Saturday, March 13, 2021

#OneWeek100People2021: Self-Centered


3/8/21 Sakura Graphic marker

Since 2017, I’ve participated in the annual online drawing challenge, One Week 100 People. Begun by Marc Holmes and Liz Steel, it is one of my favorites. Although the challenge does not restrict how the hundred are drawn – they can be from life, from photos or from video – I have always chosen to do them from life because, well, that’s the way I roll. In the past, I’ve gone to shopping malls, train stations, coffee shops and life-drawing studios to join the marathon of sketching one hundred people in five days – and I’ve always completed the challenge, usually reaching more than a hundred.

3/8/21 Kuretake Ai Liner and Akashiya Thin Line brush pens

This year I was feeling despondent because I knew I would not be comfortable going to places where lots of people would be easy to see and sketch. I was also remembering one year ago, when I had organized an ad hoc Urban Sketchers outing to Bellevue Square to give challenge participants the added fun of sketching there together. The coronavirus was just getting started, but everything was uncertain. I had waffled many times about whether I should cancel or whether I was over-reacting. We went ahead with it, though I recall my anxiety vividly. (The next day, the World Health Organization officially declared the situation a pandemic.) It was a bittersweet outing, as it turned out to be our group’s last.

3/9/21 ArtGraf water-soluble graphite

3/9/21 Caran d'Ache Museum Aquarelle pencil

I knew I could sketch from photos or videos, but I already do life drawing regularly on Zoom – what’s the challenge in doing something I already do? (Heck, if I did one ultra-short-pose session with Shawna, I’d be well over half done in one afternoon. Ho-hum.) If I’m not going to challenge myself, I saw no point.

3/10/21 Prismacolor

3/10/21 Kuretake Ai Liner

3/10/21 Pitt Artist Pen

3/10/21 Prismacolor, Pitt Artist Pen

3/10/21 Prismacolor

3/10/21 Prismacolor

All of that had made me decide not to participate this year . . . and then I remembered the book Portrait Revolution. Reading it had inspired me to make a self-portrait, and my intention was to do more – but I hadn’t yet. I had found my challenge for One Week 100 People: I would do one hundred self-portraits from the mirror!

Even as I declared my intentions on social media, I had a feeling I would regret it! This was probably the most difficult drawing challenge I’ve ever done, and for many reasons:

  • In past years, all those figures I sketched from life often took less than a minute each, sometimes only seconds. People walking by in malls don’t stay in sight for long. Even the ones sitting in cafes never took more than a few minutes. But self-portraits are different. I tried to keep them small, simple and short in duration – five minutes each was my goal – but often they took closer to 10 minutes, which was way too long if I wanted to make a hundred in five days.
  • Facial expressions are extremely difficult to hold, even for a few minutes. As soon as I started to focus on drawing, my exaggerated scowl or smile would fade. And I couldn’t cheat by drawing neutral eyes and waiting until I got to the mouth to scowl because every expression affects all parts of the face. For example, it had never occurred to me how much a smile changes the shape of the chin, the cheeks, the curve of the nostrils, the eyes – everything.
  • With gestural figures, resemblance is not a consideration – it’s only about capturing proportions, stance and possibly motion. With any portrait, though, it’s hard to avoid attempting to capture some kind of likeness – and that additional consideration adds substantially to the time. (Incidentally, I found that many of my self-portraits resemble my father, my sister, one of my brothers and a few other relatives, so at least I captured a family resemblance, if not my own!)

3/11/21 Sailor Naginata Fude de Mannen fountain pen

3/11/21 Sailor Naginata Fude de Mannen fountain pen

I only made it to 58 (I blame the sunshine, which seduced me to sketch outdoors most of the week), but I’m happy because I learned so much. On the last day, I made the following three, which I like the best of the week’s efforts. Unlike with most of the others, which depended on line to describe details rather than shading to describe form, I used Gary Faigin’s portraiture method: Focus first on describing the planes of the face and proportions and leave features for last. Although getting a strong likeness wasn’t my top priority, I think these do best capture a resemblance. I might even use one as a Facebook profile image!

3/12/21 Prismacolor, Art Stix

3/12/21 Prismacolor, Art Stix


  1. Such fun surprises when you switch the 'color' accents and we 'see' an energy emphasized in due to the switch! Fun, Tina! Love the expressions! Will try to do at least 50 in a week when quarantine weighs less heavily on this 78 yr old!

    1. Thank you! All the sketching has been a good distraction from the pandemic. Stay safe!


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