I Had to Try This

So, where did today’s prompt words take Cheeky Monkey Mind and me? Those words — relax, mysterious, weak, legend, tree — took us on a whirlwind tour of the world, for they led us to the ubiquitous yew tree, which seems to grow everywhere. Now, to be precise, the yew is both a tree and a shrub. There are many, many different types of yews, so Cheeky and I went looking for a yew tree that really was a tree. 

A search at Pixabay led to a gorgeous reference photo of trees, rocks, and a waterfall. While I can’t be certain which tree really is a yew, it didn’t matter. Somewhere in the photo was a yew tree, and I knew I had to try creating an Inktober drawing from the photo.

I knew, too, that I wanted to do it as an ink wash, doing a little more painting than drawing. Ink wash is a technique I’ve rarely used, and when I have used it, it’s been mostly for doodling around.  Trying to use ink in a similar fashion to watercolor is still a fairly new technique for me.

Here is the result.

Inktober 15 - Yew Trees (2).png
Yews Along the River – Ink Wash and Pen by Judith Kraus

I drew the scene first with a B pencil, then worked with ink washes, trying to create different shades of gray. I made mistakes in places, like on the right side of the trunk where I have an ugly black outline. It dried before I could even attempt to correct it.

Once my initial ink wash had dried completely, I took a Sharpie and used it to define certain features — like the bark on the tree — or to add marks to heighten the illusion I wanted — like those marks in the background trees on the left. I used the Sharpie, too, for adding sticks and bits of grass. Those marks weren’t too successful.

This was a technique I enjoyed, one I would like to practice with a bit more. It was challenging, and in some ways it was frustrating. I felt that I had little (if any) control over the shapes and the shades, but I think that’s just part of what an ink wash is. Maybe the fun of creating with ink wash lies in that unknowingness.

I do like the casual feeling about this ink wash, so I might decide to try it again before Inktober is over. We’re just about at the half-way mark now, which means there’s a lot of time left.

Will I ever get around to using those dip pens I bought? Probably not, but who knows! I’m still practicing with them, and maybe I’ll challenge myself to do at least one Inktober drawing with them. We’ll see.

CheekyAnd tomorrow?

We have a wet, fat, angular, wild tree!

Or at least, that’s what we’re off searching for. Join Cheeky Monkey Mind and me tomorrow to see what we’ve found.


  1. Ink washes are my favorite way to use ink. I usually start with really light washes and build up the layers to get the desired darkness. Then I go in with a dip pen for the fine details. You should give the dip pen a chance. The variety in line width can be really beautiful. Good luck on the rest of Inktober! 🙂

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