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Today’s the Day! #OneWeek100People!

March 7, 2022

It’s the morning of day one and I’m imagining people all over the world packing their sketching gear and heading out with their sketch-buddies! I hope you guys are going to be able to get back out there and have a great time. But if not – here’s a sketch from Instagram :)

Please enjoy this video version. This is my first test of Vertical Video – it’s my understanding that if you view this on phone it will appear correctly – well – vertical.

This one was done on Saturday night, warming up for the big event.

I’ve sketched @Pinsent_Tailoring before – he was one of my IG portraits from last year’s #OneWeek100People. I’m a huge fan of his work. I enjoy his combination of historical references and an operatic sense of taste.

I don’t know if it’s good to admit this, but Instagram is a huge part of my life now. It’s not just the pandemic, and it’s not just a social media thing. It’s new kind of window on the world. It’s been giving me a tremendous amount of artistic inspiration.

So, no matter if you’re heading out to sketch on the street, or, if you’ll be staying in and drawing from reference – here’s to a great #OneWeek100People. See you on the hashtag, or in the Facebook Group.

Apologies! Fixed Video Link!

March 5, 2022

Some people have mentioned a problem with this link so I’m sending you the video again! Sorry for the extra email :) See you next week! Thanks ~marc

#OneWeek100People: Day 01 Warmup Video: Watercolor over Gesture Sketch

March 5, 2022

Hey everyone! Are you getting ready? This Monday is the official Day One of #OneWeek100People for 2022!

I hope you’re inspired to go out sketching :)

Maybe on the street, or maybe you’ll meet some friends for life drawing class? That’s what I’m doing tomorrow – a fun evening workshop right before the week officially starts. If I get anything good I’ll post them later in the week.

But of course, it’s perfectly ok if you’re sketching from photos or video. I know that everyone is not able to go back into the world yet. But – just me personally – I’ve crossed a kind of threshold.

Of course the pandemic isn’t over everywhere, (just recently been reading about Hong Kong), and – with the end of masking requirements in a lot of areas – plus probably a diaspora from the war in Europe, I expect we’ll get another wave.

But! I’m trying not to talk about negative things. Right now I find myself willing to consider more managed risk. I’m quadruple vaxxed myself. I ended up getting offered an extra shot, so I took it. And I plan to keep masking and social distancing for the foreseeable future. So – considering these measures, I’ve decided to go back to public life.

I’ve returned to life drawing classes (and writing groups) – and that means I’m taking the subway again! Which also means – I was able to make this little video for you.

My only goal here is to show how you can take a VERY SIMPLE sketch – the kind of incredibly basic line drawing anyone can do in 10-30 seconds – and then improve that drawing later – to the point where it’s unrecognizable. (For the better I hope! hah!)

You might choose to doodle on location, then stop at a café and visit with friends while you color.

Or you might take snapshots with your phone, and draw from those later? That’s what I did for the video, because, well that’s the only way I can capture it for you.

Or, you might just fill a sketchbook with visual notes and then only finish the very best ones? Or even re-draw them from your own sketches? There’s a lot of ways to do it.

Any way you want to approach it – the simple gesture isn’t really the end-goal. It’s a stepping stone. You can just use it to improve your skills, or – you can literally improve the best of your gestures like I’ve done here.

So, hope you enjoy this quick bit of inspiration – and we’ll see you on Monday March 7th for #OneWeek100People!!

Thanks! ~marc

The #OneWeek100People Sketchbook Scavenger Hunt

February 16, 2022

This year, Liz Steel and I (Liz is the co-creator of #OneWeek100People) – we were talking about how to best return to post-pandemic sketching from life. We hit upon the old sketching game – the scavenger hunt!

in I bet some of you have done this kind of thing right?

The rules are simple.

Here’s a list of types of people. (Text below).

The challenge is to see how many of these you can sketch – FROM REAL LIFE! Note: there’s no such rules for the larger Just-Get-To-100 goal. (Photos are ok there :)

This scavenger hunt is an OPTIONAL fun thing, Just a game to play that will get you out on the street.

So, to score a point, that means un-posed sketches, not from a photo. And then POST THEM on the FACEBOOK GROUP. (Or hashtag with#OneWeek100People on the platform of your choice.)

