Prang watercolors are great. The black is so dark, I’ve substituted it for india ink in a pinch. Just make sure you don’t buy their ‘washable’ version. Sargent brand watercolors have an orange which is much too pale, and a black that is really a grey that I’ve found frustrates students when using them. I stopped using Sargent in 1996. Note: Since around 2007 the brushes for these sets are not what they once were and lack in quality.
Recently I use glue sticks made by UHU. They are supposedly archival safe, so your collages will last longer in the future.
Prang makes crayons that are made of soybeams (not wax) that have a tendency to actually blend, if only just a bit. That’s something that traditional crayons don’t do.
Prang or crayola are both fine for the classroom and can be found in most stores including Staples, so they are easy to find. Faber Castel are also great. I use Prismacolor for my own artwork.
While many classrooms use, I prefer scissors made by Acme. The plastic handles last longer. Acme even makes scissors made of Titanium. Why that’s important, I don’t know. It just sounds cool. As long as the scissors don't snap broken when being used and are sharp on paper, then that's all that matters. Use seperate scissors for cloth to keep them sharp for the fabric.
As far as classroom grade oil pastels go, I prefer ‘Cray Pas’ by Sakura. There are better oil pastels out there made for adults like the brand Rembrandt, but these are fine with children. Pastels should feel soft when you use them and blend well. It’s a shame that there isn’t a brand of oil pastels something between these and the ‘professional’ ones used by artists such as Sennelier. The prices differences is huge and there is not a brand in between.
Speedball is good for printing. Liquitex makes decent basic acrylic paints, as does Utrect or Blick. Sometimes mixing brands doesn’t work. The colors don’t blend well and the consistency and textures are in opposition.
I suggest a collection of flat and round brushes in a variety of sizes. The brushes I avoid are the plastic handled candy colored ones sold in multiples - often found in dollar stores. I have recently been using a 72 short, synthetic brush set by Royal & Langnickel. The brush and metal sometimes detaches from the handle but they do the trick. I also use brushes by Princeton.
You can achieve a lot with just basic materials, as I prove to my students. Other materials I use are China Markers by Prang or Sanford, recycled drawing paper by Canson and Sharpie markers (especially the twin tips). I also like getting ‘art materials’ from hardwood stores. For writing, I use Sharpie Pen or black micro roller pens by Uniball. My computers are manufactured by Apple. F.Y.I.
- Rick Anthony Diaz