Dr. Ph Martin's Concentrated Watercolors

I got to play with a new toy yesterday - Dr. Ph Martin's Radiant Concentrated Watercolors.  Because they are SO RADIANT, they're recommended for anything that's going to be reproduced.  I'm not actually sure why they're recommended for reproduction. They are supersaturated and superbrilliant, so maybe they scan really well? Dunno. I'll try to do some investigating and get back to you. 

I do know from testing, however, that when Doc Martin says concentrated, he means it.  I put ONE DROP of each color in my travel box:

and BAM!  I had enough color to cover two pages in my small-ish (5x8"?) moleskin watercolor book.

I was watching Helix while doodling, which is why the language seems...out of place. 

Each color comes in these nifty 1/2 ounce dropper bottles. I got set A.  Still expensive - sixty bucks - but half an ounce will probably last me an entire sketchbook.  There are four sets of 14 for a total of 56 colors.  

THE CAVIAT to my RECOMMENDATION: I don't know if this is true for the other sets, but when I diluted each color a certain amount, the different colors started looking the same. I don't know if that's because I had leftover color in my brush or not, but when diluted persimmon started looking a lot like diluted alpine rose, you feel a little cheated.  I'll have to do more testing to make sure I wasn't just doing it wrong. 

THE CATCH: These watercolors (also used as dye) are NOT lightfast, so keep them where the sun don't shine, as it were. Or not. Preferably not.  Maybe just keep them in a portfolio. 




The first page of Split City Blues is an introduction to one of the novels' locales - Maledice Station, the disused subway station on the edge of Under where our heroine (Stella) grew up. It is also one of the most common ways to open a detective story - with the murder. On page 1, Stella's aunt Francis (the victim) has a fight with her adopted son (the suspect), the lights in Maledice Station go out, and a Silk attacks. Page 1 ends in the dark, both literally and figuratively.  You've got no idea what's happened to any of the characters, but you do know that whatever did happen was BAD. 

Here's some sketches for the fight between Francis and Jace. 


I attempted to, but then gave up on, the idea of drawing flickering lights. My attempt mostly reads like someone flicking on and off the lights.  If anyone has any ideas on how to execute flickering lights on paper, I'd love to see them. 

Starting to build out the station.  Tattered sofas, shelves with specimen jars, spelunking equipment, etc.  The space should be cluttered - after all, it's Francis' home but also her lab. Tuna, the enormous lizard-dog that becomes Stella's companion, is in the lower right-hand corner. 

Figuring out how to make the space look dark without using all kinds of delicate shadows is hard.  I need to be good at shadows if I'm going to draw a comic that takes place mostly underground.  More practice, I guess!

Blog Post #1: Mission Statement and General Overly-Ambitious Euphoria

Felix Scheinberger's watercolors (in Urban Watercolor Sketching: A Guide to Drawing, Painting, and Storytelling in Colorare vibrant. Like, super rich with life, color, whatever. Everything. They are what made me decide that Split City Blues, the novel I'm working on, needs to be in watercolor. If I could get my novel to look like the images in this book, I'd probably get a MacArthur prize.  Maybe.  Probably not, since you also have to do something brilliant like change the way the world thinks about women in film.  

The purpose of this blog, therefore, is to 1) share the lessons I glean from learning how to watercolor, 2) motivate myself to work consistently on my novel, and 3) gain readership for the final product :). 

Here's a list of the other books I've been reading to put myself to sleep at night, right after I pop an Ambien and put in my earplugs, which block out my boyfriends' breathing (what an annoying habit): 

Watercolor: Paintings of Contemporary Artists, by Leslie Dutcher and Sujean Rim. Perfect book to use as a master class - So many styles and end products to stare at while I try to dissect the artist's techniques. I like to imitate the images in this book. 

The Essence of Watercolour, by Hazel Soan. Smart, smart lady.  I like trying to figure out what her life is like based on the WIDE range of images in her book. 

One Watercolor a Day: A 6-Week Course Exploring Creativity Using Watercolor, Pattern, and Design , by Veronica Lawlor. More like one watercolor a week, right now.  But I'm working through this one exercise by exercise!

How to Make a Watercolor Paint Itself: Experimental Techniques for Achieving Realistic Effects, by Nita Engle. These are the most realistic watercolors I've seen yet.  She has incredible control over her images, which is something the other books tell you to let go of.  

And one other that I can't remember the name of.  I'll come back to it.