Watercolor painting is one of the oldest mediums of art, but it’s also one that feels the most intimidating to new artists. Creating the right consistency of paint with water, perfecting blending methods, and working with a type of paint that expands and contracts can feel overwhelming, but we’re here to tell you that watercolor is not only fun for experienced painters, it’s also worth trying by aspiring artists as well.
The first step to successful watercolor painting is having the right tools. If you want to start with something that is easier than a brush, we recommend watercolor pencils (check out our top picks here). We love that these pencils can be used either dry as regular coloring pencils or dipped in water to create a watercolor effect.
If you’re ready to put brush to paint, here are our suggestions on which watercolor paints are best suited for beginners and experts. For a more comprehensive look at making the leap to watercolors, check out our tips on eight ways to get started with watercolors.
Whether you’re using pens or brushes, paint pans or tubes, when it’s time to bring your watercolor painting to life, you need the right paper. The watercolor paper we’ve included on our list is cold-pressed, which gives it a slightly textured surface, making it appropriate for novices and advanced artists. Cold-pressed paper falls between rough and hot-pressed paper and is the preferred style for watercolor artists because it works well with large areas of wash and smaller, fine detail work.
Which watercolor pad is right for you? Check out our suggestions below and get ready to create your masterpiece!
1. ARTEZA Watercolor Pad
Durable and made from 100 percent cotton, the ARTEZA Watercolor Pad features 14 sheets of cold-pressed paper that are perfect for watercolors
Pros: The ARTEZA Watercolor pad is comprised of 14 pages measuring 9 inches x 12 inches, with each thick piece of 140 lb / 300 gms paper quickly absorbing water to help maximize blending and clean lines without allowing for much bleed through. We like that each piece of paper has a smooth and texturized side, giving artists a choice between the two finishes. The glue-bound book is perfect for watercolors, but users also like the book for drawing, sketching, and more.
Cons: Customers note that because the pages are incredibly absorbent or ‘thirsty,’ they soak up the paint quickly, making ARTEZA better suited for experienced watercolor painters.
2. Genuine Crafts Watercolor Paper Pad
Great for beginners who want to practice their technique, the Genuine Crafts Watercolor Paper Pad comes in a pack of two, with each pad including 30 cold-pressed pages.
Pros: The Genuine Crafts pads are A4 size (8.4 inches x 11.7 inches), which means they easily fit into a binder or backpack. The acid-free paper is cold-pressed and explicitly designed for use with watercolor paint. The textured pages are durable and will keep your artwork vibrant for a long time.
Cons: One customer noted that the paper has a slight blue tint, which is another reason why we suggest Genuine Crafts for beginners who are looking for practice pads.
3. Arches Watercolor Paper Pad
Reflecting light and featuring a light grain that makes small details more visible, the Arches Watercolor Paper Pad has been the preferred option by experienced watercolor painters for over a century.
Pros: Ideal for experienced watercolor painters or novices who want a professional quality pad, Arches uses long fibers in their pages to create a durable and resilient piece of paper. Arches are the only company in the world to soak their paper in pure natural gelatin and air dry each sheet, which brings out the luster and transparency of the paint and keeps the pages from tearing or linting. This process also keeps the paper looking new through erasing, making it an excellent option for pencil drawings as well.
Cons: With 12 sheets, the Arches is the smallest pad on our list.