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Day Two : #OneWeek100People 2020 : From Silhouettes to Puzzle-People

March 10, 2020

Hey Everyone! It’s day two of #OneWeek100People 2020.

How’s your sketching going? It’s only Tuesday – you’ve got loads of time yet!

I’m still working on the my street scenes.

I hope to have something to show tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s some more of my practice, practice, practice.

Like a lot of you I’m sure, I collect people on Instagram who post great self-portraits.

This is @Pinsent_Tailoring. He makes and models historical costumes. I think I could sketch almost everything he posts.

I know this is kind of a side-jaunt from my own #OneWeek100People – but you know – I’m always a little nervous before I do some ‘important paintings’.

Watercolor – it’s NOT like riding a bike.

It’s more like – idk – playing violin? olympic fencing? Something where you lose your timing and delicacy if you spend any significant time away.

So, remember in yesterday’s video – the bit about doing the skin tone in the right order? How I want the hair to be dry-ish by the time I come back for the features?

That’s the same thing that’s going on here. Each of these sketches is a little puzzle. What shape-blocks can I paint, wet-to-wet – where I want the shapes to fuse – and where do I make the hard/dry edges.

But mostly, it’s about leaving a gap for the face.

The hair, or a hat – then a white face-gap – then the collar or a scarf – that leaves me a nice dry fire-break.

As I’m taking a little more care to be illustrative – I’m taking more time here, fussing the reserved white-flecks in the color blocks. It’s those sharp whites that make the drawing.

This one from @creepy.julia was a little nerve-wracking.

Following my system, I painted all the hair in one go. That meant cutting a silhouette around both faces and their joined hands, the getting to the gowns – painted wetter to pull out pigment from the hair – and only then coming back into the white spaces and using a few strokes to make fingers and faces.

That’s a lot of anticipation before I find out if I’d drawn the hands well enough!

I picked the photographer up top (from @leicamaniatic) for the same reason. The enjoyed all the stacked negative shapes I’d have to cut around – BEFORE coming back to make the fingers.

If you can build a person out of these puzzle pieces of color – learning when to let wet touch wet, and when to keep a dry spot – well, that’s the trick isn’t it?

Sometimes, if the subject is strongly side-lit – (this is @teresadelsole by @unfioresullaluna – not very well drawn here – she looks like ScarJo) – you can use the background color to ‘close off’ the edge of the face.

If you imagine this sketch without the background, can you see how the left side of the face is ‘open’ to the white paper?

So, that’s some more of my learnings for #OneWeek100People

The puzzle pieces! The Interlocking shapes in a figure!

Hard edges OUTSIDE a shape, soft, fused edges INSIDE.

Only leave white gaps where you absolutely need them.

See how there are sharp white edges on @FannyRosie’s scarf, and fingers?

But not inside the shadowy hat? Not between her lower arm and torso?

Those are shadowed spaces – so they need to fuse together.

Hard vs. Soft choices.

This is why I’m gravitating away from pen and ink drawing. (Sorry! I know some of you still love the fountain pen best of all).

I’ve realized – watercolor gives you the ability to choose – when to use a line, when to use a shape. When to be hard, when to be soft.

This sketch of @takerukohara_sono1 – I’m very happy with the variety of puzzle pieces.

The face is razor sharp outside, but softer inside. The highlight on the hair is sharp, but within it, soft low contrast shapes. The scarf, fused to hair, but, soft inside it’s shape, but held separate from the body with line. The backpack fuses into the coat, but has just enough inside shapes to show it’s weight, it’s drape, hint at straps and buckles. And all this is done without using exaggerated color to break up shapes.

Fun hey?

