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One Minute Watercolor: Tinting a Single Line Sketch

March 19, 2017

I found this old footage on my hard drive the other day. This is an example done back in 2015 for a workshop on travel sketching. I still have a free PDF of the exercises up here for download.

It’s a sped-up time-lapse video, which is not my favorite way to show drawings – so I though I’d make it into a One Minute Watercolor short :)

It’s easy to *say* – just draw without lifting the pen :) Harder to actually do it! Here you can see exactly what I mean when I say – ‘stick to the spirit’ of single line.

I was trying to do this in 5-7 lines. But I see a bunch of single-line people in there – so I’m not sure how few lines it really was.

In any case – don’t be so strict with it you end up hating the drawing :) But use it as a way to encourage simplification. And speed!

~m

#OneWeek100People2017: Day Five: Winding down with studio portraits

March 10, 2017

I have been loving this little artistic vacation. Thanks to everyone who has been drawing their own 100 – you’ve all been keeping me motivated!

I know, I know – I’m very fortunate to be able to sketch as much as I do. And I’m just gloating about it in front of you guys who have to take time off work or find drawing time after taking care of the household. I know everyone might not have the luxury of all this free time.

But of course, there are always trade offs. I have to go back into the salt-mines of digital art next week, and every minute of this fun is going to make the next deadline harder. I’ve been relishing every drop of watercolor these last few days.

>Note: You can read the rest of this series of posts HERE <

I spend so much time at home, I think I don’t have a healthy immune system. Going out and being around humans – definitely makes me sick. These were all done with a thudding head cold. I had numerous close calls. Trying not to blow my nose with a tissue dabbed in Perylene Maroon.

These heads are done from people in the Sktchy app.

I used little 4×6″ cards of watercolor paper, so they’re kind of ‘life size’ next to my iPad. I would say they were about 20 minutes each? Definitely faster and smaller than my last Sktchy binge. No particular reason, I just wanted to see how many I could do in a single day, and working smaller is usually faster.

The answer when you’re sick with a cold is: 15 in a day.

I wasn’t timing myself, and I would work on two or three at once. Laying big shapes (planes of the head, pools of eye sockets) on one head, then starting the next head. By the time I had a few ‘sculpted’, I could go back and put dark details on top of the dried wash.

With these, I’m trying to use less modelling than I might normally. Seeing how much I can do in the first pass. The guy on the left, being the only really successful example. His beard, the brows, pupils and nostrils are the only ‘retouches’. The entire head is otherwise done in the first pass. I will be impressed if one day I can manage to completely paint in one go. That would be awesome. I think it’s possible. But in the others here, I think you can see I had to go back into the shadows my usual three times.

This fellow is my absolute favorite of the day. Keeping the retouches to the minimum each layer. Trying to make the under painting do more work. This is the upside of this whole process. If you can keep up the pace, at least ONE of them will be a gem.  Whereas, if you work the whole week on a single masterpiece – it’s kind of a gamble.

Anyway – getting somewhere Less is More-ish with him. But he’s such a character! It’s actually much easier painting a guy like this – over say, a smooth faced young lady.

If you want to check out the before/after of the reference photos, you’ll need to get Sktchy on an iOS device. Find me in there (under Marc Holmes) and these will be tagged to the models profiles. And thanks also to you guys who gave of your faces!

So that’s #OneWeek100People2017 for me.

It will be interesting to do it again with you all next year. I have no idea what I’ll be thinking about that far in the future:) But we’ll all be able to post our progress – these ones, next to the 100 in 2018!

>Note: You can read the rest of this series of posts HERE <

#OneWeek100People2017: Show me the People!

March 9, 2017

The response around the web for #OneWeek100People2017 has been tremendous!

Here’s a small gallery of sketchers I found on Instagram. Click the pics to be taken to the artists’ photo streams.

There’s just as many on Twitter. <click there!

If you’re on Facebook, throw the hashtag in the search bar and find out who your friends have been sketching :)

I’m having a blast going down this internet rabbit hole. A vast range of styles and subjects from sketchers all over the world! People seem to be having a great time with it :)

Thanks to everyone who’s been posting with the hashtag. Are you feeling the world wide sketching community?

>Ed Note: You can read the rest of this series of posts HERE <

 

#OneWeek100People2017: Day Four: Canadian National Jiu-Jitsu Championship

March 9, 2017

I will say this. Sketching on location is never boring.

We managed to score some press passes to the Canadian National Pro Jiu-Jitsu tournament, via the good people at the Montreal Camera Club.

The sporting event was originally scheduled to be held here, but due to an obscure and rarely enforced rule regarding which combat sports the public is allowed to perform, it was banned from Quebec, and had to quickly find a new venue in Ontario.

> Ed Note: You can read the rest of this series of posts HERE <

But this is #OneWeek100People2017! So a four hour drive for four hours of sketching – that seems about right!

