Watercolour Painting for Children: Materials

Watercolour Painting for Children - who is it for?

My new  series of tutorials is designed so that parents and carers with no experience of painting and drawing can follow simple steps and learn alongside their children.

My target child is ten years of age or over, always under the close supervision of a responsible adult.

If you have a younger child, do try some of the tutorials with them, but always tidy away the paints and brushes yourself and again, closely supervise the whole activity.

What do I need?

Watercolour paints (also known as Aquarelle)
Go to a proper art shop (either in real life or online) and buy the best watercolours that you can afford. It may seem like a large outlay, but a small student grade set of Winsor and Newton, Sennelier, or Schmincke paints will make your child's paintings so much easier to create than if you went to somewhere like The Works or WHSmiths and bought their own brand paints which are chalky and full of fillers. Expect to pay around £20 for a Winsor and Newton Cotman compact set, and around twice that for Sennelier's La Petite Aquarelle or Schminke's Akademie sets.

Colours you will need 
  • two reds (one leaning slightly towards orange, one towards purple)
  • two blues (one leaning slightly towards purple, one towards green)
  • two yellows (one leaning slightly towards orange, one lemon yellow)
  • an earthy brown, an earthy yellow, an earthy red, an olive green and a vibrant blue-green
Don't worry if your set doesn't have all these, it's better to have just  a few good quality colours than lots of poor chalky colours. The most important colours are a bluey-red/magenta, a lemony-yellow and a greeny-blue.

Watercolour brushes
To begin with, buy one large round brush (size 12), one medium round brush (size 6), one fine round brush (size 2) and one small flat brush.

Buy synthetic brushes for durability. The most important thing here is that they have a good point and that they are made for watercolour. The brushes do not need to be expensive.

Watercolour paper
The paper that you choose is very important. It must be paper that is designed for watercolour, and will say "watercolour" or "aquarelle" on the packaging. Don't be tempted to go for a multi-purpose paper as they can give disappointing results, and children need all the positive encouragement they can get! In my experience when some children think that they have failed, that's it, they won't try again - so please don't skimp on the materials.

For a child I would go for 425gsm paper that will not buckle if too much water is used. My adult students tend to use 300gsm paper and are sometimes frustrated by the paper buckling, hence my recommendation to go up a thickness for children.

Bockingford "NOT" or "cold pressed" paper is a very durable paper, Cass Art in the UK do a good watercolour paper, and Winsor and Newton paper is also OK. In my experience Daler Rowney paper is not so good, and again do not buy cheap paper from The Works or WHSmith.


And that's it for now! If you have any specific questions on materials then please so pop them in the comments box below. 

My first tutorial will be a snowman, coming soon....