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Day Seven : #30x30DirectWatercolor2018 : Montreal Spring

June 7, 2018

You really can see St. Joseph’s from everywhere on the island.

See it in the distance there? There’s supposedly a city by-law that no structure can be taller than the top of the mountain – just to keep this view intact.

Confession: this was painted, once again, from a drive-by-photo. In fact, I did it yesterday, right after the water tower. That’s how we’re getting 30 paintings in 30 days! By using every free moment! Even if it means doing three in one night to get ahead :)

What went right?

I’m super happy with the adaptation – the simplification, and stylization of negative space, turning what is otherwise a Nothing View, into a painting. I’m slowly realizing what has been working for me with these.

If the view is about nothing – you’re free to change anything.

When you’re painting an architectural portrait of a well-known landmark – maybe you feel, you have to get it right? But with this kind of casual snapshot, I can do whatever I want! Haha!

What went wrong?

You know – right now, I’m ready to say – nothing!

At this stage, after so many false starts this week, I’m pretty much in love with this painting.

It’s not perfect, but it’s in the spirit of what Direct Watercolor is for me.

Painting by instinct, making silhouettes, and letting the pigment move freely inside shapes.

Quick tip: These last few days with rainy skies – I’ve been doing these by pre-wetting the sky shape with clear water, then charging into the damp paper with a milky mix of grey-of-grey, indigo, and touches of turquoise. While I’m painting the sky, it’s the only wet shape. The blue hill for instance, is dry. So the water can go crazy in the wet sky, and won’t enter the dry land.


12 Comments leave one →
  1. June 7, 2018 9:25 AM

    Love, love, love the sky in this painting, Marc!! Such drama! The rest of the painting places the grandeur of the sky in perspective. Also, thank you for sharing how you painted the sky. Nice you left some white highlights in the sky since they contribute to the drama even more. — Nancy

  2. June 7, 2018 9:38 AM

    Such great insights and tips! Thanks Marc!

  3. katzp2014 permalink
    June 7, 2018 9:43 AM

    That first one is one wild and crazy sky! I love it! Thanks for saying a bit about how you¹re approaching the overcast skies. I¹ll give that a try.

    Patricia Katz – Pauseworks Studio

    P: (306) 9341807 E:


    315 O’Brien Place, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada S7K 6S9

    From: Citizen Sketcher Reply-To: Citizen Sketcher Date: Thursday, June 7, 2018 at 7:02 AM To: Patricia Katz Subject: [New post] Day Seven : #30x30DirectWatercolor2018 Marc Taro Holmes posted: ” You really can see St. Joseph’s from everywhere on the island. See it in the distance there? There’s supposedly a city by-law that no structure can be taller than the top of the mountain – just to keep this view intact. Confession: this was “

  4. Susan Wilson permalink
    June 7, 2018 11:06 AM

    That second one is totally stunning. Just love it to bits!

  5. Grimbot permalink
    June 7, 2018 1:12 PM

    Absolutely beautiful sky. Great work as always.

  6. Judy Sopher permalink
    June 7, 2018 3:07 PM

    The sky in the first is amazing. And the second is really a great abstract. All went right with both.

    Interesting about no one building higher than St. Josephs. In downtown Philadelphia, it was a rule that no one could build higher than William Penn’s statue on top of the city hall. But-they finally did. So sad.

    My husband and I are hoping to visit Quebec and Montreal this fall. Therefore, I am enjoying your paintings and descriptions.

  7. June 7, 2018 4:31 PM

    That was a real leap of faith. The scene in the photo is just bla. Knowing how the sky would come together in paint was a real key. . . . applause!

  8. June 7, 2018 6:14 PM

    This is wonderful Marc! deliciously rich and spontaneous and brilliantly abstracted and simplified from the reference photo – no wonder you’re delighted – you have every right to be!

  9. KSt permalink
    June 7, 2018 6:53 PM

    I am really flabbergasted just how you made wonderful art out of that scene. That photo has to be one of the most uninteresting in the book! I’m so grateful to see this study, it makes me want to try something like this…but I’m not sure I’m brave enough or have enough imagination!

  10. sandra p mac diarmid permalink
    June 8, 2018 1:05 AM

    a lovely winner … bravo

  11. June 8, 2018 1:38 AM

    Absolutely love your interpretation of the sky in the first painting – how extraordinarily rendered it is.

  12. christianebdo permalink
    June 10, 2018 9:39 AM

    Amazing Sky ! Thanks for sharing your tips.It’s quite true that we can see St-Joseph from almost anywhere 😊

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