Can expensive watercolor paints be worth it? (See for yourself!)

It is easy to get overwhelmed by all the different options and prices available when searching for the right watercolor paint to buy. Are expensive paints really the best choice for you?

When you’re a watercolor artist, investing in higher quality paints makes sense because you’d want the best tools. Medium-priced paints will do just fine if you’re only a casual painter. They allow you to reach your goals without being too cost-prohibitive.

watercolor with a watercolor swatch and a flower

What should you pay for watercolor paints?

Several factors contribute to the decision, which all need to be considered.

Your budget would be the primary factor. Whatever you choose to buy must fit within your budget.

If you’re struggling to pay all your other bills, you shouldn’t spend $300 on watercolor paints. But if you have money saved up for hobbies, high quality watercolor paints would be an excellent option.

You are the only one who can decide how much you are able to spend on watercolor paints. Be responsible when making your choice.

The frequency of actual painting is also important to take into account. If you only paint once a month, you won’t need high-quality paint. It’s worth investing more in them if you paint every day.

Again, this is very individual.

The last big factor is whether or not you are a professional artist. If you are a professional, you will be able to get your money back into your bank account. Those who paint as a hobby won’t be paid for their work, so investing more might not make sense.

The important thing to note is that you don’t have to purchase expensive paints to take your career seriously. The quality of the paint only contributes to about 5% of the painting’s quality.

To get a better understanding on how often you need to buy watercolor paints, I’ve written this article, which adresses how long watercolor paints last.

sketch, sketchbook, plein air

When starting out, what kind of paint should you buy?

If you are a beginner and have never painted with watercolors before, I would always recommend asking around in your friend group and family.

You can usually find someone who has watercolor painting equipment that you can borrow for a few days.

Alternatively, if you cannot find anyone, you can get paints at a very low price. It will be absolutely sufficient to purchase about 20-30 dollars worth of paints and 10-20 dollars worth of brushes and paper from your local art and supply store to determine if you enjoy painting.

Don’t always choose the cheapest option. For art supplies in particular, you will get what you pay for.

A bad piece of equipment can ruin an otherwise enjoyable experience. Think about whether it’s the painting process or the equipment that you don’t like about watercolor painting.

When using cheap equipment, you will most likely end up using clumpy paints, paper that tears after the second coat of paint, and brushes that lose their hair while painting.

If you decide you don’t like painting, I would still recommend keeping the material. A friend of yours might want to try it out or you might get back into it a few months from now.

Since you didn’t invest a great deal of money, it won’t hurt you much.

What are the best paints for hobby artists?

When I began my career as a hobby artist, I tested Arteza paints and had good results with them.

They were very affordable, you get a lot of different high-quality colors, and the palette is great for mixing and transporting colors.

You will also have plenty of space in the middle to store brushes.

Maybe you have a larger budget than I do, and can afford even higher quality paints. It’s up to you.

I would recommend not spending more than 100-120$ on a palette if you’re just painting as a hobby. It is not worth the additional cost to paint using 100$ paint as opposed to 400$ paint, if you are not selling or hanging up your work in a gallery.

It’s also recommended to only buy something if you’re going to use it. Painting once a month won’t require you to spend a three digit amount on supplies even if you have the cash.

Ultimately, you should choose paints that you enjoy using and enjoy painting with. I can only advise you to try them out until you find what works for you.

However, don’t just focus on the paint, it’s just one aspect of the painting process. More on that later, so keep reading.

Also read: Should you frame watercolor paintings with glass? Loads of artists don’t know the dangers it may provide.

watercolor paint with a brush

What is the best watercolor paint?

When it comes to art supplies, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone has to figure out what works best for them.

As with anything else, you just have to experiment with a lot of different paints, ask other artists about their opinions and eventually form your own.

According to my experience and also what I’ve heard, Schmincke and Winsor & Newton are two of the best watercolor brands.

Price shouldn’t be a determining factor, whether you like particular paints or not, if you make good money or are a professional artist that makes money with their art.

In such cases, the most important thing is that you enjoy the paints, so that you paint longer and have more fun painting, which leads to better and better artwork over time.

A lot of artists don’t know how long their watercolor paints last, before expiring. Find out by reading this article about it.

Are expensive brushes and paper worth it?

Expensive brushes and paper aren’t worth it per se. However, high-quality ones are.

Good brushes and paper don’t need to be expensive. There are a lot of excellent mid-priced options available.

I believe that having some good brushes and some high quality, thick cotton paper and an affordable palette are more important than having super high quality paints.

You can have the best paints in the world, but they won’t be fun to paint with if your paper tears after a few layers of paint, or if your brush is always losing its hair.

Higher quality paper isn’t even that much more expensive, the difference is quite small.

When it comes to brushes, you can spend thousands on them, but picking up a few brushes for about 50$ will get you much further than buying 1$ brushes, that only give you headaches.

When using a high-quality brush you will find that your painting experience will become easier, your strokes more accurate, it will be easier to hold the brush for a long time, and you will be able to hold more water at once. It might even last a lifetime if you take good care of it.

Click here for more information about extending the life of your brushes or read this on why watercolor paper is so expensive.


If you paint pretty often and you can afford it, 50-100$ watercolor paints will be absolutely sufficient. Investing 250$ or more into paint might even be considered if you paint on a professional level. Make sure, however, to use high quality brushes and paper.

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