Marc Taro Holmes has released a new book, Direct Watercolor, and I have to confess that I’m a biased reviewer. I love the pedagogic skills and dedication he brings to his art instruction. Yes, his art is fantastic but his first book, The Urban Sketcher and his Craftsy courses are each a tour de force in their subject areas. You can’t just read/watch Marc’s lessons; you’ve got to listen closely, multiple times, or you’ll miss many of the little gems he casually drops in front of you.
Maybe more important, Marc seems driven by the notion that he’s not providing enough bang for the buck because he crams more into a book or video than anyone so you do, indeed, get a lot of bang for your buck. Direct Watercolor is a good illustration of that.
Direct Watercolor is a bit different from his previous offerings as it has multiple goals. While there is considerable information about how to sketch directly with watercolor, it’s also a presentation of a bunch of his art, done in this way, which serves to enforce the instruction, but also serves as a travel journal of some of the more exotic places Marc has sketched. These goals knit together go together like a good wine and cheese.
The end result is not only an instruction book, it’s a book stuffed full of eye candy. The back cover says there are over “80 plein air watercolor paintings.” When I counted them I got more than 100, along with the half a dozen step-by-step demonstrations and pages showing the basic techniques. Only Marc can get all this into a 100 page book.
Truth is, this book is so full of beautiful art that it’s worth owning whether you do any watercolor work or not. I do question one thing, though, and that’s the title, Direct Watercolor. Anyone who is a sketcher would mentally put “rather than ink and wash” after that title, but I wonder how it would be interpreted by a watercolorist who isn’t a sketcher. Is there another kind of watercolor other than putting the pigment directly on the paper? Maybe a subtitle would have been appropriate. In any case, we sketchers know what he’s talking about and that’s all that matters (grin).