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USK:MTL Portrait Party

November 27, 2013

This month USK:MTL needed a place to sketch indoors. It’s officially too cold to sketch in the streets. It seemed like a great idea to do a Portrait Party.

Even if you’ve never been to one, it’s pretty straightforward hey? Just invite a bunch of artists, sit around a big table and draw whoever is sitting across from you. Nobody is supposed to worry about accurate likenesses or being flattering. Anything goes as far as media or style. You shouldn’t be a perfectionist, approach it with a sense of fun. You are donating your own visage, in return for borrowing another person’s face.

In order to loosen up for the night I sketched a few students in my watercolor classes. (Which still has a few openings next session :) They were working an ‘open’ assignment, doing their own thing, so I stole some high speed impressions in between my walk-and-talk critique rounds. (Ballpoint and Kuretake #13 Brushpen).


After last week’s drawing day at the Higgins Armory, some of the artists headed out for dinner. Immediately (without even asking) we brought out sketchbooks and began drawing each other.

13Nov22_Higgins_Armory (80)_x


Here’s Greg Shea, James Gurney and Gavin Baker.

The week before that I’d gone to a Montreal Drink and Draw party – and brought back these – done with Private Reserve water soluble inks.


So, what with all these social drawing situations I was thoroughly warmed up for USK:MTL’s official portrait party.

I brought three Canson 9×12″ watercolor blocks and just rotated through the sketches – switching whenever the paper was soaked, so they’d be mostly dry by the time I got back to the top of the rotation.

It was quite cold at our location – (you’ll see everyone is wearing scarves indoors). A chill always slows down drying time. I think that was actually an advantage – I ended up working more wet-in-wet than I would normally, which is handy inside the flesh tones. Though, strategically speaking, I’m still mostly following my wet-on-dry, Tea, Milk, Honey method of three passes of gradually richer washes.



I think these are all good examples of my philosophy about drawing eyeglasses. Which is – as much as possible – don’t draw them at all.

I try to indicate the frames with open shapes – dashed arcs that do not close the outline of the lens. Hint at the thickness and the distortion of the glass, but don’t over emphasize the frames. Even when they are the chunky dark kind that are in fashion these days. Also, consider how the eyebrow often merges with the frame. And, don’t forget the cast shadow. Just like drawing the hair line, the arms and nose-piece might need a subtle, descriptive shadow.





6 Comments leave one →
  1. AnAis permalink
    November 27, 2013 12:26 PM

    What a great idea, Marc! Good work all of you :)

  2. lefeust permalink
    November 27, 2013 6:17 PM

    can’t wait to learn all the watercolour things in Jan ;)

  3. November 28, 2013 2:25 AM

    Ca donne envie!

  4. November 28, 2013 10:42 AM

    Thanks for the tips, Marc.

  5. Nathalie Z permalink
    November 29, 2013 7:12 AM

    Thanks Marc. Great session and great posting.

  6. kati permalink
    December 2, 2013 8:29 AM

    Hi Marc, I love to start again doing water color which I left practicing long time back. How does your classes or get togethers work. Please inform me by email “”.
    Many thanks

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