Hints and Tips 

On this page you will find some hints and tips about painting in watercolour that I have discovered along the way. These are things that I have stumbled on that make painting in watercolour easier for me. I'm not one to follow rules when it comes to painting. I'm not a watercolour purist, nor am I an expert by any means but I will endeavor to share my discoveries here. I'll add to this page as often as I can.

Pans or Tubes



I've cruised around the internet and I've done a bit of reading about the difference in using tubes and pans. Most of the information I've found is the same. I've marked the information I found with bullet points and I've added my thoughts/experience underneath in italics.

  • Tubes are available in 5ml, 15ml and 20ml. Pans are available in 20mm by 15mm or 20mm by 30mm.

There is a general consensus that for those painters who paint large scale paintings then tubes are a better choice than pans because you can squirt out as much as you need and get your big brushes into the paint. However, the good people at Winsor and Newton now make full sized pans - 60mm by 40mm .............................so there goes that idea.

  • Tubes can be a bit messy when the paint gets stuck around the cap and if you don't put the cap on properly the paint goes hard.

True......but personally, I've never had a problem with this. If the tube gets a bit of excess paint around it, I rinse it off under some cold water and problem solved.

  • Pans are great for working outdoors because they're compact and portable.

No argument from me here.

  • Pans can be harder on your brushes because you may tend to scrub at the paint to pick it up.

Yep - agree.

  • Some say that tube paints are more vibrant than pans

No not in my opinion anyway.

So what do I use and why?

I mainly use tube paint. Sometimes I get my pans out but I always go back to my tubes. The reason I like to use tubes is because of the way I place my paint on my palette. Let me explain:

My preferred palettes have sloping wells. My favourite palette is this little ceramic one below:




I like this little palette because it's ceramic and the paints don't stain it. It also has the sloping wells I love. When I squirt my paint onto the palette I place it on the highest point of each well and I give the paint a squirt of water. That gives me a pool of watery paint below the paint I just squirted out. After a short while the paint I squirted out goes hard because it's not sitting in water and that's when it's perfect for my style of painting. The sloping wells give me the choice of using the watery paint at the bottom of the well (which I use on dry paper mainly) or I can run my wet brush over the hard paint at the top of the well and that gives me rich pigment that I use on wet paper. When I use pans, the paint tends to remain all gooey because of the water and sometimes that causes me to pick up too much pigment. I demonstrate how I do this in all of my online classes so if you are curious about this please join me and hopefully I will be able to show you an easier way to paint with watercolour. I also tend to not mix watercolours (apart from grey). I prefer to let the colours blend together on the wet paper rather than mix them on the palette.

I also have a metal palette that I use quite a bit. I can close it to keep dust off the paint when I'm not using it (which rarely happens because it's in use almost every day). It has little sloping wells too that you can see in the photo below. The paint isn't sitting in the water. If I need the watery paint to be darker in value I can easily add the paint to it to darken it. So tubes it is for me!