I have a question... Why use watercolors? Do you also use other art mediums for painting? Oils? Pastels? Also what about lead in the pigments? After all the issues with products from China, I'm being more vigilant about this and it's nearly impossible to find non-china art supplies in my price range! thoughts?
Wow, good point about the question of where our art supplies are coming from. I've been on the toy watch for a long time, but it honestly hadn't occurred to me to look at where our paints were made. I know you can get German-made watercolors from Stockmar, but as you say, those are pricey, and I have an uneasy feeling about Stockmar anyway. (Edited to add: There's a long story here! This is a shift for me. I have enthusiastically recommended Stockmar many times in the past.)
Hmm, this bears looking into.
As for "why watercolors"—for me, there are lots of reasons. I've never used oils, but my sense is that they're expensive and messy and harder to clean up...don't you have to clean your brushes with turpentine or something? You see how ignorant I am on that subject.
We do use tempera paint sometimes, and my kids love the little jars of acrylics for painting those unfinished wooden things you can pick up cheap at Michael's. (More made-in-China stuff? Probably. Sigh. Hadn't occurred to me.)
But we like watercolors best for painting pictures, because of the luminous, swirling colors, the easy blending, the pleasure of watching the heavy paper absorb the translucent paint.
Oil pastels are a rare treat: again, their mess factor is too high for regular use.
My three oldest girls are taking an art class right now, and the medium for many weeks has been chalk pastels. They are really enjoying using them, and they've learned an awful lot about tone and shading and texture. I think chalk pastels are an easy medium to use for experimenting with shading techniques. And the cleanup is a snap.
(You can see where my priorities are.)
Where and how do you store/display the finished artwork? I find this even more daunting than the creative process. How do you (any of you) respectfully manage the output of your oh-so-productive junior artists? I'd love to hear any thoughts.
Ha! On this topic, my thoughts amount to a dull buzzing in the head. Our current storage method is: pictures hung on the fridge, and a large and ever-growing pile of beautiful finished work on the laundry-room counter, waiting to be hung or stored or something.
When we moved last year, I had to sort through boxes and boxes of such treasures. I tried to pare down to the best or most adorable work, but it was sooo hard to part with any single painting or drawing, you know? The masterpieces that made the cut are now languishing in a box in the closet, most of them.
So I'd love to hear other people's answer to this question.
Related post: Watercolor Painting: How It Happens Here.