Michael Holter has painted most of his life and earned degrees in art education and visual communication, which led to jobs in commercial and fine art, working as an art teacher, creative director, and gallery owner. Today, he paints full time and maintains a rigorous workshop schedule. Besides landscapes in watercolor and oil, figures in watercolor are another of his specialties.
Having once considered a career in architecture, Holter is also fascinated with manmade structures, a passion that is evident in his cityscape work. “Architectural elements — shadows on a fire escape or building facade, the way sunlight filters through a red awning or umbrella to cast warm hues on the surrounding area — have the kind of compositional strength that draws my attention,” he says.
Holter presents just enough structure to make his subject recognizable, while allowing room for his interpretation to evolve according to the viewer. “You have to let go of the need to paint every detail,” he says. “It’s not necessary to paint every brick on a wall, for example. Look for and paint shapes, starting with the largest. Learn to paint with large brushes and develop a watercolor shorthand to suggest rather than overstate. Let viewers fill in the areas you choose to leave to their imagination.”
Michael Holter shares his process in the new DVD, 7 Steps to Watercolor Landscapes!