When starting to mix paint which ever medium being used be sure to make enough of the base color. For example; flesh tone, use white, raw umber or burnt umber to start. Mix until the tone is the shade you are looking for. It should look like skin color or liquid make-up foundation color. As you paint in forms add red or a pink to TINT a small section of the base color as you need for the cheek area. Always keep the foundation color and pull off of the main well. It is next to impossible to remix the exact color of base tone. In watercolor I keep the entire palette throughout the painting without washing the porcelain egg dish I use. Just let the water evaporate and add when next time. Scroll down to see pictures of porcelain dishes I use.
Learning to see
Learning to see the details around you; what a leaf or tree for example looks like when you are standing next to it versus how a tree or the detail of a leaf look in comparison farther away or distance. Take the time to look and notice color and how the color changes and the details or realistic details slightly become unfocused as they go back or a way from you in distance.
I advise you to start thinking about color or graphite in values [one to ten; light to darkest] for all colors as well as grays/blacks. Are they warm or cool in tone? Warm tones will come forward in space and cools will sink in space. The way God designed it, not an artist trick. Think about how color fades in distance and lack of detail in landscape.
Don’t worry so much about the name of the color printed on the tube of color, look to see if it is warm or cool in tone and where would you use it on form, shape etc.
When starting out with watercolors either as a beginner or experienced painter you need good brushes and a palette. As far as a palette is concerned a porcelain plate is the best to work from. Porcelain keeps the paint from separating and the paint/water beads well and keeps it mixture where you mixed it. I like porcelain egg platters, the plates you can buy for deviled eggs. I found an egg plate with a large well in the center for five dollars at Boscov’s department store. Works great because the larger well in the center gives me the opportunity to mix a large amount of one color. The smaller wells are fabulous to hold a good amount of pigment along with the space in between the wells provides a surface to mix pigments. Now, these egg plates come in different sizes and shapes; keep looking at various stores to you find one or two designs you like.
The square plate is from Pier I department store. This is excellent for larger amounts of paint needed and a great mixing space for paints.
Plastic palettes have a surface of pores and pigments alway remain even when washed well. Plastic stains over time and doesn’t give a true color read. Trust me on this porcelain is the way to go.
As far as brushes are concerned at least purchase student grade brushes or even better if you can. There are several types and material used to make brushes; the bristles can be made from Ox, Hog bristle or hair, Squirrel/blue squirrel, Camel, Sable, Badger, Horse and other natural hairs. Synthetic brushes are man-made from different materials. I like white synthetic brushes for their ability to hold water and long-range which means I can get a fairly long stroke of consistent color.
Red sable brushes are on the top of the list as far as quality is concerned and will last a long time, one maker is Kolinsky. Red sable has bristles that have a nice sharp point-tip and are resilient in spring or hold their shape under pressure. They are absorbent or hold a fair amount of pigment. The Blue squirrel brushes from blue squirrels from Russia are known for this.
Brushes come in so many sizes, lengths, tips and styles. In general brushes with longer handles are used for easel painting or standing up canvas painting; oils and acrylic paint. Watercolor brushes usually have a shorter handle. I look at the brush’s tip and how the bristles are formed. I generally do not care the length of the handle; but in general the oil, acrylic brushes are stronger to be able to push around a thicker paint. Think about it oil and acrylic paints are thicker in pigment compared to watercolor.
Brushes range in sizes from 000 to 24, ranging from thinnest to thick pointed with length and flat bristles usually starting at 1/2 inch, one inch and so on. Brushes that come to a point in varies lengths or rigger/liner/drags are used for applying a consistent line of color, details, tight areas with control of pigment. I love a number 6 drag brush because I can pretty much paint an entire painting with this one brush. I like the control of pigment with this brush.
Flat tip brushes are used for a wide area to cover and even strokes of color. A Filbert brush has a flat area with a slightly rounded point or no point at the end. A fan brush is used for hair, grasses, landscapes; the shape is a fan and works well for line.
You need to experiment with different brushes to find the brushes that match your needs.