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#OneWeek100People 2021 : All Posts Collected

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#OneWeek100People, March 8-12, 2021 – Pandemic Relief Edition!

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Hey Everyone!

It’s me Marc! It’s been a while hasn’t it? But here I am, breaking a long silence to shout out about #OneWeek100People – our annual event, where we sketch one hundred people in a single week.

My friend Liz Steel and I came up with this project in 2017. We think 100 sketches is the magic number. Enough challenge that you push yourself, but not so hard that you can’t do it in your spare time.

Need a reminder how to do #OneWeek100People? You can watch last year’s video or, have look at my own past marathons: here’s the year-by-year index. I’ve approached the challenge slightly differently every year. There’s as many ways to do this, as there are artists, and art supplies :)

Please note:

This event comes from my time with the Urban Sketching movement, so it’s usually done by drawing on location. There’s lots of great reasons to do your sketching from life, but of course, we’re still in the midst of the global pandemic, so:

COVID 19 – PUBLIC SAFETY ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

If you live in an officially declared healthy population right now – I don’t know – maybe parts of Australia and New Zealand? – Antarctica? – then please,  I hope you’ll dive into the spirit of #OneWeek100People and send us all your lovely street-sketches. It would be wonderful to see.

However, if you live in an area that has experienced widespread community transmission in the past year, PLEASE DO NOT go sketching on public transportation, or in any indoor public spaces.

I know this sucks. All my favorite people-sketching places – the metro, the museums, libraries, restaurants, sporting events – these are off the table right now for me.

That being said, I hope to use this year’s event as a big re-set. A way to get out of a long, sad COVID winter.

For me, #OneWeek100People has always been an early-spring retreat (or boot-camp!), where I can focus on tuning up my hand-skills, checking in with my personal approach to sketching and watercolor, reminding myself that less-is-more, and sketching is foundational to finished work – in general, recharging myself for the upcoming plein-air painting season.

SO – this year, I won’t be able to follow the event’s original spirit of drawing from life. But I’m planning to enjoy myself, and push my watercolor sketching at home, (working from social media – that is where the people are!)

I hope a bunch of you want to come along for this ride.

Let’s have a great fifth year of #OneWeek100People – sketching from photos, youtube, movies – whatever it takes to reach our goal!

As in past years, I want to mostly share work and comments in the Facebook Group.

But, if you’re not a Facebook user anymore, that’s fine – just hashtag #OneWeek100People on the social media of your choice and we can find each other by searching the tag.

Feel free to drop me a blog comment below, especially if you come up with some interesting sketching projects you think other people might want to try.

Thanks everyone! See you soon.

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Day One: Warmup Sketches

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Welcome everyone to Day One of #OneWeek100People!

I know a lot of you are already posting over on the Facebook group. I’ll be stopping by there next – and every day this week – to comment on what people have put up. Thanks everyone who’s participating!

I’ve been away from watercolor for a while – combination of writing projects and working on oil painting over the winter – and then quarantine was getting me down to the point where I wasn’t doing much at all for a few months.

That’s what I love about these challenges that circulate around the web. I really need the group motivation they provide. On my own, I can get distracted. Having a deadline, with goals-and-quantities, that’s the best possible thing for keeping myself on track.

I wanted to start without over-thinking things, so I just riffled through my saved pics on Instagram. I’m going to call these 7 minute sketches – but to be honest, I wasn’t timing. And – I work on a row of them at the same time, so I can keep moving while a shape is wet. So, you could also say – 30 minutes per set.

Anyway – here’s a video!

This 4 min short shows how I ‘grow’ figures by fusing brushstrokes into silhouette shapes, and of course stacking three passes of light, medium, and dark values together. The old – Tea, Milk, Honey concept.

Ok – see you guys over on the Facebook group, or – if you’re not posting there – leave me a comment if you want to show some work.

Thanks! ~Marc

Photo credits go to IG photographers @monalogue, @uriah_forest, @periodwardrobe, @norrisniman,@placidevantia, @arakishiro.

