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#OneWeek100People2019 Day Two: Selfie Series

April 9, 2019


Alright – time to get serious. The recent life drawing has been fun and games – I could do that all week.

But let’s talk motivation.

#OneWeek100People2019 is about everyone drawing together to share in the motivation. The group excitement. But also – the shared guilt. Nothing like making a big social media announcement to give you a short-term jolt of motivation!

But I think we also have to have long term personal goals.

If you’re a beginner it’s easy. Your goal is probably “I want to get better”. But after a while, you have to think about – “Get better at what?”. Why am I getting better?

Behind the scenes here, for the last year or so, I’ve been painting landscapes in the studio. This has become my most serious project to date. Serious enough I quit my day job! (Ok, well, I didn’t really have a day job, but I quit taking freelance illustration).

I feel like my opaque painting is taking off like mad. I’m loving it, and I’m thinking some very ambitious thoughts about big paintings and big art shows.

So, I do have long term goals! And my issue is how to fit 100 people into that :)

#OneWeek100People2019_SelfieSeries_Line01 (2)

But you know what – right now I’m worried. Just like I was concerned I’d forgotten how to draw people, it’s been a LONG time since my last serious watercolor.

Thus, I’ve decided – for #OneWeek100People2019 – I really need to check in with water painting. Because #30x30DirectWatercolor is coming up right on my heels, and that’s a project that is going to me much more in line with this year’s goals.

To be honest – It’s not really responsible for me to be doing more life drawing on the street. I feel like, I’ve go that in hand. In previous years I’ve tried to lead by example and do all 100 on the first day. Last year I was one caffeinated drink short of making it. Gave up an hour too soon. Fun as it would be to do it again – it seems like it isn’t time well spent for me.

#OneWeek100People2019_SelfieSeries_Gear (1)

So – I’m going to enjoy all the figure drawing on location the rest of the world is doing – but at home, it’s time for some self-centered reflection on the meaning of life.

#OneWeek100People2019_SelfieSeries_Line02 (2)

So – I say to myself – this year I’ll do 100 Selfies. 100 self-portraits have to teach me something.

Some artists make a rule for self-portrait series – no two portraits can be handled the same way – you must change technique or media. You’d HAVE to learn something just by brute force. So. I’m not sure I can do that, AND train my watercolors at the same time. But hey, let’s see what we see.

Some few warmup sketches later – I’ve realized selfies are a terrible subject in the context of #OneWeek100People!!! (<Already losing my way :)

A: It’s insanely boring – repeatedly painting my own face. I only made it to #3 and I’m gritting my teeth.

B: I’ve drastically slowed down since I was at my peak painting plein-air! The studio work, the relaxed pace of oil painting – it’s made me soft!

#OneWeek100People2019_SelfieSeries_Illustrative01 (1)

So – lets recap:

I really don’t like this painting.

I’m rushing to paint as fast as possible, aiming for that 100 goal – and not concentrating. I’m ending up with a kind of cartoon likeness. It’s illustrative. It’s high contrast – in the manner of an ink sketch. Which I love in ink, but I find obnoxious in paint.

When you don’t have middle value – (because ink is pure black/white) – then fine – you live with it. When you DO have values, I regret the instinct to go to a choppy hard-edged three value scale.

It’s a waste of potential. Watercolor is supposed to be subtle.

Alright then. Try again:

#OneWeek100People2019_SelfieSeries_Illustrative02 (1)

This time I get mad and act out with the Cadmium Red. But that’s a cheap trick.


Keep going well past the point where I should stop, and see what happens.

#OneWeek100People2019_SelfieSeries_Illustrative02_Destruction Test_01

#OneWeek100People2019_SelfieSeries_Illustrative02_Destruction Test

This is the same red painting, just overworked to death. I’m going to count it as a new work though. I washed over with naples yellow, pushed back with a solid 100% neutral tint, and scrubbed out with dirty water, dragged with a 2″ house painting flat, then rebuilt just a bit with richer honey-paint.

Doesn’t look much like me. This is Christian Slater-Me.

But it’s nothing like the way I was painting this morning.

Huh. Go figure.

I’m learning by brute force.

#OneWeek100People2019_SelfieSeries_WetinWet (1)

Try another set.

