What I learned from Inktober 2017


I typically don't get involved in monthly challenges but Inktober sounded like a good idea.  I sketch almost daily anyway and so I silently took it on head first.  Inspiration might have come from some amazing ballpoint pen work from the likes of Guno Park and Nicolas Sanchez and I just didn't know how to handle a ballpoint pen in that manner.  I started the month trying to figure out what I was going to draw but wildlife ended up being the theme.  I'm comfortable in that subject matter.  What follows is what I learned from a month's worth of ink drawings.

Ink is Hard and Ballpoint is Fun

Ink is not (or was not) my goto medium of choice.  It's permanent.  It's unforgiving.  I feared the pen for those reasons.  I mixed the month up a bit using Micron pens, ballpoint pens and ink out of the bottle (Higgins) in the form of washes.  I was always more comfortable with a Micron pen but at the end of the month the later two are what I prefer now.  Ballpoint is very much like graphite once you get the hang of controlling the pressure.  Combining that with white Gelly Roller pens on toned paper give some great painterly results.  Washes are much like watercolor which I am already comfortable with.

Two Minute Rule

There were days that I just didn't feel like producing anything.  Whether it was a long work day, late start or just not in the mood I employed my trusty two minute rule.  Whenever I'm procrastinating on something I really just don't want to do, I tell myself that I'll do it for two minutes and if I am still not in the mood I'll defer to later.  What generally happens is within two minutes I get in the flow and don't stop.  Try it, it works.

Be Vulnerable

Despite employing the two minute rule, early in the month I found myself posting less than desirable work to my instagram account.  Crap is subjective but in my eye, some where just that.  Usually I wouldn't do that but I forced myself to be transparent and post it anyway.  Some have since been archived (I think two) because the month is over and because I can.  I learned from that though and found that I forced myself to put more thought into my drawings and focus more. 

New Tools

Three items I purchased during the month turned out to be winners.  I have already mentioned the Gelly Roller pens.  I also purchased a Stillman & Birn Beta softcover watercolor sketchbook and it turned out to be much better than the Moleskin watercolor sketchbooks I've used in the past.  I also picked up some porcelain ramekins from Target that have replaced my watercolor palletes and much cheaper.  I think they were about $2 per ramekin.  Thanks to my lovely wife for finding those!