All the puzzle pieces should snap together almost without thinking.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2020 10:29 AM

    I admire you a lot Marc. I’m not taking over OneWeek100People because the challenge scary me a lot. First of all I don’t like sketching people, I think it’s overrated, I hate portraits and I think they’re boring. But passing over my personal taste, I think I’m not that good so I feel I’ll wasting time doing something I don’t enjoy. It’s sounds strange and I know all thos things about practicing ecc ecc… But I’m a bit a newbie and for now I have only that self-destrupting feeling that everything I do has to turn out perfect, even is a sketch in a sketchbook, isn’t strange how we know the answer but untangible things stop our effort?
    Anyway I’m stunned by your effort that makes me think “I want do that too!” but next by I think “yeah but what would be the result?”, so I sit down and enjoy your and other artists work. Thanks for inspire every day. My aim this year is #Inktober52 and this summer the 30×30, I hope I’ll succeed, would be a big virtual high five to myself.

    • March 10, 2020 12:45 PM

      Hey Perina! That’s cool, no worries that the people thing isn’t for you :) (But you could do 100 animals, or 100 teacups or anything else too :) It’s mainly that the number 100, in a week, encourages you to ‘just do it’. It helps break down that perfectionism you’re talking about – because you can’t reach the number goal at the same time as trying to be perfect! Right?

      It replaces the goal of Quality, with the goal of Quantity.

      For me, that’s the key to actually making things. If I lose this mindset, I get stuck too. I founder when I have a big huge painting that has to come out perfect or I’ve wasted my time. I’m at my best when I’m making lots of little things that build up into something cool :)
      Anyway, just an idea! It’s not too late to pitch in this year – or maybe yes, we see you in 30×30, or inktober :)
      ~m

  2. Susan permalink
    March 10, 2020 10:33 AM

    Your work is so amazing, every time I see it. I love the explanations that you provide in terms of technique. I hope you continue doing watercolor for a very long time, as I feel I learn something every time you post. For those of us who have only been doing ink and watercolor for a few years, the thought of going without the ink to provide structure is rather daunting. And I haven’t gotten there yet myself. But you certainly provide inspiration to do so.

  3. Hélène Moore permalink
    March 10, 2020 10:33 AM

    Amazing !

  4. debmostertartist permalink
    March 10, 2020 4:33 PM

    hey Marc,

    loving these so much and it’s so great to have you sharing this technique in your clear and approachable way.

    so refreshing!

    I did your drawing people class in Craftsy years ago and learnt more drawing technique from you in that short course than 3 years at University doing Fine Art degree (actually that is probably not too hard!)

    I know you have moved in new directions with your more abstract oil paintings, which I commend, I just felt compelled to thank you for these recent blogs, as they have encouraged me in my constant practice… to seek out the shadow shapes and the great lesson of fusing.

    Please carry on!

    I hope to continue to learn from you and watch your practice with interest

    all best

    deb mostert

    On Wed, Mar 11, 2020 at 12:09 AM Citizen Sketcher wrote:

    > Marc Taro Holmes posted: ” Hey Everyone! It’s day two of #OneWeek100People > 2020. How’s your sketching going? It’s only Tuesday – you’ve got loads of > time yet! I’m still working on the my street scenes. I hope to have > something to show tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s ” >

  5. miatagrrl permalink
    March 11, 2020 12:37 AM

    I finished my 100 in 2 days, all from life. :-) So like you, now I can relax and do something else more experimental, maybe from photos. (Things are clamping down around here with COVID-19, so I might be stuck at home more anyway. Glad I did the life drawing first.)

    – Tina

    • March 11, 2020 11:19 AM

      That’s the way! Get the race done and then do your own things! Me too :)

      But yes, it’s very strange times- the world is conspiring against Urban Sketching! First Hong Kong politics, and then it would have been cancelled anyway for the flu! Personally, I’m treating it the same as any flu season, with extra paranoia about hand washing and crowds. I actually switched trains the other day because someone was coughing their lungs out. After this blows over, it will probably be good to keep some of these habits. This won’t be the last novel-virus. I think it’s time to bring back the Victorian habit of gloves for everyday use :)

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