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Day Three : #OneWeek100People 2020 : Silhouettes on the Street

March 11, 2020

[La Vitrine, Montreal 18×24”, cropped]

Day Three, #OneWeek100People, 2020.

When I started thinking about my project for 2020  – I thought – OK – what’s the point of all this practice sketching people?

I’m not terribly interested in portraiture right this moment. I don’t have any reportage projects lined up. That’s not something you run into every day.

So – what do I want to do with these 100 watercolor silhouettes?

The next logical step is to put them on the street :)

Where can you find this kind of mood? People reduced to back-lit everyman-shapes.

In the city at night. Down on Montreal’s famous Saint Catherine’s, with the neon storefronts and LED panels.

It wasn’t thinking about this exact building – La Vitrine – a relatively new arts-and-culture project, built, I’d say, five years ago? As part of a revitalization of Montreal’s historic red light district.

But when I found it – with the walls cycling between, red to purple to a minty-techno-green. It’s pretty much perfect.

It’s still cold in Montreal. So this painting was made at home, based on some terrible photos shot from the hip as people crossed the busy intersection.

My goal in the studio is always is to paint as close as possible, the way I would do it on location. Down to using the same paper, the same size brushes and the same miniature palette.

I don’t want the fact I’m working from reference, to lead me into producing something I can’t make in real life.

It’s a slippery slope – studio painting.

I’ve been painting at home so much this last year or two, I start to think – what’s the point of getting out and working in the world? It’s so *easy* here at home. I can paint so big! I can take my time, they can get more and more complicated.

But there’s something bugging me in the back of my mind. I’m not sure I want to make *better* (or bigger) paintings.

I’m certainly not about being more realistic, or more polished. I do want to take on greater complexity – but at the same time I want a sense of immediacy. Like you’re in the moment.

The jury is still out on this instinct.

I’m not 100% sure what I’m talking about here.

I’m trying to remind myself – don’t make declarations about what’s good or bad in painting any more. It only means you have to back-pedal when you change your mind.

But this is getting somewhere :) The speed, and vitality of the execution is part of the effect.

It’s all about being in a place, capturing the atmosphere without getting tied down to the specific details that might make it into everyday boring real life


I have one more of these that I’m going to post. But I also have another day of painting in my plan – so let’s leave it here and see what else I get.

I am starting to feel the ‘stretch’ I wanted out of this week-long sketching blitz!

I hope it’s working for you too.

Please check in and link me some images of whatever you’re doing. Lets support and inspire each other to make the most out of #OneWeek100People!



11 Comments leave one →
  1. Bernadette permalink
    March 11, 2020 9:29 AM

    Thanks for your thoughts on working through this challenge. You’ve inspired me to keep the concern about a polished look to my people painting in the background. Worry less but be faithful to the continual work of practice…thanks!

  2. Emily permalink
    March 11, 2020 11:11 AM

    I really get a sense of night time, looks great!

  3. March 11, 2020 11:53 AM

    Very inspiring and thoughtful post. Truthfully I rather see (and paint) a painting rich with feeling and looseness than one that is polished. Love this one that you painted.

  4. March 11, 2020 1:04 PM

    Thanks so much for this post. I’ve been worrying about what I’ve been making- asking myself the same question, what’s the point of all this sketching??? It has to be good I tell myself. I shared my images in the group, 10 more sketches to go I can’t do it from life this time. Heading out for lunch so will see if I can get anything at the food court!

    I love how you said not to judge what is good or bad art because it’s true I think – anyway on to trying to get my 10 sketches done. It’s only a week why all this deliberation? I’m just gonna get it done

  5. karlakayhull777gmailcom permalink
    March 11, 2020 1:27 PM

    Your night paintings/silhouettes are fantastic. When viewing them, I love the feeling/vibe they give me. I don’t think it matters where you paint – it’s the feeling the painting evokes in the viewer that matters. You are on to something, so keep going in that direction. I must say that I really, really miss seeing the pencil marks. I’m one of those people that actually enjoys seeing the graphite lightly beneath the watercolors.

  6. J Catmull permalink
    March 11, 2020 2:28 PM

    You’re definitely on to something! They’re so fresh and you can sense the movement and spontaneity.

  7. Sean Patrick Kupisz permalink
    March 11, 2020 6:04 PM

    Hi Mark. So inspiring what you are doing. This challenge changed my life two years ago.I made my 100 today and added another 22 so far. I’m posting it all on Instagram so I can be found @seankupisz. Thank you so much for all that you do for us folk trying to be creative!

  8. Susan Weimer permalink
    March 11, 2020 6:24 PM

    This is very much in the moment; as close to being on location as you can get without actually being there. It’s wonderful! Those of us who study your painting technique can all find takeaways, I’m sure.

  9. Susan Weimer permalink
    March 11, 2020 6:27 PM

    This looks very much in the moment; as close to being on location as you can get without actually being there. It’s wonderful! Those of us who study your painting techniques can all find takeaways, I’m sure.

  10. Emma M FitzGerald permalink
    March 13, 2020 4:25 PM

    Nice work, and interesting to hear your thoughts. Have you come across Sydney Smith’s ‘Small in the City’ yet? Would be inspiring!

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