The Spin Doctor's Surgery E01 – Beginners' watercolour – which paints, brushes and paper you need!

In this new series, I’ll be building up a resource for absolute beginners at watercolour – in this episode I cover which paints, brushes and paper you’ll need – all of which are linked below for your convenience! You can get started from absolutely nothing for as little as £45, but remember that includes brushes and enough paper and enough paint to last you easily 6 months or so. The supplies below are the ones I’ll be using in coming episodes but you can enrich them with the optional Dalon brushes once your’re more experienced. Note these are affiliate links so I get a small commission on any sales but you do not pay ANY more than you would if you went to the vendor and found the item yourself! You can also buy them via my Emporium if you’re USA based:

Cotman Sketcher’s Set
Amazon UK: [£18.75 reduced to £7.64]
Amazon USA: [$15.81]

*Graduate Round Size 4 Synthetic Brush*
Amazon UK: [£2.99]
*Graduate Round Size 8 Synthetic Brush*
Amazon UK: [£1.20]
*Graduate Flat 1/2″ Synthetic Brush*
Amazon UK: [£2.99]
USA FOLK – this set from Simply Simmons has all the brushes you’ll need to follow along with this series, plus many more you can keep until more advanced – it’s very economical – if the long-handled brushes annoy you, just saw them in half!
Amazon USA: [$6.15]

UK FOLK: Simply Gold Taklon 2″ Skyflow Brush
Amazon UK: [£9.49]
USA FOLK: Aquafine 2″ Skyflow Brush
Amazon UK: [$18.33]
(the UK brush is the one I’m using in the video; the USA brush I also have, it’s a lovely brush and a great alternative – if anyone from the UK likes the look of it, you can get it too: [£12.95 reduced to £10.99].


Dalon Size 4 Round
Amazon UK: [£3.72]
Amazon USA: [$45.02]

Dalon Size 8 Round
Amazon UK: [£9.25 reduced to £7.56]
Amazon USA: [$8.36]

Dalon 12mm Flat
Amazon UK: [£10 reduced to £7.36]
Amazon USA: [$55.92]

OPTIONAL Dalon 38mm Flat (the 2″ skyflow above is a better option for most painter but this is here in case anyone wants it)
Amazon UK: [£24.25 reduced to £18.87]
Amazon USA: [$21.77]

Aquafine 10″ by 10″ Cold-press pad – 50 sheets (this is amazing value and a really good paper for beginners)
Amazon UK: [£20.20]
[note 50 sheets this size will last you for months!]
US FOLK: This size is not available in the USA so there’s a 16″ by 12″ pad instead – also 50 sheets:
Amazon USA: [$41.15]

OPTIONAL paper if you want to expand to a larger size once you get more experienced:
Cotman Cold Press 140lb 10″ by 14″ watercolour block (10 sheets)
Amazon UK: [£10.70]
Amazon USA: [$31.48 *PACK OF TWO!]


25 thoughts on “The Spin Doctor's Surgery E01 – Beginners' watercolour – which paints, brushes and paper you need!”

  1. I know for you this is an old video. But for me, it was very informative. You are a good teacher. Wish I could have a face to face class. But this is great. I learned a lot. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Looking forward to watching & learning more. Trying to be a sponge. LOL

  2. Dear Spin Dr,
    I inherited a small travel tin of artist W&N watercolour half pans. The tin originally held 12 half pans and a tube of white, plus a small brush. I've reconfigured the tin and it now holds 27 half pans –

    8 reds: Burnt Sienna, Scarlet Lake, Cad Red, Win Red, Quin Red, Perm Alizarin Crim, Perm Rose and Indian Red.

    8 yellows: Cad Yel, Indian Yel, Quin Gold, Raw Sienna, Yel Ochre, Naples Yel, Winsor Yel and Lemon Yel.

    8 blues: Payne's Gray, Win Blue R/S, French UM, Cobalt, UM G/S, Cerulean, Cobalt Turquoise.

    I have three other places where the white tube was. I can't decide what the three extra pans should be.

    I have Raw and Burnt Umber, Winsor Violet, Vandyke Brown, Hooke's Green, Sap Green or Olive Green spare.
    I guess you'll reject the greens – but which would you include of the others or any other recommendations. Should I carry the Payne's gray or carry another more useful blue?

