This week, my goal with the #OneWeek100People2018 challenge was one of practice, not perfection. This challenge was proposed by Liz Steele and Marc Taro Holmes. The idea is to sketch 100 people in a week. As I said last week that I was going to do the challenge, here are my efforts and thoughts about the challenge.
In the past, I have always left people out of my sketches – often because I am more interested in the location rather than the people. Both Jerry and I have been known to get up at dawn in order to photograph/see a place without people. Adding people to my sketches was not something I enjoyed, so it was not something I practised. As a result, I am not good at sketching people. Simply put, without practice, there is no skill development. So the #OneWeek100People2018 challenge was a good way to get out of my comfort zone.
My first sketches were horrible, but I could feel my brain focus and kick up a gear – I loved the energy and started to feel myself making progress. All sketches are made in a Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook with 140gsm all-media cartridge paper. These first few sketches were made using a disposable Pentel Fountain pen which is not waterproof, then going over them using a water barrel brush that has a reservoir of water in the handle.
I quickly learnt that speed was necessary. Sketching from life is sketching a moving target and often you have to work from memory – something I have just seen but a memory nevertheless. I feel over the week my observation and quick recall has improved.
Once I got on a roll, I noticed how I started to see the main shapes and forms quicker. Whether these shapes were translated to line is another issue, as there is lots of skill development to take place – but the spark of an observational skill was definitely pointed in the right direction.
I don’t have a morning commute on public transport to provide a block of time to sketch. The #OneWeek100People2018 challenge made me get out of the house, visit local shops, gardens, cafes and sketch people in public places. This is something I’ve not made time to do before.
Through the week I did some sketching from photos and did not feel guilty about it! Of course, it is ideal to sketch from life, but to meet the target I sketched in the evenings from photos. It made me re-assess my self-imposed no photo rule. Married to a photographer, this rule is a bit silly as I have access to much material. I am often standing next to Jerry as he takes a photo so I have seen the object, landscape etc. Or, my goodness… I could even take my own! Actually, I recently purchased a better camera and coincidentally Jerry is sketching more so something is happening there but I am not sure what yet, but time will tell no doubt.
For this sketch (above), I switched my pens and used a Lamy pen loaded with De Atramentis Document Ink which is waterproof when dry, and Tombow dual brush pens which are blendable because they are not waterproof. I smudged the figures with a water barrel brush.
With these figures (above), I switched and tried Derwent aquarelle water-soluble pencils but I don’t think they worked particularly well. I need to use them more often, so for the challenge, I switched back to ink.
At a walk to the National Arboretum, I found that the people sitting next to the windows were mainly in silhouette. For these I switched back to my Lamy pen, loaded with De Atramentis Document Ink (waterproof) and Tombow dual brush pens that are blendable with water as they are not waterproof.
I like the format of this challenge, but I do think that many people would find the one-week time span hard to meet. I know the idea is speed, but for many, that speed is difficult to achieve. I found the time pressure was a double-edged sword, as although I could see the pressure as part of the challenge, about halfway through I realised I was not really enjoying sketching at all! To be honest I thought seriously about giving up. But some stubborn voice held strong so I kept going. I am pleased I did finish, and I did learn a lot, but I am not sure in the end it was as much fun as I had hoped.
The format of the #OneWeek100People2018 challenge is useful though. I could use the same format as the #OneWeek100People2018 challenge to tackle other subjects that I avoid or feel are weak points, such as trees (Canberra as a Garden city has a lot of trees), pets, birds, in fact, animals of all sorts as they move, cars and bikes – all of which I tend to avoid as I find them too tricky to sketch. I could make quite a list! So I am seriously thinking about using the format of the challenge to improve on other areas of my sketching. But I would not put the same time pressure on myself. The ‘be fast and speedy’ principle is great, but too much of my week was interrupted as I carved out time to do the challenge. Many of my daily responsibilities and routine were re-shuffled or rescheduled to another time and it highlighted that I could not do this regularly. I also want to make sure that this area of my life is a place to relax and have fun.
The #100PeopleOneWeek2018 challenge helped me focus on setting some personal goals that are related directly to developing my sketching skills. It also made me realise that a key aspect of shifting a goal from something on the wish list to something that is achievable, is to allocate time and resources to this activity. The biggest challenge isn’t to sketch 100 people in a week but to continue, and in doing so it becomes just part of my sketching habit that is done almost automatically. I think I will always be attracted to drawing the location, but I will aim to sketch more of what happens in and around a location rather than always choosing to look at the location itself.
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