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.

November Croquistes De Quebec Sketchcrawl

Stillman & BIrn Beta (6x9), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Stillman & Birn Beta (6×9), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

http://www.mounthermoncemetery.com/

It’s starting to cool down here in Quebec City but undaunted by the cold, the Croquistes de Québec will gather at the Mt. Herman cemetery for our November Sketchcrawl on Saturday, November 7th.

Because of the season, we’ll be starting at 10AM rather than our normal 9:30 time.  You can get more details on the Croquistes de Québec website.

Mark Brennan, director of the cemetery, has graciously offered us their meeting room for lunch so bring a lunch along with your sketching gear.  Everyone is welcome, of course.  We hope to also have a couple cars available as movable ‘indoor’ sketching platforms if that is necessary.  I’m sure, though, that it will be warm and sunny and we’ll all have a good time.  See you there.

Mt Herman cemetery scene

Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7), Pilot Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

 

Sometimes It’s More Than Sketching

The change of seasons, for me, means transition from street sketcher to museum sketcher.  It’s a sad time, but also an exciting time. There’s so much shape variation in museum exhibitions.

Our Musee de la civilisation has a new exhibit just opened that presents Australian/New Zealand aboriginal art and as I play didjeridu and love aboriginal art, I’m quite excited about it.  Most of the exhibit is paintings, rugs, and such but there are some statues and masks that I’ll be taking advantage of this winter.

I was there a few days ago, drawing a large wall-hanging mask.  So were a bunch of kids on school outings.  The kids were great as they’d come to see what I was doing and when I talked to them I got half a dozen more coming to see what was going on.  This begat more and more kids to the point where I was mostly just talking to them about the watercolor pencils, waterbrushes, and how much fun it is to draw.  Kids “get it.”  They haven’t learned the feelings and emotions about art that adults somehow acquire.

Eventually they wandered away, though, and I got back to drawing.  I was really enjoying the music and serenity of the room.  A mother and her two young daughters (I’d guess they were 4 and 6) came by and, again, the kids were interested and, as is often the case with parents, the mother told them to leave me alone.  I told her it was fine and I showed them what I was doing.

The older girl had some sort of writing/sketching book with her and started to draw with me.  The younger one, of course, wanted to draw too, which sent mom scrambling for paper and pencil.  She found some paper but had only a Seattle Seahawks pencil with her and it needed sharpening.  I sharpened it and we chatted as I did.  They were on vacation from where some of my favorite urban sketchers live – Seattle.

The kids drew a bit and I finished my sketch.  The older girl came over to show me her drawing and I asked her if she wanted to use my watercolor pencils to color her drawing.  Her look was priceless and I loaned her one pencil at a time.  The same thing happened with the younger girl.  We had a regular sketchcrawl going on.

I wish I had been smart enough to take some photos.  Sadly, all I can share is the sketch I did, but it was the most insignificant thing that happened on this day.

aboriginal mask

Stillman & BIrn Beta (9×12), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black, Albrecht-Durer watercolor pencils

News Flash: Sobab Coffee Takes On High-Price Coffee Vendors

Remember when buying coffee meant digging out a coin or two?  Ever since Starbucks convinced people that coffee was more about being empowered to make infinite choices than drinking something brown and warm, we’ve been forced to pay ridiculous amounts of money for a cup of coffee.

And it’s clear that there are high margins from this business model.  Not only is there a Starbucks on every corner, every third store up and down the block is a coffee house.  The choices are endless, at least if ‘choice’ means choosing who is going to charge you a lot for a cup of coffee.

2015-10-24sobabNot so any more, at least not in Quebec City.  I walk down 3rd Avenue regularly and drop into the Brulerie to do quick-sketches of the people and get a ‘cuppa’ as Liz Steel is fond of saying.  I can expect to leave $3-4 lighter every time.  But across the street is a new place, Sobab’s.   I was out walking and decided to give it a try.

I only had a few minutes as I ordered a café au lait.  I was asked whether I wanted a small or a large and I chose large.  If you’re going to splurge on high-priced stuff, you might as well go all the way.  Time to pay.  Should I break a twenty?  Probably have to.  “That’ll be $1.50,” she said.  Huh?  I handed her a 2-dollar coin and dumped the change in the tip jar.

I sat down and, still in pleasant price shock, I scribbled out this little sketch of part of the counter area.  The coffee was good.  It was cheap, and a steady stream of people seemed to know all about it.  As I enjoyed my coffee I did some quick sketches of people ordering their own inexpensive coffee.

All sketches done in a Field Notes notebook using a Pilot Prera and De Atramentis Document Brown ink

All sketches done in a Field Notes notebook using a Pilot Prera and De Atramentis Document Brown ink

A Token Autumn Tree Sketch

As I follow Facebook groups and Instagram one thing is clear.  Sketchers sketch autumn colors, often as a single tree.  I’ve never done that but as I was out walking yesterday it occurred to me that I should.

Why?  Because there were steps I could sit on at the bank.  Across the street there was a red maple, showing off how it got its name.  I was only carrying my ‘short kit’ which amounted to small sketchbooks with inexpensive quick-sketching paper but I sat down and drew it.  The drawing took only a few minutes and I had to add the color at home, very carefully as the paper buckled quite a bit.  Regardless, here is my autumn tree.  The U-shaped things are supposed to protect the trees from errant snow plows.  Somewhat of an anachronism as it’s not going to snow any more – is it?

red maple