I'd been noticing all last fall that Nini and Desmond didn't have the hand strength to make firm marks with regular colored pencils. We used crayons for a while, but they make such wide lines that they weren't that useful for the kids' developing interest in drawing.
Then I wandered into an art story one day and discovered the miracle of Derwent Coloursoft pencils. Not having had any art training to speak of, I had no idea that pencils could be so extraordinary. The silky lines! The vivid colors! The rich tones!
The pencil set at the art store was jaw-droppingly expensive, but after hunting around on eBay I eventually found one for less than $20 and gave it to the kids for Christmas. The effect was almost instantaneous: Nini and Desmond drew more and better pictures, had more stamina for drawing, and seemed to be getting far more pleasure out of the whole experience.
Three months later, they draw on their own nearly every day. Their hands are much stronger; when they pick up a regular pencil, be it a #2 writing pencil or a regular drawing pencil, they make nice strong impressions on the paper. They've loved the pencils so much that many of them are already worn way down. Funny how simple things can make you happy: When I look at that well-used tin of pencils, I break into a smile.