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Painting With Dr. Ph. Martin’s

by | Apr 13, 2015 | Creative Process, Our Work | 3 comments

A few years ago, Robbi was coveting a particular kind of paint, a kind of transparent (but extremely concentrated) liquid watercolors that are extremely bright. One might even call them “brilliant.”

The paints in question are Dr. Ph. Martin’s Radiant Concentrated Watercolors.

Robbi was smitten, not only with the paints inside the bottle, but with the bottles themselves (so I suspected; she would never admit it).

And can you blame her? What a friendly little sucker. Like so many art supplies, there is a romantic pleasure in merely surrounding oneself with them.


Robbi spoke of Dr. Ph. Martin’s so often that it became clear that a gift was in order.

But which to buy?

Set A — Colors include Lemon Yellow, Orange, Persimmon, Alpine Rose, Scarlet, Cherry Red, Moss Rose, Turquoise Blue, True Blue, Violet, Grass Green, Juniper Green, Saddle Brown, and Black.


Set B — Colors include Daffodil Yellow, Amber Yellow, Tangerine, Crimson, Wild Rose, Cyclamen, Ultra Blue, Slate Blue, April Green, Moss Green, Olive Green, Golden Brown, Mahogany, and Sepia.


Set C — Colors include Tapestry, Pumpkin, Burnt Orange, Hyacinth Blue, Norway Blue, Chartreuse, Jungle Green, Tobacco Brown, Ice Pink, Tropic Gold, Tropic Pink, Ice Yellow, Calypso Green, and Antelope Brown.


Set D — Colors include Sunshine Yellow, Sunset Orange, Sunset Red, Sunrise Pink, Tahiti Red, Fuchsia, Raspberry, Ice Green, Ice Blue, Peacock Blue, Iris Blue, Indian Yellow, Tiger Yellow, and Coffee Brown.


It was a quandary I couldn’t easily resolve. I thought of asking Robbi herself, but it would have dampened the surprise. And so, I dug deep (into my pockets; these suckers are not cheap) and splurged to buy all four.

Sometimes it is impossible to choose among your children.


Years ago, Robbi’s delight was equal to my anticipation, and the cute little bottles quickly became a lovely display on a little shelf beside her desk. But they were put in use infrequently. As bright and as “radiant” as they are, they do not belong in every painting.

But lately, they have been brought out of retirement. But Robbi is not the one using them.

Every Thursday afternoon, we have the pleasure of hosting local superstar Maya Betley. In addition to folding, trimming, sorting, stacking, stuffing, and frequently smiling, Maya has been doing some painting for us.

In Robbi’s evolving children’s book style, she uses watercolor washes as backgrounds.

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 7.44.42 AM

Or to build set pieces, so to speak.

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 7.45.21 AM

[Note that both of the above images come from recent Bobbledy title The Luckiest.]

All those textures start out as washes of watercolor paint on textured paper. Then Robbi scans them in and uses them to create intricate collages, all on the computer.

But as Robbi’s children’s book oeuvre continues to grow, she needed more washes to sample among.

Enter Maya. Enter Dr. Ph. Martin’s. Enter sun-drenched hours in the letterpress studio. It is a divine union.


Over the past few weeks. Maya has been spending Thursday afternoons painting, painting, painting. Beautiful washes, textured landscapes, and contemplative moody abstractions that Robbi will use to make books in the months and years to come.


Let’s take a closer look. Just gorgeous.

DSC06686If you want to get your own set of Dr. Ph. Martin’s, head on over to Dick Blick and place your order.

If you want to get your own Maya, you’re out of luck.





  1. Barb

    I wondered how Robbi did that. Thanks for the peek inside your process! :)

  2. Lisa

    I read this looking for opinions on which set to get… all 4 is pretty steep! But of course, that’s what I want


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