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Citizen Sketcher by Marc Taro Holmes - 4d ago

36 x 36″ Oil on panel, “Ex Libris”

I have ambitions to be a writer.

I’m already an author, and for goodness sake, this blog has kept me writing steadily. But so far, my successful books are non-fiction – and that’s not really what I imagine when I think about writing.

You know – novels! I’d like to be writing fiction someday. I think I have the imagination for it. The question is if I have the discipline.

Last year, I painted a set of typewriters in watercolor, and, over the 2018 winter, I made these larger ones in oil.

My thinking was – “I need something to hang over my writing desk. This will be the inspiration to finish these books!”

I have quite a library of false starts. I imagine some of you do as well. How many of you have a half-finished book in your cloud storage?

36×36″ Oil on Panel, “Do not Bend, do not Edit your Soul – Franz Kafka”

Last year, I painted a set of typewriters in watercolor, and, over the 2018 winter, I made these larger ones in oil.

My thinking was – “I need something to hang over my writing desk. This will be the inspiration to finish these books!”

Finishing this second painting was a battle. Maybe you can tell?

But – that makes it perfect for writing inspiration. It’s a visualization of the writing process.

Messy. Rough-hewn. Terribly unfinished in parts. Yet, there are passages that sing. Little fragments of the first draft survive untouched all the way to the final work.

10×10″ Oil  on panel, “Magic Realism”

So, for now, I’m still focused on visual arts. But I’ll keep working on my writing in the background. And in the meantime, I’ll keep working on these typewriters. I’m curious if I’ll have a show of these paintings before I have a finished novel? Hah! We’ll see!

10×10″ Oil on panel, “The Great American Novel”

10×10″ Oil on panel, “The Wordsmith”

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Tremendous thanks to all those who’ve ordered the new book!

I hope you don’t mind me asking > Can you write me a review on Amazon?

I hate to bother you on top of your generosity – but those early reviews make a huge difference for independent authors. The number of reviews, both good or bad, affects how often it shows up in Search, and how likely it is to appear in Amazon’s “Readers Also Bought” lists.

Thanks so much!

In a month or so I’ll report on how things are going. I expect some of you will be interested to hear what this experiment in self-publishing artwork is like.

~marc

Available now on Amazon in Print and E-Book. < affiliate links, thx ]

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I want to thank everyone who participated in this year’s #30x30DirectWatercolor2019 marathon.

I spend altogether too much time talking about myself on this blog.We’ve had over 3500 people this year in the facebook group.

There’s a lot to see from all different levels of artist, and every kind of subject matter.

It’s been a whirlwind of activity. Exciting to be around everyone making great art. Keeps the blood flowing, and has kept me painting.

We (myself and Uma) will leave that facebook group open in the break, but we won’t be checking it much – until next June.

Feel free to continue to talk amongst yourselves.

Now that we have this critical mass of members, I expect there will always be some activity in there. People have been joining even up to the very last day.

Again > Tremendous thanks to everyone who participated! And I will keep in touch through these pages at CitizenSketcher.

~marc

“Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”

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I want to thank everyone who participated in this year’s #30x30DirectWatercolor2019 marathon.

I spend altogether too much time talking about myself on this blog.We’ve had over 3500 people this year in the facebook group.

There’s a lot to see from all different levels of artist, and every kind of subject matter.

It’s been a whirlwind of activity. Exciting to be around everyone making great art. Keeps the blood flowing, and has kept me painting.

We (myself and Uma) will leave that facebook group open in the break, but we won’t be checking it much – until next June.

Feel free to continue to talk amongst yourselves.

Now that we have this critical mass of members, I expect there will always be some activity in there. People have been joining even up to the very last day.

Again > Tremendous thanks to everyone who participated! And I will keep in touch through these pages at CitizenSketcher.

~marc

“Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”

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I am excited to announce my latest book – available now on Amazon in Print and E-Book. <affiliate links, thx]

The Apocalypse Variations: Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days collects all of my work from #30x30DirectWatercolor2019.

This book has always been my personal goal for this year’s marathon. Not just finishing the paintings on time. But doing something worthwhile with them.

I’m proud of each of my books in their own way, but this one is special for me.

I feel I’ve made something more mature. More artistic.

This slim volume is my most personal book to date.

