10 March, 2018. #oneweek100people2018 – that’s the hashtag for this past week, the one that signifies participation in what has come to be an annual sketchers challenge: Draw one hundred people over a five day stretch. Google the phrase “one week 100 people” and you’ll see it popping up on artists’ and sketchers’ blogs right and left.
My first sketches were a sort of montage of drawings made over a day or two on a section of watercolor paper that measures about 5.5 inches tall and 28 inches wide. As I’ve noted before, my favorite watercolor paper for urban and travel sketching is the lightweight Strathmore Aquarius II sheet. Cut into four equal segments 28 inches in length and then folded into an accordion-style pamphlet, it’s easy to carry and easy to sketch on just about anywhere, standing or sitting.
I prepped the sheet by lettering it ahead of time, followed by adding sketches of people I observed one and two at a time. The process was pretty organic, which is not unusual for the way I approach most of my sketching.
Taking me up to 99 people, my Art I class served as captive models: I sketched them while they painted and finished up adding their assignments to a digital portfolio they owed me. I stopped at 99 on purpose, in hopes that number 100 would be something special.
As I did with all one hundred and one in this series, I drew with a Uni-Ball Deluxe. I playfully splashed washes of color onto the panoramic sheet with which I began my week, but this second drawing was made on brown Canson paper. I debated adding gouache but decided instead to use hatched lines from a white gel pen to define the negative spaces and clarify the figure/ground relationship a little better.
Number 100 and 101 didn’t turn out to be a spectacular or dramatic drawing. It happened, appropriately enough, in a rather spontaneous fashion: On the last day of the challenge I found myself eating lunch at a Chinese buffet. The place is popular with a blue collar crowd and I enjoy being shoulder to shoulder with people from all walks of life, chattering away in a diversity of languages. I think of it as a sort of miniature “everyman’s” United Nations.
The play of figure/ground relationships are borne out through the contrast of black and white. It’s a favorite graphic ploy of mine and I like the way this visual strategy allows me to keep a composition interesting without the need to add unnecessary detail.