Saturday, March 14, 2020

Another Year of #OneWeek100People Done!

3/9/20 Capitol Hill neighborhood

At the time that I wrote the post that introduced this week’s One Week 100 People challenge, the anxiety and escalating urgency of COVID-19’s spread in the Seattle area was only just beginning. Every day, updates from our local health department grow increasingly alarming, and authorities urge anyone in higher-risk groups (including those of us over 60) to stay home if possible. I found it dreadfully ironic that the annual people-sketching challenge would fall during a time when we are being told to avoid people!
3/9/20 Green Lake

Although the online challenge is not restricted to urban sketching – it welcomes drawing from photos and posed models as well as from real life – I have always done most of my 100 drawings each year from actual people going about their lives (I have also done some from posed models at life-drawing sessions). For me, it’s just more fun, as well as being more challenging. When I first started thinking about the challenge a month ago, I was looking forward to going to shopping malls, transit stations and other populated locations to get the most people-sketching bang for the buck. Now the health department and my better judgment were telling me to avoid exactly those kinds of places . . . how would I ever accomplish 100 sketches?

On Day 1, the easiest solution was to use my handy (and now regularly sanitized) mobile studio. Arriving a few minutes early for my Gage class, I parked across the street and sketched a few students and other pedestrians nearby.

That afternoon, I parked at Green Lake facing the walking path and finished off 25 sketches for the day.

3/10/20 Bellevue Square
On Tuesday, USk Seattle met at Bellevue Square mall – a special ad hoc outing to work on the 100 people challenge. As a group admin, I gnashed my teeth all last week about whether we should go ahead with the outing or cancel. With growing concern about COVID-19, was it reckless to gather? Once I arrived, I was happy that we didn’t cancel. After feeling gloomy all week, it felt good to see friends and sketch. The mall was emptier than I had ever seen, and we laughed sardonically that we’d be hard pressed to find a hundred people! (As it turned out, this would be our last sketch outing for a while. . . shortly after, based on Governor Inslee's restrictions, we cancelled outings in March and April.)

Bellevue Square is an ideal people-sketching mall. Wide-open multiple levels enable easy views looking up, down or across. In addition, stairways offer an additional interesting challenge. I chose to stand, but other sketchers enjoyed using the many tables and convenient seating throughout the mall.

Hitting my groove almost immediately, I decided to finish my remaining 75 in the 2½ hours of the outing. One hundred done!

As in previous years, my goal was to avoid portraits or details and focus strictly on making simple gestures that capture individuals, not generic stick figures. It was also an excellent opportunity to study the movement of walking, especially people coming toward or going away from me. I tried to draw the subtle differences in their legs to show that they are walking, not standing.

As for materials, I stayed as simple as possible: A Uni Pin brush pen and a Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook.


  1. I just couldn't get psyched for the challenge this year. I haven't been anywhere that has more than a few people (other than the market and I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible). I know I could have used photos, but that doesn't interest me as far as people. You did a great job!

    1. Yes, this year is different in many ways. Here's hoping things are more normal (for you and everyone) in time for the challenge next year!


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