I am ready for Inktober. Well, almost. Actually I’m planning to buy a new set of pens since several of my dearly beloved Pitt artist pens are running on empty. I remember when I bought that set of pens. How well I remember asking myself “Are you crazy? The last thing you need is a set of pens for drawing.”
I don’t draw well with pens, but at least I’m getting better with pencils, and for Inktober I can draw out an illustration first in graphite and then ink over it — if I so choose. I might do that.
But pencils aside, my first order of business is to check out different ink pens. I’ll probably go with the Pitt pens again — although I’m not good with ink, I have loved the set I purchased. I still have the Sharpies I bought last year during Inktober, and maybe I’ll try a few new things this year like working with dip pens. Many, many years ago I learned a bit of calligraphy, so I’ve had a little experience there.
I have my eyes on a basic set of nibs and holders from Speedball. If you’re interested in trying dip pens, you might want to check them out. Also, you’ll find a few beginner’s tips here:
Gathering up supplies for Inktober is, of course, the easy part. Figuring out what to do with them is a lot trickier, at least for me. Working with ink — even the relatively simple process of inking over a drawing — requires a steady hand and a lot of patience, neither of which I possess.
And there’s the biggest question of all: What do I draw? To help answer that, Inktober founder Jake Parker provides a prompt list each year. I’m excited because the official prompt list for 2019 will be released on September 1, but…
I will have the prompt list available a week earlier, because I subscribe to the Inktober newsletter. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.
Participants aren’t required to use the prompt list, but it is fun, I think, to take each day’s word and see where it leads me. It’s also fun to see what other artists have created from the same prompt.
I’ll definitely be following the prompts, but I’m still unsure of exactly how I’ll use them. At the conclusion of Inktober in 2018, I found myself wishing I’d started with a more definite theme. Over the course of the month, a theme did begin to develop on its own. If you were following the blog back then, you might remember the monsters I made, the characters like Exploding Brain Boy and his loyal dog, Killer. You might recall Cruel Stepfather and the boy’s missing mother.
My drawings created a bit of a story, but not one I truly wanted to tell. It brought forth a lot of social problems, and in the end the conclusion I came to from Inktober was that real monsters do exist. Not a happy message, but in some ways I think the starkness of ink tends toward a stark realism. In my mind, at least, that seems to happen.
In recent days, I’ve toyed with several different possible themes for Inktober.
- Since I love music, I thought about trying to associate each prompt word with a musical composition, taking my drawing cues from there.
- I’ve been in a bit of a nostalgic mood lately, so I considered using each prompt to spark a memory from childhood.
- Another thought was to take a particular country — Mexico, perhaps — and sketch something from the culture that would fit with each prompt.
- As a nature lover — and an aspiring landscape artist — doing ink sketches of the world around me sounds like a theme I’d enjoy.
In all honesty, though, I’m hesitant to choose a theme because I’m unsure if I could follow through on it. For me, it’s important to make the process as easy as possible, not put too many obstacles in my way. So, while I have many ideas and inspirations, I haven’t chosen anything yet.
What’s the point of doing Inktober? What’s the purpose?
The annual challenge was created by Jake Parker back in 2009 as a way of challenging himself, improving his pen-and-ink skills, and creating the positive habit of drawing every day.
The challenge caught on with other artists, and in 2016 Jake began adding the official prompt lists.
While Inktober has grown to become a world-wide event in the art community, the purpose is still the same for most of us:
- It provides a definite challenge. Working in ink can be daunting, and the thought of doing it for thirty-one days is almost frightening at times.
- It helps us improve our skills. No matter what level we’re at when we begin, we’re sure to see improvement in our inking by the end of the month. We’ll see increased confidence, too.
- It definitely shows us the importance of establishing good drawing habits. I looked forward to my Inktober drawing time each morning last year. It was a comfortable part of my daily routine.
To this list, I’ll add another benefit:
- It sparks our creativity, opens up new ideas and inspirations, and encourages us to try different things as we explore different themes or different ways to express each day’s prompt.
And yet another:
- It gives us an opportunity to get acquainted with other Inktober artists through blogs, Facebook posts, Instagram, and other social media outlets. We can learn a lot by getting out of our own space and seeing what other artists are creating.
So, I’m all in for Inktober this year. How about you? Will you be joining the fun and giving Inktober a try this year?