I thought it might be helpful & interesting to you art folks to know what kind of art supplies I use. Over the years I've tried quite a few brands of art supplies and these are the ones I'm currently loving. Most of the links here are to my Amazon recommendation list.
I debated for a whole YEAR before purchasing this paint set. When I seen how rich the watercolors were I was impressed. They also have 36 colors in this set and it comes with a swatch card--this is something I really appreciated! The quality and amount of paint you get is phenomenal for the price.
I used this set for three years before upgrading to the SPWN set. They are good to start out with, especially if you're wanting pans of paint instead of tubes (personal preference--I like pans since there is less set-up/clean up). I remember feeling so professional when I bought the set; before I'd been using tube paint (probably Reeves) and it was an upgrade :) The pigments aren't quite as rich as the SPWN but they're a good starting place.
Gouache (pronounced "gwash) is a medium that combines the best of watercolor and acrylic (in my opinion!). It can be used like watercolor to layer light to dark and can also be re-moistened. I love that it can also be used like acrylic to add lighter details to dark backgrounds. The W&N variety is so creamy and smooth--I'd recommend any artist to give it a try! I've also tried the Holbein brand, which is good.
Hot Press Watercolor Paper
I didn't know hot press paper existed until learning about it from Inslee Fariss or Katie Rodgers (Paper Fashion). The SMOOTH paper is amazing for illustrators. Since I scan and edit a lot of my paintings with Photoshop I like getting a clean scan without any texture. Regular watercolor paper, which has visible grooves, can't achieve that effect as well as hot press paper. I use Fabriano Hot Press Paper, which is a decent quality. It isn't 100% cotton, so that may affect the way it behaves, but the price on Amazon is too good to pass up. If you're wanting top-of-the-line hot press paper, Arches is the way to go.
Cold Press Watercolor Paper
I'm not picky about cold press paper since it's not something I use regularly. Canson watercolor pads work well and are available at most Walmart stores for a fair price.
I've heard other artists say "invest in high quality paint before brushes", which I 100% agree with. I've used student-quality brushes for a long time and still enjoy them. Expensive brushes can be worrisome if you forget to clean them regularly--which is something I'm guilty of :) I'm currently using brushes from the Master's Touch brand at Hobby Lobby.
If you do a lot of painting on the go, do yourself a favor and purchase some Pentel Aquash Brushes.
I use traditional & mechanical pencils for sketching. Mechanical pencils (PaperMate and Pentel) are great for small details and precise work (and no sharpening!). I like traditional pencils with a softer lead (4B-6B) for loose sketching. Basically any store sells pencils. Don't be picky; just start sketching, please :)
Micron pens by Sakura are my personal favorite. They are bleed-resistant and are great for drawing tiny details. I've found they are available in most craft stores, which is helpful if your ink runs out (which it will if you use these daily!).
Kneaded rubber erasers are great for erasing small areas since you can mold it into a different shape. ArtGum erasers work well for erasing big areas; they're heavy duty and can remove dark marks as well.
Nothing fancy here! I use old dish towels for blotting my brushes and cleaning up spills (oops!). Bonus: paint stains on the towels make cool designs.
I love these two cups I got from Target in the dollar section--cute polka dots! They look a bit sad now but they work just fine :) Make sure to try keep a "dirty" and "clean" cup--you won't have to change your water so often.
Wetting your watercolor paints before you begin painting helps save your brushes from wear & tear. I'm using an old face mist bottle from TJ Maxx.
Same concept as the mister--pre-wets your paint and keeps your palette damp.
"The Masters" brush cleaner is wonderful for cleaning brushes that are paint filled & stained. This li'l jar has lasted me for three plus years!
This is the most random item on the list! If you make a mistake (like a BIG mistake) and you're at your wits end, try using a magic eraser on that area before tossing the painting out! Simply dampen the magic eraser and use it to blot away paint layers. It will take away some of the paint and give you a second chance--thanks random YouTube video I found when I was desperate for a solution :)
Hope this helps anyone who is feeling a bit lost and overwhelmed with the many art products out there! Let me know of your recommendations in the comments :)