This whole month of talking about the marathon, I’ve been intentionally quiet about the real thinking behind the paintings.

The story that so many of you have been seeing in the art.

I’ve always been in love with the technical aspects of painting. I can talk shop for hours. All that ‘what brush do you like’, ‘what are your favorite colors’.

The new book has none of that. But it’s full of everything else. All the reasons why the paintings came out of me as they did.

I have loved blogging and sharing stories about travel and art on this blog, and in my other books. But, as a plein air painter and an urban sketcher – the work has never been about anything personal. Not really.

Painting on location is almost a mechanical process. You are a kind of art-camera. You record what you see like a documentary filmmaker. Yes, of course, it’s art. Every person’s view of a place is unique. But still – it’s always been easy to stay on the surface. To avoid being too serious. Just go to some nice places and enjoy your visit. Make some pretty paintings.

This project has been an entirely different experience for me.

In recent years with the slow-motion decline of my parent’s health and the final sputtering end of my career as a commercial artist, and the realization that my dreams of full-time travel-and-art are no longer compatible with reality (I’m getting too old, and frankly, too broke), I’ve had to face some serious questions about why I do art.

What is the motivation to live this lifestyle? Is it even worth it? What is the value of my lifelong dedication to the craft of painting? (In particular, my brand of painting quickly, directly, expressively. Work that I love, but that might fall below the level of ‘real art’ in some people’s eyes.)

This book seems like my first real step towards the future.

(Sorry – you’ll have to indulge me in some self-congratulation. Which, I think is a crucial skill for a fine artist. You need to do this for yourself, or how else do you keep going? :)

So yes! There it is!

I hope you’ll be interested in this new type of book from me.

I hope you’ll find something worthwhile in my analysis of my own paintings, my own motivations – and in seeing a tangible example of what I think the whole process of living creatively might look like for an artist today.

And – if you do pick up a copy – please do leave me a review on Amazon.

I want to know what you think, and, leaving honest reviews is an immense help to the author. It’s the lifeblood of bookselling these days.

My thanks, in advance,
~marc

The Apocalypse Variations: Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days
now on Amazon in Print and E-Book

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“The Narrow Path”, 18×18″ watercolor on paper

Well – I do believe I quietly crossed the finish line a while ago. If I look back, this is painting number 34 of 30 – if I’m counting right?

It’s been a tremendous experience for me this year.  Looking back at my primary goal  – to produce a body of new work with a consistent feel, and new confidence with watercolor – I feel well satisfied.

I had a secondary goal of sending some of this work to the Canadian watercolor society. That’s in the judges’ hands as we speak. I’ll be able to report back soon if they are also fans of Direct Watercolor :)

I have one more bit of news, but I’ll push that off till tomorrow.

I hope all of you hit your thirty – or are expecting to make it in the next few days. Feel free to post your success stories in the comments! Let’s get the last few paintings out and take a well-deserved break!

~m

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“Castle Bravo”, 18×18″ watercolor on paper

Detail of waves. Painted with Holbein watercolor Grey-of-Grey over a damp wash of Neutral Tint and Indigo. An example of how watercolorists might benefit from more opaque painting techniques?

It’s interesting how things in life keep looping back. I am finally getting around to internalizing what I saw Sargent doing with body color at an exhibition in 2014.

That’s playing the long game for you.

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“Footfalls Throw Dust”, 18×18″ watercolor on paper

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“The Vanishing”, 18×18″ Watercolor on Paper

There are some experiences in life that stick with you. I frequently think back to our trip to the vanishing Salton Sea.

Of course, it doesn’t look like this at all. But I’m enjoying this exercise in sketching from imagination and memory and re-interpreting my own drawings.

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So, I’ve been fussing with something here in the past few days, which is that I’ve used up the inspirational value of my digital sketches. (For now).

I did – I think 45 sketches – to get me to 30 paintings. It was sort of a random number. I just sketched whatever was in my head and stopped naturally when the ideas started slowing down.

After you’ve been painting all the best ones – the ones that grabbed your eye – eventually, you’re down to the dregs. There really isn’t anything worth painting left!

So – I had to take a day off and sketch some new ideas.

Just for a break, I went back to the familiar – and painted in ink and wash with Chinese brushes.

Tomorrow, I’ll ‘re-boot’ with some of these new inspirations.

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