Hi there - I'm a folk artist who writes about creativity issues.
So, you have a watercolor artist on your gift list? Or maybe you'd like to get watercolors for a dear one who needs a soothing hobby?
There are different types of watercolors. Watercolor paints are sold in "Artist Grade" (for professionals) and "Student Grade" (for serious learners). You can also buy cheap watercolors meant for children and others that want to dabble a bit before committing to something more expensive.
Gifts for watercolor artists will include sketchbooks, waterproof pens that watercolor sketchers often use in combination with watercolors, and watercolor pencil sets.
Watercolor artists also appreciate inspirational watercolor books, easels that lay flat for watercolor painting, and palettes - especially porcelain palettes. They always need brushes that can be quite pricey if you choose sable!
How advanced is your friend in the wonderful world of watercolor? Is this a professional that paints daily, or a hobby artist, or a newbie?
If your friend is new to watercolor and a child, go with the cheap paints. They won't know the difference, most likely.
If your friend is new to watercolor and an adult, or a hobby artist, consider the student grade watercolors, or delight them with a set of professional watercolors they possibly haven't been able to work with yet. A hobby artist is usually still experimenting with themes, colors, papers, and brushes.
If your friend is a professional, expect to spend the big bucks on professional grade paints, or buy some accessories, if you know what your friend needs. Professional watercolor artists usually have decided preferences on what types of paints, papers and brushes they prefer. It might be safest to go with a gift certificate to a dedicated art store in their area.
A good quality watercolor sketchbook
Great gift idea: a watercolor travel kit
If the person you're buying for likes to hike or travel by some other means, it might be fun to put together some kind of watercolor travel kit. Of course if it is for a hiker it should either have its own travel pouch to carry along, and should be small and compact.
If your traveler is in a motor vehicle, you could get something slightly larger. There are some good artist's bags available that are fun to pack up and carry along for a Sunday drive or a cross-country journey.
Whatever size you decide on, make sure your setup contains everything needed: paper and/or sketchbook, brushes, paints, and a water jug. Water brushes are nice too and very convenient for the watercolor artist who sketches along the roadside.
A convenient set of watercolors to carry along on hikes or for any travel situation
The pen I used in the sketchbook drawing above uses waterproof carbon ink.
The carbon ink refills for the Platinum Pen pictured above
A nice porcelain palette
The crème de la crème of watercolors
Jean Haines shows her Daniel Smith watercolor set and explains why she chose each color
Another good set of watercolor tubes, but less expensive than Daniel Smith colors
Watercolor artists require a special, porous paper for their art. Watercolor paper can be pricey so most artists would welcome getting more. What a nice surprise for a birthday or Christmas! Watercolor painting can get expensive which is why a gift of watercolor supplies would be so appreciated by anyone dedicated to the art!
Watercolor paper pads are suitable for the beginners and serious watercolor students on your gift list. I would hesitate to buy paper for the professional watercolor artists because they'll know what they want and already know where best to get it. They may also have a huge store of quality paper in the closet! Ask first!
A pad of 11x15 watercolor paper
Paint brushes - we cannot forget these!
I sometimes use Sakura Pigma pens in my watercolor sketchbook.
William Leverne Smith from Hollister, MO on August 23, 2014:
Some great suggestions, well detailed. Thanks for sharing!! ;-)