Inktober 2019: Conclusion and Reflections

When you read this, Inktober, the month-long drawing challenge every October, will be done. I decided on a whim at the end of September to participate this year, wondering if I’d “make it” all the way through. And yes, I did! I am quite proud of myself for doing a drawing a day, every day, for a month. I managed to pull it off, even if it meant at 11:30 PM, even if it meant I didn’t want to.

But I want to get better at art. And there ain’t no better way to get better at art then to draw more. It’s like the adage attributed to Eddy Merckx when asked about how to be a better cyclist: “Ride lots.”

Has my art improved? Possibly? It’s hard to say just yet. But one thing that I’ve known for a long time: Once I’m in that drawing groove, it’s easier to do more. When I haven’t drawn for a bit, it’s hard for me to start back up. If I want to keep on doing this, I need to keep on it.

As I’ve stated earlier, one of the things that made it easier for me to do a drawing-a-day was by working small. Yes, I get a little jealous of some other people’s lavish Inktober work. But I know for me that if I tried to work at 8 1/2″ by 11″, I’d get a few days in and then quit. Working in a sketchbook that’s approximately 3.5″ x 5.5″ is much more manageable. So manageable, I can do a drawing at 11:30 PM, when I’d rather be doing something else.

As for the “sketchbook”, the li’l Rhodia has served me well. It’s technically a blank-page notebook, but the paper holds ink decently. Still, notebook paper is thinner than sketchbook paper, so erasing has to be done delicately. And I’ve managed to “draw through” a page when I go hard and heavy with a fountain pen. I’ll still use the Rhodia notebook after the challenge, but when that fills up I have a nice mini Leuchtterm sketchbook on standby.

Art kit with Rhodia mini notebook

One of the things I looked forward to with Inktober is experimenting with new tools. Doing professional work is not the time to try out a new pen, but with little personal drawings, it’s always time. I’ve picked up a couple new pens, and found some nice color brush pens for fills. Working with color, even as limited as I have, is a nice change from simply Photoshopping in colors.

In fact, I’ve been on somewhat of an art-supply purchasing binge. For the last several years, buying new art supplies was done grudgingly, when I wore down the tip on the Micron or I filled up a sketchbook. (Or in one case, I had to replace a not-yet-full but falling-apart-at-the-seams sketchbook. I had had it for so long that it fell apart from age. And yeah, I tried taping and gluing it back together.) I’ve come to like the Leuchtturm 1917 sketchbooks, which are similar to the Moleskines but are a bit wider and have actual white paper. But they are not as easy to find. Fearing what happens to me often, finding something that I like has been discontinued, I bought up a bunch so I have a year or so of stock.

Will I keep on drawing? Hopefully. I plan to stick to the “one a day” thing for a little bit, hopefully through the rest of November. (Sketchvember, anyone?) Having a nice single-panel art diary is a nice way to do things. Plus, the small sketch/note book is great to bring on a bike tour, when I want to save some space (and don’t think I’ll need a bigger sketchbook.)

Watercolors ready for use…

And I also realize that I have to broaden my horizons. I haven’t painted in possibly a quarter-century, since I had to do it in high school art classes. I picked up some basic watercolor stuff earlier this year but haven’t even tried it out. Water colors seem to go hand-in-hand with pen and ink, so hopefully in the next year you’ll see some new stuff from me!

For all of my Inktober art, please see my album on flickr.

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