After drawing 100 people

I’m curious about something. If you participated in the OneWeek100People challenge, how has it affected your sketching? Are you fed up of sketching people or do you find you want to keep at it? Has the practice changed the way you choose scenes to sketch? 

I guess because I’m on spring break I have a lot of time to think about this. I know that first thing I did in the airport was to sketch the people sitting across from me. 


And then because it’s too cold to sketch outside in Charleston, I’ve been sketching in cafes. Still with a brush and Payne’s Grey watercolour, still in a tiny sketchbook. But the difference is that now, instead of waiting for people to move out of the scene so I can sketch the objects, I sketch the people too. I don’t think too much about it either. Just draw them with the brush and try to make them fit, like the barista at Tricera Cafe. 


Or in this scene at the Deli where the two cashiers were doing the Monday crossword at the counter during a slow period after the lunchtime rush. I drew them in but as soon as I brushed in their silhouettes they moved away. Previously I would have turned the page and started again, but that didn’t deter me. I kept at it. I’m sure the figures would have been better if I had been able to look at them longer but I’m still glad I finished it. 


So what was the takeaway from that week of people sketching? A little more confidence, perhaps persistence too, and most importantly, enjoyment and pleasure where there used to be dread. 


38 Comments on “After drawing 100 people”

  1. You gave yourself a big gift. I’m so glad you are using it and letting it grow.-Awesome work-

  2. janice kelly says:

    It kind of boils down to the more you sketch, the more you see.
    The more you sketch, the more you capture the reality.
    It’s a wonderful exercise and should become an annual event.
    I’m in.

  3. Sandee says:

    I wanted to draw people more. I worked with a lot of faces, foreshortened , and they were very interesting. I need to work more on the entire person standing or in an unusual pose and decided I would try to do at least one drawing of a person every day.

  4. Connie Renaud says:

    An awesome project and I really enjoyed studying your sketches. Very inspirational!!

  5. pamandherart says:

    I was “Toast” by the time Friday afternoon arrived……but I loved the whole experience..It made me discipline myself and actually sit and sketch my weakest subject…people.,, I thought I would never draw people again, but, on Saturday, I was back at it and even more determined to do a better job. The Challenge made me focus on a weakness…something I might have avoided before. The Challenge was a trigge to act….and I am so glad I did.

  6. flowerfun says:

    I felt my sketches of people improved a little as the week went by. I don’t like to sketch people because the features have to look specific.
    I can see adding a few people in the background to show scale but at my skill level, I’m not interested in making them lifelike or resemble anyone. I enjoy the meditative benefit of plein air, Illustrated watercolor journaling. For me adding people adds stress.

    • Hi there. I’m finding it really interesting to read these responses. It is going both ways. Some people loved the challenge, others found it stressful or uninteresting. Thanks for chiming in to the discussion.

  7. Hi Shari. This challenge took me a full week, 7 days, to complete but I was determined to do it. I decided to do the whole thing with a black brush pen and watercolor because 1) I had no confidence with the brush pen and 2) I wanted to learn to apply color faster. By Thursday I did what I think was my best sketch of the week and began to realize that I was no longer heavy-handed with the brush pen and was moving along at a pretty good clip. I even managed a few decent likenesses even though that wasn’t my point! All-in-all, a great exercise and one I might employ with other subjects/techniques. I love what you did with the grey tones so I may just try that next. Thanks!

    • Hi Paula. I saw your sketches on Facebook. Great work! It’s good to hear that you also enjoyed some breakthroughs in your work. It’s been very stimulating to see all the work posted online.

  8. Suzy Powell says:

    I loved it because I am not good at drawing people I plan on keeping on because I need the practice. I JUST
    Told my husband I needed to draw some more tonight. My problem is I have no place to go. I have to use photos. (Live in the boonies in West Texas)
    Yesterday I started a video of dancers and sketched them. And they weren’t too bad
    I love all your sketches the colors you use.

  9. Chris kopet says:

    The 100 people sketching motivated me to figure out how to get a relatively accurate image down without over-thinking and over-working. How to work faster and smarter. I used a black fountain pen and walnut ink with a brush. I found I needed to really simplify the face especially. I am motivated to fill more pages and find my own language for expressing faces and body language

  10. patrickgroneman2017 says:

    Wowwwwy

    Just amazed at the energy of the scenes with people in them. Can’t believe it, well done for a weeks work!

    >

  11. Susan says:

    After Day 2 and 50 people, I was fed up and by Day 3 I couldn’t even bring myself to picking up a pen and sketchbook let alone do any kind of sketching. For me to sketch that many, I had to time myself 2 and 3 minutes each or I’d be spending from dawn to dusk sketching people. That took the fun out of it for me and I honestly don’t see where it was of any benefit to me personally. But that’s just me. I’m sure the challenge was fun and a great experience for some but I also know I’m not alone and will probably never join into another challenge like that again. :-/

  12. Dee Ludwig says:

    I was exhausted by the end of the five days. I did reach a point about in the middle of the week that I had a freedom and confidence that was exhilarating. Proportions were coming with ease and I felt a freedom and confidence that I have never felt. Sadly it did not last, but I felt it and know it is possible now. I love drawing and painting people, and although I had pushed myself, I know that I gained confidence. It is something I want to do more often, and really loved doing the ones I did with brush only on the last day. They are really value studies, and it certainly is something I need to do more!

