes or large set of bad quality paint. I love St. Petersburg watercolors for their brilliance and transparency.
It is extremely important to have a good watercolor paper because your painting results will directly depend on quality of paper and paint. We are using thick, rough or fairly heavy, cold press watercolor paper. Not all brands will have the “ROUGH” paper, but all of them offer “COLD PRESS” paper. Please pay attention that we are using only cold press paper (it is written straight on a block of paper). The thickness of watercolor paper is measured by weight. So, the greater the weight, the thicker and better the paper. It is measured either in pounds per ream (lb) or grams per square meter (gsm). I would recommend, you look for paper which weighs at least 140 lb (300 gsm). The heavier papers are more expensive, so choose something from the medium range. We use either Arches, cold press, fairly heavy or we order online Saunders- Waterford paper.
Poor quality paper will buckle, warp and it will not allow to use some painting techniques because the number of washes is very limited on thin paper. Masking fluid can cause it to tear. Thin and poor quality paper simply does not have layers for paint to travel through them, therefore, water creates spots, sits on top of the paper surface, does not get absorbed and does not allow paint flowing and creating nice washes.
The size of your watercolor paper actually matters, too. It happens very often that beginners choose paper of a very small size. It is a wrong assumption that painting tiny stuff is easier. The smallest size you should go for is approximately 12 x 16 inches, and we are quite often using even larger watercolor paper because it allows to understand painting techniques better and create art much easier.
To paint comfortably, you will need to attach your paper to some firm, but light base. It cannot be heavy, we need to lift, rotate, tilt and so on, it has to be easy to hold and handle. Firm cardboard or something similar is fine. The base should exceed the painting paper size. Please attach it with the green painter’s tape to the cardboard or similar base.
We are using good pen for pen and watercolor drawings. I would recommend black pen which does not bleed with application of water, Micropen in sizes 0.2 or 0.3 is great.
Graphite pencils, medium soft or hard, and kneaded eraser, also known as putty rubber or artist grade eraser is also necessary. We cannot use the regular hard eraser since it damages the watercolor paper.
We do apply both: graphite transfer or copying paper for transferring our drawing onto watercolor paper and tracing paper for creation of large scale sketches when the drawing is complex or requires to show values clearly. These papers should be in size close to the watercolor paper. Please also have some testing paper which you can use for trying out colors or similar stuff. Cheap watercolor paper would do.
We are using some small, medium and medium-large size brushes. Just make sure you buy watercolor brushes with soft bristles. Synthetic brushes are fine and inexpensive. We are usually fine with one flat brush (at least 3/4 or 1 in wide) and two to four round brushes with fine tips. Sizes 6 to 12.
When painting with watercolor, it is highly recommended to use well absorbing paper towel. Paper towel is necessary for cleaning the brush, taking off extra paint or water and correcting your painting. Paper towel is necessary for every single step and class.
Palette can be very simple, just watch out that you do not get something tiny since it is extremely difficult to mix up reasonable amounts of paint in something which is size of a quarter. If you think, you’d rather save the paint which is already on your palette, get some medium size palette with lid, that way you won’t have to dispose any paint, as long as it’s not dirty.
These are watercolor pencils. It is possible to achieve excellent results using these pencils either for the entire painting, or only for its initial stages.
It is better to buy watercolor painting supplies in a specialized art store, I do not think Wallmart is an option for paper, brushes or paint, but you could get paper towel, painter’s tape, palette and base for attaching your painting there.