What I Learned This Inktober!

What I Learned This Inktober!

To be honest...

I didn't learn that much from Inktober. (Sad trumpet sound). My expectations were high, my optimism was in full throttle (despite the cries of desperation coming from some buried rational corner of my mind) and I had goals planned through November and December based on the assumption of October’s success… but then, I failed.

I still managed a burst of effort towards the last few days, knocking out a good dozen more pieces and taking some video (some of which still needs to be edited, but one step at a time). But the real thing I still am trying to learn is how to pace myself, while accounting for how drastically my energy can vary each day due to chronic illness, rather than assuming I can force my body to do the same work each day and not beating myself up for the inevitable failures.

If nothing else works, at least there's still dogs.

Welp, this post is coming so late after Inktober that the month is already long lost to mind-fog. But, I did get a lot of pieces done and don’t want it to go unmentioned. There were a few things that improved, and I did experiment with a few methods of using ink, which is it’s own kind of success, especially for a self-destructive-perfectionist-type person!

Settling On A Process

After some floundering, I found a prefered setup for doing what was essentially painting with ink, treating ink like an unforgiving watercolor. The couple major differences were that the ink doesn’t blend nicely on its own like watercolor does when drying, and this method also forced me to use a monochrome palette. Vibrant colors are often a crutch for me, so limiting my options to just grayscale forced me to think differently when approaching composition. In particular, it forced...

A Better Grasp of Negative Space

Of course the idea of using negative space is simple, but it’s so easy to just depend on line and changing colors, instead of thinking… and planning… and thumbnailing… but this grayscale-only limitation made planning essential to creating an image I actually liked in the end.

With that in mind, here’s the process I settled on. Using watercolor brushes instead of dip pens, I layered acrylic-based black ink diluted with water on 100% cotton rag hot press watercolor paper. I love dip pens, but it just didn’t work with me trying to focus on using negative space. Not that it can’t be done, but more that I was unable to focus on both at once. Plus, there’s something to be said about enjoying the soothing texture of water and brush on paper, something I really needed to do more of. So after fighting against using the brush method for a few works, I finally embraced it and created a few of my favorite pieces from that month.

Ok That’s Nice, But What Ink Did You Use??

Envying other’s delicious art supplies is the best part of any art blog, so here’s the setup I settled on:

  • Higgin’s Black Magic - which dries waterproof but more dark gray than black
  • Small glass bottles - to dilute Higgins with water for a variety of grays
  • Daler Rowney Artist’s Acrylic Ink - for the deepest blacks
  • Strathmore 400 Series Hot Press Watercolor Paper - I don’t care that it’s not Arches it’s perfect and my bae
  • A variety of brushes, including this set of sable hair watercolor brushes

But The Hardest Lesson This Year

This probably sounds strange, but I have a really hard time embracing the ability to enjoy things.  Or to do things simply because they are enjoyable. I feel like when i make things, they must have some larger purpose, serving or pleasing people in some way, and only in that fashion can I enjoy them. But that takes away any possible joy from the struggle of creating before you even begin, and makes authenticity in what you create even more difficult a struggle. But with some of these paintings, it feels like I was able to get just a little more out of my head, and just a tiny bit closer to finding something I like doing, despite the overwhelming guilt and self-doubt that floods in whenever I trying to just enjoy something.

Anyways, Back to Nice Things!

This week I burned through the next book in Sanderson’s Stormlight series, Oathbringer, (SO MANY FEELS, an amazing series, and chapter 82 had me just sobbing, fangirl squee, etc) and I finally pushed through the rest of The War of Art, which is intense in it’s own right. It mostly addressed the mind-set of how to continue the struggle that every artist - hobbyist or professional - deals with every time they sit down to do the work. If you enjoy making anything, this is a classic and must read. (Don’t take my word for it. The amazing Noah Bradley agrees!)

Speaking of doing the work, it might be a good time for me to reread Do The Work. Next up for fiction is Infinite Jest, which has sat on my kindle forever and I want to finally read it and check that off my tryhard-literature-snob list. So, next post I hope to let you know how those are going.

Upcoming Prints And A Question For You

While you can check out most of my Inktober stuff on Instagram, I’m in the process of adding better scans of them to my print shop! Hurray! I need to run some tests with my printer to see if the quality meets my standards, or at least the standards of any picky detail oriented friends who will let me corner them in person with papers that mostly look the same while rambling on about inks.

But I have a question for you! Would you be interested in purchasing limited edition hand embellished prints? I love to add metallics, like gold and silver, but they obviously don’t come through on prints, but if there’s interest, want to give the option to add one-of-a-kind care and character to your order in adding the metallic painting by hand. What do you think? Please let me know in the comments below!

You are awesome for making it through this whole thing. Thank you for listening, and for just being here.

Back to blog