  13. joantav says:

    I’m glad that after the challenge you are more willing to include people in your pieces. Since I sometimes include people in my sketches I enjoyed the challenge. The hard part was finding enough people each day. The fourth day I finally found a location with lots of people so I just kept on going. It was good for a day or two to have time to do sketches of something else, but by Sunday I found my pen itching to sketch the other urban sketchers I was with and I had more confidence doing it.

  14. cloudwoman23 says:

    I completed the challenge, and the main thing I took from it is that I really need to learn HOW to sketch people. I’ve been limping by or skipping people in sketches, knowing I need some skills. The challenge emphasized that (such amateur, cartoonish drawings I did!), but probably more importantly, it had me sketching every day. I sure can be lazy about that.

    • Hi Beth. Thanks for writing. It’s really interesting to hear how people reacted to this challenge. Have you ever taken a life drawing class? I bet that would make you feel more confident drawing people. It’s also a lot easier in a class situation because not only do you get instruction, but the model holds the pose the whole time and never gets up to leave!

  15. Teri C says:

    I actually enjoyed this challenge and want to do more. I walk into a restaurant and immediately start looking for subjects. Now I want to take time and do a better job on sketching people.

  16. M. L. Kappa says:

    I decided at the start that, since I didn’t have a lot of time that week, I would still join in but not put pressure on myself to do all 100 (actually to begin with I had decided NOT to join in, but then I got inspired by people’s posts on IG!) I think I got to about 60, but who cares? I enjoyed it, made myself draw faces which is not my strong point, and gesture drawings. And i plan to carry on!

  17. Judy Sopher says:

    This is so interesting–always amazed at your work.I agree with you and others that one’s work does improve with all this practice. I never stop drawing/painting and found this whole experience to be so useful.

    Question:Early in this exercise I thought you said you used a brush pen. I found this to be difficult. But after reading this blog, I tried the grey watercolor and small brush–much better. Did you ever use the brush pen? What is your setup in a place as the airport or the Deli? Thanks.

  18. Monique says:

    LOve what you did!

  19. Shari, I found I have a new bit I really want to focus on ( and I found this out from sketching a lot in cafes): hands… I love how much they speak, but haven’t studied them enough. But my biggest thought was that I love drawing people because I am interested in them: their stories, their peculiarities, the interaction I might occasionally have with someone from sketching on location. Without that, they’d be just be scale models I use to set up my scenes.

    • Hi Suhita. Thanks for writing! I love your idea about hands. Hey, maybe you can create the next challenge: drawing hands. I agree with you about drawing people because you are interested in their stories. For me that was the surprising part of this challenge — making the connections with people I was drawing. It moved them from being anonymous to being real people. Now when I look back at the drawing I remember our conversations. I love that.

  20. Frank Bettendorf says:

    I have mixed feeling about the challenge. It’s a great idea and I thank Marc and Liz for creating the concept and getting us involved. It was overwhelming on Monday and Tuesday because I’m reluctant to draw people but I got in the flow on Wednesday and finished the week feeling pretty good about the 100 done. I learned a lot about seeing and I do think my hand/eye coordination is better as a result. Today, 3/14, I went with my wife for her doctor’s appointment and wouldn’t you know, I sketched 12 people while waiting, so it’s become a good habit. Thanks for asking for our reactions and for encouraging us by posting your work.
    Frank B in Washington state.

    • Hi Frank B in Washington State. When I started to read your note I thought you would say that you did 10 drawings and stopped. But it seems to me that you don’t have mixed feelings in the end. It seems that overall it was such a great and positive experience. Tomorrow I will be going to the dentist and I am actually hoping there will be people in the waiting room that I can sketch. That never use to seem appealing to me but now it does. Congrats to you for completing all 100, and then doing even more.

  21. I didn’t even try to get all 100 done, but I did spend some time with a pencil just getting some general features/proportions in. My goal was to make them look human. [low bar, but a realistic goal]. I enjoyed it more than I thought. I may never commit to 100, but I’ll join in and do a few again next time. It was great to have the motivation to try.

    • Robin, thanks for writing to tell me about your participation. I am happy to hear that you did accomplish something. Who cares if you reach 100? The important thing was that you had a goal and that you also had fun doing it.

  22. jlyn3 says:

    Love seeing your work! I love to sit and sketch people and would love to hear about the next challenge. I don’t have a blog, but have posted a few on my website: I don’t know many people who do what I do, so it’s great to make contact

  23. Lise Gauthier says:

    Envoyé de mon iPad


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