How to Start a Watercolor Hobby

I get a lot of questions on which materials to buy when you want to start watercolor as a hobby. Unlike years back when I was starting, I could only rely on National Bookstore for my supplies. Now, there are so many options. Several art supplies shops have popped up online that target hobbyist and full-fledged artists with various watercolor brands hailing from France, Japan, Korea, etc. It makes choosing much more difficult and consequently makes hoarding a lot easier! I’ve seen artists who has as much as 20 brushes and several pans and tubes of paints and I’m astounded how they can figure out which one to use (Is there a designated brush set when doing florals? Or a brand best suited for landscape or portrait perhaps?). But like everything else in life, please take things in moderation. That life lesson includes buying art supplies.

So if you want to give watercolor a try but is afraid to commit, here are some options you can purchase without breaking the bank.


Prang is wonderful brand to start with because it is the best among all the budget friendly options. I started with Prang and as you can see my set is used and abused countless times. If you need more convincing about this set, check out my work here and here that showcase Prang’s vibrant colors.


For those who prefers tubes instead of pans, try Sennelier La Petite Aquarelle Fine Student travel box. The set comes with 12 tubes of basic colors (less pigmented because it’s a student grade) and a mixing tray. But you can do like me and buy a separate palette for more mixing convenience. Tubes last longer than pans so this is a good investment. For sample work using this Sennelier, check this out. Sennelier La Petite Aquarelle Fine Student travel box and mixing palette are available in The Craft Central located in Greenbelt 5, Makati.


For brushes, I recommend only getting 1 big and 1 medium to small round brush. I like round brushes as oppose to flat ones because I can do wash and details with them. You don’t need an arsenal of brushes to start out and you don’t need to get expensive brushes with real hair. Synthetic brushes work just fine and sometimes they work even better, in my opinion. Princeton, Martol and Best Buy brushes are available in National Bookstore and Campus brush set of 3 from artnebulaph. Careful not to buy brushes that have falling hair or those that are too stiff (ala walis tingting hair), as I’ve seen them in NBS as well.


Ok this is the last one in the list – paper! There is paper made for watercolor so don’t use bond, oslo, cartolina, canvas, construction or tracing paper! The most cost friendly and beginner friendly brand would always be Canson and it’s available in National Bookstore (if it’s not sold out which is happening more often)! For beginners, please use 300gsm paper as it is thicker, can absorb more water and will enable you to easily lift colors. Canson Montval pad is a good choice with price ranging from 400-700 pesos, depending on the size. I also put in The Lettering Progress Keeper by Abbey Sy (also by Canson) as it’s a good pad to practice with, despite being 200gsm.

Alright, that’s all you need to start watercoloring! Oh yeah, you also need a jar of clean water, a load of paper towels (Starbucks have really absorbent paper towels haha shhhhhh…), lots of patience and super zen-like aura! Watercoloring should be fun so take it easy. Purchasing the right materials will certainly help you get started, but it is the person’s perseverance and desire for learning that will make the painting truly shine.

4 thoughts on “How to Start a Watercolor Hobby

  1. Hi! I’m interested in buying a student grade paint and i’m wondering which is better. La petite aquarelle sennelier or winsor & newton cotman? I hope you could email me back because i might not find this blog again. Thank you so much & God bless.

    1. Hi Patricia,

      I would say, if possible, invest on the W&N cotman as they have really good pigments. W&N are far more expensive than the Sennelier though.

      P.S. Sorry I don’t email directly and sorry again for taking too long to reply. 🙂

      Happy painting!


  2. And btw, which is better to invest on. Escoda versatil travel brush or wooden stem ones? I would greatly appreaciate your effort to notice this. 🙂

    1. Hi Patricia,

      What do mean by wooden stem ones? I have an Escoda Versatil travel brush and love it to death. I always bring it with me. 🙂


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