I'm Nikki, a creative old soul who loves tea time, tip-toeing through gardens, mounds of books, swaying to records, watercolors, sunset walks with our three yorkies, and star-gazing with Paul. This blog carries snippets of my life with just us two (five with Rusty, Lucy, & Ethel) - I hope it brings you happiness as you snuggle in with something warm and delicious and begin reading. Enjoy, friends!

the blog!

If I had to choose:

My Art Supplies | Watercolor Basics

Watercolor Basics | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comHello friends! Happy Monday, what a beautiful (and stormy!!) day, and all that jazz! :)

One of my main goals for this blog waaaaaay back in 2012, was to be able to help people with photography by educating. I wrote a few posts here and there, giving insight and tips to photographers, as well as brides, on the wedding day. I didn’t do it as much as I would have liked to, and if I’m being completely honest with you, it was because I was scared.

Scared?! Yes. I thought that if I helped too many people I would lose clients. I know I’m not the only on out there that has felt like that because also back then, very few people were willing to help me. I remember asking a photographer, whose photos I found while searching for Eden Prairie engagement session locations, where one of her engagement sessions took place. I contacted her because she had a beautiful engagement session with these gorgeous bluffs that made you feel like you were in the English countryside. Well, unfortunately she was one of those who refused to help me out – she wouldn’t reveal the location to me because she had found it herself. It really felt like a dog-eat-dog world out there. I didn’t give up on that spot, however. Paul and I drove around Eden Prairie until I held one of her photos up to the location and BAM! Found it! Did a happy dance! And then vowed never to turn away someone who needed help.

So, although I tried to help out as much as I could, I still felt that insecurity feeling of not wanting to lose clients.

If it sounds stupid, that’s because it is stupid. And it’s not happening anymore.

Which brings me to the focus of this post. :) For any of you wanting to learn how to watercolor, I’ve put together this cheat sheet of my art supplies. They’re nothing fancy, and they’re products I’ve come to love through much trial and error. As I’ve stated before, I am certainly no expert, but if I know something that you may not know, I want to share it with you. We’re all friends here! Pretend we’re chatting having coffee and tea, and you just asked me,

“Nikki, I’ve been meaning to ask you – I want to start painting with watercolors and I don’t really know where to start. Got any ideas?”

Yes ma’am (or mister) I do!! Here is exactly what I use and what I’ll continue to use until I find something better (it’s a constant game of learning, is it not?):

(I buy everything at Michaels – lots of people shop at Dick Blick but Michaels does the job for me and is much closer to our house.)

Watercolor Basics - Art Supplies | Nikki Tran Art & Design | www.nikkitranphotography.com

  1. BrushesGrumbacher Round Watercolor Brushes, sizes 000 (my favorite), 0, 3, & 5. 
  2. Paints Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colours (Individual tubes – my favorite colors so far: Cerulean Blue, Raw Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, Turquoise, Dioxazine Purple, & Spa Green)
  3. Paints Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colours (12-color palette – I also use a generic 28-color palette that probably cost me $5 – nothing fancy but it works, too, although the Winsor & Newton colors are definitely richer than the generic palette)
  4. Paper Strathmore Watercolor 6″ x 9″ Sketch Pad, 15 sheets, 140lb, cold-pressed & acid free & heavy weight (I take this when we travel or when I just feel lazy and don’t want to carry the big pad around. :))
  5. Paper – Artist’s Loft Watercolor 9″ x 12″ Pad, 24 sheets, 140lb, cold-pressed & acid free & heavy weight
  6. Ink Micron Archival Ink Pen – sizes .25mm, .35mm, .45mm (I just bought this brand and have yet to try it, but I’m assuming it works just like my other pen, #7 – we shall see. :))
  7. Ink Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen, size XS (The ink is running low so I thought I would try something different, hence #6.)
  8. Eraser Staedtler (I use mechanical pencils when I draw – nothing fancy, just the ones you can buy in a pack at Target – and I use this as my eraser.)

I hope this gives those of you who are interested, a running start at figuring out what you want to use in your studio, even if your studio is your dining room table. :) And if you have any questions or would like me to post certain blog posts, you just let me know! We’re a team, don’t forget. :)

And now I must get to my own paintings – I’m creating a few gifts for you, dear readers, and I’d like to get them on the blog soon! Stay tuned!! :) Have a wonderful rest of your Monday!! xoxo

Laura Ingalls Wilder Quote | Nikki Tran Art & Design | www.nikkitranphotography.com

(How true, Laura.)

  1. Patricia Powers says:

    Thank you for this info. Very helpful as I plan on trying my hand at watercolor and had no idea on where to begin. I have done oils in the last but far too much stuff and expense to carry everywhere. Too much prep time as I don’t have a set place to paint. I appreciate the help.

    • Nikki says:

      Hi Patricia! I’m so glad this was helpful to you! I’ve always wanted to try oils – I think oil paintings are absolutely beautiful. Most of the art in my house is oil paintings. Enjoy learning watercolors! :)