New Workshops From Marc Taro Holmes

coverI’ve been a fan of Marc Taro Holmes and his art nearly as long as I’ve been trying to learn how to sketch.  His style is more loose and painterly than most sketching styles and reflects the fact that he’s a formally trained artist.  But as much as I’m a fan of his art, I’ve become more a fan of his teaching abilities.  This came first to me in the form of his The Urban Sketcher, which remains my favorite urban sketching book.

More recently, Marc’s two Craftsy courses, People in Motion and Travel Sketching in Mixed Media exceeded all my expectations for online courses.  Sadly, I find online courses mostly lacking, primarily because they typically assume the student knows nothing and they are filled with yet another description of red/yellow/blue color wheel discussions, what a contour drawing is, and how to hold your pencil in the air to measure things… that I’ve seen over, and over, and over.

Not so when Marc steps onto my computer stage.  He explains his materials and then launches into discussions of drawing and painting that assumes you know that the pointy end goes on the paper.  He does so with clarity that must be experienced.  He assumes you want to draw stuff.  He assumes you want to paint stuff.  And he provides multi-step processes to do both.  There are plenty of other places to learn about the color wheel; you’ll not find such discussions in Marc’s workshops.

Maybe most important is that he not only describes the process but he explains why he does what he does and what he’s thinking as he does it.  He makes it crystal clear what you’re supposed to be learning and why it’s important.  Each time I listen to one of Marc’s workshops I learn something more.

So, I was thrilled to find that Marc, in association with ArtistsNetwork.tv, have released four new workshops:

My understanding is that if you are a paid subscriber to ArtistsNetwork.tv you have access to all four of these workshops as part of your subscription.  They are also available directly from North Light as DVDs or you can buy them as downloads.  I bought two of them via downloads as I’m an instant gratification kind of guy and besides, there’re cheaper that way.

I expected that the concepts Marc teaches in his book and via the Craftsy courses would be the same in these workshops and I was correct.  Any thought that this suggests that they are repetitious, however, would be wrong.  One fundamental difference is that these workshops are done on location, so Marc discusses his urban sketching tactics as well as discussing his 3-step drawing and 3-step painting processes.  Also, because you’re spending so much time with him there are numerous little tips presented as he draws and paints.

Marc's Cemetery paintingThe Drawing and Painting in a Travel Journal workshop takes place in a Cincinnati cemetery/botanical garden and he begins with the major work of the workshop, an old gothic cathedral/mousoleum.  Marc walks us through his three-step drawing process, discussing his motivations and thoughts along the way.  The videography is outstanding with just the right amount of close ups of the drawing while allowing us to see the subject as well.

I particularly liked the painting portion of this as while I’ve seen his tea/milk/honey approach described, here I got to see his actual mixes, what brushes he uses, and how he worked around the painting.  I have a bunch of new things to try and practice.

Once done with this painting, Marc begins to walk the grounds, stopping to do some quicker sketches in an attempt to capture the essence of the place.  At each stop he discusses location sketching, what’s important, and what may be less so.  He sketches statues, monuments, and even the busts of a couple of Cincinnati’s founders.  While his fluency with a pen is humbling, it’s also inspiring.

This workshop runs 100 minutes and in spite of its nearly two-hour length, it seemed to be over too soon.  It’s a workshop that, like his Craftsy videos, I’ll watch several times.

15oct17_artnet_tv_birds_03bI’m one who believes that ‘urban sketching’ isn’t limited to drawing buildings, cars and people, and Marc seems to agree as his Urban Sketching: Bird Drawing takes place at a raptor rehabilitation center.  Marc describes his process of drawing and painting birds using similar techniques to his building and people sketches but here he emphasizes the unique nature of drawing animals, creating textures, capturing moving objects, etc.  Here I feel I got a lot out of Marc’s early pencil organization stages as he indicates not only the shape of the animal but also some of the major shadow shapes.  He draws several poses simultaneously as the bird is in near constant motion and he shows you how to work back and forth between them, ultimately generating a group of poses.  Marc makes this look easy but I find it difficult to shift my brain/eye between poses as the subject moves between them.  But Marc’s workshop should help when I try it again.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to learn from Marc Taro Holmes, do yourself a favor and pay the little bit of money required to gain access to these online workshops.  I’ll leave you with that thought as I’ve got to go buy the other two workshops.

October Croquistes de Quebec Sketchcrawl

I’ve talked about walking along my river, sketching on my river, and seeing ducks and flowers on my river.  It’s not really my river but the St. Charles River passes within a few minute walk of my house and the paths along its banks are a handy way for me to walk downtown, so I spend a lot of time on it.

Where Riviere Lairet exits into Parc Brebeuf

Where Riviere Lairet exits into Parc Brebeuf

The Croquistes de Québec will hold their October sketchcrawl on my river, or rather, at Parc Cartier-Brébeuf, on Sunday, October 11.  Parc Brebeuf is the confluence of the St. Charles and Lariat rivers; the Lariat runs mostly underground these days but is exposed to daylight just before it dumps into the St. Charles.  The park is a famous place as Cartier, explorer extraordinaire for the French government, overwintered (1535) in his ship, back when the St. Charles River was more open to ship traffic.  Now only kayaks and canoes ply its waters.

