Inktober: week one

It’s October, and to those of you involved in the art community online you’ll probably recognize that as a sign that it is the month of the very popular Inktober challenge!  For those of you not familiar with it, Inktober asks that you draw a picture every day in October.  You are encouraged to use ink and there is a list of prompts for every day of the month which you can use (but it’s not necessary).

This is my first year doing Inktober and I’ve been pretty happy with it so far.  I don’t generally draw using only ink and pens so it’s been really quite nice to push myself out of my comfort zone.  I’ve been using the prompt list because I fear that if I didn’t I would just draw the same stuff I usually do!  Inevitably I am going to draw some of the things that I generally like drawing, but I am using this month as a push to get me further outside of my comfort level and I am trying to draw some things I normally wouldn’t.

Here are my Inktober drawings for the first week.  I’ll be talking about them a little more individually below the gallery.  Click on the images in the gallery below to see them in greater detail.

The first day’s prompt was “swift”.  At first, I attempted to draw a swallow, but gave up on that quickly.  I wish I had followed through with it because I have seen some of my other attempts at doing something different and have been very happy with the results.  I should have pushed through that first day, but I didn’t. Oh well.  This also was the first day I had ever used Copic markers.  I got a set of greyscale Sketch markers for Inktober specifically so you’ll see me using them in every picture this week.

The second prompt was “divided” and I was simply attempting to “divide” the sun and the moon.  The Earth seemed like a good thing to put in between!

Day three was “poison” and I went very, very literal here.  I was excited about this prompt but just couldn’t come up with anything super original so I just drew a poison bottle.  I used some India Ink for the background, which is why it looks a little shiny.

Day four was “underwater” and I think it is my favorite so far.  I love the idea of a dark and scary ocean, and animals bigger than we can comprehend, and I was happy with how it turned out.

The fifth prompt was “long” and I really struggled with inspiration for this one as well.  I ended up deciding to draw a giraffe’s face and I’m quite pleased with how this one came out as well.  I started learning here that doing the tedious little details can really pay off in an ink drawing.

Day six was “sword” and I again went very literal, deciding to draw the sword in the stone.  I spent a lot of time on the trees around the sides of the picture and I’m glad I did, I think they look decent.  The background is again India ink so it’s a bit shiny.

The seventh prompt was “shy”.  At first, I attempted to draw a shying horse but I didn’t like how it was coming out, so I decided that I wanted to draw a woman’s face (comfort zone!) but that she would be covering it up with a sweater.  I decided to go all out and give her a winter hat as well, so I suppose she might look more cold than shy.  Oh well.  Again I tried to concentrate on the details of the hat and how the knitting might look.  It’s not my favorite but I’m still happy with how it looks.

And that is the first seven days of Inktober!  I will post another update in a week with my second week of prompts.


Buzz told me recently that he was really glad that I have stuck with something.  It made me laugh but also made me feel deeply proud.  I know I have the tendency to try out new mediums, go all-in and intend to create a thousand things using one medium and then get tired of it, or bored, and let my progress fall by the wayside.

Watercolors have really held my attention and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why.  When I was a child I hated watercolors, and because of that experience I am certain that it colored my view of it as an adult.  I was staunchly unwilling to give it another try until I was in my 30’s because I was convinced that it was a form of art that I wasn’t interested in.  It was too delicate, it was too fussy, the colors always end up looking muddy.

At some point I started watching “speed paints” on youtube and realized that I hadn’t been entirely fair to watercolors.  They can be fussy, sure, but that’s part of their beauty.  With experience, you can be relatively certain how a watercolor picture is going to look by the time you’re done, but as a novice there’s certainly a lot of trying and guessing, putting things down on paper while being completely unsure of how it’s going to look in the end.  That’s certainly an adventure in itself.  And watercolors can be beautifully bold, but when they are delicate they are just as gorgeous, and the paint’s subtlety is one of its greatest strengths.

