My Watercolor Blog

August 16, 2007

Donald Holden

Filed under: Artists — Elizabeth @ 9:07 pm

Donald Holden is reviewed in the latest American Artist Watercolor magazine (summer 07). While his art is…maybe I am just not ready for it yet, it is fine, I am just not all there, I like what he says. He is a “Master” watercolorist whatever the hell that means, however it does feel like it means something…Anyway his layering landscapes do draw you in and he intends as he says for you to, “slow down, take your time, step into the painting, stroll around inside, and let the painting reveal itself to you. I hope my watercolors will put you into a meditative mood, calling up memories, hidden emotions, profound thoughts, dreams.” (p.35) He says the smallness (7″x10″) draws you in and that J.M.W. Turner worked small scale. “I was impressed by the small scale of most of his great watercolors. He was able to creat the illusion of immense space, brilliant and complex light, and rich color on scraps of paper that were about a foot wide. Eventually, I realized that this richness and complexity – this glowing, intense color – was possible because of the small scale. The paintings were so pungent because they were small, focused, and concentrated. It brought to mind what the great sculptor Bourdelled said to his students: ‘Make it smaller, more personal, more intense.'”(p.30)

One more nice quote from the article,

“Become a tree. Then you can express the tree, not just your own ego. A famed Chinese painter of animals said, “When you paint a tiger, your brush should snarl like the tiger.”(p.36)

So he is talking about letting go of ego, this is very interesting, watercolor can be a subconscious avenue for growth in many directions. I can see how there will be a difference between the tree you paint which is your tree, by you, painted and seen by you and the tree that is really sitting over there. So many layers…


  1. I discovered Mr.Holden’s work about 6 years ago, and then recently ordered the book he authored on Whistler’s Landscapes and Seascapes. I became familar with the work of Sesshu, the Japanese artist he also admired my 3rd year in art school. It is sad with the present day emphasis on technique alone’ so many skilled artists have so little to say.

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