So it took me all five days to reach 100 people and I didn’t doany extra (last year I did over 200!)
I feel unbelievably thankful that I was able to spend my afternoons in my local cafe (in NSW it’s over 50 days since the last case of community transmission) as I’m only really interested in sketching people from life. A huge part of the enjoyment I get from sketching is being around people and interacting with the staff who are constantly checking my progress. The connection I make with others is so much stronger when I sketch people rather than just the coffee (or objects on the table). But of course, there is much more pressure when sketching people as a likeness is expected. So I’m always explaining that I’m still working on my skills and then everyone is normally fairly nice about it and we all have a bit of a laugh.
I know that a lot of you are not able to sketch people on location at the moment or cannot see the full face either! But however you tackled the challenge, I hope that you had fun and that you’re happy with your output. (I also hope things open up for you soon!)
In terms of my work yesterday and today…
A few quick sketches during an early morning weekly zoom call. I didn’t want the others to know what I was doing so some of these are a bit rough. At lunchtime, Chantal and I had lunch at Goodfields with the intention of doing some sketching, but I was only able to manage three – we had so many other things to catch up on.
I changed my approach (more about that shortly) and did a few warmups from photos and then my usual afternoon cafe session. It was really hard to reach 100 today due to the upstairs part of the cafe being totally empty of customers for a while and then when it got busy, I had lengthy conversations with new friends on both sides of me – Jean an 80-year artist (who follows me on Instagram and recognised me) and Jack (14) a comic book artist. I love talking to people like this and these conversations always take priority over my sketching. As a result, I was in the cafe for 2.5 hours and the last few sketches were really quick.
I definitely found it harder this year (even though I felt super comfortable sketching in public) and maybe that’s because the cafe had fewer people (due to social distancing requirements) or maybe it’s because I was so out of practice.
Anyway, it’s time for a few takeaways…
This is so incredibly important and sadly I didn’t do enough of it. It would be good to work out a way to do this on an ongoing regular basis as although I want my people sketches to be loose (more about that in the second takeaway) they need to be more accurate.
I started this week wanting to tighten up my drawing a little(to improve accuracy) and so I used the following approach: head shape and feature positions in pale Light Flesh watercolour pencil, then drawing with ink, followed by paint. This is very different from what I normally do: paint, ink and more paint. After the first day of sketching, I got into a rhythm and just kept going with ‘drawing first’ but on Friday I reverted back to paint first. This suits my style and my overall sketching goals better – to say more with less and to strive after beautiful watercolour washes with lots of wet-in-wet and pigment magic. I don’t want to produce precise sketches of people – I want them to be fun with lots of lost edges.
3. Looking Forward
This realisation about what technique feels best for me also made me think about what I really want my people sketches to be.
I suddenly thought about the unplanned sketch (demo) I did of my two videographers for my Watercolour On Location course. I was far from comfortable when I did this sketch but was having so much fun that it didn’t matter. The result is far from perfect but it’s a great record of a very special day.
And that’s what I want my people sketches to be – a record of interactions with others not simply sketches of random people in a cafe. Of course sketching random people is important for practice, but I long to be more confident to sketch friends I know and/or capture gestures and the actions of people I’m connecting with. So sketching Jack today was a good example of this.
Once again this challenge has given me exactly the right push I need!
How did you go with the OneWeek100People challenge this year?
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