Artist vs. student watercolors
Is there any advantage at all to using cheap paint? Here are some scenarios:
You like pastel tints and hate staining colors. Buy cheap pan paints and hope they don't fade.
You love intense, staining colors and don't care about the quality. Use cheap tube colors made with synthetic dyes. Test for lightfastness.
You love richly pigmented, dense, velvety color. Use paints that don't have ox gall in them.
You hate pale washes and want rich color from every brush stroke. Use well pigmented artist colors.
You like to use unusual, exciting colors. Choose from manufacturers that have more than 50 colors in the line.
You use pouring techniques to build up thin layers of paint. Use small amounts of artist colors or large amounts of cheaper paints.
You use heavy layers of paint. Use cheaper paints if they don't show a tendency to crack.
You like a creamy, non-sticky consistency to paint. Avoid honey-based paints.
You like watercolors that won't dry and crack when left on the palette. Avoid cheap paints.
My personal preference is for paints that are highly pigmented and creamy, not juicy. I've tested many brands of watercolor and my A-list consists of Winsor & Newton (not Cotman), Holbein and Daniel Smith. Also of high quality are Rembrandt, Rowney, Old Holland, Sennelier and Schmincke. Included in the top tier are Maimeriblu and M. Graham. Artists all have their preferences, so this is a matter of opinion and experience, not carved in stone.