I`ve just read a heated discussion on a Watercolour site where I learned that many people are unaware of the basic properties / issues with watercolours. In my classes I alway begin by talking about the materials so if you are interested, here`s what I use and recommend.
PAINTS: I began with cheap watercolour and was frustrated at the muddy sludge I created. A tutor told me to buy some proper paint - she recommended Winsor and Newton Cotman - and the difference was amazing. I now ask my students to get a small box of these. They can be refilled from tubes (the cheapest way) or you can buy new `half-pans` (the little paint tablets) at art shops.
However - the first thing is to throw away the white! I have no idea why they give you white. It`s semi-transparent for starters so the most it will do is make the paint a bit chalky. I ask them to buy a Violet or Purple instead.
BRUSHES: You need 3 to start with - thick, thin and medium. I use synthetic because I don`t like fur farming. They should come to a point and hold their shape when wet.
PAPER: Watercolour paper comes in 3 surface types: Smooth, which is called HP (Hot Pressed), Medium, called NOT or CP (just to confuse you), and Rough - happily known as Rough. Start with the Medium one.
Some watercolour paper disintegrates when wet. It`s not you - it`s the greedy manufacturers! If the surface starts to `pill` and lumps come off, it`s rubbish paper. Try different sorts and find ones that suit you. I use blocks (glued on 4 sides) as they don`t need stretching to stop them buckling when wet.
So now you`re ready to start. Get single colours mixed in a palette or plate. Wet the paper to make the paint flow and play. Drop colours into wet areas and dry ones. Drop one colour into another on the paper. See how they flow. You will get happy bits and `meh` bits. The white daisies were made by painting the areas around them then adding a touch of shadow when dry. See how one stands out because of the contrast around it? Just learn to use the brush and have fun.