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Day Two: Portrait Sketches

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Day Two! Today is devoted to the ios app Skchy, with its community of models donating selfies for artists.

Here’s a video demonstration of this watercolor sketch of Bennet P.

It was interesting – looking back at my own footage – I can really see the abstraction that’s happening in my oil painting, showing up here in the portraits. Probably nobody else would say that – but it’s like, I could feel the assembly of shapes happening without much concern for the drawing. I used to be very concerned with getting a likeness – even while I was not very good at it! But now, I’m just painting shapes.

The eye sees, the hand records. It’s like it doesn’t matter to the eye if it’s a rock, or a face.

That’s not a very romantic thing to say – but there you have it. Painting is getting to be like automatic writing. Transcription of the visual field, without much conscious mediation.

Ok everyone! That’s the highlights of my day. I’m heading over to the Facebook group to comment on everyone’s stuff.

See you over there. ~marc

Photo Credits, from top: Bennet P, William F, Ray Williams, Marissa M, Teri Babayeva, Madison Bradley, Hana Moayedi

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Day Three: Hitting Stride

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[@lee_r98, Instagram]

Hey everyone! Crossing the half way mark for some of us?

Liz Steel and I like to do #OneWeek100People in five days, rather than the full seven. It’s a thing – she doesn’t work on Sundays. Which, I think is a very good policy for life.

So – this is exciting. I really haven’t done any watercolor [looks back at the blog] since the beginning of September. So that’s six months away from the medium. I have of course been painting in oils, and done some digital work here and there. But still – I always find it takes a few days to get back in tune with water-media.

[Emily Mack, Sktchy]

[Jasper Means, Skchy]

But it hasn’t been hard to jump back in.  I have a strict policy to love everything I make.

I mean – I’m very critical of my own work. LIke – I can see why this one isn’t a great painting. But I think it’s crucial that we are 100% impressed with our own efforts. It is exactly as good as I am capable of being at this moment in time. The act of making something from nothing, this is an automatic victory every time.

If we don’t insist on this mode of thinking, how are we supposed to find our own voice? Decide what works for us. What is going to be intentionally imperfect, intentionally unreal – choosing to step away from reality, in favor of creating a new image we might want to live with.

[Photo credit, @uriah_forest. Model, unknown]

[Van Lozito, Sktchy]

This is something that I think can only happen during an art-marathon such as #OneWeek100People.

The process of working every day, for a week straight, (or a month – in the case of #30x30DirectWatercolor) – this does two things. It fine tunes your reflexes. The hand-skills of painting. Much like a musician doing scales. Painting is a physical skill that needs to be kept in tune.

But at the same time, the grind breaks you down. You stop caring quite so much about an individual piece.

If you sit down to make one single masterpiece – I think you can’t avoid freezing up. I get anxious about how it’s going to come out. I can’t be free to create by instinct.

If you’re going to make 100 works, you can’t (or I can’t) force myself to worry about each and every one. In this way, the unconscious is unlocked, and the work rises above the limits of perfectionism, to reach a new level.

I hope this feeling is clicking for some of you? Maybe it will by the end of the week. Let’s keep at it, and keep posting our work to the group. I’m interested to hear from you as you close in on your 100’th person.

How did you feel as you sketched your last figure? Think about it and let me know!

Thanks, ~Marc

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Day Four: Sketching vs. Painting

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Day Four! Today I only did three pieces. Which is a bit anti-marathon-ish.

One was a dud, which I won’t show. The other two – well I like one of them! The other – less so.

I find these art marathons have a natural arc.

I start out sprinting – just having fun with it. Feeling a bit stiff, but enjoying the feeling of warming up. Soon enough you’re watching the images roll out under your brush like magic. You start to say, hey, these are getting pretty good – and gradually – you end up taking things too seriously.

Not just gratefully accepting the good ones as they appear, but straining yourself – trying to make great work ‘on demand’.

Loyal readers will know, I have an aversion to trying too hard.

You can’t make your best work when you’re concerned about success or failure.