All of this is to say that I am excited about my progress.  I know I have the tendency to focus on female faces, and night skies, but I’m okay with that.  It may seem like I am repeating myself over and over again, but the more I do, the more finely tuned my art becomes and that’s exactly what I want to be working towards.

“Europa”, watercolor and white ink, was done for my sister and now resides on her dining room wall.  I feel like she has more of my original artwork than I do!

Another thing that I have been consciously trying to make sure that I do are color compositions.  I hadn’t really thought about having “drafts” of my artwork since school, but printing out  paper with mini versions of my final image and experimenting with different colors and values has not only been a really fun way to figure out a final version of a painting, but has given me more opportunities to experiment with different techniques and allowed me to practice how I want to set up the larger, finished painting.  Nothing is worse than thinking that I have the perfect vision in my head only to ruin the final version because my vision doesn’t jive with my paints.

Having this process also lets me mull over different possibilities over the course of a day or more, and go back and recreate the same colors  and test them on swatches of white in between the compositions, work out how I want to color in the detailing, or make sure that I have the colors on my palette mixed properly.

And here is the finished verison of the painting that I was working on the compositions for!  I will likely draw the same image again on more watercolor paper and use another composition from the above four to create a second version of this painting  because I like the composition, and of course because practicing makes me better at my craft.

From a different angle, to show the gold detailing.

“Halo” will be available very soon in my etsy store!  I will provide a link when I have the stock in my hands.  There will be two sizes available – an ACEO size, and a 5″x7″.  Both will have the gold detailing hand painted on them (The prints I have ordered of “Halo” were of pictures taken before any of the final gold detailing was laid down), and if you are interested in purchasing a print, please be sure to subscribe to my blog!  The second version of this piece will likely also be offered in prints as well, and I will update you on that as soon as I have them done.


Tuesday and Wednesday

Something that I have definitely noticed over the course of this month has been the relative swift change of my ability to look at a reference image and create (relatively) anatomically correct paintings.  I realize I still need work, and I firmly believe that improvement for an artist is never complete – it’s a lifelong endeavor – but I am quite pleased with the changes that I am seeing in my art after being firm with myself about needing visual references for every piece of art.  At least for art involving a person, and that’s what I’ve been focusing on lately.

At the beginning of the week, I set a goal to paint one picture or create one polymer clay piece per day.  You saw what I did on Monday in my last post, this is Tuesday:

And Wednesday:

I actually cheated a bit, and took Tuesday mostly off as I was feeling pretty under the weather.  I sketched out what I wanted to paint and did the line work, but I didn’t actually paint her until today.  But I made up for it by being sure to catch up!  Tomorrow, I plan to do two more.

Both of the pieces above are ACEO size (2.5″x3.5″) and are done in watercolor, white ink, and Monday’s black lines were done with a waterproof, archival pen.


The End of July

Typically, July is my month off from work.  My forced vacation.  Every July I promise myself that I will be more productive – I’ll paint more, I’ll work on more clay creatures.  Well, this July I actually have been more productive, if not as much as I wanted.  July may be over, but I have one week left of my vacation and I will be making the most of it.  Today, I painted this:

She reminds me of a character from the Last Unicorn named Lady Amalthea, mostly in color scheme.  I very much enjoyed painting her, even if it seems like I tend to rehash a lot of the same schemes and themes.  This was in ACEO format, which is 2.5″ x 3.5″ and was done in watercolor and white ink.

Earlier in the week I painted a couple more pictures of females.  I think my work on face proportions is starting to get better, mostly because I have swallowed my pride and actually actively look at sources while drawing out the sketch and trying to figure out where  my shadows should be.  I seem to be the most comfortable working small, so ACEO sizes are used almost exclusively.

And for the rest of the week, my goal is a simple 1 painting or clay creature per day.  The painting seems to come to me easier, but I am holding out hope that I will actually bother to get out my clay again and see where I can go with that.

Time will tell.