Monday, April 9, 2007

"Less is More" -- Donald Holden's Atmospheric Watercolors

I came across this wonderful artist -- Donald Holden in the book "simple secrets to better painting". The moonlight on night sea painting is distilled to its maximum possible extent yet the atomosphere just floats out of the paper from it. It is a very small, intimate image, only 7' by 10', and it is almost monotone -- the deep, ultramarine cloud and sea only contains a tiny trace of some rose color. But the experience it gives the viewer is so intense. It is almost breathe-taking. Perfect manipulation of light and shadow shapes, subtle variation of value within the dark shapes, interwoven hard, soft and broken edges... There is not a single inch of area in this painting that is boring to the eye.

I searched for his books and images online fanatically. Turns out, there are plenty. Most of have dark shapes suggesting rock, tree, and cloud, and uses a very limited, low-key, saturated palatte. These images are completed in the mind of the viewer, and they are truly what we calls a "distillation of vision". No wonder his spiritual mentors are the 15th century Japanese master, Sesshe, J.M.W. Turner, and James McNeill Whistler. You can find the traces...

Varigated washes are emphasized in his paintings, instead of brush strokes. What amazes me technically is such dark, intense pigments on paper still appears transparent and pure. I am wondering where he float them all at once, or patiently performed multiple glazes. The granulation seems more like "once and for all" type of action, but how is it still be possible that they appear to be so fluidic and not chalky at all?!!! With such concentration of pigment it is almost not possible...

Here are some images I found online of his paintings...

Lake Tahoe Nightfall, 2000, 7'x10'

Adirondack XV, 2002, 8'x11'

Dusk at Yellowstone I, 13x9

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Wonderful Watercolor Artists and Resources Online

Today I come across a wonderful watercolor artist: Joseph Alleman ( Born in 1975, he is already and AWS. And his watercolor is like nothing I have seen before. It is so clear and full of design elements. The clear gradation of sky reminds me of the thin, chilly morning air of Utah. This is a genius. At this young age, he already has his own style, a unique voice in the world of watercolor. If I have to say, the subtle usage of non-saturated color reminds me of Wyeth.

And I am luck to come across two watercolor artist's blog: Roland Lee ( and Nita Leland ( Both are full of information, resource, wonderful drawings and paintings, photographs and even demonstrations! I am truly grateful that these wonderful artists are kind enough to share their art and experience with the new comers to the art world...

Also, I found a wonderful portrait artist, Butch Krieger, who wrote a ton of articles to the artist's magazine, all of which are availble on his website:

After a day of browsing and not working, I couldn't feel more content and energitic. Will try to paint a small watercolor tonight.