At least for a subject that is so different from the everyday coffee shop sketch. (Oops, that’s not a dig at any other sketchers :), Some people make coffee into a real subject :)

These drawings are interesting to me.

That’s a trigger-word in art. ‘Interesting’.

It’s always dicey when someone unlimbers Interesting vs. the clearly favorable ‘Stunning’.  Though I always find that a bit of an over-statement. (‘Literally Stunning!’). But on the other hand, nobody wants to hear ‘Nice’.  I personally like to provoke a ‘Fascinating’. But even a ‘What am I looking at?’ is an honest response.

Photos: Laurel Anne Holmes

Fight Cloud: David King

There’s a fine line between an observational sketch and a cartoon.

These drawings are done so quickly and so instinctively – they end up being a kind of visual short hand. Like all spontaneous sketches, they’re a form of note-taking.

How, after all, do you draw something that is happening too quickly to see? That really is gone before you have understood it?

All you can do is make shapes that echo the angles and the masses. Then work as quickly as possible from a fading memory. It truly is an impression.

As much as I talk all the time about separating your ego from ‘good and bad’, ‘success and failure’, I am kind of impressed with what I got. Check that center drawing against the photographic evidence! Come on! That’s pretty cool eh?

I think, when it comes to sketching people in action this week, I’m not going to top this.

Tomorrow I’m going to try something different. I’ll be back in the studio, babying a juicy head cold I’ve picked up, and I’ll be seeing what I can do with a marathon portrait painting session.

See you tomorrow!

> ED Note: You can read the rest of this series of posts HERE <

 

#OneWeek100People2017: Day Three: Hip Hop Dance at Studio Diss Tortion

March 8, 2017

One of my goals surrounding reportage sketching (as a past-time) is never draw the same thing twice.

I figure, that’s got to be the best way to keep on learning. Both about drawing, and about how to use my sketching to engage with the world.

> Ed Note: You can read the rest of this series of posts HERE <

So, I found my almost 50 year old self, feeling very much out of place, at a late night Hip Hop Dance workshop put on by Studio Diss Torsion.

This event was a small part of our Nuit Blanche or “Sleepless Night”. A French invention in which a city puts on an all night arts festival.

Here in Montreal, it’s a mix of street fair, public performance, and contemporary art. There’s an emphasis on giant out-door projection art and robotic light shows. Our downtown Place des Arts district is full of small stages; this year there was a zipline running over the square. All the galleries and theaters are open, and the underground city (our metro-level shopping mall) is host to the Art Souterrain festival.

But if you’re looking for a chance to sketch people in motion, a classroom is a perfect situation.

The instructors know they’re on display, so it doesn’t seem as weird to have someone ‘taking notes’. Plus most of these groups live by word of mouth – so they’re likely to be open to a visit from a group of online sketchers.

But mainly, they tend to be doing something over and over while the students imitate. Giving you a chance to develop a sketch from gesture through repeated passes of refinement, each time you see your pose come back around.

There was a lot more going on out there at Nuit Blanche. I did stop for a few moments when I spotted these anachronistic Habitant Fire Jugglers.

This is so typical of Montreal. Hipster History!

But sadly it was too dammed cold to go any further with these. I will say, when it’s absolutely freezing – just a pencil works better than a frozen fountain pen.

So just imagine these guys juggling flaming torches and spinning double-ended fire sticks to the accompaniment of rollicking fiddle music.

I only kid because I love. It’s awesome the way Montréalais look for any excuse to do something in historical costume! I’ve got no problem with sketching that :)

#OneWeek100People2017: Day Two: Lakeshore Light Opera’s Ruddigore

March 7, 2017

Welcome to day two of our people sketching marathon!

We were very lucky to have MTL:USK sketcher Elissa Baltzer arrange a sketching expedition to the Lakeshore Light Opera. We took in a dress rehearsal for their production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore or: The Witch’s Curse.

This was the first fitting for the costumes, so we had an excellent opportunity to sketch while the costume designers lined the actors up and reviewed them top to bottom.

Sketching a rehearsal is much easier than an actual performance. At least some of the time the lights are on. And when they’re testing stage lighting, you’re free to use a small lamp (or your smart-phone’s flashlight) to see what you’re drawing.

Something I *don’t* recommend in an actual performance. The people around you deserve to see the show without distraction.

Naturally, being a Gilbert and Sullivan piece, the story is on the silly side. A brothers’ love triangle, a madwoman, a bevvy of eternal bridesmaids and ten generations of cursed baronets providing an excuse for rapid fire songs delivered with an auctioneer’s rhythm.

The music struck me as a precursor to Rap. It certainly has the same aspects of tongue twisting flow and cutting humor. Apparently this kind of vaudeville is called a Patter Song.

