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Watercolour Paints

Our range of watercolour paints are available from top brands at great prices. Browse the selection, from tubes to pans, from professionals to students. Read More

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We offer the best watercolour paints from leading art brands, including Winsor & Newton, Daler-Rowney and Schmincke. Our collection includes assorted watercolour paints ranging from 45 half pan colours to single watercolour paint tubes. There is a great deal of choice in watercolour palettes and we have products suited to various budgets. With the best prices for watercolour paints in tubes and pans online, you can be sure you'll get the best deal when shopping with us. Our range includes artists quality professional watercolour paints and a number of watercolour paint sets that are perfect for beginners. You can also explore our range of watercolour paper and pads and watercolour brushes.

What are watercolour paints?

Watercolour paints are comprised of a dry pigment which is mixed with a binder of sorts (normally gum arabic). When the dry pigment is mixed with water, watercolours come to life in fluid form using a brush. Watercolours can be applied to a number of surfaces, though the best to use with watercolour paints is either a good watercolour paper or even vellum. 

Watercolour paints are most commonly available in half pans, but are also readily available and popular in watercolour paint sets with tubes. If you prefer to use watercolour paints in tubes, we stock a number of products, including Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolour Tubes and Schmincke Horadam Aquarell Watercolour Tubes. If you’ve never painted with watercolour tubes before but are keen to try, it’s worth noting that it’s slightly different than working with half pans. This is because with half pans, the pigment is in dry form, whereas tubed watercolour paint is already in liquid form. This means you don’t have to mix with water in the same way, though you should always lubricate your brush with water. However, to create different watercolour painting effects like washes, you’ll still want to manipulate the level of your paint’s transparency by mixing with more (or less) water. 

How do you use watercolour paints?

There are many different and popular ways to use watercolour paints, but there are very few wrong ways. The basic method of painting with watercolours is simply working with your paint, water, and a variety of brushes to create your desired effects. Despite the many different techniques and approaches for working with watercolours, the actual approach used by artists vary only slightly between beginner painters and professional artists. This approach to working with watercolours consists of perhaps a variation of a very basic principle outlined below. 

When it comes to working with watercolours, we always recommend soft, natural bristle brushes as they are capable of absorbing and holding more pigment and water. You’ll also need a fresh and clean water supply, thick watercolour paper, and a good palette with plenty of room for mixing your paints, creating washes and a variety of hues. You can read our blog to find out more information on the best brushes to use with watercolour.

There are many different methods and ways to experiment with watercolour paints. To find out more, read our blog for 5 watercolour painting techniques to try.

What surface is best for watercolour painting?

The best medium for using watercolour paints is traditionally watercolour paper. Watercolour paper, such as this Professional Watercolour Block, strikes the perfect balance of being absorbent of watercolour pigments while also providing the stability that this water-dependent medium requires. There are several different weights, sizes, and types of watercolour paper and pads, so this is a personal choice for you to make depending on your art style, experience, and budget.

Can you use watercolour paint on canvas?

Many people wonder about the best surfaces for working with watercolours and want to know if it’s possible to paint on canvas with their favourite medium. The simple answer is yes, you can paint on canvas using watercolours, however it’s not possible to do without altering the surface of the canvas quite significantly. 

Watercolour is a unique medium, and the benefit of painting on the more traditional surface of watercolour paper is that it absorbs watercolour paint. This absorption is what essentially fixes the medium to the surface. The very nature of canvas, however, is the complete opposite of this. Most artists who paint on canvas work with oils and acrylics, and these mediums function very differently from watercolour. Instead of being absorbed, oil or acrylic paint sits on the surface of a canvas. 

As such, any canvas that is sold as a watercolour canvas will have been modified so that the surface is designed to absorb the watercolour paint. Some artists prefer to buy a watercolour canvas board, while others prefer to use a watercolour medium to prep their own canvas. If you want to find out more about how to experiment with watercolour mediums, check out our blog.

How to preserve watercolour paintings

Watercolour paintings vary from bold and bright to delicate and layered. The last thing any artist wants is for their watercolour creations to get damaged or fade overtime. This is why it’s important to take a few steps toward preserving your watercolour paintings, which is simple to do. 

Unlike canvas, paper is much more susceptible to environmental damage. This alone means that watercolour paintings tend to be more fragile than perhaps an oil or acrylic creation. One of the best precautions you can take for protecting your watercolour paintings is to spray it with a fixative, like the Winsor & Newton Fixative Aerosol when it is completely finished and totally dry. Your final step would be to frame your watercolour painting under glass, as this will protect it from the elements most effectively. 

Best Watercolour Paint Brands

The brand of watercolour paint you choose will depend on the purpose of your art, your experience level, and your budget. As such, we recommend doing your own research into professional watercolour paints and those that are ideal for part time painters, beginners, or art students. The selection of watercolour paint sets, pans, and tubes at Cowling & Wilcox is sure to have the right quality and affordable option for you, from Toy Color to professional watercolour brands like Daler Rowney, Winsor Newton, and Royal & Langnickel.