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In which Holmes Creates a Painting in the Rain, or: The Case of the Vanishing Castle

October 23, 2014


We arrived at Ithaca New York later than we had hoped, due to no greater misadventure than leaving Montreal too late in the day. Ongoing activities being so pressing, Holmes had been up to the wee hours inscribing books – which are even now being dispatched to the far corners of the earth.


10Oct22_Ithaca_Sketchcrawl_04 copy

After meeting our group of temporary Ithacans at the strictly functional Trip Hotel, and finding them a most congenial battalion of scribblers, we attempted a late night scouting mission. Despite the pitchest dark, and an unusual density of spiders clinging to the guard rail of the Thurston avenue bridge, we were able to confirm a suitable view of the Triphammer falls.

Imagine our dismay the following morning, after an insipid packaged breakfast at our inn, to find the day morosely overcast and insistently raining. Worse yet, the subject of our investigation, the ruined foundry, was not found to be artfully crumbling onto the gorge – but in fact – vanished without trace. No doubt spirited away by diligent engineers, myopically choosing public safety over what is eternal in art.

10Oct22_Ithaca_Triphammer Falls_Detail

Not in the least dispirited by this turn of events, Holmes set to work with a briskly applied will, exclaiming that he had always meant to conduct an experiment watercoloring in the rain, and this vanished castle debacle was to be his opportunity.

10Oct22_Ithaca_Triphammer Falls

I will leave it to you, dear readers, to determine – is the evidence of continual drizzle visible in the work? Holmes himself feels, even if it could be considered somewhat smeary by critics, the vicissitudes of nature do not detract in this document of the day.

It should also be said, the thorough soaking visited on the genuine cotton rag paper (provided by the Italian, Fabriano), allowed the work to be pressed below a stack of (inscribed) books overnight, granting a perfectly flat sheet by the second morning.


For the remainder of the expedition, Holmes continued to infuriate one and all with his antisocial manner and continual scratchings. Adding tirelessly to his encyclopedic collection of oddities found in leaf-strewn campus courtyards and dusty regional museums.






For whatever reason this unrelenting chore included a forced march one hour away (and another back) to observe the methods of the glass workers in Corning NY. A task I am unclear as to the value of, but which seemed satisfactory to the artist, for reasons he may disclose in the upcoming weeks.

38 Comments leave one →
  1. October 23, 2014 11:38 AM

    Love this post! (am re-reading Laurie R King´s Mary Russell series at the moment, so it really made me LOL) – and the sketches are wonderful and inspiring, as ever. I now want to go out in the freezing cold and winter darkness to do sketching experiments (alas, the rainy season is over where I live).

  2. October 23, 2014 11:50 AM

    Fabulous art work as always but I am especially taken with those skeletons.

  3. julesmae permalink
    October 23, 2014 12:08 PM

    Okay, this is hilarious and amazing. Did you write this article in third person – in the voice of um, I don’t know, Watson, Sir Holmes?
    BTW, I absolutely agree that the effect of the rain on the page only adds to the effect of documenting the day. Stunning.

    • julesmae permalink
      October 23, 2014 12:18 PM

      Ahh, Mary Russel! Researching now … :) I haven’t yet read any of those books. I think I shall.

    • October 23, 2014 1:12 PM

      Well, the first books my mother read to me were the complete Sherlock Holmes, so it must have been a formative experience :)

  4. October 23, 2014 12:21 PM

    Oh, that’s too funny Marc — sorry to hear about the weather but that was a fun read, and I like the looseness of the sketches!

  5. Sam permalink
    October 23, 2014 1:03 PM

    I’m completely blown away by your art. It’s fantastic.

  6. Zoe permalink
    October 23, 2014 2:19 PM

    So sorry I missed you, oh Intrepid one. Marvelous renderings in both word and image. Perhaps I’ll catch you next time, sans rain. :)

  7. October 23, 2014 4:34 PM

    I received my beautifully inscribed book and watercolor print, thank you for the extra work that took. I am spreading the word hither and yon. Loved this post and sketches!

    • October 23, 2014 5:31 PM

      Hey, thanks for picking up the book! (and spreading the word) Hope you have fun with it the homework !

  8. October 24, 2014 12:21 PM

    Terrific post! Most entertaining & beautifully illustrated!

  9. Cathy Amos permalink
    October 24, 2014 5:36 PM

    Very funny text, very great sketches and paintings! Looking forward to the second annual Ithaca outing!

  10. Rooi permalink
    October 27, 2014 6:23 AM

    I think I am an inch taller as neck is growing longer reaching out of window few times a day looking for my books to arrive… And great post of course…

  11. October 27, 2014 11:29 AM

    Great, and I love the artwork!

  12. October 27, 2014 11:57 AM

    Reblogged this on emergencyelectrician and commented:
    Let there be love

  13. October 27, 2014 2:23 PM

    Your sketches are fantastic! So happy to have stumbled upon your blog

  14. October 27, 2014 8:02 PM

    Great write! These are all awesome!

  15. October 28, 2014 2:19 AM

    Great post! Your sketches and paintings are wonderful!

  16. October 28, 2014 4:55 AM


  17. jacksie1 permalink
    October 28, 2014 6:09 AM


  18. agriculteurs4sexy permalink
    October 28, 2014 8:05 AM

    Gosh … utterly amazing. I like you.

  19. October 28, 2014 7:28 PM

    Love the artwork and the narrative. Fascinating.

  20. October 29, 2014 10:56 PM

    Interesting, thanks.

  21. October 30, 2014 1:23 AM

    Really awesome sketches and I am no expert.

  22. October 30, 2014 3:59 PM

    Wow! Beautiful ink work. I love especially the skeletons, is that first one a whale?

    • October 30, 2014 9:50 PM

      Yes indeed – it’s the oddly named Right Whale – so called because “That’s the right whale to harpoon”. According to the sailors tales.

  23. October 30, 2014 7:48 PM

    Wonderful work!

  24. Vlain permalink
    November 2, 2014 3:00 AM

    Great artwork sir.

  25. November 3, 2014 11:07 AM

    Reblogged this on ARTE, SIMPLESMENTE….

  26. November 5, 2014 10:11 PM

    This is dope! Your work is awesome bro…

  27. January 1, 2015 4:38 PM

    Looks really nice ill come back and fully analyze everything later.

  28. March 11, 2015 7:36 AM

    Love these!

  29. March 28, 2015 9:08 AM

    I love your artwork and blog.

  30. September 8, 2015 5:48 AM

    i totally loved reading this post Marc! :) and now i get what you mean about painting in Singapore underwater!!!


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