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#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 <


27 Comments leave one →
  1. Elena permalink
    March 9, 2017 9:19 AM

    Wow- these are great. Great example of how applying paint to a loose sketch really brings it to life. Can I ask you what palette you are using? — the shadow colors are beautiful.

    • March 9, 2017 10:26 AM

      Hey Elena – I’m using M.Graham Turquoise, Holbein Grey of Grey, Daniel Smith Moonglow, and some D.S. Raw Umber Violet, with touches of DS Bloodstone Genuine. Maybe occasionally some Neutral Tint. That should be the ingredients by volume. (Other than Perylene Maroon for the skin and a few touches of Pyrrol Orange for the belts). (the other stuff on my palette is listed here:

  2. March 9, 2017 9:25 AM

    Well worth the drive, even though one of those sweaty guys sent some cold germs your way. This seems like an impossible thing to capture but your sketches are so full of life and movement. Really just a flow of water and colour.

  3. March 9, 2017 9:39 AM

    Wonderful action sketches…I’ve tried to sketch judo practice before now…it’s the same thing…split second movement….balance…. tipping point….one person heading down onto the mat…gone….Love the energy in these sketches and the feeling of grappling with the foe…almost ballet in an odd sort of way…. Hope the cold goes away, looking forward to the portrait session

  4. Ivana permalink
    March 9, 2017 9:57 AM

    WOW! Truly fantastic sketches! I can’t begin to imagine how you captured the action so well and in such a convincing way with what appears to be such a light touch! I always make such a mess when working fast. Inspiring!

  5. Lucie permalink
    March 9, 2017 9:59 AM


  6. March 9, 2017 10:39 AM

    You win the prize for the best venues for the week, hands down! And I’ll rate these sketches a solid “stunning.” Thanks, too, for the inspiration to find more dynamic venues than the library.

  7. Susan permalink
    March 9, 2017 10:56 AM

    Marc, these are brilliant. Amazing how you captured the movement, balance and quick action with a stoke or a blob of paint. Very impressive.

  8. Carmela R permalink
    March 9, 2017 11:24 AM

    Ditto to all of the above comments!!!–inspiring capture of the movement etc. Thanks for making this week happen and sharing your work and thoughts.

  9. Marc Lépine permalink
    March 9, 2017 11:40 AM

    Absolutely beautiful !!!

  10. mhagan5068 permalink
    March 9, 2017 11:56 AM

    Yes, stunning, fascinating, amazing, and for me, inspirational. Hope you feel better.

  11. daveyone1 permalink
    March 9, 2017 12:19 PM

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

  12. March 9, 2017 12:51 PM

    Yes Marc. THese sketches are way, way COOL!

  13. March 9, 2017 1:35 PM

    Amazingly stunning! I tip my hat : )

  14. March 9, 2017 2:33 PM

    Stunning enough to make me feel totally inadequate. I would have to ask them to pause, mid throw.

  15. Pat Cameron permalink
    March 9, 2017 4:11 PM

    Oh, if only…….! I bet your blood was rushing around as fast as your pen was moving. I dips my lid Mr Holmes!

    • March 9, 2017 8:35 PM

      It’s true! It’s kind of a rush. I know there’s nothing at stake, but it gets your adrenaline going! Don’t know why, but live drawing is always that way.

  16. Julie permalink
    March 9, 2017 6:34 PM

    So, are you dipping in water for these or using the water brushes? The mash up of colour and line is really lovely.

    • March 9, 2017 8:34 PM

      Just normal brushes, and water in a little jar magnet’ed onto the palette. Same as at USK that one weekend actually!

  17. Masti Denise Mayrand permalink
    March 9, 2017 7:39 PM

    Je suis bouche bèe, inspirèe, stimulée par ces dessins d’observation. Je vais redoubler d’effort. Merci

  18. March 9, 2017 9:43 PM

    some of my favourites right there

  19. March 10, 2017 10:17 PM

    Your work is so captivating. I love how you intertwine painting and drawing in such a minimalist way and yet achieve such energetic results. Your art seems to have so much energy and motion to it. Fantastic stuff!

  20. Margaret Hunt permalink
    March 15, 2017 9:57 PM

    Great job. I drew a bunch of JuJitsu at our last months Doctor Sketchys…2-5 minute poses because thats the longest they could last…it was fascinating and GREAT practice. LOVED every minute of it. Hmm guess I need to ask her when I can draw her again!!

  21. May 23, 2017 11:49 PM

    Wonderful action sketches…I’ve tried to sketch judo practice before now…it’s the same thing…split second movement….balance…. tipping point….one person heading down onto the mat…gone

  22. annette permalink
    July 20, 2017 9:11 AM

    Marc, I truly love this post. I have a wrestling son that so often I want to try and capture with ink and watercolor but cannot seem to do it. It’s just too fast and ultimately I get so frustrated. I am so determined to capture something this post has really inspired me. Thank you! I was so hoping to meet you in Chicago next week, but it wasn’t in the cards for me this year. Hopefully soon, thank you so much for sharing. I am really enjoying your book!


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