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New Works, and Playing with Titles

August 4, 2020

“I painted this place. It’s mine now.”
”So – you can go there whenever you want?”
”Well, not really. I have to look at the painting.”
”But what if you sell it?”
“I guess I have to be ok with that.”

10x10x1.5”, Oil on Panel, 2020

My usual process is to product a batch of paintings all in one go. They tend to share some colors. (When I’m mixing paint, I like to keep adding to the same mounds).

I like to focus. If I’m painting, I don’t like to do anything else that day. If I’m writing, same thing – that’s all I do that day. That’s one thing I like about the out-of-house-studio. Once I’ve made the trip, I tend to stay a good 10-12 hour day.

Fresh paintings go up on the wall wet. I have all my blank white-primed panels hanging on the wall, so that I know there’s a hook for them to go back to when they’re painted. I like the effect of all the white panels getting filled with color. It’s kind of motivating. Like checking off a to-do list. I stick a bit of tape with the date on them so I know when they’re probably dry. It can take quite a while. Months even for some of my thicker pieces.

During this phase I like to look at them and think.

When we’re eating, I face the gallery and compare new pieces with the best of the old ones.

Sometimes I bring them back down and repaint a bit. I might ultimately decide I don’t like a painting. These offending ones go into a closet to dry out of sight. Eventually they get sanded down and painted over. The paint is so thick on these, I actually scrape them aggressively with a BBQ scraper, and then smooth with a wood rasp, and THEN sand them. Otherwise it takes all day and uses up many sheets of sandpaper.

So if they make it through the ‘watching and waiting’ period, after a few weeks I’ll do the titles.

This time around, for some reason I was playing around with these little dialogues. In the place of your normal short title, I have instead a snippet of imagined conversation. One day I want to see these on a gallery wall, with the stories printed on little white cards below. I think people would enjoy that kind of show.

“If you pull back far enough, it looks like a painting.”
”But if you look really close, it’s just paint.”
”Cool hey?”

10x10x1.5”, Oil on Panel, 2020


“This was as far as the ladies went.”
“I can see why! Does the road get any better after this?”
“Everything was so simple for those ladies.”
“At least they built a nice tea house here.”

10x10x1.5”, Oil on Panel, 2020


“I’m just saying – there was a time you could live off the land.”
”But what kind of life was that?”
”We might be about to find out.”

10x10x1.5”, Oil on Panel, 2020


“What if there was a place where everything goes with the flow?”
“Could anyone go there?”
“Sure! Let’s all go live there.”
“Naw, you’re going to have to keep that place to yourself.”

10x10x1.5”, Oil on Panel, 2020

I Wonder – How Many of You Are Readers?

July 24, 2020

Do you read for entertainment?

Because – I’ve recently put together a collection of my own original fiction, Snake Eater and 29 Other Bite-Sized Stories. < affiliate links, thx ]

It’s a slim volume of thirty stories. Some are tiny – what you’d call micro-fiction. Others are traditional length short stories.

They cross an odd set of genres, maybe best labeled contemporary fantasy. Maybe a touch of horror, definitely spiced with some dark humor. Oh, and they’re written for adults. But nothing I wouldn’t let my mother read. (You don’t know my mother. That might not be saying much).

I’d love to hear what people think!

If you’re interested, I can send you a PDF copy by email. Free of charge. Details below.


I’d love it if you were willing to make a purchase – because that gives you the option to leave a verified review on Amazon.

Which is kind of an incredible favor for a writer. The best thing you can do for us, and it only takes a moment. A great many of you did this for my drawing books, The Urban Sketcher and Direct Watercolor, and those reviews are still putting bread on the table as we speak. (For which, you have my heartfelt thanks).

So yes! You can buy Snake Eater in eBook format at a special price of $2.99. (US and CA, and something close to that in other currencies). Or, if you prefer, you can purchase the paperback for $9.99. (The regular everyday price).

The print experience is my personal favorite. I very much enjoyed doing the page design. Typography is kind of nerdy, but so satisfying to get it right.

Also – I should be clear – even though I’m an artist, this book is not illustrated. These are stories that work best with imagination.

You have my thanks in advance for purchases and reviews!! Or, if you want to take me up on a free PDF version (readable on screen in Acrobat or a web browser, or you can print it out yourself), email me at marc(dot)taro(at)gmail(dot)com with Snake Eater in the subject line – and I’ll send it right out.

Thanks everyone,
~Marc Taro Holmes

New Paintings Up on!

July 12, 2020

[ All Creation in the Palm of Your Hand, 5×5″ watercolor on cotton rag – SOLD ]

Just a quick note about new work on my gallery!

I’ve posted up my Miniature Landscapes from our recent #30x30DirectWatercolor event.

These 5×5″ and 3×3″ original watercolors are on 100% cotton paper, and will ship to you double-matted to 9×9″.

If you’re interested – last time we did this, they sold quickly – so you might want to check out the site today! < yes! quite a few sold day one! but there’s still some nice ones left :) 

[ Listen to the Grass, 5×5″ watercolor on cotton rag – SOLD ]

Thanks! As always – your support means a lot to us here in Montreal.


