I already knew this, but today really, really reinforced it:
Art Done With Shoddy Materials and Tools Is Frustrating!
The contrast between the kinder project and the first/second grade project and the homeschool project was significant. The kinders had started their salamanders the week before, with oil pastel on 70# construction paper. Today we applied watercolor, finishing the same project the homeschoolers started and completed earlier that morning. They (with that handy supply fee) built salamanders on 98# mixed media paper. The homeschoolers also used my Prang watercolor. The results were gorgeous. Kinders’ paper turned almost transclucent as they applied water. Terrible. I was very concerned it wouldn’t hold up at all. But it was manageable. However, three of the students had a cheap no-name brand of watercolor, not even Crayola, that I swear held almost no pigment at all. They washed paint and washed paint over the paper, to barely even get a pastel! The students were getting frustrated, and I just pushed their paint away and put my own down for them. They tackled the project with fresh enthusiasm once they saw the BURST of color from the Prang! Next year, I am going to have to INSIST that teachers require the students to buy either Crayola or Prang. I stock the older students’ watercolor, as it is not on their supply lists, and I don’t buy washable for 4th-7th grades, but it is expected to be washable in the lowers and their teachers already require it on their general supply lists. Anyway, the kinders’ paper was sodden. My bad.
First graders used relatively narrow strips of 140# watercolor for their koi, with their own watercolor, excepting three who had none and used my Prang. I am pretty sure no one had those off-brand paints, and the very watered paintings held up beautifully! Too bad I can’t use 140# for EVERY watercolor project! So costly. The model for this is essentially my personal koi, outlined in Sharpie.
Quality tools and materials are WORTH EVERY PENNY!