My 3 years of Inktober – Part 3

Process

What I learned from 2017

Comparing 2016 to 2017, there were a few surprises:

  • Working on a larger paper was much easier than I expected. 2016’s drawings were between 3×5” and 5×8”. 2017’s drawings were 9×12”. I thought I’d be struggling to fill so much space with ink, but I found it much easier to make fluid lines on the larger paper.
  • I loved using the brush pen. That said, I found using only the brush pen to be a real challenge. Last year I used Copic markers to add value to my drawings. This year I wanted to keep things simple. Even with that goal in mind, I struggled with whether or not to add values with cross hatching. Some drawings felt like they really needed it. Some felt overworked once they had it.
  • I found I liked using black square to help simplify backgrounds. The ability to focus the composition on one area helped me from getting overloaded (and it saved on ink!)


What’s next?

With a few Inktobers under my belt, I see that my process keeps me on track to complete 31 drawings in the month. Now I’m starting to think about how I can improve the quality of my work for the month. I want to experiment not only with how I work, but what I draw.

For next year’s Inktober, I know I want to keep the nature science theme. I want to keep managing my ideas in Trello. I’m happy with how these two elements are working out. As I look back on the last 3 years, there is one very clear area where I could challenge myself.

I could stop relying on photos and create all original work.

😱 [screams of terror]

For some artists, this is no big deal. Heck, they’ve been doing that this whole time. I’m someone who draws what they see. Although I draw from life regularly, drawing from photographs is a way to draw conveniently on a schedule. Now that I have 2 successful years (and one semi-successful year) under my belt, I want to push myself to do more than what’s convenient and comfortable.

I could draw my 2018 Inktober sketches from life. That means practicing sketching in the wild. We have many great resources in the Bay Area like the Academy of Sciences, the San Francisco Zoo, the Oakland Zoo, and the Aquarium of the Bay. If I were to create thumbnails from my museum experiences, I could put those thumbnails in my Trello board instead of photos.

Another idea I’ve had is to try to focus less on realism and really experiment with different mark-making techniques. How little can I draw and still communicate a recognizable plant or animal species? How can I add an element of chance to my work? Does this inkblot say “anglerfish?” Can I keep on schedule if the subject of each day’s drawing is left up to chance? There’s a lot to think about, but I’m confident I’ll be ready to take on the challenge next year.

Angler fish made from an inkblot

Less realism, more element of chance!



Ink-conclusion…

A big thank you to Jake Parker, for starting Inktober and thank you to all the artists who participated. Your work is inspiring!

Many thanks to everyone who followed along. I appreciate your support and all your feedback. Did you have any favorites this year? Do you have suggestions for animals or plants for my 2018 list? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

If you haven’t yet, check out Part 1 and Part 2 where I talk about my Inktober process in more detail. Otherwise, stay tuned! I’ll have news about upcoming shows as well as more blog posts with my in progress work.






Updates on Upcoming Shows and Sales!


I have work in the upcoming TINY show at STUDIO Gallery

I’m proud to announce I will be exhibiting work at the “Tiny” group show at STUDIO Gallery! The exhibit runs November 10th – December 23rd, 2017. There will be an opening reception on Sunday, November 12th from 1-6pm. The show features all local artists with works of art under 7×7” and on sale for under $500. I hope to see you there!

I have prints for sale at The Great Highway Gallery

I have two signed, limited-edition prints for sale at The Great Highway Gallery. The prints are of of the Sierra Valley and the Bolinas lagoon. The gallery also has prints from several local artists for sale. Stop by and check them out!

My Etsy Store is up!

I have select originals and prints up on my Etsy Store with more work on the way for 2018.



Let’s keep in touch!

For the latest updates, sign up for my TinyLetter or follow me Instagram

My 3 years of Inktober – Part 2

Process

Process from photo to sketch to ink

I started with a photo, created a pencil sketch, then refined the sketch in ink.



A look into the 2017 Process

Jake’s 2017 prompts came out a week before October 1st. I added them to my trello board and started thinking.

First, I had to decide on a theme. I enjoyed learning about the bird subjects for my 2016 drawings. It was fun to share the things I learned in the Instagram captions and I knew that I’d want to continue that. The bird theme was a blast, but I wanted a little more variety. I went with marine life so that I would have a wider range of plants and animals to choose from. The marine life theme was a bit close to what I’d done with my Pier 9 series so I tried to stay away from specific subjects I’d already done.

Next, I had to think about what type of drawing I wanted to do. I decided on larger sketches. I limited my materials to a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen to focus more on line work. Any grays in my drawing would need to come from hatching. To keep me from being precious about my drawings, I decided to do them all on newsprint. It’s cheap. I don’t have to worry about wasting paper if a drawing doesn’t turn out.


Newsprint, brush pen, pencil, and eraser on a desk.

My Inktober drawing tools: newsprint, brush pen, pencil, and kneaded eraser.




Once I decided on the style I was going for and what inking tools I wanted to use, I paired marine life with the prompts. For some it was a clear choice. For others, I listed several options to decide between as the month played out. In a those cases when I had no idea what to use, I turned to Wikipedia. It was so fun learning about all the amazing creatures that live in our seas

I scoured Google Images looking for the right photo to draw. My requirements were:

  1. The organism must be alive and in its natural habitat. No catch-of-the-day photos!
  2. The photo must include a credit to the photographer.

It’s very important to me to give credit where credit is due when I draw from a photo that’s not my own. I used Google’s Reverse Image Lookup to track down bylines. If I couldn’t find the photographer’s name, I didn’t use the photo.

