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I’ve reopened my Etsy shop!

February 6, 2020

I’ve reopened my Etsy shop! <click here :)

Original works of art, from my studio to your home!

You probably don’t even know I have an Etsy shop. I used to post prints of my favorite drawings here – it’s literally been years since I opened it up.

I’ve decided to use it to offer my smaller oil paintings for purchase. Right now, just my 10×10” panels. It seems like a good size for online sales – and – I enjoy painting them! It’s my favorite size – you can make incredible marks at this scale. One swipe of the knife can go across the entire surface. The scale of the impasto, compared to the image, is just perfect, in my opinion.

I’ve posted just a few paintings to get started, but I’ll be adding more in the next few weeks.

I get tremendous enjoyment looking at these every day. They’re miniature gems. Little windows onto another world.

It would give me immense satisfaction to send one to a reader. Or if anyone has an occasion where they might want a nice gift for friend or family? These small paintings can add life, color and contemplation to any home or office.

Oh and – just to kick things off – everything I list this month will be at 25% off, with free shipping to Canada or the US.

If you live elsewhere, just reach out, we can talk about shipping options.

Take care, and talk to you soon,


Ready to take on #OneWeek100People? March 9-13, 2020!

February 3, 2020

Hey everyone!

Spring is coming – ever so slowly here in Montreal – but it’s coming.  And that means we’re getting closer to street-sketching weather.

This is something I’ve been largely ignoring for the last year (or two). So I’m excited to return with a bang – starting with #OneWeek100People.

I’m talking of course, about our annual challenge to you, to draw 100 people in a single week.

Well, 5 days, because my co-founder Liz Steel and I think you should get a weekend off.

We’re taking on the challenge for the fourth year in a row – this March, 9-13, 2020. We’ll be sketching like mad, showing our progress, giving a few tips if we can, but mostly just cheering you on!

Want to find out more> Here’s a page with ALL THE INFO (and all of my posts from previous years). 

Sign up to the Facebook group, if you’re so inclined, or just comment on my posts here – or – just hashtag your other social media with #OneWeek100People and we’ll find you :)

I hope you’ll join us for this terrific exercise!




Welcome back Watercolor! It’s 2020!

January 29, 2020

Hello everyone. It’s been a while hey?

Isn’t it exciting? It’s 2020!

I’ve been waiting eagerly for this year. I like the nice rounded and doubled number.

The older I get the more superstitious I become. It seems like an auspicious number. Like anything can happen in a year with a fine number like that.

So this is just a nothing post – just a few sketches from a recent vacay in SoCal, and a little hello! to watercolor sketching, my old friend I’ve been neglecting.

I’m in the middle of planning projects for this year. Things are in flux, and I hope to be able to return to watercolor with new energy this spring.

So that’s it – just a tease – and I hope you’ve had a great new years season.



New Mexico I’ve Never Been

November 11, 2019

“New Mexico, I’ve Never Been” 16×16″ Oil on Panel

Actually I have been to Grants New Mexico. But I’ve never been to this particular place. I’m not even sure where it is. This is painted from one of Laurel’s photos. She was out driving around while I was in class. I ran into this view on the hard drives and selected it for a small painting.

So why bring it up? I don’t know – it’s kind of a landmark for me. This is one more step past the line where I’m not a plein air painter anymore.

I used to be so religious about the idea that I had to paint from life. For very good reasons. It really is the best way to learn about painting.

I used to think the actual experience of color was the most important thing. But frankly cameras have surpassed the human eye in twenty years I’ve been an artist.

Today I would say it’s the inherent time limits that painting plein air imposes. That’s probably the best teacher. The motivation instilled by all the obstacles you have to overcome – finding the place, transporting yourself and your gear, and then trying to work in moderate comfort (or not). All these things effectively put you on a ticking clock.

Learning to paint *decisively*. Learning to mix color and put it in the right spot the first time. Those are key.

But, as artists, we must progress. Like the shark, you suffocate if you stop moving. The process of painting in the studio in oils is so dramatically different than working on location in watercolor – by switching modes so drastically I’ve been able to push my picture making so much further.

But the other thing about this piece. It may mark the point where I’ve painted everything I have ‘in the archives’. That is, all the photos that I’ve filed away as ‘you should paint this some day’.

Now, of course there are thousands more. Laurel has been a passionate photographer for this whole time. So I should never say never.

But for this set of work – I’m starting to feel – it might be done in five or ten more paintings.

