I know from reading the book Van Gogh’s Letters that Mr Starry Night felt that one should first get the foundation of drawing right before attempting painting. But I just could not wait to start playing with colours.
I have grown old enough and wise enough to know that sometimes in life, you cannot keep “planning to”. You just never know whether there will be another day. So I went ahead and signed up for watercolour painting class and plunged into the rainbow puddle!
Being very left-brain and always wanting to plan ahead due to some in-born insecurity, I borrowed this book before starting class so that I won't really look as if I am really, truly starting form zero. Come on Mr Dummy, give it to me in plain-speak please!
Mr Dummy did not fail me. Most watercolour books do not tell you what colours to buy, and even if they do, they do not tell you why. Mr Dummy told me that I really need just six colours and I can paint the world! Each primary colour on the colour wheel is bias towards either of the other two primary colours and I just need a warm and cool version of each. So a blue is either red bias or yellow bias (cool blue or warm blue). All others are luxury colours - nice to have but which you can really mix on your own if you spend some time to learn how. I bought Van Gogh's student's colours from Straits Arts Company, and some Daler-Rowney's Aquafine student range from Art Friend. They cost less than $4 each.
I got these from Straits Art Company. I believe it is worth spending on fairly decent brushes or one would get really frustrated - no control. I got round brushes in sizes 2,4,6,8,10. I have a cheap flat brush here which I found gives very uneven washes, and at 1/2 inch is a tad too small. I would get a better one soon. I also bought this nice bamboo mat to roll the brushes in after use - they allow the brushes to air and dry. I think can use to roll sushi too : )
I got this plastic made-in-Japan palette from Art Friend for just $5. It is light enough for travel to class, has a decent number of mixing areas and is rather white so this makes checking colours easier. China-made copies have a grey-yellowish tone. Mr Dummy advised me to rub the smooth plastic mixing areas with a scouring pad first to prevent the water and paint from beading when I mix them. Good idea.
Lastly, the paper. I bought a jumbo pad of 50 sheets from Daler-Rowney in 300g per square metre. This is the weight that most books recommend and it is thick enough so I do not need to stretch the paper prior to painting if I am not going do something that is too wet or puddly. I just tape the edges to a board to prevent it from buckling when it gets too wet. This one costs $38 and is really good value for money.
And I am all set for watercolour painting class! So excited!