Expressive Painting in Watercolour

Traditional Classes > Painting > Expressive Painting in Watercolor
Expressive Painting in Watercolour

About the Teacher

Marc Taro Holmes is a watercolour painter, art director, concept artist and illustrator with 18 years of professional experience. He’s worked with Bioware, Electronic Arts, Disney, Microsoft Games and Sega and his credits include Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2, Neverwinter Nights II, Lord of the Rings Online, Age of Empires III and A Christmas Carol. His illustrations have appeared on the covers of PC Gamer, Computer Gamer, Play Magazine as well as being featured on the E3 Expo banner. He is a founding member or Urban Sketchers and a popular watercolour instructor who’s taught plein-air workshops in 4 different countries.

Course Outline

Week 1 - Learn blocking in, drawing the shadow shape and drawing the colour blocks. Become familiar with wet-in-wet, reserving edges, water drawing, touching edges, softening edges and blotting.

Week 2 - Learn how to use open-line drawing, mapped shadow shapes and the three-pass watercolour method: Tea, milk, honey / Stain, Shadow, Details / Wet, Dry, Opaque

Week 3 - Learn to paint with a full-colour palette and understand the importance of composition thumbnails, colour studies and the final drawing

Week 4 - Review, practice and become well versed in the basic method of three pass-watercolour painting while working on a complex organic subject with a full-colour palette

Week 5 - Using a live model, learn to paint over gesture drawings, water-soluble ink and directly (without drawing)

Week 6 - Become proficient in the three-pass method with a long-pose figure painting of a costumed model

Week 7 - Understand how to simultaneously convey accurate likeness and feeling/mood/expression with expressive colour while painting portraits from a live model

Week 8 - Learn how to work on a larger scale using photographic reference and creating preparatory value studies for your class project

Week 9 - Understand when and how to apply the finishing touches to your class project

Week 10 - Learn how to use yupo, smooth surface illustration board, lifting and gouache wash while painting a costumed model


This class is not offered for the 2014 spring semester


This ten week intermediate level class will introduce artists to the excitement of painting in watercolor.
The beauty of water media lies in its calligraphic immediacy, luminous color, and relative speed and spontaneity.
Experienced plein-air painter and entertainment industry designer Marc Taro Holmes will teach his process for creating expressive paintings built on a foundation of accurate sketching. Marc strives for recognizable subjects that are full of life and spontaneous brushwork.
Students will learn to control wet-in-wet washes, how to reserve whites and keep sharp edges, when to apply other techniques - wet-on-dry, drybrush, splattering, resists, and the use of opaque watercolor (gouache).
Classwork will include still life, both the nude and costumed figure, portraits from life, and a more ambitious final painting created with photographic reference.


Drawing from Life or equivalent experience (a solid foundation in realistic drawing : perspective, proportions, shading, etc.)


This class is not presently offered . Please consider registering for the following popular classes:

Advanced Anatomy

Foundations of Painting

Digital Painting


  • Learn a simple, fun, fast and forgiving method for watercolour painting that you can use with live models, photographic reference or plein-air landscape/architectural work.
  • Understand how to prepare your painting so you can work quickly, spontaneously and freely, taking advantage of happy accidents, expressing mood and atmosphere while preserving realism and accuracy.

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