My first Inktober: #wildoctoberart

I recently completed my first Inktober challenge. A portmanteau of ink and October, Inktober challenges invite participants to create one daily drawing throughout the month to encourage consistent drawing habits. Participants will then share these drawings on Instagram or other social media outlets to encourage one another as they complete the challenge.

One month, 31 drawings.

I’ve never participated Inktober before, as I’ve always had a pretty consistent drawing practice. This year though, between the pandemic, political unrest, politce brutality, and a summer bout with tendonitis, among other things, I haven’t been doing a lot of sketching recently. So this year, I decided to try out Inktober as a mean of resetting my creative button.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, there are a lot of different Inktober challenges depending on the theme or style you want to try. I eventually settled on #wildoctoberart, a wildlife-themed challenge organized by artist Zoe Keller on Instagram. I picked this one because I thought it allowed the most flexibility with respect to my own practice, given that so much of my own work is based on sketches of plants and animals.

“In the Deep,” was based on my imaginings of sperm whale hunting squid.

For 31 days, I created drawings based on different prompts such as “Nocturnal,” “In My Backyard,” or “Fur and Fluff.” To maintain consistency in terms of scale, I drew these pictures on the backs of leftover index cards from my comprehensive exams. My sources varied according to the prompts. Some drawings were based on local surroundings, others based on Internet searches or imagination. Throughout the challenge, I made a point of working only with a pen to keep the drawing simple. My objective wasn’t to create especially detailed or extensive sketches, but to draw something every day, no matter how cursory.

For “Fur and Fluff,” I drew rabbits like the ones I’ve been observing on my evening walks.

As the month progressed, I also started to use the drawings as a form of personal storytelling. For the prompt called “Shelled,” I drew a crab and described a memorable sandwich I had in Yorktown, where they fried a whole crab and placed it in a bun. In “Fur and Fluff,” I shared my summer habit of walking around the neighborhood in the evening and counting rabbits as a means of coping with COVID-19 anxiety. Perhaps the most personal one was for “Noctural,” where I talked about Myrtle, the pet rat I had in middle school. Admittedly a lot of these stories weren’t particularly exciting, but they were a new experiment for me.

“Nocturnal” offered an opportunity to talk about a pet rat I had in middle school.

Inktober definitely shares a lot of parallels with other projects I’ve done. The most obvious one is the daily painting challenge I did last year, though these were representational works rather than abstractions. Inktober also mirrors dissertation work in some ways. Most notably, the important thing is to show up every day. Some days will be better than others, but as long as you create every day, a larger project will coalesce.

A Year in the Life, 2019. These painted abstractions were done over the course of an entire year as opposed to a month-long challenge like Inktober.

I liked doing this challenge because it took the pressure off from doing great work. These aren’t my best drawings and I don’t know if I’ll do anything with them in the future, but they were fun and I liked not having the pressure to do the most detailed or ambitious sketches.

“In My Backyard” features a skink, an animal we’ll sometimes see basking on our back porch.

I don’t know if I’ll do this again next year, but it is a nice reset option when I feel out of practice. I could also see myself adapting the challenge to suit other projects, such as completing one larger drawing or related project over the course of a month rather than thirty smaller sketches. Regardless, I’m glad I completed this challenge, and look forward to resuming a more consistent drawing practice.

Categorized as Art

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