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Far From The Maddening Crowd

April 7, 2020

[ Far From the Maddening Crowd 8×8″ Watercolor – SOLD! ]

Painting of Thomas Hardy’s cottage, from a found photograph.

I don’t have a particular fascination with the writer Thomas Hardy, he of Tess of the D’Ubervilles, but – he did have a picturesque cottage.

I’m not even much for sitting in the garden. But I suppose if I had one like this, perhaps I’d be out there, penning longhand letters with watercolor embellishments.

Sometimes I see something online that just grabs me – this place just said – ‘I should be a watercolor’ :)

Another found photo, translated into a watercolorist’s version of the idyllic country home.

Aren’t these the kind of place you’d like to be spending your quarantined days? If there’s any such thing as a nice place to be waiting out this particular storm.

I though this was an interesting bit of painting. Here’s two of the windows on Uncle Tom’s Cabin. One ‘disorganized’ and one ‘organized’. That is, one where the window panes and reflections are broken up into a loose abstraction, and one pretty much painted as it looks.

I’ve always done this with windows. (And any repetitive element). I have this feeling – they’re identical – but it would be tiring to the eye to actually paint them to be identical.

Here’s my advice on painting trees.

Don’t paint any trees.

Paint colored shapes that have interesting edges. Imply adjacent tree canopies and shrubs by making fused masses of green, and slightly changing the green as you go. Don’t let any two green blobs be the same color where they meet. Each leafy blob, a different temperature..

I make all the calligraphic leafy texture with a splayed-out sable round.

Jabbed, twisted and smooshed into the palette till the hairs splay out into a natural rake that changes with every stroke. I keep all my long-hair brushes when they lose their point, and use them for this abuse. They get better with age.

My greens here: Green Gold, Olive Green, Perlyne Green – all Daniel Smith.

Here’s an interesting contrast. The difference between touching rich pigment into wet paint, and touching rich pigment side by side on dry paper.

Soft vs Hard Edges.

My mantra: Soft Inside Shapes, Hard Outside Shapes.

Draw with the wet/dry edges.


Here’s a couple of galleries of the step-by-step process.

Light>to>Dark Value, Thin>to>Thick Pigment, Large>to>Small Shapes.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2020 2:29 AM

    Fabulous painting and very dreamy ..just what we need…Thank you for sharing your process Marc and all the best for you and your loved ones..

  2. Kathy Wesson permalink
    April 8, 2020 2:52 AM

    Always guaranteed to pick up a thoughtful or enlightening tip from you Marc. Thanks once again.

  3. Vince Fenton permalink
    April 8, 2020 4:27 AM

    Thank you for the tips Marc… wonderful paintings… stay safe everyone 😊

  4. April 8, 2020 4:58 AM

    Very enchanting and great tips! Thanks!

  5. April 8, 2020 5:24 AM

    Thanks Marc! Always love your W/C style!
    Great to see the process shots! Stay well! 🌈

  6. April 8, 2020 9:21 AM

    How beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Dana Richards permalink
    April 8, 2020 12:26 PM

    SO glad to see you doing watercolors again! So intriguing- thanks for adding tips & process photos !

  8. mlaiuppa permalink
    April 9, 2020 4:13 AM

    Isn’t it Far from the Madding Crowd? I’m not that familiar with Thomas Hardy.

    Those are some of my favorite greens along with Undersea Green. I know we are supposed to mix them but they don’t call them convenience greens for nothing.

    Have you tried his Primatek Greens? I love his Serpentine and Green Appetite. Jadeite too. I love the granulation which tends to do very well for foliage.

    Thank you for those step by steps breakdowns. That is exactly what I need to see to try to get myself to loosen up more.

    • April 9, 2020 11:49 AM

      It is! You’re right! – but lets call it a modern translation. Like that Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet movie with Leo DeCaprio.

  9. April 10, 2020 6:00 PM

    Beautiful. As always, the educational tips are the icing on the cake; you’re a born teacher.
    Many of us would be delighted to take on online course; just sayin’. Lol

  10. April 21, 2020 5:58 PM

    Wooo-Hooo, I just purchased my first Marc Taro originals. Love this Thomas Hardy cottage. :)

    • April 21, 2020 7:51 PM

      Haha! Thanks so much Henry – I do love the enthusiasm :) And it’s amazing – people always pick the best ones! I everything good is getting snapped up :) I am just packing your paintings and filling out customs forms – so thanks very much my friend!

  11. June 6, 2021 10:53 AM

    I read Hardy in college! Loved his writing, though his tales are a bit gloomy. He also wrote poetry. What fantastic watercolors and very lovely seeing the process. If it were me, and I were contemplating using oil in high key (referring to your other more recent post), I would use that large picture of the Hardy in progress as a motif. It has great open airy spaces, very strong design impact. Of course the finished watercolor is amazing. Lucky collector.

    As to oil, though, just thinking what interesting things one could do varying the color temperature in the “watercolor whites” of that design with subtle shifts in tonality and color. The watercolor in its early stage reminds me a bit of certain Whistler watercolors and oil paintings.

    • June 6, 2021 11:01 AM

      Yes! Also about whites – it’s much easier to use subtle greys in oil. Doesn’t mean it can’t be done in Watercolor but it takes more thinking :)


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