The very act of thinking about the outcome creates an anxiety that holds you back from a daring move, that makes you afraid to touch a good-bit, or more likely, unwilling to stop when it’s truly great. You don’t always recognize it immediately. You hope one more (rash) move might make it better – and then – you’ve overworked it. You’re scrubbing-out or scraping-back, trying to save it – and you’ll always know you blew it, even if it looks pretty good in the end, and nobody will ever see what you had – before you lost your nerve.

But that’s the game.

We’re training our hand skills by running this marathon, but – we’re also training our judgement.

The more pieces you do in a row, the more shots-on-goal. The more likely you’ll learn to recognize when it’s time to push something – or – when you need to stop and let something stand as you’ve made it.

[Photo Credits to @uriah_forest and various unknown models]

I’ve used Uriah’s excellent photography as the basis of many of my experiments this year. Without permission admittedly, but – while I hope he and his models don’t mind – on the other hand, I feel a study from other artists’ work is fair game.

This is the nature of artistic practice. We need to look at things, and grow by the gradual process of absorbing what works for us and leaving aside what doesn’t. Any artist that says they’re self taught, or they’ve invented something from nothing is fooling themselves.

Ideally, we’ll find everything we need by working from life. But life today includes the constant stream of images on social media. For many of us, this virtual world is more rich and rewarding than our actual day-to-day existence.

There’s another balancing act there. The basic need to acquire skill – let’s call it your artistic vocabulary, versus later, the point when you should be thinking more about *what* you have to say, than the mechanics of *how* you will say it.

Ultimately – a copy is only a copy. It’s not a work of art. It’s a study.

So, that’s what I’m thinking about today, at the peak of this year’s #OneWeek100People. I think tomorrow I’ll just cool down and finish up the challenge with some pen and ink sketching. Thanks for giving me a soap box for my thoughts! I hope you guys are posting your work. I’ll see you all in the Facebook group!

Thanks, ~ marc

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Day Five: Living up to the Challenge!

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It’s Day Five of #OneWeek100People, and, while many of you have hit your 100, I have been swanning about making pretty watercolors.

I wanted to be making 20 paintings a day, to be on track to 100 in five days. In fact, I only hit 20 on day one, then it was 10 a day for two days, then three on my ‘worst’ day!

That’s not not really living up to the challenge is it?

If the goal is learning as much as possible, in a reasonable amount of time – well – you really need to go back to the basics.

Does that really matter? This magic number? Shouldn’t I be trying to make the BEST picture I can every day? What is the point of twenty ‘lesser’ sketches instead of one ‘finished’ drawing?

It comes down to what do you want to be learning I suppose.

I feel like there are things I am training, by doing a lot of work, in a very short time, that I can’t learn any other way.

The hand-eye coordination that is developed by direct pen and ink – this is the same thing as the all-in-one-go approach which we call direct watercolor painting, and those skills in turn absolutely apply to the work I’m doing in oils. I couldn’t create the paintings I’m making today, without ten years of these underlying skills.

So – in the spirit of ‘How to get to 100’ – Here’s a short video demonstration of a pen and ink drawing.

I hope you’ll see what I mean. How a direct ink drawing can be a simplified model for alla prima painting.

It’s all about seeing the edges of shapes, and eye-balling proportions, and the placements of shadows. (Which create the illusion of volume).

Whether you’re drawing a line around a shape, or blocking-in with a broad nib (or marker), or making a watercolor wash – the edge you are observing is the same contour.

Learning to draw these shapes, or learning to fill them with color – these are two sides of the same coin.

So don’t worry if you’re not doing 100 full-color paintings for your marathon!

You’re probably learning more, if you’re doing sketches in ballpoint, fountain pen or markers – because you’re getting more experience with seeing, in less time.

So , thanks one last time to everyone who participated in this year’s #OneWeek100People!

And – maybe I’ll see some of you back for our next big event – #30x30DirectWatercolor – in which we work together to create thirty paintings in thirty days, during the month of June.

Take care, and we’ll see you over in the Facebook group. I’ll be around all day, congratulating people as they cross the finish line!

~marc

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