1st Avenue Bridge, just downstream from Parc Brebeuf

1st Avenue Bridge, just downstream from Parc Brebeuf

The sketchcrawl should be lots of fun so don’t be discouraged by our cooler weather.  Forecasts are for decent sketching weather and Yvan has arranged for us to use the Maison Dorion-Coulombe, which is a beautiful and large house along the banks of the river if you decide it is too cold.

We’ll meet at the usual time (9:30AM) and sketch all day so bring a lunch, a sketchbook, and your favorite pointy device.  Expect to be greeted with smiles.  For more details, head over to the Croquistes de Québec web page.   See you there.

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Monument in Parc Brebeuf

I’m Four Years Old

When you are as old as I am, birthdays aren’t a big deal beyond preferring them to the alternative.  But when I can say “I’m Four Years Old,” well that’s better, and I’m now a four-year-old sketcher.

I can’t really say what day it was that I read Danny Gregory’s Everyday Matters and bought into his notion that the value of art comes from the doing of it rather than the end product, but it was sometime in September of 2011.  At the time, I couldn’t draw anything.  I’d been told when I was a kid that I had no talent for art and I’d spent almost 60 years believing it.  Times change and now I don’t believe that “talent” has anything to do with it, though if persistence is a talent maybe there is truth in “you’re so talented” as I’ve been persistent if nothing else.

Anyways, back then I started drawing cubes… lots of cubes.  I figured that lots of things fit into cubes and so if I could draw cubes in any orientation, I’d have a good start on drawing pretty much anything.  And you know what, I think I was right.  Books told me I should also add spheres, cones and cylinders to the mix but otherwise, I started to build a foundation for drawing.  I got pretty myopic about it too, worrying only about the drawing, using paint like crayons and not giving it much thought.

Sadly, I don’t have any of those pages of cubes.  I was using photocopy paper and throwing everything away.  It wasn’t until I posted a couple simple sketches in a sketching group and mentioned my circular file approach to storage that someone said, “Hey, hang onto that stuff.  You’ll want to look back on it some day.”  And so I started my first sketchbook.

By this time I’d heard about urban sketching and that looked like a good idea to me – all except for that going out in public to sketch stuff.  That sounded really scary!

But I was determined.  I took a small 4×6 sketchbook, with horrible paper, and headed to a shopping center.  I’m an analytical type and I reasoned that if I sketched a manikin she wouldn’t get mad at me and I wouldn’t have to worry about her leaving.  I was right on both counts.

1stLocationsketch

2ndLocationsketchIt was still scary, though and I held my sketchbook close to my chest, drawing as quickly as I could in the hope that nobody would see me.  Once again, the strategy worked and I finished the sketch, got up immediately, and walked away.  It was only in hindsight that I saw the reality.  Nobody cared what the heck I was doing.  Everyone just walked by, too busy in their own affairs to care about me and my manikin sketch.  My second ‘urban sketch’ was a post box and it didn’t get angry either.   But I got “bold” and soon I was sketching my coffee cup in the middle of McDonalds (grin).

By this time I was 1) having a great time sketching, or trying, anywhere I wanted.  It doesn’t take long before you figure out that nobody cares what you’re doing and the fears are unfounded.  My only limitations were, and still are, my ability to draw and paint.  But I wanted to draw buildings and so one day I bit the bullet and drew this one, my first location sketch of a building.  Since then I’ve done, literally, thousands of sketches, almost all of them done on location.  I’ve filled more than 40 sketchbooks.  I think I’m a little better at sketching than I was when I started but that doesn’t really matter.  I’m having fun and it’s become a part of my life.

1stBuildingSketch

 

Sketchcrawl At Fete De La Nouvelle France

2014-08-09NouvelleFrance1Our fearless leader has scheduled our second sketchcrawl to coincide with the Nouvelle France festival, on Sunday, August 9th.  The festival is always pretty special for sketchers as it’s a week of people wandering the old port area wearing period costumes, doing demonstrations of 18th Century crafts, and plenty of opportunity to eat traditional Quebec food.

We’re all going to rendevous in the square at Place Royale (prime subject-hunting territory) at 9:30 and after lunch we’ll move to Parc de l’Unesco which is just down the street.  You can get more details about the festival and the sketchcrawl from the Croquistes de Quebec webpage.  I hope you can make it.  Bring yourself, your sketching gear, and be prepared for lots of fun.  If you have any questions, you can contact me at larry@larrydmarshall.com or Yvan Breton from his web page.

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Disaster Strikes LarryDMarshall.com

broken-computer

Hi everyone,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  From my view it seems like forever.  My laptop, my connection to the universe, started acting up as we heralded in the new year.  By January 3rd I was scrambling to find a laptop to buy that 1) wouldn’t break the bank, 2) had the features I required, and 3) that could be found, in stock, in a local store.  This last thing was the hard part, it always is in Quebec City.

I’ve done a restoration and password-remembering marathon, spending far too much time watching that silly Windows thing spin around, and around, and around as something, supposedly – maybe hopefully – was happening.  I’m now looking out at you through a new computer window and most of my software is working.  I’ll get back to regular posts in the next day or so.  Happy 2015 – I hope the rest of it goes better for me too.

Cheers — Larry