People-sketching practice

As promised, I made an effort in the annual challenge of “One Week 100 people” (Google that to see examples from around the nation or world). Drawing 100 people in a week is a high goal, even if the sketches are quick, or using books as a reference (any technique is encouraged). So here is my result: One Week, 21 People.” Yay!!!!

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Bayview Ave

Sketched in pencil plein air, sitting in my car up on a street near the Bayview Ave. exit, Richmond. I added watercolor later.
Learning & tips: I used a very limited palette and wanted to express the play of light, rather than fill everything in. I think this approach worked! It’s a fun little sketch.

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Vintage storefront

The “Pic ‘n Pac,” interesting vintage architecture. Sketched in pencil in 10 minutes along San Pablo Ave.; added 5 min. of tones later from one gray marker. Tips on drawing frequently, from Betty Edwards, author of “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”:  “ is like athletics: If you don’t practice, the visual sense quickly gets flabby and out of shape. The purpose of your daily sketchbook drawing is not to produce finished drawings, just as the purpose of jogging is not to get somewhere. You must exercise your vision without caring overly much about the products of your practice.”

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This is some serious fun…. If you dare!

Sketching 100 people in a week? Wow, even for quick sketches, that’s a mighty challenge! The annual “One Week 100 People” will be April 8 to 12 this year. Do you sketch people? Will you do it? The challenge is all over the web, including at Marc Holmes & a page on Facebook & #OneWeek100People2019. I’m already fudging committing. I’ll admit that working all day then going to a coffeeshop, farmers market, urban park or elsewhere to sketch people is just too strenuous for me. So: I’ll settle for making an attempt. Tips & learning: A good effect of the challenge is that it encourages people to post all their efforts, so you see rough and real sketchbook pgs. It’s not about posting carefully drawn portraits, it’s about getting out there and sketching quick, contour, raw / rough, gesture, scribbles and blobs — whatever, you just go for it!  (At right: sketches I did awhile ago; and last week’s post was sketches of riders on BART.)


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Contours on Bart

Tried some contour sketching while taking Bart to downtown Berkeley. Tips: Transportation venues always have potential for sketching practice.

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Winter airplanes

Expecting today’s drizzle, Andrea (a fellow member of Oakland Art Assoc.) and I picked the Oakland Aviation Museum for indoor sketching. Notes / Tips: I need to slow down and carefully establish the forms. It’s essential to nail the shapes defined by shadows…. I had fun but could have been stronger in that regard. It’s easy to get distracted by the interesting details – the colors, propellers, decals, rivets and cockpits. I felt awe for the fighters who wedged themselves into these mechanical capsules, many who never returned. (I sketched two views of the P-51 Mustang.)

Lots of comments on last week’s post on kid’s drawings, thank you! (The comments are posted under last week’s image, all under my name because I copied them over from e-mail messages.)


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Kids’ art

I love kids’ art. They scribble with glee, or draw with pure confidence and joy. I just read the chapter about children’s artistic development in “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards. Children’s pleasure in drawing often ends about age 9 or 10, explains Edwards, as they become frustrated in their efforts or encounter harsh criticism, even ridicule. The skill sets for drawing often do not continue to progress in the way that the skills of reading or writing advance through adolescence and into adulthood.

I dug out some of the few things saved from my childhood. I was influenced by the newspaper — the actual newspaper delivered in late afternoon; I remember spreading out the broad pages on the living room carpet (presumably after parents were done with it). I remember vividly the division of space – the columns of type interspersed with rectangular images. I made my own “Cat Comics” or little newspapers about animals. OMG!! In this one, I depict a dog chasing several cats up a tree. Note the resemblance to “real” newspaper style, running the type around the picture and headline: “Fall Fashions.” Also, getting all the facts: I reported that there were 63 cats up the tree. Appropriately, in the “fashion” story below, I adorned the girl cats with little bows (though there was never a bow on my head my entire childhood, I can assure you). From Edwards’ book, I also see how I used typical children’s symbolism: the tree is out of proportion, but it is clearly a tree. The dog is big (menacing) and the cats have little expressions, and everything must fit in the pictorial space. To have completed these elaborate projects, I must have greatly enjoyed them, or maybe I received encouragement and praise.

Here’s another drawing with typical children’s symbolism. Apparently me, in Michigan’s winter attire of hat, mittens and boots. This was done on children’s school paper with the wide lines and the dotted line in the middle for measuring letters. I apparently wrote a little story: When it is the winter time I run of The street. And I make the ice laugh with my little feeeet. Crickle crackle crickle creeet creeet creeet.

The paper is duly graded “B+” (note the teacher’s dreaded red pen).  Did I actually write that story, or was it dictated? “…make the ice laugh”? If original, that is a very poetic turn of phrase, quite abstract for the apparent young age evidenced by the blocky letters. It also employed onomatopoeia – making words to represent the sounds of the ice: “creeet”. If this was original, I think I was undervalued and need to challenge this for a higher grade.

Here’s a drawing from an older age, so in my case my drawing skills continued to evolve. I was highly influenced by creative parents who encouraged us to draw; my dad was an amateur artist. It is typical when drawing this view of a cat to neglect to depict the extra shoulder shape. I probably saw an example in a book, or maybe observed this because I often draw our cats. I even practiced this shape on the bottom of the page. This is the view from our front window, looking toward the street and the lakeside cottages (note the little cottage roof in blue at upper left; these cottages are all now gone, replaced by monster houses). In another progression of drawing, the tree is more proportional, and it’s cropped with the top not shown, instead of truncating it to fit the page. I’ve shown our rock garden with boulders and logs, and our split-rail fence. At this time, I had not progressed from the dictate that “all tree leaves are green.” To youngsters, making trees green is an attempt at “realism,” and no other color is allowed. I think the flowers are tulips.

Well this was fun!

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Fabric shop

Sketched in Berkeley in pencil & ink while a friend looked for fabric to make curtains. Learning: The mirror was interesting to depict.

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Smokey amuses his human companions: “Oh, Smokey’s put himself on a pedestal again,” they say when he hops on his little perch. Smokey does have an actual pedestal he likes to sit on. Starting with a basic photo of Smokey, I imagined a palace-like room as a setting for this pet portrait. Smokey’s caretakers liked the result. Learning: Go with exaggeration! (For details about my Pet Portraits, go to

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Emeryville-Oakland border

I appreciate peaceful, ordinary places like this little neighborhood. I’m fascinated with sketching the stuff of everyday.
Tips & learning: Betty Edwards, in “Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain,” talks about perceiving things two ways and applying that to drawing. One way is abstractly, verbally, logically (left brain) and another way is holistically, wordlessly, intuitively (right brain). She advises: “Draw everything and anything. No subject is too hard or too easy, nothing is unbeautiful. Everything is your subject — a few square inches of weeds, a broken glass, an entire landscape, a human being.”

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