For the forth year in a row I am participating in Inktober over on Instagram. I didn't buy any special supplies for this just pulled out a few tools that I would like to work with for the month. I am using Hahnemuhle Nostalgie Sketchbook for all of my daily #inktober drawings, but also using ink as my main tool of the month outside of that sketchbook. To get really comfortable using ink I think using it as often as possible is key. I started with the official prompt list, a first for me, but am jumping around with whatever moves me to create day to day. It is nice to have those prompts as a creative backup and as an extra challenge. Who else is joining the Inktober party this year? I would love to hear your plans for it as well as your experience so far.
I have been debating this idea for awhile now but I have decided to go for a daily ink challenge for 2015. I am still working out the details but I think the big things are that every day I need to make something with ink in 30 minutes or less. The #inktober challenge started off slow and difficult but midway through I hit a groove and ended up learning and growing through the challenge and missing it when it was over. My biggest artistic goal for 2015 is to improve my drawing skills and this should do the trick nicely. A year of daily ink is likely to be even more challenging than a month, but hopefully even more rewarding as well! I am excited to start and keeping it up during our travels should be interesting.
Blogging has been hard for me lately, but making art has not been. I got a slow start at the #inktober drawing challenge that is happening online. Mostly on Instagram. I draw in ink daily, but not the polished masterpieces that I see using that hashtag. Intimidated I didn't post much early in the challenge. But as I continue filling up a sketchbook with ink drawings my confidence grows as my need to be "the best" shrinks. Perfectionism and a low opinion of myself and my work has been my excuse to not push myself for too long. No room for perfectionism this month. Getting out a drawing a day for #inktober. Some were good but many more of them were mediocre or worse and that is okay. It was the act of making them every day for an extended period of time and the accountability of putting them out in the world that mattered. Now the month and challenge are nearly finished and I have my big Doodle Book nearly filled. Then it is on to the next challenge to stretch and push myself.
Now that Open Studios is over with I can start planning for the next big event(s) in my art life. On Monday I completed sketchbook #6 and started sketchbook #7 and them almost immediately felt sketchbook paralysis. Not on the first page since I start the first page the same every time with a collection of colors, my name and number and a quote to inspire me. But after page number three or four I started to feel blocked. The perfect cure was a walk around the Arnold Arboretum here in JP collecting fallen leaves. Now I need to paint them and their gorgeous fall colors in my sketchbook before they all turn brown! Following that is a workshop on Moku Hanga Japanese printmaking workshop at the Elliot School here in JP this weekend. Back to printmaking I go but with a big change in learning a new technique that I have been interested in for years now. In a week I will be in Maine...
Want to improve your drawing? Don't know when to draw or what to draw? How about taking on the 75 Day Drawing Challenge? Started by watercolor artist and sketchbook keeper Brenda Swenson it has grown and developed into a popular artistic challenge for many people to customize. The only rules that stay constant are the 75 day length and using ink or another permanent line. I made the challenge my own with ink and doing blind contour drawings. A blind contour drawing is a drawing where you focus mostly on the outline, don't lift your pen as you draw and don't look away from your subject (so you don't look at your paper) while you are drawing. Do this for 75 days in a row (more or less) at a fairly consistent time for maximum effectiveness. I find the morning while I drink my coffee to be a good time for this activity. It can take as little as 5 minutes, but some people go all out and spend twenty minutes or longer on their drawings. I am content treating this as a warmup activity and spending rarely more than ten minutes on my drawing. I have also started journaling in the pages and including the date and weather forecast in the margins. Sometimes I fill in the drawings with details and sometimes I add bits of color. But they all start with a blind contour line that I mark the start with dot and an S and the finish with a dot and an F to keep me honest.
It was a hard challenge for me to start but once I got going I noticed a change in my drawing and easily continued. Until around day 35 when I realized I had been doing this challenge for over a month and wasn't even halfway done. I am not used to drawing challenges that last longer than a month. But I made it through that bumpy period and now here I am almost at day sixty and with well over 100 blind contour drawings under my belt and I am looking at ways to keep this habit going after 75 days and after my sketchbook is full. I'll probably just start a new sketchbook with simple graph paper and save the next Moleskine from my clearance stockpile for something else.
I get to go on some fun sketching adventures around Boston and when we travel. But sometime I have at home to draw and want to draw something real not something imagined and don't know what to draw. Am getting sick of drawing my coffee cups and couple of plants. That is where the Everyday Matters drawing prompt list challenge comes in handy. Going through that list one at a time at whatever pace suits me. Also, I am impatient to finish up this small sketchbook so I can move on to a larger non-wirebound sketchbook. Next up is a lamp.
New beginnings. I have time. Now what? Time to make some plans and set some goals.
