Sargent Art-Time Watercolor sets come in 8 or 16 colors. I purchased the 16 color set last year through our bid book. The price point was perfect for me to try something new. Although I had not tried the Sargent brand before, I had heard good things about their products. In the end, I decided to give it a shot and I was excited to explore something new. That said, my results were mixed and I regretted not doing the amount of research I normally do before making my purchase.
The plastic box the sets come in stacks well making storage a breeze. The lids on the set can be tricky and the hinges look flimsy. My students have not broken one yet, though a few have popped the lids off (but I was able to fix). One of the two color trays is slightly larger than the other so they overlap in the middle where the brush rests. While not synthetic, the brush does not come to a point well and is small. Do not get me wrong, I do not have issues with small brushes, per se; however, if you are going to provide a small brush please make it so I can use it to paint small areas. Sadly, this is what it does not do. I ended up purchasing additional brushes at my regional art educator’s conference this past Fall though Crayola does a much better job in this area.
I really loved the colors. They are vibrant in the tray. The problem I experienced using these with my students arose when the water formed a puddle in the tray. When my students used a lot of water, they found some of the colors were so light as to require upwards of three to four applications of paint to achieve a good result. Disappointing to say the least. I have since modified my instruction regarding the use of this product by telling my students to not allow much water to puddle in the color ovals. When they are diligent about doing that, the colors a more vibrant.
I have quite a bit of these sets remaining. I also purchased the replacement inserts so I have backups. Overall, the quality hasn’t met my expectations. Sargent has a few watercolor sets available and fellow teachers need to be careful which they are purchasing. On DickBlick.com, Sargent offers a product nearly identical to this one. The one exception? The word “Premium” in the product name.
I may try to put my hands on a premium set so I can do an actual comparison between the supposed premium set and my budget-friendly ‘scholastic’ set. If I do, I’ll write an addendum with a chart comparing the two products more formally. In the meantime, I will be keeping these watercolor sets for my younger students. I may try liquid watercolors if I am granted a room next year. I think the liquid variety could be very cost-effective. Without a room, though, I will stick with tray-based watercolor sets.
Parents may enjoy this as a good entry product for their young artist before they move on to more costly adventures in watercolors.
Final Grade: B-
For my fellow art teachers out there, which brand watercolor set do you use? Or, have you transitioned to liquid watercolors?