Direct Watercolor: A new book by Marc Taro HolmesPosted: April 4, 2018
My best painting buddy is Marc Taro Holmes. We often paint (and talk) side by side for hours, sometimes facing in different directions, and during our long conversations we solve all the problems in the world. Or so it seems. But because we are both so focused on our own watercolours and never really watch each other work, it took an hour in a comfy chair at Starbucks with his newest book Direct Watercolor in my hands to really understand how he paints.
In this new book Marc takes us through the shape-based method of how he paints directly in watercolour, with no ink lines and often (miraculously to me) without so much as a pencil line to guide him. It’s always seems like a mysterious process when I look at his finished paintings (I often go home thinking I should have watched him paint!), so I appreciate the step-by-step images of his approach. As we follow him from Brazil to Portugal, Italy, Cambodia and Ireland, there are detailed descriptions of how each painting was created.
The book starts with a really insightful page about the unpredictable nature of watercolour and why he loves it. If you paint in watercolour, you’ll really appreciate his loose, flowing style and distinctive brushstrokes. There’s a huge amount of simplification and abstraction in his work (which comes from much skill and tremendous drawing ability), but when you see it broken down into steps, the process is demystified. Carefully painted shapes with interesting edges, filled with brilliant colour, one next to another, make up his compositions.
My favourite section is reading about his approach to painting a plein air seascape in Portugal, and how the lessons learned are adapted to a studio painting that has as much spontaneity and flow as one done on location.
With watercolour, something new can be learned every time we pick up a brush (or read about someone else doing it) so it was a pleasure for me to be an armchair traveller through Marc’s painting experiences. Direct Watercolor is available in print or e-book on Amazon.ca or Amazon.com.