[ We All Go Toward the Light, 3×3″ watercolor on cotton rag – SOLD ]

[ Flash Flood, 3×3″ watercolor on cotton rag ]

2020 Society of Canadian Artists Elected Members’ Juried Exhibition! <I’m In that!

July 9, 2020

I’m excited to announce my painting “You Can Still Go There Though” (10×10″ impasto oil on panel) was chosen for this year’s Society of Canadian Artist’s members show!

Just a note: This piece is available through the society  SOLD! at my old price of $275.00 – as it was entered into the show before our recent lively discussion on pricing :)

Open question about pricing?

July 2, 2020

Lately I’ve been thinking about what will happen after the pandemic.

You know, assuming that’s going to happen. The Spanish flu lasted three years so, you never know.

Still – I’m hoping in a few months I’ll be able to return to gallery-seeking behavior.

(I’m still looking for representation for my oil paintings.)

But in the mean time, I’ve been selling a few online. Mostly my smaller works, the 10×10” sized pieces.

They’re very practical for shipping, and of course, the smaller the work, the more affordable they can be – and frankly that seems to be important for online sales? – But – I could be wrong!

These happen to be my favorite pieces. I actually prefer to them to the larger work, because the scale of the impasto is more dramatic, and the ‘gallery wall effect’ – when you stand back and see the image resolve at a distance – is easer to experience in a typical living space.

My favorite place to hang these is in the dining room, so I can look up from the breakfast table and chose which landscape to mentally visit that morning :)

So – here’s my question! To anyone who feels like responding!

What do you think is a fair price for these 10×10” oil paintings on 2″ deep gallery panels?

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments. I’d really like to know!



Day 27 : #30x30DirectWatercolor : Crossing the Finish Line

June 27, 2020

So here we are at the finish line!

It’s been quite an experience. Now I’m ready to just play for a bit. I’ve spent the last few days of my marathon, taking it easy with 3″ and 5″ miniatures.

Sure – I have more street photos, and more people-in-complex environments – but I’m sitting here not painting them.

Possibly – there’s a limit to how much you can learn in a single push?

This has been a huge full circle, through the various kinds of travel sketching I’ve been doing in the last ten years, and back to the abstracted landscapes I’m painting in the studio. But maybe? I’ve come a little ways?

Every time we stretch, reaching for new goals, we add a little more to our toolbox. There’s a little more depth to the well, a little more gas in the tank.

I’m looking forward to taking some of these miniatures and painting them up full size. But that’ll be after the dust settles on this year’s #30x30DirectWatercolor.

I’m ready for a break, and to enjoy hanging around the group and watching everyone else cross the finish line in the next few days.

Thanks everyone for participating in this year’s #30×30 – and I hope to hear some great stories from what all of you have discovered from your own marathons!

Please post your success stories or your trials and tribulations. We all want to read what it’s been like for everyone else!

~Marc Taro Holmes

Day 26 : #30x30DirectWatercolor : Market Day in Siem Reap

June 26, 2020

Day 26: Market Day in Siem Reap.

After the last two found photos, I felt ready to take on these market scenes from our trip to Cambodia.

The combination of the dark silhouettes and the jumbled complexity of the environment – I felt like this would be great material for design abstraction – while telling a good story at the same time.

I’m posting this on day 26, but in reality Uma and I tried to get our #30 done in two weeks. (17 days for me to finish).

At this point I’d struggled with my chosen subjects – fully light-to-dark images with dramatic contrasts. I’ve chopped through some busy, (impossibly busy) scenes. I’ve given myself quite a workout :) But I can say I’ve never tried to paint something like this.

And don’t get me wrong – it’s not a great painting. It’s not something I’d ever hang on my wall. It might look like a scene out of a graphic novel, but it’s certainly not a good painting.

But! – after two weeks of this, I can say, I’m hitting darks in one stroke. I’m seeing silhouettes and welding shapes when I need too. I’m controlling sharp vs. soft edges – and I’m making some artistic choices – this one turns out to be a painting about light through a plastic bag.

Or possibly it’s a painting about this silver bowl. This is one of my favorite silver bowls I’ve ever painted :)

Day 25 : #30x30DirectWatercolor : Final Crit! (#4, Part 2) : Uma Shows Her Masterworks!

June 25, 2020

Day 25: This is it! The last – and very best segment of our art-chat-series. I was really amazed with what Uma showed us and I’m super excited to share these with you.

Click the video – don’t wait! You have to see these paintings!


Day 24 : #30x30DirectWatercolor : Final Crit! (#4, Part 1) : Uma Crits Marc

June 24, 2020

Day 24! – Thanks for following along this far – and welcome to the finish line! Here’s the first half of our series of video-critiques. In this, I’m showing my final projects – and tomorrow we’ll post Uma’s big finish for #30×30!

Thanks ~m

Day 23 : #30x30DirectWatercolor : Found Photo : Late Night Ramen

June 23, 2020

Day 23: Another exercise in abstraction.

I’ve turned the people into the simplest possible shapes, then built up everything around them in a mosaic of strokes.

Here’s the photo. Also found on the web, but the owner deleted themselves, and there’s no trace on reverse image search.

So – I’m of two minds about my painting. I mean, I like it – the balance between drawing and abstraction is good. But the photo is really quite strong. Quite a good story-composition.

As much as I say – artists worry too much about copyright – this is one case where I feel my work here doesn’t rise enough above the level of a copy.