The first act (the love triangle) was confusing to me. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to feel sorry for the disguised Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd? Or laugh at him for his foppishness. I certainly didn’t like his sailor brother who steals his girl! What a jerk! I expect this makes more sense when seen properly :) But maybe not!

I’m sure G&S are thinking – ” Whatever! – Just send the bridesmaids bouncing across the stage again!”. Empire line dresses seem designed to wake up the husbands in the audience.

Things start to get good in the second act, after the appearance of the Wicked Baron, culminating in an epic scene where young Ruthven is confronted by the ghosts of his cursed ancestors.

Sorry if this is a spoiler, but really, I think it’s not too soon.

It seemed that good old G&S had been looking at a trunk full of costumes thinking – what can we write that uses all these moth eaten outfits? I know – second act – ghosts across the centuries!

I was having trouble keeping track of characters, so I was calling these guys Shakespeare Ghost, Tycho Ghost, Crusader Ghost, Pope Ghost, etc – and there was one cross-dressing ghost I was calling Baron Olando.

So that was our epic sketching night at the operetta!

Probably if you look around, you’ll find a theater in your own area that would enjoy having some artists drop by. Actors love being drawn :)  And stage managers love social media about their performance.

>Ed Note: You can read the rest of this week-long series of posts HERE <

#OneWeek100People2017: Day One: Sketching at the Chagall Show

March 6, 2017


#OneWeek100People2017_Self Portrait

So – what is this #OneWeek100People2017 all about?

Is it a race? A stunt? A kind of monastic self-flagellation? Or just an excuse to get out and have fun drawing?

Well, why not all of the above!

The sketches that follow are from an afternoon at the Montreal Beaux Arts museum.

Our USK:MTL club was there to check out a newly opened wing of the museum, and take in an exhibition of work by Marc Chagall.

My favorite things were his rough designs for opera costumes. Which have been reproduced as actual garments displayed on mannequins. I didn’t count these (above center) as part of my people sketches.

The show was packed! But that was a plus for me. I sat myself down beside one of the informational panels and just dropped into the zone – sketching the endless stream of people stopping to read.

Ever since “going  pro” as a sketcher, ironically, I don’t get to draw for fun as often as I’d like.

I mean – I make sure everything I draw is fun. I’ve learned to stay away from jobs I don’t enjoy. But still – sketching for a client or sketching for a publication isn’t quite the same as drawing for pleasure.

This project is a way to put fun back onto the menu. I’ve booked five days off – even if it means short-cutting my paying work!

I think, an artist should do this kind of thing every few months.

You need to keep the passion for art alive. For me, that means drawing for the simple enjoyment, and detaching from ‘good or bad’, ‘success or failure’.

You need to plant the seeds of your own artistic progress.

If I’m trying to win a competition or publish a drawing, then I need to hold myself back. Play it safe, so the drawing turns out in a pleasant way. I end up carefully planning, measuring my drawings, practically seizing up with concern that it turns out right.

That’s the beauty of this 100 person goal. This sprint to the finish. Now I have an excuse. Clock’s ticking! I get to say screw all that and just draw without consequence. Completely instinctively.

I haven’t gone out with this ultra-light sketching kit for ages. I’m using a home-made accordion booklet, and two pens. An ultra-fine Platinum Carbon pen and a Kuretake #13 brush pen. (*affiliate links, thanks).

I’d forgotten how fun it is to limit your options. When you only bring the bare minimum for drawing tools, you can’t get bogged down in technical concerns.

One of my weird personal goals is ‘fluency’.

The ability to throw down a line and have it say exactly what I want.

I’m prepared to invest a great deal of effort in the illusion that it’s effortless :) Don’t ask me why this became a goal. I guess it’s just when you see some amazing artist and you say “How the hell did they do that?!?”.

I like it when I look at my own drawings and have that feeling.

We’ve said this project calls for sketching 20 people a day to hit the goal.

I was having so much fun, I finished 100 people in about 4 hours. That makes these 2.5 minute gesture drawings (on average).

So for those of you worrying that this challenge is too ambitious – here’s my simple solution!

Limit yourself to the most basic tools. You don’t even need the brush pen. Swear to yourself you will not judge your work. Find a spot with a big crowd of people, and just do 2 minute gestures for an entire afternoon. Anyone can accomplish this! Your gestures may not look like mine – but that’s just a matter of hand skills.

I honestly feel – if you do 100 drawings in a row – at least one of them will be the best thing you’ve drawn all week :)

And if somehow you can’t see the gems (you’ll see them later when you look back!) at least you can assure yourself you’ve put in some miles towards your goal. You’re moving the progress bar. Leveling up your skills with every drawing.

So now that I’ve hit the week’s goal of 100 people – I can spend the rest of the week truly playing.

Stay tuned for whatever experiments I have in store :)

I honestly don’t even know yet. I’ll be taking this one day at a time.

>Ed Note: You can read the rest of this series of posts HERE <