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New page: Available Works

April 3, 2015

I just wanted to point you over to a page I’ve made, gathering all the available works for sale in one place. I’ll be adding and subtracting to this page over time, but you can always go here and see what original paintings are currently for sale. Please feel free to pass the link around :) Thanks. ~m

Sunset Pier (2)
Sailboats from Sunset Pier, Key West
5.5×7″ 140lb cotton rag paper: $125.00

Sunset Pier (3)

   KeyWestMini (2)KeyWestMini (3)
KeyWestMini (1)KeyWestMini (4)

Miniature Sketches from Sunset Pier, Key West
4×4″ 140lb cotton rag paper: $125.00

Potrait of the Pointe

April 2, 2015


This is something out of the ordinary for me. I don’t normally paint contemporary architecture. I can’t say I’m comfortable with the smooth surfaces and straight lines. But I’ve recently been invited to do a portrait of the Pointe-à-Callière Museum for the cover of the 2015/16 Educational calendar. I very much enjoyed the challenge of this modernist structure. Perhaps this small bit of experience will help out with painting in Singapore this summer.

Announcing: A few spaces remaining for Cortona June 8-15 – also – Reduced Price!

April 2, 2015


I just heard from Patrick over at Toscana Americana that we still have a few spaces left for the Cortona workshop. I also hear they are extending the early registration offer of US$200 off enrollments between March 22 and April 30. If you’re planning to be in Europe this summer, I hope you can attend!

More info here | Click here to register

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Announcing! Sketching Workshop in Richmond VA, April 17/18

March 31, 2015

VCA Workshop Graphic


I’m excited to announce a last minute project. I’ll be leading a location drawing workshop, focused on spontaneous sketching in pen-and-ink, this April 17/18 in Richmond Va.

It’s offered in conjunction with the Virginia Center for Architecture in Richmond VA, and sponsored by Strathmore and

There are only 15 spots for students, so, if you are in the area, you might want to act now!

Click here to Register
Click here to find out more on the USK Workshops Page
Click here for supplies list

This workshop is aimed at beginners and experienced sketchers alike who want to free up their line, and learn to work quickly on location. We will not be overly concerned with perspective drawing or architectural rendering – rather, we’ll be thinking about note-taking, picture making, and visual journaling. Learning to draw an impression of a place, in our own handwriting.

We’ll be focused on black-and-white line drawing in pen and brush-pen, but feel free to bring your colors if you think you might squeeze in the time during longer exercises.

Exercises will include elements from my book (Scribble and Refine) and some new projects aimed at spontaneity and pictorial composition. Single Line Drawing, Tone Shape Sketching – and a few more I’m still making worksheets for!

Demo_Scribble and Refine
Scribble and Refine

Single Line and Cinq-à-Sept (5-7) Sketching (color optional in this workshop)

Demo_Tone Shapes
Tone Shapes


Speed Painting at Vizcaya Gardens Miami

March 28, 2015

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Near the end of our recent Florida cruise we had a free day in South Beach Miami. Not being much of a beach person, I was looking for something paintable, and a quick web search came up with the Vizcaya Museum and Garden. Sounded like a perfect trial run for our upcoming workshop in Italy.  (There are still some spaces available if you’ll be anywhere near Cortona Italy June 8-15).

15Mar15_Vizcaya (1)

Vizcaya is an Italianate mansion with a sprawling formal garden that offers a perfect opportunity for plein air painters. This kind of place, with its planned scenic views, well tended gardens scattered with statuary, its heritage trees shading artful nooks and crannies – you can look in any direction here and find a composition. I suggest arriving early and planning to spend the whole day. You could spend a week here and not run out of subjects.

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One of the things I frequently talk about when discussing travel sketching, is the natural tension between doing a masterpiece, and seeing the world.

When you discover an amazing view, of course you want to set up a huge canvas and paint it all. There are painters that have been known to spend years on a single painting, going back again and again in the right light and weather. (Antonio López García).

Personally – at this stage of my painting life anyway – I prefer being on the move. Seeing the whole place, collecting multiple impressions, instead of investing it all in one image.

Mostly it’s just my personality – that I enjoy working quickly.

But also, I feel that until you can see your finished value study, you can’t really know you made the right call. That you chose the best composition at hand. The sooner you can get something down on paper with a complete representation of the drawing, the colors, and the full value range – only then will you know what you have.