You can add color later, or even do a little more drawing. But the capture should be ‘in the moment’. Also, you can ONLY SCORE ONCE from a subject. That means you have to keep finding new things!

OK? If I missed anything ask away in the comments, or of course your judgement is fine!

So yes – score yourself one point for every sketch you get – and see if you can get 20/20!

We’ve also added ‘BONUS SKETCHES’ which score 2x points because of their extra difficulty. So the potential maximum score is 30/20!

Best of luck, sketching friends!

  1. Person with an Animal
  2. Construction or City Worker
  3. Office/Shop Worker
  4. Person Carrying the Shopping
  5. Person with Bike/Motorcycle/Scooter
  6. Adult with Child
  7. Someone Eating
  8. Someone Drinking
  9. Someone Reading/Writing
  10. Person Standing in Line
  11. Public Transit Portrait
  12. Athlete in Action / Kids Activity
  13. Street Performer / Performer on Stage / Presenter
  14. People on Escalator / Elevator / Stairs
  15. Two People in Conversation
  16. Colorful Clothing / Odd Costume
  17. Interesting Accessory (Cane, Umbrella, Cart, Pram)
  18. Someone in Uniform
  19. Postman / Delivery Person
  20. Business Attire, Formal, Dressed to the Nines!

BONUS ITEMS (worth 2x!) :

  1. A person doing something you’ve never drawn before.
  2. A group of four or more people! (You might have to run to keep up with them :))
  3. Unusual Posture – lying down, sitting cross legged, handstand!?
  4. Portrait of a stranger, drawn with permission – you must engage and ask!
  5. Someone doing something they shouldn’t be doing!

Announcing! #OneWeek100People in 2022 – Our Sixth Year: Mon Mar 7 – Fri Mar 11

February 15, 2022

When the calendar flipped and we found ourselves in 2022, the first thing I thought about was our drawing marathon #OneWeek100People. < < < Just follow that link to find out about the event! You’ll also find the last five ‘seasons’ of my sketches all in one place.

This year, we had a big decision to make – should we draw at home in quarantine – as we did in 2021, or should we return to drawing from life?

My answer this year is going to be – hit the streets my son!

So – it’s been 538 days since my last drawing of a living breathing human being.
(Discounting Zoom, which I’m sorry, but it’s not the same :))

I’m not going to rail at fate here. We’ve had a very lucky pandemic. Boredom is hardly the worst outcome. My apologies and sincere sympathy to anyone who’s had real misfortune. And besides, I was already moving towards studio painting, the quarantine only helped me along.

Me: “Head into the studio and lock the door? Yes please!”
Covid: “Ok buddy, you asked for it!”

As the fifth Omicron wave begins to lighten up here – I find myself champing at the bit.

#OneWeek100People was originally imagined as *living your best life through the pages of your sketchbook*. I want to use my drawing skills as motivation to experience things. And my experiences as a way to improve my skills! Pretty neat hey?

My sketchbook is a life support system – a magical machine helping an introverted artist go into the world and do things I’d never otherwise do.

#OneWeek100People is about turning that up to eleven. It’s both a passport and a boot-in-the-behind. It’s an invitation to put aside distractions and responsibilities, and tap into a whole lot of peer pressure. The good kind! The kind of teamwork that will banish my desire to stay at home and play video games, or to noodle away at oil paintings in the comfort (and solitude) of my studio.

So I hope I will see you this year in the Facebook group, or using the hashtag #OneWeek100People on your platform of choice!

So – that’s where I am. Excited to be back drawing from life. BUT! If you’re not ready – if your local Covid situation isn’t great, or if you’re immunocompromised, I absolutely understand. I hope you’ll feel like drawing with us anyway, working from photos and film.

I’m sure we all have our social media of choice? I like street photography groups on Flickr, (above) and there is the iOS app Museum by Sktchy, (portraits) or the youtube channel Croquis Cafe (for nude figures). or my old standby – cuing up a movie and sketching on pause.

For the street sketchers – especially those of you in a warmer climate – we have a new idea this year.

We’d like to introduce the idea of a #OneWeek100People Scavenger Hunt.

We’re going to send out a list of sketching subjects, and if you want to play, see if you can find the right kind of people out in the real world – and capture them from life.

