Over the hills and through the woods

I’m more than half way through the Inktober 2017 daily challenge, and I’m just beginning—just beginning—to see through the forest to the real magic.

Everyone can do the challenge however they want. Some do abstracts, some draw Disney princesses. Some use the daily prompts and some don’t. If you look at hashtag #Inktober or #inktober2017 on Instagram you will find over 8 million Inktober interpretation! The only rule is that you have to use ink. Any kind of ink.

For me, I decided to commit to the prompts and add my own twist, which is to incorporate some hand lettering practice into the challenge. I letter each prompt into the sketch. 

  Inktober '17 Day 15

Inktober '17 Day 15

Finally Giving In

Before I tell you what happened, I need to explain that my relationship to drawing had always been a kind of pull-push. The pull is that I want to improve my drawing skills. Knowing how to draw can really serve all other kinds of art making, and as someone who could only draw stick figures just a few years ago, I now know that anyone (anyone!) can learn to draw.

But I know the only way to improve—the only way—is to practice(Push).

I enjoy drawing (Pull). When I sit down to draw something, my mind focuses to a pinpoint of seeing. Who wouldn’t want that feeling every day? 

Obviously I didn’t, because I did not draw every day.  Push.

Every day I spend at least some time—if even just 20 minutes—in my art journal and/or working other mixed media projects.  In these short 24 hour gallops around the sun, how can I get regular drawing in, too? 

My intuition did not stop quietly nudging though. (Pull…)

So all of this is to say that I decided to step into the forest and accept the Inktober Challenge this year. I guess I figured I could do anything for 31 days. 

 Official #inktober 2017 prompt list

Let the journey begin

I’ve noticed that when I first start a project I’m enthusiastic and motivated, and this project was no exception. It’s so easy to start something isn’t it?  And sure enough, on the “wings” of that enthusiasm, I felt good about the first drawing.  Hah hah.

  Inktober '17 Day One

Inktober '17 Day One

After that first rush of excitement of a new project, though, I've also noticed that my enthusiasm quickly wanes. Undoubtedly, the next step—and the next—don't go as well. 

Step into forest and it gets dark pretty quickly.

I was rusty. And slow.  And drawing with ink was new and more difficult than pencil (which should have been no surprise, but it was).

A couple more days in and the ideas seemed to dry up. Those prompts felt hard. “Divided”, “Long”, “Sword”? (I hated sword.) And that every day thing? OMG, I felt like I was trudging through mud.

  Day 6, Inktober '17

Day 6, Inktober '17

Time to turn around and get out of that dark forest, right? 

Well, I stuck it out. When you announce that you’re going to do something it would be kind of embarrassing to turn back so quickly.  So deeper into the forest I stepped. Just 31 days, I told myself…

Finally some light

I approached my first clearing over a week in. I started—just started—to have some fun. I loosened up a bit. I began to experiment with different lines and ways to shade...

  Inktober '17 Day 7

Inktober '17 Day 7

  Inktober '17 Day 8

Inktober '17 Day 8

And then?

It was about two weeks into the challenge, that I stepped into a little magic.

I began to think into the prompt—and suddenly, the ideas started clicking. I came out with some interesting ideas.  

  Inktober '17 Day 10

Inktober '17 Day 10

I started inventing ways to interpret the prompt, and at some point I realized, “Ohhhh. I don’t just have to draw something that I see (in my immediate world or a photo reference) just to practice drawing. I can draw ideas…

  Inktober '17 Day 12

Inktober '17 Day 12

I can?

Draw?

Ideas?

Oh my. Now it’s curiosity that keeps me going—and for me that’s always potent magic. No longer “to improve” or because “it’s fun”, especially when it isn’t, the daily challenge has become: What can I think up next?

  Inktober '17 Day 18

Inktober '17 Day 18

And I have to wonder, can this drawing thing become a creative habit—a spell—I just can’t break?