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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.

25% off my Original Oil Paintings for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo!

April 3, 2020

[ The Wordsmith 10×10″ Oil on Cradled Panel – SOLD! }

Did you know National Novel Writing Month (the online peer support network for writers known as NaNoWriMo) runs three times a year?

In celebration of the April event, Camp NaNo, I’m putting my small series of Paintings for Writers on sale for 25% off!

Update 03: The last little typewriter looked so lonely there, I’ve taken it down for now. Maybe I’ll be back next Nano with some more word-machines :) You can still click through the images to the shop and check out the landscape paintings on offer. Thanks, Marc

Update 02: The Wordsmith – Sold! Thanks again my friends :)

Update 01: The Great American Canadian Novel – Sold immediately on posting! Thanks very much!

[ The Great American Canadian Novel”, 10×10″ Oil on Cradled Panel – SOLD! }

I painted these 10×10″ impasto oil paintings for the specific purpose of inspiring authors.

Well – inspiring myself actually.

I participated in last November’s NaNo and had terrific results. I finished a collection of short stories, which I’ve put into print with Amazon. (More on that soon).

These contemporary impressionist paintings are ideal for hanging over your writing desk. Lending you momentary support every time you rest your eyes. I feel my searching, intuitive paint handling visually convey the writer’s struggle! The quest to make something great out of a blank page.

[ Magic Realism, 10×10″ Oil on Cradled Panel – Delisted]

If you purchase any time in April for 25% off – I’ll send it out with free shipping anywhere in the US or Canada.

Just mail me if you’re living somewhere else and we can discuss special shipping arrangements.

I hope you’ll consider one of these original works of art as a perfect reward for finishing your novel, or as a gift for the writer in your life!

Blacks are my Favorite Colors

April 1, 2020

So – Watercolor.

I was painting the other day, trying some things, came to re-realize – I really like black.

This should be obvious. But you don’t always think about your own paintings. They just happen sometimes.

I was trying to paint some florals from our photos of the botanical garden, as the real thing is closed for quarantine.

Pretty much convinced – I can’t paint florals! OMG. I was hating all of them. Really frustrated with bright, sunlit, subtle colors.

Until this one with the dark water.

This is what I like. Hard edged contrasts, dark backgrounds, and aggressive, direct, paint handling.

I have five blacks in my 21 color travel palette.

Indigo, Neutral Tint, Perylene Green, Bloodstone Genuine, Lunar Black.

That’s a lot of shades of black.

I have very few transparent colors. It’s almost impossible to be subtle with this palette. It’s kind of a blunt instrument. Made for drama, not for subtlety.

I’m not sure if this is good or bad. I’m actually fairly sure, it’s not what anyone else wants.

But this is what my eyeballs liked today.

And that’s kind of what it comes down to in art. You have to serve yourself. Your own vision. Art is inherently difficult, time consuming, expensive, and at the end of the day, for most of us the lion’s share of the reward has to come from inside.


At home, looking at old sketches :)

March 28, 2020

It’s always a pleasant surprise when you’re sorting out some papers, and a couple nice sketches fall out.

These are from South Carolina. We had a wonderful visit a while back, teaching a workshop and jurying a watercolor show.

Right now, during the self-quarantine, the old life of travel and painting with friends seems like such a luxury. I’m sure I didn’t appreciate it enough at the time.

I hope everyone is taking things easy, staying in the moment, not worrying about the unknown future.

And of course, painting at home ;)

Take care everyone!


One Minute Watercolor Ep.03 – Mossy Falls

March 21, 2020

So – to be honest, this sketch is just a test of my shiny new setup for recording paintings. New overhead mount and wireless remote control for Laurel’s DSLR, new microphone for voice over, and coincidentally – Adobe has some new software called Premiere Rush – made for editing quick and easy jobs like this.

Remarkably, with that many new pieces of technology, I was still able to record, edit and publish this today! Frankly, I’m amazed :)

Here’s the painting :)

And a few closeups of areas I like!

Scraping with scissors.

Wet-into-damp. (Indigo + Olive Green into watery Indgio + Titanium White)

A little area with calligraphic brushwork from a splayed out old sable. Old sables never die! They just get better at painting foliage.

Fly the Flag for St. Patrick’s Day! (25% off my oil paintings + free shipping)

March 16, 2020

We just recently heard, my painting “Fly the Flag of the Republic” has been accepted into the Society of Canadian Artists 2020 Online Juried Exhibition.

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day!

This was one of my early works, in a series of impasto oil paintings begun in 2018, painted from my wife’s photo, taken on a recent trip to Ireland.

In honor of the day, and having the painting up in the SCA show, I’ve put it – and all my currently listed landscape paintings – FOR SALE on my ETSY SHOP, 25% off with FREE SHIPPING!

It was months after hanging the painting to dry that I realized – perhaps subconsciously – I had painted the Irish Tricolor!

Here’s a fellow – wrapped in the flag, sketched at the Montreal St. Patrick’s day parade, back in 2015.

Of course, this year the parade is cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I had been planning to go sketching. It’s a rite of spring to watch the parade, even if it’s really too early to be out on the street, frozen fingers and all.

I read afterwards that the flag of the republic is meant to symbolize peace (white) between the Catholics and Protestants. That’s a wonderful story, I hope it’s true.

In my case, it really was an unconscious thing. These were simply the colors I saw in the land and sky.

Saint Patrick was supposed to have driven the snakes out of Ireland. Let’s not look too hard at the politics of that, and take it as a wish to keep the virus away as we spend this season at home for St. Patrick’s Day!

Please feel free to pop over to my shop: MHolmesFineArt on and see the rest of the available paintings!

And take care everyone,




That’s it for my #OneWeek100People 2020. Thanks everyone!

March 13, 2020

Another year of #OneWeek100People is crossing the finish line!

I’m sitting here at the computer, watching people posting up on the Facebook group. Most are saying they’ve hit their 100, a few that they need the weekend to finish, but either way, it’s been a great experience.

I must say, it’s so rewarding to be part of a group activity like this. Seeing everyone’s work appear each day – and watching your own number tick up –  it keeps you excited – and motivated to keep sketching, even with so much going on in our busy lives.

Besides all the great drawings, I’ve seen few fun ideas this year. I’m just going to link a few highlights (I hope direct-links to Facebook work for you, but if not there’s great stuff to be found all over just by searching the hashtag #OneWeek100People )

Paula Raudenbush – An ‘Advent Calender’ – See all your sketches fill up the page

Fabien Bartz – Hand Made Miniature Sketchbook

StanCreative – Put Everyone in a Single Picture

Barbara Eguchi – Keychain Sketchbook

So yes!

Really, I just want to thank everyone who participated this year.

I know everyone has benefited from seeing all your artwork and ideas, and all the creative ways you find subjects to draw. It’s been a terrific celebration of learning-by-doing :)

Thanks everyone for all your enthusiasm!

I hope we will see you next March!