My first “One week, 100 people” challenge attempt

I’m a big fan of Marc Taro Holmes‘ art and a regular follower of his blog.
After watching it from the fence for the last years, I decided it’s time to give a try to his ‘One week, 100 people‘ yearly challenge.

As the name suggests, this means sketching 100 people in one week. The challenge is not restricted to a particular technique or medium, its main goal is to train your mind to think in terms of quantity, without getting bogged down in details.

I find this exercise helpful in overcoming the fear of sketching in public, by assigning you with a clearly defined mission. It’s also meant to set your brain in gear by forcing you to break through the initial drawings. There’s no time to get attached to your creation. you have to let it go, keep drawing and move to the next one.  Soon, you’ll enter into a state of flow, where your mind gets tuned in and magic things start to happen.

I have a tight schedule with a full-time job and householding chores on the top of my list. The only slots left were during my daily subway commute to work, with 20 minutes in the morning and another 20 in the evening, on the way back. To meet my quota, the plan was to do 20 sketches per day, one every two minutes or one sketch per station. The time limitation dictated my technique, I had to keep the portraits to a bare minimum and focus only on the main features of the subject before she moved or someone else got in view.

I found it easy to stick to the plan on the first day, even doing more sketches than expected. Not all of them worth published, but I had enough material to do a selection.

I managed to crank up the planned number of portraits in the second day, too, although I had to spend some more time below the surface for that. Some of my subjects noticed I stared at them, so I ended up with some unfinished sketches.

The third day was a mess.

The subway was so crowded in the morning that I barely managed to sketch five or six portraits in a stance that would make a Chinese dining acrobat green with envy. The evening commute was even worse, I didn’t have space to move, let alone sketching something. I’ve completed the rest of the daily quota at home, using fashion blogs images as reference.


My whole plan went down the drain on the fourth day when my son got sick. He caught a cold and I had to hospitalize with him for a few days. That ate all my time and energy so I had to call the challenge done hoping to do better next year.


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