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Call for Volunteer Moderators! #30x30DirectWatercolor 2023

May 22, 2023

Hey Everyone!

So we’re just ramping up for the #30x30DirectWatercolor painting marathon.

This will be the sixth year! Which is kind of amazing :) That has got to be thousands of paintings we have made together over the years :)

This year, we’re looking for volunteers to help moderate the Facebook group. (See the video above :)

If you’re already in the group, then you’re familiar with how we do it. I try to comment on everything I see each morning – but I know that I can’t possibly do justice to all of the activity.

I’ll offer critique if it seems like the poster is looking for that, and I’m always there to encourage you, and offer a little push to keep painting every day. It’s only one month of the year where we get this chance to indulge ourselves, leave our art supplies all over the dining room table, shirk all our other responsibilities, and really invest in ourselves and our painting.

So – bottom line – we’re hoping to find FOUR more people who enjoy this as much as we do.

There’s no special requirements – just be someone who’s excited about making thirty paintings in thirty days – and equally excited about helping everyone else cross the finish line.

We’re not expecting moderators to be exceptional painters, or even past ‘winners’, with their 30-in-a-row. All that matters is that you’re excited about a chance to hang out with others who are doing this same thirty day commitment.

So if that sounds cool, and if you want to find out more, head over to the Facebook group, and read the new FAQ on the group’s Guides page.

We hope to be able to announce new moderators by the end of the month, so don’t hesitate! If you’d like to charge-up your team-spirit, this is your chance!

And, of course, if you’re *not* already doing the annual painting marathon and you’re wondering what I’m talking about; read my own journals from past years HERE, or sign up for the #30x30DirectWatercolor Facebook Group HERE.

Ok – Thanks everyone!

See you June first!


Day 05: OneWeek100People 2023: Tiny Oil Heads!

March 10, 2023

Click for a very nice video in which I get philosophical about painting:)


So! Thanks to everyone who’s been doing #OneWeek100People for this, the Seventh Year!

(*Cheering sounds.*)

I had a really good time with this week. I got to do a LOT of drawing, and pretty much ignore any responsibilities, besides making art for an entire week. How great is that!? Thank you so much for the opportunity.

I hope you guys have engaged with the group up on Facebook. The real secret is in the posting! It makes you do the work! That’s where the magic is! And of course, the sharing and communication with everyone is as big a reward as the art-gains.

This week has me very excited for my next annual event , which is of course #30x30DirectWatercolor. This is when we upsize from one week, to an entire month. One watercolor painting a day for thirty days! I hope I can convince as many of you as possible to come try that event as well.

In the mean time, keep commenting on other people’s work in the Facebook, and – if you’ve had a great time with #OneWeek, I hope you’ll post a big finish when you hit your 100!

Even if it takes you a few days after the official event. Don’t hesitate to drop me a comment here on this post, or tag me on Facebook.

Take care everyone!


Day 04: #OneWeek100People 2023: An Exhibition of Hats

March 9, 2023

Hey so, I went to our museum of archeology (Pointe-à-Callière) to sketch their show on hats and headdresses from around the world.

Just a fun day of classic museum drawing. I love sketching in these places. It’s calm and quiet, the lighting on the objects is often masterful, and really – every object has been carefully selected to be informative and inspiring. You can’t fail to have a great day sketching at a museum.

For this exhibition I’ve invented the faces. The objects were displayed ‘floating’ without a head, but I felt they’d be more interesting if I added a personality. (This is something that is very much against the rules in traditional Urban Sketching, so, of course I had to do it).

I’m not being particularly accurate in these sketches – they’re just interpretations of the real things – so of course, my apologies if I’ve put the wrong culture under any of these hats. What can we do? I’m just a sketcher!

Day 03: #OneWeek100People 2023: An Evening of Life Drawing!

March 8, 2023

Hey! I went to figure drawing!

Once winter hits us for real, I go into hibernation, and don’t tend to make it out for life drawing until the spring.

But to be honest, I didn’t draw these today. I had this stash of line drawings saved from a previous live session, months and months ago. I can’t even remember when. I procrastinated long enough that I said; why not save them for #OneWeek100People.

The real story is; I was waiting for the right moment, when I was brave enough to potentially ruin these drawings.

I find if I wait long enough I lose the ‘jealous hoarding’ feeling, and it’s ok to risk destroying them. Or – maybe – it’s more like, I stack up enough drawings in reserve that I feel like I have ‘drawings to burn.’

That’s certainly the case this week!

The experiment this time was to destroy the image! and then see if I could save it. Maybe find a new way to unify the figure with the background.

I made a first pass that’s completely wet and wild, using 2″ flat to flow color onto these 6×9″ pages. Then came back with selective wet-on-dry blends, pushing and pulling edges, seeing if I can bring the figure back into focus.

