Making Choices

Today’s Inktober drawing — from the prompt words battle, graceful, swollen, ornament, tree — is definitely the messiest drawing I’ve done so far this month, and hopefully no other drawing will take that title away from it.

As with most of the trees I’m drawing, I really don’t know exactly how the prompt words took Cheeky Monkey Mind and me to Cuba for a look at the Royal Palms growing there. I’m guessing maybe these are considered ornamental trees, or maybe it’s because of the graceful way the palm fronds sway in those soft Caribbean breezes.

What I do know is that I had fun drawing these trees:

Inktober 17 - Royal Cuban Palm (2).png
Royal Cuban Palm Trees – Ink and Graphite Drawing by Judith Kraus

There’s a lot of ink in here, and there’s also a lot of graphite. I sketched the trees and the background bushes with an “H” pencil, and I’d planned on erasing most of my pencil marks. I must have drawn too heavily with that hard pencil. My lines wouldn’t erase.

In some ways, I deliberately made this drawing harder than it had to be when I chose to use a Sharpie instead of a pen for the fronds. Yes, I could have used a very fine tip and created lots of those delicate, graceful fronds, but I didn’t want to do that. Why? Because this is an Inktober drawing, something I want to complete in 20 or 30 minutes, not a drawing that I want to work on for hours and hours.

As I worked on the bushes and trees in the background — yes, those are bushes, not rocks — I thought again about the time factor involved in each Inktober drawing. I know using graphite I could have taken my reference photo and created a very nice landscape, one that would require days — if not longer — to complete. If I had more technical skill in using ink, I could probably also have created a very nice landscape, given more time.

But Inktober is a day-to-day challenge. Thirty-one drawings in thirty-one days. The math is simple. That’s one drawing each day, and that probably doesn’t sound like much to many artists, but for me, that’s asking a lot.

I’m having to approach Inktober from a slightly different perspective. My objective is to create thirty-one sketches in thirty-one days, and while that doesn’t have quite the same alliterative ring about it, it is a much more realistic goal for me.

What’s the difference between a drawing and a sketch? In some ways, there’s little difference, but in my learning experience, a drawing is something meant to be seen as finishedcomplete, a more-or-less realistic illustration of an object or a scene. A sketch is a quick little picture, a way of capturing a moment, illustrating a point, jotting down information in a visual form for later use.

One of my biggest problems in art — and in many other things in life — is my tendency to rush. I get impatient. I want to hurry up and get things done. Art, however, has taught me to slow down, to take my time, to lose myself in the moment, and to fully enjoy the creative process.

Were I to take that slow, meditative approach to Inktober, I’d still be back on Day 2 or Day 3, blissfully putting pencil — and then pen — to paper. I’d never be able to finish a month’s worth of drawings.

Instead, I’m meeting the daily challenge by sketching, allowing myself about thirty minutes for my morning Inktober drawing. Some have taken a little longer than that, but I’m not watching the clock, just working at a comfortable, enjoyable pace.

This approach gives me an opportunity to focus on what’s most important in each drawing. With my Royal Cuban Palms, the key element — from my perspective — was the leafy canopy on each tree. That’s what I wanted to highlight, not by using lots of detail but by creating a strong contrast that would draw the viewer’s eyes to the tops of the trees. I used the heavy marker for the tall, slender trunks, too, for the same reason — drawing the eye toward the tops of the trees.

So, there is a point in all of this. My simple sketches aren’t works of art, but they’re not meant to be. For me, my Inktober drawing sessions are occasions for learning and growing each day, a time for asking questions and figuring out the answers.

Art involves a lot of decision-making, and I won’t always make the right choices. But I’m learning to see the choices I have, and that’s definitely a step in the right direction.


CheekyInteresting search words, indeed, and what you learn tomorrow might surprise you!

  • Escape
  • Filthy
  • Bottle
  • Misfit
  • Tree

Hope to see you then!


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