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#OneWeek100People2019 : All Posts Collected

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#OneWeek100People2019 : Flight Check?

I was sitting there cleaning some pens and packing a sketch kit – trying to remember the last time I went out drawing people?

I know I grabbed a few sketches of sketchers last summer at the USK Mini Symposium in Chicago, but other than that Ihaven’t gone out people sketching since 2018’s OneWeek100. <Yikes!)

For a person who used to go life drawing three times a week, that’s a weird situation.

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Frankly, I wasn’t even sure if I could do it anymore! You leave something for so long, you wonder if the skills magically vanish?

I headed out for lunch at the mall, with just a ballpoint and some typing paper, going back to the very basics. Just checking – is it still there?

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I’m happy to say, it’s like riding a bike. The fingers remember how to lay down lines.

But still – I’ve gone approximately a year without figure drawing – and not missed it that much – so what changed?

Besides everything: eldercare madness, job changes, retiring from teaching, retiring from freelance work, and taking up studio painting.

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What does the new me, the artist I am today, want out of #OneWeek100People2019?

(That’s the point of this post – all of us should take a moment to think on that, before the April 8-12th week is upon us!)

After this dry run, I’m confident I could hit the streets, find some events, and get back into the groove. I could just have fun! Use sketching to get out to some stuff I’ve been passing up. Go to life drawing, check out the art gallery. Or just wander and see what the street has to offer. It could be like the good old days!

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But this year, I want to push myself a little further. After all, that’s what this blog is right? A place where you guys motivate me to keep learning in public :)

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I’m going to try to make some of the figurative painting I’ve been thinking about for a few years. < Yes, that’s a little cryptic :) But let’s say I’m going to be pushing my figures in a Direct Watercolor approach – and I won’t be sticking to documentary / reportage. This year I want to be working without the pressure of live-sketching.

But I’m going into this cold. I don’t exactly have a solid plan for these imaginary awesome artworks. So you’re going to see me making it up as we go along.

But that’s the beauty of these challenges. We’re all in it together, so we know what it’s like. Everybody is too busy doing it to be judging you for not meeting some imaginary goal. When we’re in the trenches together, everyone supports each other :)

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Maybe some of you are thinking about your own week? Drop me a comment! What are you going to take on this year? What’s your plan for #OneWeek100People2019?

The floor is yours in the comments section!

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#OneWeek100People2019 Day Two: Selfie Series

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 :)

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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:

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

Ok – what about DESTRUCTION TESTING!

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

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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!

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#OneWeek100People2019 Day Three: Going Direct

Ok – got some life-stuff out of the way this morning, and we’re back in the studio.

I decide to return to the selfies with open with some ABSORBED LINE.

That is, sketching in line with a pointed round, then, immediately, absorbing the line into a blocked-in shadow shape.

Work fast, and the lines you enclose will vanish completely into the larger wash.

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This third one is working for me. Probably my favorite so far.  What do I like?

  • Sketch looks like George Takei.
  • The background bleed into the shoulders is just right. (Luck + adjusting the tilt).
  • Underlying head shape is a simple abstract blob that captures the light with reserved white. I like the cooling of the side planes and the wet-in-wet implications of beard stubble.
  • The rich red strokes thrown into the wet in wet have bled nicely. You need a jelly consistency to get nice strokes like this. I’m using cadmium red for the first time in years, (want to get rid of an old tube). It’s a dense color, feels quite opaque for a watercolor.

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Here’s a better shot at an underlying head shape. I looks totally wrong without the eyebrows :) but you can’t put them (or the beard) in too soon or the darker hair will bleed too much. I also want this as wet as possible so the warm and cool stuff can merge nicely. It’s 100% instinct. I’m just dropping color according to what I see, looking to make the head feel dimensional just with planes of color.

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After I’ve hit the wet head-shape with the hair dryer, I can just draw in all the darks with honey-er mixes. These days I’m not drying it bone-dry before I start back in. That way the second pass has a very slight chance of blending in.

This is the one I would use on my Tinder profile.

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One more time. Egg Head to Selfie.

#5 for the day – and I’m sort of remembering how watercolor works. The egg-head actually looks dimensional hey? If you can get that volume into the base shape, then you know it’s going to work out in the final.

So, that’s a good likeness. It’s a clean sketch, well executed. But – I’m still underwhelmed. It’s not very interesting. Just a boring snapshot of me.

It’s like – the ones I find exciting and the ones I find accurate – it’s never going to be the same ones. Alas.

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#6: Got a little frustrated with the blandness, so did another Destruction Test. How much water can I throw on? How much black (neutral tint) can I slather on the background?

Apparently a lot.

But, a thick coat of paint can be lifted-out with a wet brush. And even that dripping head eventually dries. Eventually, I can pull out a few details with honey-mixes.

