Dip your toe in the rewarding and versatile medium of watercolor. With a history as rich as its pigment, it is one of the oldest mediums; watercolor’s origins date back to the Stone Age and the ancient Egyptians. In China, artists began using watercolor around 4000 BCE and developed watercolor landscape painting in the 4th century CE. Watercolors were used in the Middle Ages to illuminate manuscripts and to color wash maps, and old master Albrecht Dürer popularized the medium during the Northern Renaissance. Contemporary watercolorists attribute the popularity of the medium to the 18th- and 19th-century English school of landscape painters that included names such as JMW Turner and Thomas Girtin. Subsequently, “watercolour societies” sprang up all over Europe and America at the turn of the century, and the medium remains popular both for drafting initial and making final works. Highly pigmented, portable, quick drying, and well suited to both beginners and experts, watercolors produce beautiful marks and color washes sure to bring life to compositions of any style.
1. Crafts 4 All Watercolor Paint Set
The Crafts 4 All watercolor painting set includes 12 nontoxic tubes of paint and three paintbrushes. All you need to do is add water and paper! These paints are smooth, highly pigmented, and blendable. Once put to paper, the archival-quality pigment won’t fade or flake. While pan watercolors can get murky after extensive use, watercolor tubes will deliver bright, clear color every time, though they’re less easily portable without a case.
2. AEM Hi Arts Watercolor Paint Set
If you’re in the market for a more comprehensive color selection and kit, try this 24-color watercolor set. The set comes complete with a mixing palette and a 12-sheet watercolor paper pad. Another bonus? With this product, you shop not only for yourself, but to help others: for every set sold, AEM Hi Arts donates one set to an organization in need of art supplies. A watercolor guide e-book is also included with your purchase to instruct beginners and help seasoned watercolorists brush up on old skills. The nontoxic, odorless paint is smooth and vivid on the page.
3. Ohuhu Watercolor Paint Set
This 24-color watercolor set includes a range of crisp colors and 6 nylon bristle brushes. The brushes are multiuse: in addition to watercolor, they work with acrylic, oil, and body and face paint. Each tube of paint contains 12mL of nontoxic, intensely pigmented paint that won’t dull with age and light.
4. Artist’s Loft Watercolor Pan Set
The only pan set on this list is a great choice for educators, students, and beginners. While watercolors in tubes can be messy in the classroom, a pan set is easy to clean, transport, and use. The paint is acid-free, washable, and nontoxic, and the kit includes a natural-bristle paintbrush. While the pigment is vibrant and blendable, some colors appear chalky, so this set is not recommended for professional artists.
5. GenCrafts Watercolor Paint Set
Go color crazy with this watercolor paint set. What this kit lacks in the way of paintbrush, carrying case, or palette, it makes up for in the sheer number of colors included. Choose from 50 shades of premium paint. Each tube of nontoxic paint is clearly labeled with a color name and code for quick reference and fuss-free organization. The paint texture is smooth and the color vivid: a little goes a long way, so this set is built to last as well.