I followed Jane's advice, and called Blick's customer support. I hadn't thought of asking for samples from vendors.
They were very nice and I received samples of Van Gogh, Cotman, Grumbacher, Schmincke, Old Holland, and three kinds of watercolor pencil that I've not used. I'll give them a try out, of course.
I grew up on Grumbacher (always thought it would be a cool name for a paint pony).
The college and I are now talking about teaching watercolor pencil in lieu of watercolor, simply from the realization that these students are not career-tracked and don't want to spend a lot on supplies. Since I love teaching watercolor pencil, it may be the best choice for this type of class. The supplies are cheaper with introductory sets and paper isn't such a critical issue. Finally get a chance to use Strathmore 400 for something other than cleaning brushes. I've never liked it as a watercolor paper, but the heavy sizing is actually quite nice for watercolor pencil. Imagine that.
Thanks everyone for their thoughts.
Linda M. Feltner Artist, LLC
P.O. Box 325
Hereford, AZ 85615