If I was planning a larger work, I’d have to do a a five or ten value study, then, I’d find myself thinking – well I could have just finished the whole painting with a little bit more effort.15Mar15_Vizcaya (6)

I knew immediately on arriving at Vizcaya that this was a beautiful location with a thousand potential paintings waiting. So right away I set myself a few limits – working small – in this case tracing my Moleskine Cahier placed face down on the sheet, giving me this 5.5×7″ shape with rounded corners. And working fast. Aiming to spend about 30 minutes each.

I’m quite happy with the collection. It was a day well spent. I hope our sketching group in Italy will be interested in giving these miniature watercolors a try. I feel that this kind of rapid iteration teaches you a lot, in a very short time.

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15Mar15_Vizcaya (4)

Original sketches available for purchase
5.5×7″, 140lb cotton rag paper and artist quality watercolor: $225
Please contact marc(dot)taro(at)gmail(dot)com for inquiries

I could get used to living in Key West

March 25, 2015

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[10×14″ original watercolor, 140lb cotton rag paper: $375.00]

From my perspective, looking out my window at five foot snowbanks, the town of Key West is a marvel.

An impossibly distant fantasy land of tropical luxury. Probably that’s how the people that live there feel as well. Walking around, I couldn’t get over how the houses were overwhelmed by lush greenery. Even the smallest home had an amazing garden.

15Mar15_KeyWest (7)
[10×14″ original watercolor, 140lb cotton rag paper: $375.00]

15Mar15_KeyWest (5)
[10×14″ original watercolor, Audubon House, 140lb cotton rag paper: $375.00]

One of my favorite spots was the Audubon House. Like many regional museums named after famous people from history, it’s not actually *his* house, and it wasn’t even built when he visited Key West. But – it is much like a house where he *might* have stayed, and he did make diary entries about the unusual trees in the same block.

As you sit in the overgrown gardens, enjoying orchids and bromeliads hanging from swaying palms, you can imagine him passing through on his quest for the wildest, strangest Birds of America. This was probably the best day of the trip for me. Such a great place to spend the afternoon. Painting this amazing garden, and taking breaks to go look at the gallery of birds. Makes you think you could get used to the Key West Life.

Though, reading a bit about it, it sounds like Audubon himself did not have it easy. His life included: fleeing conscription under a false passport, surviving yellow fever, dodging privateers, managing the family mine (his father figured everyone needed lead for bullets), getting through the civil war intact, ending up in debtor’s prison, sketching death-bed portraits for quick cash, fighting the scientific establishment to see his work published, travelling the world hand-selling subscriptions to his prints – actually selling animal pelts he shot himself to raise funds for printing. Whew. that’s just the first half of his life.

15Mar15_KeyWest (4)

The house features a small gallery with some excellent reproductions of Audubon’s prints, and of course the usual drink coasters and puzzles made from his art. I had to be impressed thinking about his body of work from 1838 still steadily selling. Never mind his great achievement in naturalist art, that right there is impressive to a working artist such as myself.

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[9×12″ original watercolor, The Jolly Rover, 140lb cotton rag paper: $375.00]

15Mar15_KeyWest (10)
[10×14″ original watercolor, 140lb cotton rag paper: $375.00]

I have to wonder what the year round experiences are in this town. It does seem precariously perched on a very low lying island, very far out in the ocean. Maybe living on a boat would be the answer? So you could be ready to bug out in hurricane season. I’d prefer to live on a pirate ship like the Jolly Rover. But, there also seems to be a fascinating niche culture of house boating. I am imagining scenes of fleets of these boxy floating homes desperately puttering ahead of an oncoming hurricane. Probably an overactive imagination there. But we’ll see what climate change brings. Maybe these people are right!

I hope to get back to Key West again. We had a great time, and I’d love to make it an alternative to Montreal’s winter.

15Mar15_KeyWest (1)
[10×14″ original watercolor, Key West Lighthouse, 140lb cotton rag paper: $375.00]

Early Bird Registration for USK Singapore Now Open!

March 23, 2015


Early Bird Registration for
USK Singapore July 22-25 is now open!
(10% off).

Programming and Instructors
to be announced March 31

Pre-registration closes April 10



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