I attached a photo to each of the cards in my Trello list. Trello makes it easy to drag and drop photos onto cards. It’s a great tool for this kind of project. I tried to stay a week ahead. I’d spend a few hours each Sunday fleshing out cards with photos and details.


Screenshot of my Trello board and Google Images

My digital tools: Trello on the left for tracking each day’s prompts and ideas. Google Images on the right for finding source images.




The final step was to draw. I tried to limit my sketches to 20-40 total minutes. The timeframe covered both the pencil drawing and the inking. I found working within time constraints to be very helpful. During past drawing-a-day projects, I found myself spending three hours on one drawing. It’s not sustainable! Limiting my time ensured something would get done.

When the final drawing was ready, I photographed it and posted it to Instagram. My captions included a fact about the organism as it related to the prompt and a credit to the photographer. Aside from the drawing, the facts are my favorite part. I learned so much about sea life.

Once up on Instagram, I browsed the #inktober2017 hashtag to see what other artists were up to. To my surprise, there were hundreds of other artists doing nature science series, too! It was great to see their approach and the variety of styles. Some were dramatic and very stylized. Some were more like illustrations out of a victorian field guide. One artist did entirely freshwater mussels. Wow!

There’s more to the story of course. In Part 1 I gave a bit of background on my previous Inktober experiences. In Part 3 I’ll take a look at what I’ve learned so far and where this experiment will take me in 2018.

What does the future hold? Masterpeices? Inkblots? Blank pages?!
Stay tuned for Part 3 tomorrow!





Updates on Upcoming Shows and Sales!


I have work in the upcoming TINY show at STUDIO Gallery

I’m proud to announce I will be exhibiting work at the “Tiny” group show at STUDIO Gallery! The exhibit runs November 10th – December 23rd, 2017. There will be an opening reception on Sunday, November 12th from 1-6pm. The show features all local artists with works of art under 7×7” and on sale for under $500. I hope to see you there!

I have prints for sale at The Great Highway Gallery

I have two signed, limited-edition prints for sale at The Great Highway Gallery. The prints are of of the Sierra Valley and the Bolinas lagoon. The gallery also has prints from several local artists for sale. Stop by and check them out!  

My Etsy Store is up!

I have select originals and prints up on my Etsy Store with more work on the way for 2018.



Let’s keep in touch!

For the latest updates, sign up for my TinyLetter or follow me Instagram

My 3 years of Inktober – Part 1

Process
31 ink drawings of marine life

Inktober 2017


A quick introduction to Inktober

Jake Parker started Inktober in 2009 with the goal of improving his inking skills by drawing with ink every day of the month of October. Inktober caught on and participants share their day’s work on social media using the #inktober hashtag. Inktober has grown rapidly in the last few years. Participants added over three million drawings this year alone!

 

How I got started with Inktober

Drawing regularly has many benefits. Over time, your hand-eye coordination increases and it becomes easier to come up with ideas of water to draw. At its most basic, drawing regularly serves as a record of your time. Daily drawings, no matter how rough, help keep your skills sharp so that when you you have a big idea for a piece or that vacation to a beautiful place to draw, you’ll be ready.

When I first heard about Inktober in 2015, I was drawing once or twice a week. I knew it would be ambitious to go from drawing a few times a week to every day. I decided I’d need a theme to help me narrow down ideas. By chance, my company was moving their  offices from San Francisco’s Pier 9 to a building in the Financial District. I used Inktober as a way to remember our space on the San Francisco waterfront.

As with any new habit, drawing daily can be a real challenge. We all have lives and responsibilities that can take first priority. This is completely normal. Because this was my first Inktober, my only goal was to complete 31 drawings. I did. In DECEMBER. At the time it felt like I’d failed the challenge. Now, with a little perspective, I see it as the start of an experiment.

Inktomber 2015

Inktober 2015

 

When Inktober 2016 came around, I decided the next phase for this experiment would be to find a way to stay on schedule without making drawing every day feeling like a chore. As luck would have it, 2016 was the year Jake Parker decided to introduce prompts – a 1 word theme for each day of the month. These prompts helped me shape a new process for staying on top of the daily drawings.

My approach started with small, achievable goals: I limited myself to one subject matter (birds) and planned concepts ahead using Trello, pairing a bird with each prompt. I decided that if I fell behind, I would move on to the next prompt instead of trying to “catch up.” I wanted to be able to complete a drawing every day and felt this would be the way to do it.

Adding these constraints made a world of difference. I was able to complete one drawing each day, on schedule. It felt great to have 31 drawings for 31 days.

 

31 ink drawings of birds

Inktober 2016

 

There’s more to the story of course. In Part 2 of this series, I’ll go into more depth was that process was and how I applied it to Inktober 2017. In Part 3 I’ll take a look at what I’ve learned so far and where this experiment will take me in 2018. 

What’s next for our heroine and her inky ark of animals? Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow!



Updates on Upcoming Shows and Sales!

 

I have work in the upcoming TINY show at STUDIO Gallery

I’m proud to announce I will be exhibiting work at the “Tiny” group show at STUDIO Gallery! The exhibit runs November 10th – December 23rd, 2017. There will be an opening reception on Sunday, November 12th from 1-6pm. The show features all local artists with works of art under 7×7” and on sale for under $500. I hope to see you there!

 

I have prints for sale at The Great Highway Gallery

I have two signed, limited-edition prints for sale at The Great Highway Gallery. The prints are of of the Sierra Valley and the Bolinas lagoon. The gallery also has prints from several local artists for sale. Stop by and check them out!  

 

My Etsy Store is up!

I have select originals and prints up on my Etsy Store with more work on the way for 2018. 



Let’s keep in touch!

For the latest updates, sign up for my TinyLetter or follow me Instagram