Let’s play a game of hunt-and-sketch. More than a little silly I know! – but honestly – the experience of wandering, pen at the ready, looking for a great subject – it’s actually exciting! And it’s not something most of us would do without a reason. This is my invitation to spend a few afternoons wasting time drawing. Let’s do it for the fun of it :)

Ok – last thing! If you’re like most of us and time is your enemy – feel free to bend the rules. Draw on the weekend if you need to – we’re not going to check the dates of your sketches.

Or try my favorite thing – every time you have an errand – waiting at the DMV? Awesome! Picking up the takeout – no problem. Spend an extra 10 minutes sketching. Leave a little bit early for work and sketch the subway crowd. Make your buddy wait while you draw – or better yet – go sketching with a buddy! Ask your partner nicely if you can sketch while they do the shopping. (Just this one time :)) And the #1 time management trick for me? No TV or video games for an entire week. That saves me more than enough time to get my 100 people. It’s only 20 people a day!

Ok – I’ll send out more info on that tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Thanks for letting me into your inbox –


OK! Last thing! Let me just leave you with these – our traditional ‘progress bar’ images for people who want to paste them under their sketches. I always enjoy watching the row of people fill up!

Best in Show!

August 9, 2021

Exciting news to report! My painting “The World has Appetites of its Own”, (Oil on canvas, 30×60″), has won the Antoinette Stevens Award for Best in Show at the Society of Canadian Artists 53d Open International Juried Exhibition. < Follow the link to view the entire show online.

The award comes with a weighty bronze medal, which has me feeling very Olympic. I’m very grateful of course to the Society and the judges. It’s a tremendous honor!

This was an online show, which means of course we miss the chance to see people and their work in person. But, on the other hand it is nice to be able to enter work of any size, and not to have to ship the work across the country.

As well – probably more people will see this post, than would have gone to a physical exhibition, so, there is that as well.

I would hope that we’ll keep doing online shows, even after the pandemic is resolved. There are ways of course we can make the online experience better, including something like this! Posting detail shots and work-in-progress along with the final artwork. One day we can offer an AR experience where we can see the piece on the walls of our home! I’m looking forward to online exhibitions getting better and better ever year.

Here’s a glimpse back in time, what it looked like after the first sketch. I kind of miss some of the unfinished, immediate nature of the sketch. Someday I will try something similar and see where I can land between the first impression, and a more advanced rendering.

Thanks! ~Marc

96,840 Paintings! #30×30 2021

June 29, 2021

Here’s some random stats about the group this year:

  • 4517 Total Members / 3228 Active Members < I think that’s a pretty great ratio of readers to contributors!.
  • 96,840 Paintings! < That’s what it would be, if every active member completed the marathon!
  • 77% Female, 22% male. < No idea why art clubs are like that, but it certainly matches what I see at workshops.
  • USA and India are the two top countries represented! with Sydney AUS scooping top top city spot, followed by San Francisco and Montreal – so that is the founder effect at work!

So we’ve come to an end of the thirty days of painting in June!

It’s been a terrific fourth year of the Direct Watercolor experiment, and I’m very much looking forward to next year.

For me, reaching five years of anything is a major accomplishment. I’m so bad at sticking to things! It’s you, the community, that is keeping this together! So you have my heart-felt thanks.

It’s been a great feeling watching this small community come together this year, and I think, offer up a much stronger array of work as the years go by.

As a group, all of us in our own studios, but working ‘side-by-side’ online – I can see that everyone is getting stronger together.

I personally entered this event a little bit ‘on the back foot’. I’d come off a year of very low motivation (pandemic blues). But the more time I spend looking at the posts everyone has been sharing, the more excited and energized I’ve become.

Everyone says art is a solitary activity – but I think, in fact, this is not true!

I also used to be a passionate believer in the ‘everyday artist’ concept – the idea an artist must work hard everyday or it’s all for nothing. It was an obsession of mine for years. But I’m beginning to think, as I get older, and get interested in more complex things, I think I’m changing. I feel, this marathon-model of taking a month out here, a few weeks there, and truly setting aside other things, putting intense focus on painting, at the expense of everything else for a set period of time – it’s much more sustainable, and possibly, more productive.