What is wasting my time? What gives me life and energy? Lots to think about. A schedule is probably needed.
What is life giving and what is life sucking for you?
For the record I totally "wasted" my time this morning walking around the neighborhood after dropping off my daughter and stopping to draw whenever the mood struck me. It was fantastic and I totally plan on doing it again tomorrow. Except tomorrow I will bring a stool with me.
The 75 day blind contour challenge has been easy and rewarding. The original challenge is to draw in ink for 75 days or 75 drawings. But I already draw in ink in my sketchbook and a lot more than one drawing a day. But I am not super familiar or confident with blind contours so I decided that 75 days of blind contour drawings in a single sketchbook would be my theme. My drawing has clearly improved from this exercise and I still enjoy doing them yet I realize that 75 days is a long time and I am not even halfway done. That fact is discouraging and tempts me to stop, but I am not going to stop. I can see myself looking through this themed sketchbook in the future when it is complete and that makes me keep going. What makes you keep going?
Having fun with a dip pen, white acyclic ink, abstract shapes and making a mess in my studio. This is why I cover my work surface with craft paper and why I always wear an apron. The geodoodles are back and I am loving combining them with the concentric circles of watercolor and paint splatters. Last night I went to bed thinking about drawing more with my dip pen.
Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. I have had a couple of Sakura, Copic and other felt tipped brush pens and I hated every single one of them. The tip was never very flexible and wore out super quickly too. Junk. So I ignored recommendations on this pen brush hybrid for ages until I learned that the brush has actual individual fibers like a real brush. Very similar to the waterbrushes I use for painting on the go except instead of water it houses waterproof fast drying black ink. Last weekend I used a coupon to pick one up at a reasonable price and I am so glad that I did. The tip is soft and flexible yet very durable and refillable. As a bonus the ink dries super fast and this lefty doesn't have to worry about smearing or a black stained side of my hand. So far the only downside I can find is that I used up an ink cartridge in less than a week and refills are rather expensive. I tried to refill the empty cartridge with bottled ink and an eye dropper and I ended up with black ink all over my hands instead of in the cartridge. It is very different from any other pen I have ever used and takes a delicate and sure touch that I am still getting used to with practice. I ordered a package of ink refills.
Friday is here and I am looking forward to getting outside this weekend. Long week here with the kids filled with a lot of fun but not a lot of art time for me. Hope the weather cooperates and I get in a couple of morning jogs that leave me feeling energized and inspired. What inspires you? What brings you down?
I like to draw on paper. And I like paper a lot. As a printmaker paper is probable my favorite material. Ink and color is important but those are purely practical and utilitarian. Paper is soft and lovely and different subtle shades. Printing to the edge of the paper in a bleed print or leaving a border. Western versus Asian styles versus handmade papers. It is the base that the inks mix with and I love working with paper over canvas or other materials. With this love of all things paper and traditional I have mostly avoided digital artwork. But that is starting to change. Baby steps really but I might have room for it after all.
Don't tell anyone but I think the whole Zentangle thing is kind of silly. But I still enjoy making them and they are proving to be a great way to get myself drawing and get ideas started when I don't know what to draw. And I don't know what to draw surprisingly often. My good ideas often come at very bad times when I can't sketch them down or pin down the idea in any way. And with my life and brain being what it is if I don't pin it down somehow the idea is soon gone. But keeping a sketchbook and drawing these Zentangles can sometimes tease the ideas out of my brain. They have enough structure in the form that I can just pick it up at any moment and draw without having a plan. That is why I keep doing them.
For the past year or two I have been on a slow journey with minimalism. My free time is very limited so it can be difficult to have big purges but I do what I can whenever I have a free moment along the way. Just getting rid of a few items a week on a regular basis can make a huge difference over time. Then I spend less time cleaning and organizing and more time working and having fun with my family. Our main focus with minimalism is to not accumulate more items without careful consideration. Slowing down the consumption and going without has made a big difference. For our family it is all about finding what each member likes best and uses most and focusing on those items and getting rid of and avoiding the rest.
This philosophy of finding out what I enjoy working with as an artist and getting rid of the extra can be challenging to implement. Living a life of minimalism as an artist offers some special challenges. It is all too easy to collect and hoard various art supplies and justify it saying that it could be just what I need for some later project so I have to keep it around. My small studio starts to fill up with junk rather quickly and then when I need to do work I find it challenging. Now I purge supplies and donate them to my daughter's school on a regular basis. I figure they can put the random art supplies that I have collected over the years to better use than I can. And I still have plenty of materials to draw inspiration from and use in various projects, but without the clutter. Messy does not work very well in a small space.
Sewing machine I am looking at you and giving you the stink eye.