I still want to do some really big ones :)

What does that mean for the next body of work? – I’m not sure! I’m taking some time off this November to focus on writing. (Thanks to Nanowrimo).

Then I’m not likely to do anything serious in Dec.

So it looks like 2020 will be an a year for a fresh start!

I’d be pleased if you clicked over to my Instagram where I’ve been presenting these impasto oil paintings, and had a look at the entire series.

Let me know what you think!

~Thanks, Marc


Book Followup: One Month of the Apocalypse Variations

August 3, 2019

My dear readers. I’d like to undertake a little post-project navel-gazing if you don’t mind.

It’s been a little over a month since releasing my latest book, The Apocalypse Variations.

Some of you might be curious about how it went? Heres some info:

  • Release Date: June 22, 2019.
  • Price: $19.99 USD. All other markets (e.g. Canada, etc) automatically price-matched by Amazon.
  • Sales in the first month were approximately 65 copies for a return of approximately $US 375. This is a fuzzy estimate as there are a lot of currencies involved.
  • Thanks guys! You know who you are :)

If sales of this book follow the normal pattern (the long tail) which I’ve seen with my other books, I can predict a steady drip of 1 or 2 sales per week, in perpetuity, which would mean somewhere around $500 a year, every year. This is probably based on organic search and Amazon recommendations, but there will be small spikes due to things like next year’s #30x30DirectWatercolor, or the release of a new book.

So, to make a modest living (say, $40k?) off of books like these, you’d need 80 titles in print. That’s only 6.5 years of work if I could keep making a book a month.

Not realistic, no. But theoretically possible! And I expect things would pick up steam if you kept at it.

So, thanks again, all of you who’ve ordered a copy, and posted a review. You guys are the best!

Talk to you soon,


Society of Canadian Artists 51st International Juried Exhibition

July 19, 2019

“No Matter, Fail Again, Fail Better”, 30×30″ Oil on Panel

The Society of Canadian Artists 51st International Juried Exhibition is opening 7-9pm, this Thursday, August 1st at the Papermill Gallery, Todmorden Mill Heritage Site, Toronto. The show will be up until August 26th.

I’m pleased to say, I have two pieces accepted in the show. This Irish landscape, titled after a Samuel Beckett quote that I might get tattoed on my chest, as well as one of my typewriters from the other day.

It’s exciting news for me, to be juried into the show AND elected as a member of the society – especially after only a few years of painting in oil. (They accept artists in all media, but I didn’t show them any watercolors :)

We’ll be at the opening thursday night, if anyone is attending please come say hello!


Writers Block

July 14, 2019
_MG_0684_36x36 Typewriter_Ex Libris

36 x 36″ Oil on panel, “Ex Libris”

I have ambitions to be a writer.

I’m already an author, and for goodness sake, this blog has kept me writing steadily. But so far, my successful books are non-fiction – and that’s not really what I imagine when I think about writing.

You know – novels! I’d like to be writing fiction someday. I think I have the imagination for it. The question is if I have the discipline.

Last year, I painted a set of typewriters in watercolor, and, over the 2018 winter, I made these larger ones in oil.

My thinking was – “I need something to hang over my writing desk. This will be the inspiration to finish these books!”

I have quite a library of false starts. I imagine some of you do as well. How many of you have a half-finished book in your cloud storage?

_MG_0684_36x36 Typewriter_First Draft

36×36″ Oil on Panel, “Do not Bend, do not Edit your Soul – Franz Kafka”

Last year, I painted a set of typewriters in watercolor, and, over the 2018 winter, I made these larger ones in oil.

My thinking was – “I need something to hang over my writing desk. This will be the inspiration to finish these books!”

Finishing this second painting was a battle. Maybe you can tell?

But – that makes it perfect for writing inspiration. It’s a visualization of the writing process.

Messy. Rough-hewn. Terribly unfinished in parts. Yet, there are passages that sing. Little fragments of the first draft survive untouched all the way to the final work.

Marc Taro Holmes 10x10 oil on panel_magic realism

10×10″ Oil  on panel, “Magic Realism”

So, for now, I’m still focused on visual arts. But I’ll keep working on my writing in the background. And in the meantime, I’ll keep working on these typewriters. I’m curious if I’ll have a show of these paintings before I have a finished novel? Hah! We’ll see!

Marc Taro Holmes 10x10 oil on panel_great american novel

10×10″ Oil on panel, “The Great American Novel”

Marc Taro Holmes 10x10 oil on panel_the workhorse

10×10″ Oil on panel, “The Wordsmith”