    Many thanks for your consideration.

  3. I'm sorry to criticise because I was really interested in your colour mixes but because of the position of your water every time you reached to rinse your brush it went out of focus which really upset my eyes and became quite painful. I'll try and perservere by closing my eyes when you rinse a brush but I'm not hopeful, which is a real bugger as this is the most imformative colour mixing video I've ever watched.

  4. These are great tutorials. Very in depth and interesting.
    Just one tip, if possible, given space in your studio, as a right handed person it would be better to film over your left shoulder so we don't lose the image as you clean your brush.

  5. The Problem is when people start with a limited Palette… they are rather limited to their learning sources…
    When they look for step by step videos,or buy books or so… they will encounter different colors in each of those.
    And specialy in Watercolor we have the "problem" of staining and transparency…. when they wanna make a Tutorial about lifting out Clouds,but only have unliftable pthalo blue…they wont realy understand that in most cases and then get frustrated or so.
    I start a Watercolor teaching Channel soon too,in German,and i will recommend Schmincke Akademie Boxes with 16 Colors.
    4 of those large Pans for Cad-Y Hue,Magenta,Cyan and Pthalo Green.They sell for just 13 Euros and its a great starter Kit.
    And the Full Pans are a all time remember which Colors are supposed to be the primary mixing colors.
    From the Quality the Schmincke Akademie Colors are just perfect,they all have the same Pigment as their artist Grade Cousins,so everything people learn they can transfer 100% to the Artist Quality "Horadam".And in the price class 1 colors…i cant tell the difference between Akademie and Horadam….even on fresh swatches

  6. Thank you. I have been trying to develop a basic understanding of how water colours work. I've learned more in this past hour then I've have in months. I have a Cotman set as well as an expensive Schmincke set. Great to see you are using the Cotman set for this. I have followed along painting all of your demos and taking notes. Ready for part 2.

  7. thank you for uploading such in depth easy to understand tutorials for us newbs. Unfortunetly I made the mistake of buying a pan set with no primary colors. therefore with no knowledge of color theory and a 'cheap hobby' set (jane davenport) it was a disaster! I now know what to start with and how to start thanks to you! by the way, I ordered a 24 half pan schmincke hordam set. while that wont suddenly make me an artist, or fabulous paintings, at least I have colors that match what you are talking about, right?

  8. John Singer Sargent used white watercolour. I have a Cotman 12 set. I was annoyed to get a white in place of another colour, such as a purple. I have not even unwrapped my white half pan. .

  9. Thanks for including all tips for the beginners, things I have learned mostly through experience. I have been watercoloring for a number of years already. And sometimes a refresher lesson like this is always a helpful back to basics reminder for us. very helpful!

  10. I so agree that beginners need to learn some theory, learning to do washes, etc. as well as "just painting"!! Just like learning to play the piano. (And I'm not good at that either- I just plunk out my notes for choir!?)

  11. I absolutely love this series I'm brand new to watercolor I have been fascinated about watercolor this is so helpful !!!! I just subscribed your channel is awesome 🙂

  12. Well every thing is greatly appreciated, we all know how hectic our lives can be. So I say no worries, I'm a very patient person and look forward to when you do have time to upload it. as im sure are most people 🙂

  13. Very informative, I have been watching the frugal Crafter for nearly two years. and noticed your info come up there now and again and decided to give you a go. I think I am going to re-look at my water colour paints and try out your beginers wheel and really learn how they work and how to use them. I have done many paintings already for family and freinds in a variety of mediums, I am not a total beginner but I had never known the techniques you and Lindsay teach,IE before watching Lindsay I was using white paint for clouds and getting really frustrated at why my clouds looked so aweful. And why when using acrylics some colours show through white even when you tried lifting it. I am very slowly understanding how paint works, and try only using basic colours now and mixing them myself, instead of having lots of colours and not knowing which to use. makes life so much easier.One mistake I did make in the beginning was thinking I needed a massive variety of colours in both acrylic and water. I still have tons to learn I am sure. Looking at this I understand now why when I tried making obergien it looked so wrong, I was obviously mixing the wrong blue with the wrong red. So the paint wheel would definitely be something I need to get to grips with. Thankyou for this tutorial.

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