Now That Inktober Is Over

Completing thirty-one pen-and-ink drawings was, for me, quite an accomplishment. It was also quite a challenge. In looking back over the month, I find a few drawings I like. I also find disturbing drawings such as Killer and A Dangerous CombinationI find drawings that were fun, as well.

The drawings and the narratives that I created were quite surprising. In general, I define my art — at least my oil paintings — as reflective. I like subtle colors, indefinite shapes, and quiet settings in my landscape art. Pen-and-ink, however, forces me into a totally different place, a place of sharp contrasts, distinct lines, and harsh, glaring, blaring realities.

Like is so often said about New York City, it was an interesting place to visit, but I don’t think I would want to live there.

Overall, I wasn’t happy with my Inktober drawings. Most — obviously — were quickly drawn, with very little thought. I think, though, that this is how it was meant to be for me. Had I given my drawings a lot of thought and invested considerable time in them, I would never have made it through the month.

Much of my art education over the past year has been centered around finding expression and emotion through art. Inktober allowed me to experience art in a new way. It was a process not of making marks but of groping through a darkness, feeling my way through unknown territory, never knowing for sure quite what I was going to see when I reached the light.

Much of what I saw surprised me. I saw domestic violence. I saw animal cruelty, dysfunctional family dynamics, and questions of personal identity. I saw heartbreak. I saw meanness, murder, and mayhem. I saw social issues of alcoholism, obesity, and gun control.

Is this my perspective on the world? Not at all, yet these are issues we can’t blindly turn away from. Inktober taught me only too well that monsters do exist.

I doubt that such discoveries are meant to be part of Inktober. Surely this was never included in its creator’s plan or purpose. All the same, it became an important element of Inktober for me, and I won’t soon forget the many emotions I dealt with while doing my simple drawings: anger, outrage, sadness, disbelief, worry, and even a bit of fear. These were my companions as I sat down each morning at my drawing table.

Now that Inktober is over, I yearn to come back to my quiet reflections. I want to lose myself in soft colors, walk once more through peaceful settings, and stroll back through time to familiar places, pleasant moments, and beautiful memories from my past. I return here, though, as a different artist, perhaps even as a different person.

Even while I was doing my Inktober drawings, I continued painting. After facing the monsters each day, it was comforting to spend a little time at my easel, wrapping myself up in peaceful thoughts.

Here is one painting which speaks very much of the indefinite quality of art and the uncertainties I so often feel. Is it finished? No. Or maybe so. I’m not at all sure. I had planned to do more, but I fell in love with the colors and softness. I can’t bring myself to touch the canvas again for fear of spoiling the serenity this painting brings me.

Solitude
The Color of Solitude by Judith Kraus Oil on Canvas

I learned a lot from Inktober, and I’m ready to move on and put my new knowledge to work in oil painting.

Yet another question lingers. Will I do Inktober again next year? Of course, it’s far too soon to really think about it. I don’t have to answer the question today. But I am thinking about it already, considering my personal likes and dislikes of the Inktober challenge.

If I take part in Inktober next year, I will do things differently. This year was all a haphazard process — which I needed — but it’s hard to come away from the month with a genuine sense of accomplishment. I don’t feel closure or completion. So many things were left unsettled; so many things  remain unresolved.

I’ve loved seeing the Inktober drawings of artists who have worked with a specific theme: birds, portraits, supernatural stories, places visited, memories recalled. I had several sporadic themes coming and going in my art, and maybe it was all tied together by the concept of learning something new each day. Or really, maybe it was all just a jumble.

But next year, I want to approach Inktober with a plan, a purpose, a bit of pre-meditation for whatever awful crimes I will commit against the art world. If I do Inktober, that is.

I’m glad I don’t have to decide today.

9 Comments

  1. I felt your drawings had a theme and a narrative line (which is why I referred to them as illustrations ). I also feel the prompts drew out an exploration of the toxic , morbid , and dysfunctional . I considered participating for a brief moment but the prompts were off putting to me . Maybe next year , I’ll write my own peace and harmony ones!

    As to your painting , this is of the type from you that I love so much ! Peaceful yet awe-inspiring and dynamic within harmony .

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    1. The theme of Inktober for me was accidental — and it surprised me. It was interesting to view the process as an exploration of “monsters”, both real and imagined, but at the same time it felt chaotic, and that made it a bit frightening. If I do Inktober again, I’d like to approach it feeling I had a little more control. 🙂 As for the painting, I love the colors and the softness. I look at it, and I find myself just staring off into the distance wondering what might be there. It’s another “unknown” but one that feels much more peaceful to me.

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    1. Yes, the unknown can scare us. It’s so much easier at times to stay close to what’s familiar. I think facing all of those unknowns will help me as an individual and as an artist. I am reaching out in new directions as I learn. It’s exciting and scary, too.

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  2. You’ve captured here some of my frustrations with Inktober. You have to keep a fast pace and perhaps the quality of drawings is somewhat diminished from this pace. Although, the real value I found to be the exercise in creativity and finding the piece that is “you” in the prompt for the day. Even if sometimes this may make you go to places in your mind that might not normally willingly go, stumbling upon the monsters.

    I really appreciated your post and stumbling across someone who had some of the same challenges with Inktober, thank you. Also, your painting is just lovely, the colors and scene bring such a lovely sense of solace after an intense month.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Donella. I’m glad you shared your thoughts, and it’s nice to know that I’m not alone in how I’m feeling. I marveled at some of the Inktober drawings I saw other artists create. I’m not at that level yet, and I guess there is something to be said for just doing my best even if it doesn’t seem like much. As you’ve pointed out, there is value in finding something of ourselves within each prompt. Creative exercise is always good for us. Like physical exercise, it makes us stretch a bit beyond our previous capabilities.

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