Michael Holter

Michael Holter: Watercolor from Photos


Video Length: 4 Hours 6 Minutes
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Learning from Michael is your chance to acquire completely new watercolor skills. You can use your new skills to paint outside en plein air…

Or paint inside and relive your memories by painting from photos. 

Once you can paint from photos, all of this is possible. You can paint any landscape your heart desires — any time you want.

You’ll learn how to design your painting and improve the composition, even if the photo isn’t tops.

You’ll also find out how to reinterpret the scene with color, depth, and loose brushstrokes.

You’ll feel inspired, capture scenes you love, and express yourself with Michael Holter’s art video, Watercolor From Photos

Michael’s deep love for watercolor, art, and the creative process makes it deeply enjoyable to learn from him. No matter if you are a beginner or a seasoned watercolor artist, Michael’s workshop will get and keep you inspired. 

What Is Watercolor from Photos About?

In this course, you’ll follow along with Michael Holter’s step-by-step process. You’ll create two paintings — a picturesque farmhouse and a scenic lighthouse — and you’ll learn exciting tips and techniques while painting them.

The lighthouse painting, Lighting the Way, demonstrates how to tell a story with your brushstrokes and how to unite more than one reference photo. Michael also explains how to make adjustments in a scene to get the best composition and the best results.

When painting A Day in the Life, you’ll continue to add elements and figures into a painting to create a story that will engage the viewer. 

Plus, you’ll also discover:

  • How to paint stunning scenes from any photo (even if the photo is not tops)
  • How to blend shapes, perspectives, and scenes from different photos into one coherent painting
  • A simple technique to capture the atmosphere, depth, and distance of a scene
  • What impressionists truly mean when they say, “I paint the light and shadows of a landscape”
  • How to find inspiration in front of your doorstep
  • The simple way to reinterpret a scene — add bolder colors, depth, and emotion to your paintings
  • How to make your art a natural expression of yourself (without getting frustrated or too tense)
  • Insights into Michael’s decisions and thought process while painting (he’ll even let you in on the mistakes he makes)
  • And so much more!


What Michael does is based on two core techniques: 

How to set up your composition, and how to break down a painting into steps that can be repeated.

Equipped with these two techniques, you’ll be able to:

  • Design your scene before you start painting
  • Know exactly where to put focal points
  • Create depth with light and shadow
  • Paint scenes that touch the viewer’s heart
  • Repeat the process again and again, any time you want


Course Outline: Introduction - Materials

Demo 1: Painting Demonstration: Perspective & Design (LIGHTHOUSE)  

Chapter 1

  • Learn to review your photo and how to combine, remove, or add elements to your design

Chapter 2

  • How to prepare the emotion and mood of your painting
  • The crucial first step (always start your paintings this way)

Chapter 3

  • How to create balance and emphasis in your composition
  • Simple techniques to create depth

Chapter 4

  • Why you shouldn’t always use the colors you see in photos (and what colors to use instead)
  • How to mix neutral greens

Chapter 5

  • How to change the photo’s composition to better lead the viewer’s eye through the painting
  • A simple technique for strong focal points

Chapter 6

  • How to paint an ocean wave rolling onto wet sand
  • The easiest way to drybrush waves
  • Discover when you shouldn’t follow the photo reference

Chapter 7

  • How to add details in the distance
  • Michael’s top color and value tips to lead the viewer’s eye

DEMO 2: Painting Demonstration: Shapes & Shadows (FARMHOUSE)

Chapter 1

  • Learn how to add elements to your composition to tell a story (even if the elements aren’t in your photo)

Chapter 2

  • How to decide on the mood and emotion of your painting

Chapter 3

  • Discover how adding people to your painting improves depth, distance, and believability
  • How to create an illusion of motion (simply remove this one thing)

Chapter 4

  • The value of shadows — why is one shadow blue and another golden?
  • A simple way to tame elusive watercolors

Chapter 5

  • How to adjust elements in a photo so the painting looks more interesting
  • Add interest to shadows with color variety (that isn’t in the photo)
  • How to paint shapes of shadows that look real

Chapter 6

  • The easy way to mix and paint greens
  • The one tool you need when you paint with watercolor
  • Discover why, once you add dark colors, you usually need to add more

Chapter 7

  • How to define your buildings
  • Take a deep breath and paint what works for the painting — not what’s in the photo — you’ll be glad you did!
  • When and where to add detail that matters

Chapter 8

  • Adjust colors and values if needed (and how to find out whether it is needed)
  • Why white opaque paint should always be in your toolbox

After learning from Michael Holter, you’ll understand how he approaches each new painting. Every painting becomes a unique adventure in which you want your viewers to engage.


Watercolor From Photos Also Includes These Bonuses

  • BONUS TIP: “Tips for Painting Skies”

The sky is an important part of any landscape painting — and there are different ways to create a breathtaking sky. Have fun experimenting with these techniques.

  • High Speed View (Fan Favorite!)

To fully grasp what Michael is doing and what you’ll paint, watch this high-speed video of the demonstration paintings to get an overview of the process.

  • Exhibit of Works

Michael’s passion for creation will move and inspire you. In this video, you can see some of his best work.

  • Insights From the Artist

It’s not only about what you learn, it also matters who you learn from. Sit alongside Michael as he discusses his approach and techniques on a deeper level. Plus, his story is guaranteed to inspire you.


Customer Reviews

Based on 11 reviews
Excellent teaching video

This was a very instructive video. It was wonderful to experience the whole process of how Michael Holter creates his paintings. Each step is explained well while being demonstrated at a good pace. His paintings are planned in advance, and he builds up the painting gradually from light to dark. His impressionistic style of painting realistic scenes, demonstrating how far he goes with the details, is very useful to understand. Also particularly helpful to me was seeing him paint shadows falling across a picket fence while utilizing negative painting. I'm particularly wanting to learn more about capturing light effectively in paintings, and felt that this video was quite helpful and increased my understanding of that. I also really enjoyed the separate segment where he talked about his journey as an artist and why he creates art. I'm very pleased with this purchase and highly recommend it for others.

Great Teaching Video

I enjoyed watching every minute of this video.
Michael's verbal instructions move along at a nice pace with his demonstrations. He is very helpful in the way he explains his process.
I will watch it again, but I do feel that it has already helped me in my development as a watercolor artist.

jane morton
Watercolor from photographs

Always enjoy Mr Holter. He explains and demonstrates so clearly

Suzanne Mangin
Watercolors from Photos

The video was great. So easy to follow but maybe not so easy to imitate! Michael is so talented. I love watercolor and he showed my how to build up the colors and bring them together in all the different aspects of the subject. The one thing that he said that stuck with me was to make a painting not just try to copy the photograph.

Bonnie Hildebrand
Watercolor from photos by Michael Holter

He covers the basics of watercolour very well. Discusses paper, brushes, paints, etc.
He talks about painting from photos and some of the pitfalls of copying the scene as is.
So much valuable information is given as he paints the scene.
Excellent DVD - well worth the price.