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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 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.


Book Review: Hand Drawn Vancouver, by Emma FitzGerald

June 22, 2020

I have here in my hand a copy of Emma Fitzgerald’s third book, Hand Drawn Vancouver. <– affilate link, thx. (151pp, Appetite / Pengin Random House, $US19.95/$CDN24.97).

When Emma asked if I’d take an advance look, I was happy to agree. Who could say no to another one of her guided tours? I’m a big fan of her first two offerings: Hand Drawn Halifax and Sketch By Sketch Along Nova Scotia’s South Shore.

I gather she’s lived in a lot of places, and I think it’s given her the ability to be a local anywhere.

When she takes on a city, she walks it’s length and breadth in all four seasons, gathering stories and sketches, and a carefully-sifted collection of first-hand observations, eavesdropped conversations and street-side confessionals.

When you first flip through the book, it’s the charming drawings that grab you. Her keen-eyed, quirky sketches are fun and full of little details.

But it’s the stories that make you read every page – and in doing so, fall in love with Vancouver. Or, Emma’s version of a warm and friendly Vancouver with an undertone of real-world grit. Real people living real lives.

People love to find an artist sketching on the street. It seems to flip a switch that makes them willing to tell you the best stories. The way the world would be if you were everyone’s friend.

Emma’s book is full of exchanges with folks, that go from stranger to closest confidant in the time it takes to draw a line. It makes you want to live her life! She has a different world from the rest of us – with our earphones in and our podcasts playing.

I highly recommend Hand Drawn Vancouver – whether you collect art books, or you’re looking for a souvenir of the city – or if you want the perfect gift for a visitor.

Hand someone this book and you’ll instantly accrue Emma’s hard-won street cred. They’ll feel like they know the town like a local born stepchild. There should certainly be a copy in every AirBnB in the city!

Hand Drawn Vancouver, Sketches of the City’s Neighbourhoods, Buildings and People, available in Print and ebook on June 23 on the usual online retailers, or direct from Random House Canada– or best of all – phone in an order with your local independent bookstore.


Day 22 : #30x30DirectWatercolor : Found Photo : Abstraction

June 22, 2020

Day 22: Problem Solving

So I’m dealing with this mandate: Dark. Abstract. Cinematic.

I found this photo in a street photography forum. Apologies to u/wannabenomads.

This kind of thing – with all the reflections – it’s an automatic introduction to abstraction. I just try and paint exactly what’s there, and end up with a Rothko.


Day 21 : #30x30DirectWatercolor : Cormorant Fisherman

June 21, 2020

Day 21: Cormorant Fisherman

I was looking at all of my urban sketching reference material and thinking. Nope. Nothing here is not going to beat that rooftops painting. (Day 20).

Maybe I’m over-blowing it, but that’s how it goes :)

But also – this damned rooftop is my favorite thing lately – but it’s nothing like my stated goals. Which were to capture gritty, urban scenes. Potentially at night – but certainly with strong lighting.

Because – why?

I don’t now why.

I think I’m looking for something more dramatic. More cinematic anyway.

So I went back through the files with a new eye – and pulled out the best shots we have of people at work.

This is *also* nothing like my stated goals.

But let’s call it a warm-up.