Watercolor paints are one of the easiest mediums to use, really. Non-toxic materials, and travel-friendly. There is almost no preparation needed, but I have listed a few basic ideas to get you started.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PAPER:
The standard weight of watercolor paper is 140 lb. Choose a lighter weight (90 lb) or heavier weight (300 lb +) depending on your personal preference and need as an artist. I am comfortable with the standard 140 lb weight. It’s affordable and works for my needs. Also make sure you use cold press paper. Any standard watercolor paper will be noted as cold press. Cold press paper has a medium rough texture that will allow your paint to soak into the page.
PREPARING YOUR PAPER AND MAKING BORDERS (GETTING STARTED):
Paper lighter than 140 lb will warp slightly if you do not tape it down or use a paper block (which is basically a solid stack of watercolor papers, gummed at the edges), so if you are using a loose-page watercolor pad, and concerned about it buckling, it is best to remove the page from the pad and use removable tape to adhere the page to a flat surface before you start painting. NOTE: The paper will still buckle while the paint is drying, but the more it dries, the more the paper will flatten out, if taped down.
Another technique to try with your removable tape is to use it as a masking tool, creating a protected hard edge (see example below).
However, you may not want to mask your borders in order to create a natural look (see example below). The natural border your background wash creates can give a lovely authentic charm to your painting. It all depends on your personal preference as an artist. In the example below I have also created a deckled edge on the paper, using the watercolor paper (which is less than 140 lb) from the pad included in the Royal All Media Set.
HOW TO CREATE A SIMPLE DECKLED EDGE FOR YOUR PAPER:
- Use a flat metal ruler.
- Measure where you want your edge to be first, if particular (use a soft pencil to mark your paper, so it is easily erased later).
- Lay ruler down, along the edge you want.
- Press down firmly on the ruler with one hand as you tear the paper away with the other hand.
You could also just let loose completely and use your watercolor pad as a watercolor sketchbook. My grandfather did this. It’s a good way to start if you are a beginner. That way there is less stress on creating a masterpiece and more stress on experimenting and learning this new painting technique. If you get frustrated with a piece, just turn the page and start again.
If you have any questions about the prep needed for watercolor painting, just leave a comment on this post and we’ll be happy to help!