OneWeek100people 2021: Day 1

March 8, 2021 | 9 Comments

As I haven’t really been sketching people since the One Week 100 People challenge last year Day 1 was all about getting into the rhythm!

I managed to do a little research in the morning and then headed to my local cafe in the afternoon. It’s normally very busy here so  I was completely thrown by the fact that there were no customers at all when I arrived.

Sketching staff who not only move a lot, but also are aware of what I’m doing is a hard way to start. So it was all about just having a go. I know from previous years that it gets significantly easier after a few days.

Thankfully the cafe got busy after I had done a few warmup drawings. (BTW I won’t be counting my line drawings this year.)

I’m using a smaller book this year – a Stillman and Birn Softcover Alpha 8.5 x 5.5. I like the layout of this book for sketching people (6 people across a double-page spread) but it means more drying time. As I’m working from right to left (an advantage of being a leftie) I was able to start on the new spread before the previous one had fully dried.

Today I seemed to be drawing first, then adding skin-coloured wash to all faces on the spread, and then painting hair and clothing. Tomorrow I might do something different. 

Even though I have easily done this challenge in previous years, I often feel the pressure of doing 100 at the start of the week. Will I be able to fit all this sketching into five busy days? But of course, I know that I can do it! Today I managed to have my coffee, do some warmup contour drawing,  hit my target of 20 watercolour people and write this blogpost all in one hour. 

I expect that tomorrow I’ll be more relaxed and might spend longer with each sketch.


  • Lovely to see your first sketches of the week and hear about your process! Liz – how would you rate Barbara Bradley’s book (I’ve just looked it up on Amazon) and could you share some other book recommendations? I do love Roisín Curé’s Drawing Expressive People, but I’d love some more tips on good resources, especially for basic anatomical stuff.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Deborah – the book is fine but as I didn’t mention it in the text (just a note to myself on the page) it’s not a book that I think is essential. I look at a lot of books on the subject… so don’t really have any firm recommendations.

  • Barbara McCafferty Weeks says:

    Love your encouraging Oneweek100People2012 post. Even the best have to warm up!

  • Jamie C says:

    Great start! Your people drawing skills have vastly improved over the years you’ve done this challenge!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Jamie – still long way to go… it’s the research associated with the challenge that really helps

  • That’s so encouraging to read that you haven’t sketched a lot of people since last challenge… Neither do I ! Actually, I do remember that I sketched my first pages just before first French lockdown… what a strange remembering…
    No more cafes here, but still people walking ! I’ll have to wait for next year challenge to start learning how to draw portraits !

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Ludivine, Yes, I stopped sketching people when the first lockdown happened… and for some reason never got going again. So it feels great to be back at it – a push was needed!

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