Mix bigger puddles, and blast some underlying shapes. Maybe I can make this one really loose – super wet in wet, yet ALSO improve the likeness.

#OneWeek100People2019_SelfieSeries_WetinWet (2)

Nope! Nice try. Doesn’t really look like me. This is George-Lucas me.

If it had been amazing – I’d have let it live. But naw – this is still nothing – still too cartoony.

Getting closer to my 51-year-old, 195lb face. But still, ain’t worth keeping.

So let’s destroy and rebuild:

#OneWeek100People2019_SelfieSeries_WetinWet (3)

Poured paint from some 2oz mixing cups. Tilted it around, poured some more. Raked with the 2″ bristle brush. Dropped in globs of Chinese white.

Alright! It’s not a sketch anymore – it’s a painting. Not – in my opinion, a great one – but still. I’m trying to really soak myself in watercolor here.

So that’s seven selfies on the first serious day. A long way from 100. But – I think you get where I’m at here. Maybe not an earth-shattering breakthrough – but – I’m

Off to bed, tomorrow’s another day in #OneWeek100People2019!


13 Comments leave one →
  1. Orna Greenberg permalink
    April 9, 2019 10:16 AM

    Fabulous! I actually liked your selfies although I totally identified with your frustration. It’s all that inner debate and holding oneself up to higher standards than what you would expect of others.I hope that you achieve your goal of 100 paintings but even if you don’t you will have gained a lot of insight, speed and satisfaction that you are on the right path. Kudos!I find these kinds of challenges overly stressful and they always feel artificial to me. I don’t usually paint small and trying to paint that many takes the pleasure  out of it.I already grind my teeth.Orna

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  2. Jen Gregory permalink
    April 9, 2019 10:22 AM

    Hi Mark, I’m loving what you’re sharing with us. I often put myself down about the dialog that runs through my head when drawing, letting it distract me like a demon. By seeing you putting it out there I realize everyone has their own story and that its up to me to take only what serves me from my own dialog, then acknowledge and thank the rest of it so it doesn’t sabotage me. Ohn Mar Winn has an excellent class on managing perfectionism at Skillshare, which has also been an eyeopener for me. Thanks for posting this and all your work to reach out to the community. Regards, Jen G

  3. Bonnie McBride permalink
    April 9, 2019 12:03 PM

    I love the innovation and spontaneity of the selfies. Inspiring

  4. April 9, 2019 12:32 PM

    Loved this post and the thought process behind the painting. You’re a real inspiration, Mark. Thanks!

  5. April 9, 2019 1:21 PM

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

  6. Barbara Verser permalink
    April 9, 2019 4:13 PM

    Marc, I just discovered you through Anne Laure Jacquart (whose work/personality I also love). I must tell you this is the best artist’s site I have been lucky enough to have discovered! Thank you for the instructional pages and for sharing what you do. I lovelovelove your work. I know I read somewhere that you’ve been caring for your stepdad. I hope all is well, as I know from my own experience this can be an immense time of growth. I hope one day, as I garner more painting time, to be able to take a workshop with you. Again, thank you for such interesting and informative posts.

    • April 9, 2019 10:48 PM

      Barb, that is the *best* line I have heard about this whole thing :) “I know from my own experience this can be an immense time of growth.” I had a good laugh and read that out to Laurel. :)

  7. April 9, 2019 4:18 PM

    Love it! I’ve been doing street caricatures for over 20 years. What inspires me is simply watching people interact. It’s amazing to watch people!

  8. Pam permalink
    April 9, 2019 6:55 PM

    Thanks, Marc. I enjoyed reading about your process, and your humour about your likenesses. Keep going!

  9. April 9, 2019 7:32 PM

    They are gestural and edgy! That is quite a lot of Moonglow! All round pretty darn great!

  10. Gail Ishmael permalink
    April 10, 2019 10:36 AM

    Hi Marc, I’ve followed you for years. I think you will love this artist style. Take a look. Gail

    Sent from my iPhone


  11. April 12, 2019 12:19 PM

    Oh, brilliant. Marc you are the best teacher… I often write my thoughts down in my sketchbook as I paint, and sometimes share them…

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