Set aside time to work, with intensity, and you can make more progress in a month than you might otherwise make in a year of casual ‘dipping into’ creativity.

And if you can’t – if one month is too much to put aside, do it for one week – or even do it for three days. Your family can live without you for three days! But then – find a way to do it many times a year. Whatever it takes to keep engaged with life and creativity, and not just fritter your days away doing a job, or taking care of a home.

So yes! You guys!! I am super energized and excited to do the #30×30 marathon again next year!

Five years will be kind of incredible.

I hope you all had such a great time that you’ll also be coming back!

Right now, I’m about to delve into a few months of writing. I’ve signed up to take some classes, and I’ve got a few writing buddies who’ve agreed to keep ourselves motivated :) (This team-stuff really works!) So I’ll be stepping back from the #30×30 Facebook group for now, (but feel free to post as much as you want in the off-season).

You can always reach out to me here on the blog, there on socials, or my email marc(dot)taro(at)gmail(dot)com.

So thanks again for doing this with us. Really! I am not just saying! Thanks – and see you soon!


#30×30 Day 29 : Rousseau, the Snake Charmer

June 28, 2021

I’m winding up this small set of artist portraits with Henri Rousseau.

I much prefer that he stayed home and painted fantasies of the jungles, instead of following Gauguin and going out to live them.

And here it is! This is my last painting for #30×30 2021. I’ve been wanting for a while, to make a jungle fantasy in the spirit of Rousseau. Today I thought – lets do it, using everything watercolor on YUPO has been offering. The drips, the floods, the self-erasing-color, and the ability to wipe out and paint back in.

This slippery surface may lack subtlety – but it offers a kind of flexibility that otherwise can’t exist with this media. It’s just the thing for anyone who has been struggling with spontaneity – or – feeling constrained by the intimidation factor of watercolor.

I’m excited to have ‘rediscovered’ YUPO, as it might allow me to be as experimental in water media, as our oil painting compatriots have been all these years, with all their fearless scraping-out and painting-over.

I want to thank everybody who followed along with this year’s #30×30, and especially the people posting in our Facebook group.

The teamwork and the shared accountability has given me the motivation to keep pushing forward, regardless of whatever else is going on in real life.

I have to be honest – I wasn’t sure if I was going to even do the marathon this year. If it weren’t for all of us painting together, I probably would have given up. So I really can’t thank you all enough!

I’ll give the last words this year to Rousseau.

“There are two ways of expressing things; one is to show them crudely, the other is to evoke them artistically.”

“I cannot now change my style, which I acquired, as you can imagine, by dint of labour.”

“Politeness requires this thing, decorum that. Ceremony has its forms, and fashion its laws, and these must always follow, never the promptings of our own nature.”

Visitor: “Why did you paint a couch in the middle of the jungle?”
Rousseau: “Because one has a right to paint one’s dreams.”

#30×30 Day 27 : Gauguin, the Colonizer

June 27, 2021

I came across this rather horrifying picture of Gauguin, and felt I had to leave a few more of his own words next to this painting.

“All the joys—animal and human—of a free life are mine. I have escaped everything that is artificial, conventional, customary. I am entering into the truth, into nature.”

“The self-esteem one acquires and a well-earned feeling of one’s strength are the only consolation in this world. Income, after all, most brutes have that.”

“Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge — and has to content oneself with dreaming.”

#30×30 Day 26 : Francis Bacon, on Art

June 26, 2021

“In my case all painting… is an accident. I foresee it and yet I hardly ever carry it out as I foresee it. It transforms itself by the actual paint. I don’t in fact know very often what the paint will do, and it does many things which are very much better than I could make it do.”

“Some paint comes across directly onto the nervous system and other paint tell you the story in a long diatribe through the brain.”

“All painting is an accident. But it’s also not an accident, because one must select what part of the accident one chooses to preserve.”

“How can I take an interest in my work when I don’t like it?”

“I want to make portraits and images. I don’t know how. Out of despair, I just use paint anyway. Suddenly the things you make coagulate and take on just the shape you intend. Totally accurate marks, which are outside representational marks.”

“The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.”

“I should have been, I don’t know, a con-man, a robber or a prostitute. But it was vanity that made me choose painting.”

~ Francis Bacon, Oct 1909 – April 1992