This is an inconclusive test. It’s interesting. But it’s not really a portrait is it? It’s sort of faux psychological – the appearance of a moody image, but it’s fake – because any mood it projects is just an accident of the process.

I do, however, enjoy the textures that show up from all the overworking.

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Ok! So apparently seven selfies a day is a comfortable number. After dinner, I went back for one more simple one. Just a classic water-sketch.

It’s day three of #OneWeekOneHundredPeople2019 and Old Man Holmes says, “Goodnight Folks!”

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#OneWeek100People2019 Day Four: Acrylic Paintings

Artistic inspiration is a funny thing.

I wasn’t planning on making acrylic paintings for #OneWeek100People2019. But after a couple days of my watercolors, I was moping around going – hmmmm what next? More of the same? I would learn something if I did it. But hmmmmmmm. I don’t want to waste time repeating myself. (Even though, I know I should! Refinement comes from repetition! You are *literally* watching me not take my own medicine).

But, I’m thinking – something is missing…

Oh right!

I’ve been doing opaque painting for the last (many) months. That’s what’s missing.

I know! I have all these acrylics left over from my student-days.

Out comes the big tubs of paint and the old hog’s hair brushes for a whirlwind painting session. I should have stopped at round one. It’s kind of interesting in the half-finished state :)

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I was hoping to get seven acrylic paintings in a day to match my practice in watercolor – but this first attempt took me five hours! Clearly – watercolor is the faster medium.

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I think a big part of this 5 hour piece was mixing color. I whipped up a few batches of color – just adding a hue when I needed it, until I had a bit of a fleshcolor palette.

There’s seven colors here – a yellow, a green/grey and three values of magenta, then two warm darks.

For portraits, I think it’s best to mix your major colors in advance, then intermix as you work. Rather than putting out globs of primaries and trying to mix a new hue every few brush-loads. Re-mixing all the time is A: very slow, and B: too hard to match your own colors later in the piece.

So – start with creating the major values in the image, then inter-mix them to make transitions. You waste more paint this way at first – until you get good at guessing how much you’ll need.

(BTW – I think this is why watercolorists have endless discussion about new colors to buy. Because they can’t pre-mix batches for the day’s work).

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I’m using pre-tinted canvas boards. Yes, canvas boards are yuck, but meh – I had them in a box for years now, just waiting for their moment.

They’re primed with a mottled flesh color – in fact, these are old art-school era figure paintings, erased with leftover paint.

You can see in this second piece, I got the hang of using the undertone as a middle color and sketching with a few values of light and dark on top. This underpainting probably took 10 minutes, because I’d spent so much time making my colors before.

Once you have the basic planes, then it’s just a matter of refining the shapes of light and shadow, and re-stating the darks. Voila!

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It was quite a joy to be able to blast in bright highlights over the head, and use a rich opaque near-white on the background. Look at that thick paint! I don’t know – after all these years of watercolor, I feel guilty using so much paint :) But I can’t help it. It’s so much fun.

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Selfie #3: Once again – planar sketch – (pretty much what I would have done in a direct watercolor) – then refinement of the shapes, breaking the blocks of tone down into smaller subdivisions.

Side note – the best thing about glasses in a portrait is painting the distortion in the lenses.

So to sum up this take on acrylic painting:

  • Start with a toned canvas so the gaps between strokes are not white.
  • Pre-mix the five or six major color values you’re going to need. Try to make enough not to run out.
  • Sketch the planes of the head in your flat (ish) values.
  • Intermix the pre-mixes if necessary to make halftones for modeling.
  • Refine edges, tighten shapes, restate darks.
  • IMO it’s more about matching values on planes of the head, rather than getting the exact right color. These are very pinky, but look ‘right’ to me. You could mix more accurate colors, but I don’t feel it matters in the end. The piece will hold together – it’s internally consistent.

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On the fifth day, I just messed around.

I was clearly not going to reach the 100 goal with what I’ve been doing the last few days – so – I gave myself a pass and just played today.

Clearly, I’ve been out of synch this #OneWeek100People2019.

But it isn’t about me anymore! It’s about the other 1500 sketchers in the FB group! – and I know people have been having a great time over there :)

It’s very interesting how a project I set up to be fun and games – back when sketching was king – becomes so hard for me, now that I’m thinking about oil painting all the time. Very eye-opening. You don’t always know your own mind (apparently). I didn’t anticipate how hard it is for me to change topics.

So what’s a fellow to do!

Seems like the best idea is – paint something FUN :) :)

And start thinking about how to redeem myself next time!

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#OneWeek100People2019 Day Five: Play Time!

Model Credits: @laceferatu, @rinrindoll, @voodoodolly, @itsvanillabear@wistywish.

I hope you had a great time with #OneWeek100People2019.

I’ve been following along all the posts on the Facebook page, and I hope to hear from all of you how your week turned out! Thanks for playing our little game :)

~Marc

 

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