When I first started crafting, I initially thought that I wanted to be a watercolor artist. I had never really been into crafting or painting, but I remember seeing a lot of gorgeous DIY watercolor paintings and tutorials online. I knew I wanted to become apart of the crafting world, but I figured card making and stamping would be too expensive. Watercolor seemed to be the perfect intro to crafting, so I went to Michael's one day and got started!
Fast forward a few months: I enjoyed painting, but I just wasn't getting into it as much as I hoped. I purchased my first stamps at this time (three clear quote stamps) and began combining stamping with water coloring. Soon enough, I finally bit the bullet and began making cards, and I haven't stopped since! I still love using water media to color stamps and add fun embellishments to my cards.
The reason I am telling you all of this is that I spent a lot of money getting into crafting and finding out what I wanted to do best. I really wanted to write a post about what supplies I started with and what is worth purchasing once you are committed to the hobby! I hope you enjoy everything I have to share with you today, and I hope I can share some valuable information for other beginner crafters.
Water Media for Crafters 101
When I first started painting, I purchased two watercolor pan sets from Michaels. One was regular watercolors and one was pearlescent watercolors. Both were $4.99 a piece. I also purchased a bunch of the cheap paintbrushes that come in packs of what seems to be a million, also for $4.99 a piece. This was my first mistake! While it seems you're getting a good value because of all the different brush sizes, they shed too much and are hard to control.
I eventually purchased some better, student grade watercolor brushes, and I am still so pleased with them!
For beginning crafters who want to color stamped images with watercolors or do simple watercolor paintings, I recommend these size synthetic brushes. I purchased them all at Michael's/Hobby Lobby.
TIP: I still keep a large and small cheap watercolor brush on my work space because they are great for removing embossing powder from the wrong areas.
As for paper, 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper is a must! I would stay away from paper that is 90 lb. because it is much thinner and doesn't handle water as well. 140 lb. cold press paper has a little bit of texture to it, but it stamps beautifully and can handle a lot of water being added to it. I recommend the Canson XL watercolor paper because it's affordable and is the perfect paper for new crafters to get the hang of how watercolors work.
Tim Holtz makes a Distress Watercolor Paper that is precut to the A2 size and is perfect for card makers. I haven't tried it yet, but I am planning on it because it gets such great reviews by card makers who love using watercolors in their work.
If you are going to be using watercolors with your stamping, you need a water-resistant ink. I first purchased the Archival Ink by Ranger. It is a nice black ink that doesn't bleed when it comes into contact with water. I like a very crisp, black image when I stamp, however, and I feel that the Versafine Onyx Black Pigment Ink is much better for that. No matter how intricate the stamp is, this ink really helps the image to come out sharp looking. It also is water-resistant once it dries, making it perfect for a plethora of techniques!
Tube Watercolor & Pencils:
Once I got more comfortable with watercolor, I purchased some tube watercolors and some watercolor pencils.
I have a set of Reeves Student Grade watercolor tubes and various Winsor & Newton Cotman tubes. I put them in a palette I purchased at Hobby Lobby.
I own the Prismacolor 36 set of watercolor pencils and a 24 set of the Derwent Inktense pencils. The Prismacolor watercolor pencils are wonderful! They are so creamy and easy to blend. If you like coloring with color pencils and are curious about watercolors, watercolor pencils are a wonderful way to get started. All you do is color with the pencils and then blend them out with a wet paint brush! The colors are soft, but gorgeous. They're also great for sketching your picture before you begin painting with watercolors because no pencil lines will be left behind!
The Inktense pencils are wonderful, also, but I think they are better suited for crafters who are more experienced and are committed to the hobby. They are expensive, and can be a little more difficult to use. Unlike a traditional watercolor pencil, the Inktense pencils turn into an ink when wet. Once the ink dries, it's permanent! If you mess up with watercolors, you can always add more water and play with the color to get it where you want it. I have found it to be much harder to fix Inktense mistakes because it won't budge once it dries! This permanent ink can be of benefit, though, if you like adding more layers to your work.
TIP: Whenever I get a new set of pencils, I like to swatch out all the colors on watercolor paper and keep it in the lid of the container for reference.
I wanted to do a little comparison of all of the watercolor products I own to show you what I think works best.
I began by comparing the regular Artist Loft watercolor pans to their pearlescent counterparts.
The regular colors are so rich and vibrant, while the pearlescent is much softer. I still can't believe how rich the colors are in such a cheap palette! The pearlescent palette is very shimmery and is great if you've always wanted to try the Wink of Stella or similar product to add shimmer to your project.
While the Artist Loft palette is the cheapest, I honestly enjoy it the best for crafting. For actual watercolor paintings, I do prefer my palette of Reeves and W&N, but the Artist Loft palette is fine for paper crafting. It provides a wide and vibrant color selection for an unbeatable price. It definitely gets the job done for all of my card making needs. It has great colors to create backgrounds for your cards, color flowers and people, and so much more!
To compare my other watercolor mediums, I swatched them out in the closest crimson colors that each set had.
While I enjoy using all four products, I have to say I love the way the W&N Cotman paint reacts with water the best. When I do a wet into wet technique (wetting the paper before adding color), the Cotman paint seems to flow the best and look beautiful once it dries. For money's sake, however, I think the Reeves paints are worth looking into if you are interested in tube watercolors. You can get more colors for your money, especially if you use a coupon at Michael's for them like I did! I would love a full set of the Cotman paints, but I can't talk myself into buying them when I am mostly a card maker whose needs can be met by a $5 palette.
As for the pencils, I prefer the vibrancy of the Inktense over the creamy, soft colors that Prismacolor offers. I do enjoy using both to achieve different looks, but I think the Inktense is the most versatile.
I wanted to show you the inks and paints in actions, so here are some photos comparing the inks and the paints. I stamped a hot air balloon stamp from Lawn Fawn's Blue Skies stamp set on the Canson 140 lb. paper I mentioned previously.
I have to say that I really do like the Artist Loft paint palette. It worked well with the ink and has a really vibrant, yet loose look to it. For the price, you can't beat it! It is great for both beginner paper crafters and those who have more experience.
Thank you so much for checking out this long post! I appreciate it so much, and I hope my experience with these products can help you, too!
Get the products I mentioned here!
Artist Loft Watercolor Palette
Derwent Inktense Pencils
Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils
Reeves Watercolor Tubes
Winsor and Newton Cotman Paints
Ranger Archival Ink Pad
Versafine Onyx Black Pigment Ink