(It’s not really as risky as I’m making it sound. You’re just re-establishing sharp edges where you need them.)

So, this is one of the hidden benefits of an art marathon. Setting aside time to do ‘crazy experiments’. Things I probably wouldn’t try and do on a normal week.

Day 02: #OneWeek100People: Tea Milk and Honey!

March 7, 2023

Click the video for a flip-through of my Day 02!

I very much wanted to do a *second* 100 people – – but I only managed 50.

I had some grandiose goals of getting 100 people EVERY DAY! Imagine doing 500 people a week? I’m not sure I could maintain my focus. Maybe? maybe if I was on vacation! Maybe if I booked five live models in five days? (That would be kind of fun. I wonder if my local life drawing guy would be interested in sponsoring a marathon? I should ask him next time :)

But this week, I’ve already given up on that. I got very tired staying up super late on day one – and then immediately did it again today, and I’m super tired now.

If anyone out there actually wants to try it next year (500 people in 5 days), let me know, and maybe we can inspire each other :)

Still! I’m very happy with what I did manage!

They’re (mostly) all painted in watercolor – and it was a very solid, very full day of work, finishing again around midnight. I brought the last few home and finished in the studio. I didn’t want to spend a second night at the 24hour diner, for fear of becoming a local character, so I just went home and finished coloring sketches while eating sea-salt chocolate chip cookies.

It’s my own fault for deciding to use this Three Pass approach, (what I might call Tea Milk and Honey). I know it’s much slower than working Directly. After all, you have to sketch them, then paint them, so it already takes twice as long. But – it’s always a trade-off between speed and accuracy – sooooo. Right now I’m working on hitting that balance the way I like it.

It’s still to cold here to be comfortable, so I ended up spending most of the day at the main branch of our French public library (BANQ). There’s a good mix of university students at work, and regular citizens hanging out in the comfy reading lounges. (We have a very nice public library!) I was impressed with how many people come there to read bandes dessinées (French comics). These books are terrifically expensive as compared to book-books (imported, large format, small print runs) so I can see why people like the library for comics. The selection here is really great. Our public library even has video games! In fact, they even have a maker-lab. You can use a mechanical knitting machine or a CNC cutting table. It’s quite amazing.

So yes! I ended up taking over a table in the study area, and working on big batches of drawings. I could lay out 10 or 15 wet washes, and by the time those were done I could start rotating back for the next layer. It helps that it’s very dry here during winter months. And, I could take breaks whenever I wanted, walking around getting some more poses.

I will say, to be completely clear, I sketched these from snapshots taken on my phone.

I don’t know that it would be any different doing them entirely from life – in fact – I think they’d be *better* from life – but – it’s harder work (concentration-wise) – and you need to carry a drawing board with your paint’s clipped to the panel, and was more worried about trying to get to 100 and a bit concerned attempting that inside the library. They have a lot of security at our downtown branch, which is nice in some ways (it’s an inner city neighborhood with all that entails) but, whatever! I’m just making excuses :)

So that’s it! This my Day 02. Here’s a little gallery of my favorites :)

All 100 People on Day One! #OneWeek100People 2023

March 6, 2023

Hey everyone! Here’s my day one!

I always like to start the marathon with a warmup; so I went out with the most basic tools possible. Just a little bottle of ink, a dipping pen, and an old pointed round brush.

I wanted to see if I could still do it. (Sketch 100 people in a single day.) And I’m happy to say, that yes, it’s still possible! But it felt harder than last year. Possibly because I’m drawing a little “tighter” these days? Or maybe I just forget every year what it’s like :)

Does it look that way to you? Maybe not!

Either way, it was a long day. I was out till midnight. I ended up at a 24 hour diner, sketching the last set of people using pics I’d snapped on my phone. I had a slice of lemon meringue pie as my reward.

I have to say, it felt great. A real sense of achievement, pushing myself to get it done. I’m really loving the feel of this stack of drawings in my hand.

Ok! I’ll drop by the Facebook group today and see what everyone else is up to. Can’t wait to see the new stuff.

See you over there!

– m

It’s time again for #OneWeek100People! March 6-10, 2023!

February 15, 2023

I’ve just seen Punxsutawney Charlotte, our first spider of the year, which mean’s spring is coming to Montreal!

What am I talking about?

It’s time to return to street sketching! Or – at least sketching in the museums, subways and Montreal’s underground city. Whatever warmish places I can find to practice my drawing, and warm up my watercolor skills – which have gone dormant over the winter.

#OneWeek100People is a free annual event launched by myself, and my sketching friend Liz Steel back in 2017. Every year we invite sketchers from all around the world gather and doodle people. You can read more about it on my event page [ HERE ] or head over to the Facebook group and join up. If you don’t like Facebook, that’s perfectly fine, just use the hashtag on your social media of choice.

