WSA Watercolour Club

WSA Watercolour Club is back, launching today at 3.30pm – 6.30pm. It will run every Tuesday in the WSA Café, led by Linda Newington & Andrew Carnie. All are welcome to join, from complete beginners to the more well practiced. The sessions are run informally, in a relaxed style, whilst receiving support and advice from the professionals!

Linda has put some notes and suggestions together below about watercolour paper, paint & brushes.

Watercolour paper comes in many sizes from tiny to elephant. It varies in colour, weight and texture. The three main types are Not, Rough and Hot Pressed. Rough is the heaviest texture, Not or Cold Pressed is rough but the texture has been flattened, Hot Pressed is the smoothest. The lighter weights are about 190gsm with the heaviest at 805gsm. The paper may be a very bright white through to tinted papers and on to darker shades.

Lighter weight papers may need “stretching” to ensure they do not “buckle”. Heavier papers are good if you want to build up layers and add to the watercolour with different types of paint, pastels, wax crayon etc. This paper does not normally need stretching.


Before investing in watercolour paint it’s a good idea to think about whether this is a medium you’ll continue to use. To start you can use “student” watercolours to practice but “artist” watercolours have much better pigments and therefore stronger colours from pale to dark. Winsor & Newton artists are a good make also Schmincke, Sennelier and Old Holland. They come in pans and tubes, pans are very portable, tubes may give you a thicker consistency if required. It depends how you like to use the paint. It is much more expensive than students so is an investment for those who will continue to use watercolour.

The best watercolour brushes are considered to be sable, squirrel hair are good too. All brushes come in different shapes and sizes. Again they are an investment. To start, some of the Pro Arte brushes which are not sable are good too.

There are many approaches to working with watercolour from using tissue and sponges to colour layering to mixing with other media. Take a look at the watercolours by other artists for example J.M.W.Turner, Winslow Homer, Emil Nolde, Georgia O’Keefe, Eric Ravilious, Peter Doig and Marlene Dumas. Each has a different approach to using this medium.


‘Wreckers Coast of Northumbria’ by J.M.W Turner


These are the basics to help you make a start if you are interested. Watercolour is not limited by scale but may be difficult to manipulate in sufficient quantity which is why practice is important.

Some good places to buy materials, alongside the WSA Art Shop, for paper, paint and brushes both online and at shops are –

You can find watercolour resources for inspiration and techniques at 759.2 & 751 in Library 2. You can also find the artists mentioned above via the Library catalogue or ask a library assistant to help you.

Robynne Willowby / Linda Newington, February 2016