There are very few rules, and only a lot of encouragement to draw people any way you can. Pen or pencil, watercolor or digital. From real life, or from photos – all that we care about it that we’re having fun practicing the elusive art of sketching people – together!

I hope you’ll join us for this, the SEVENTH YEAR of #OneWeek100People!

Curry’s QoR Modern Watercolor Award at the CSPWC 97th annual Open Water Exhibition

October 18, 2022

I’m very happy to announce my watercolor painting The Melt Water Knife, was accepted into the 97th annual Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolor, Open Water exhibition and, I ‘ve received the Curry’s QoR Modern Watercolor Award for 2022.

Thanks so much to the judges and organizers of this national society show and also to the donors of the awards!

This year’s Open Water is an online exhibition, and as such, you can view all of the works here.

I wonder if this will be the last year for online shows (which of course were a response to the pandemic.) I’m not at all against online shows, but of course, I hope that if this becomes the new normal, that we will work towards the best possible digital presentation. I personally love to show details! Like this close-up of granulating pigment.

It it ironic of course, that this lovely black pigment is very likely made of carbon. The very substance that is accelerating the loss of arctic ice. I had to laugh a little at that realization. You can imagine a sad little laugh. One of those ‘this is not really funny’ kind of laughs.

Just as there are no longer any bodies of water on earth free of microplastics, there are no longer any ice surfaces free of carbon dust. The particulate matter (most likely from coal plants, but also from forest fires) settles on the ice, and raises the surface temperature (due to the greater absorption of heat from the sun).

I’m still showing this body of watercolor work in exhibitions, but, to be honest I am not making new work on this theme. I think the time for raising awareness of climate issues is over. Artists do not have to sound the alarm. We are hearing it loud and clear from nature itself.

The complete series of these darkly-themed images is available as my self-published artist’s monograph. Here’s some more info (just scroll down a bit) if you want to look inside the book or, for watercolor practitioners you can read the ‘behind the scenes’ production posts written as the works were created, during our annual event; Direct Watercolor (2019: All Posts Collected).

#30×30, 2022, Day30: Back to Street Sketching!

June 30, 2022

It’s been an exciting #30×30 this year! Starting with my small study of AI intermediated artwork, and all the accumulating implications. Is it the end of art as we know it? I don’t think so :) But there are huge changes coming. This stuff will revolutionize visual art. It will end some careers, while being a huge new opportunity for others.

But of course – that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be outside on a lovely day, making paintings with watercolor :) You can’t beat that simple enjoyment of being out in the world, looking for beauty.

So, please enjoy some simple sketching of a beautiful summer day in my city :)

I hope all of you have had the best #30×30 so far. And I look forward to talk with a bunch of you later today in the Last Hurrah! (Our video chat show and tell). The rest of you – I’ll see you on the facebook, and the social media, and I hope you will keep painting and keep hashtagging #30x30DirectWatercolor, so we can all continue to enjoy each others work – until next year!

Thanks everyone!


#30×30, 2022, Day 25: The End of my Figure Drawing Marathon!

June 24, 2022

Well, today was the fifth day in a row, doing six hour drawing days. It’s been an amazing ride, but, to be honest, it’s been tiring.

In the last few years I’ve quit drinking caffeine as a rule. But – during this time I’ve had to go back on that promise. There were a few expensive chai lattes, and plenty of teeth-rattling sodas powering me through these early morning sessions and long afternoons.

Not great health wise, and – not sustainable.

By day five, I could really feel my lack of energy. I had many more failed sketches, and still more just-average-ones. Then, in the long ponderous poses, when I usually do two or three different angles, I simply sat and noodled this portrait. Which – it did turn out great. I’m quite happy :)

But really, getting one great one from an entire day – that’s not great by my standards.

So! This is my morality tale about DAILY STUDIES.

I feel like #30×30 is a MUCH BETTER IDEA than a week long marathon :)

Daily work is something you can scale to your energy level and available time. It’s something you can save up and do in bursts. Flexibility, and commitment for the long term. That’s going to pay off better than whipping yourself, or putting in long hours.

At least, at my age and level of experience. Perhaps the self-flagellation is worth while when you’re young and resilient – and when you have a lot to learn! But the further you go in your art – the less brute-force can help you.

At this point, I need to be thinking about the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ of my work, and be a lot less focused on the ‘how’.

Of course, I still feel it was worth it – and I’ll probably do it again next year. Even after dragging my old tired self though this last day. And I’m going to pay for all this caffeine over the next week I’m sure! I’ll be lucky if I escape without a migraine.

So! Here’s my final word on life drawing for this month; a very fine derriere, belonging to a retired flamenco dancer :) Possibly the best tush I’ve sketched lately :)