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Inktober Wrap-up

Here’s the final batch of drawings I made for Inktober this year.

What a month it was! With a pending house move and deadlines to contend with, October proved a pretty hectic month all around. I wasn’t sure it was wise to attempt another daily drawing activity like #Inktober straight on the back of the September House of Illustration challenge, but pen and ink is my favourite medium, how could I not? I love the challenge,  even though time was limited and I didn’t have chance to prepare, pre-plan or draw anything before the start.

Because of this, I decided to stick with the prompt words, some of which caused a lot of head scratching – I didn’t want to draw blandly comic renderings of the prompts, though some clearly lent themselves to such approaches than more nuanced interpretations. That’s half the fun though, coming up with ideas that take the prompt words in directions beyond the obvious.

Every sketch was made on the day, I’d wake up with absolutely no idea what I would draw for that day’s challenge, worry about it while I got on with other stuff, and then set to work in the evening. Gradually due to other pressures it grew later and later before I started, by the time I got to these drawings I was squeezing them in just before bed at 12 midnight and beyond.

Does it show? Perhaps it does. When the pressure is on, I tend to fall back on tried and tested methods, so drawings are less about experimentation, less exploration of style, and more focus on rendering an idea, drawing it as best I can under the circumstances. One of the positive things about pressure is that it encourages things to flow, you don’t over think, or play about with directions, you just decide something, knuckle down and get on with it.

Sometimes it’s difficult to pare down, when the pressure is on it’s hard to be zen-like and elegantly drop something minimal onto the white page – in my case fatigue encourages me to gnaw at a drawing, go for broke with cross-hatching, rather than pull back and touch in something lightly.

Fortunately, it’s the kind of thing I like to do, it’s getting to honest, unadulterated closeness with your creative flow. Some of the drawings ended up as more of a ‘meal’ than I’d intended, some I looked at the next day and thought – ah, I could have pushed this a bit more, or simplified that a little, but on the whole I’m pleased with them all!

Virtually all these drawings were sketched with a Pilot Hi-Tec-C pen, either 0.4 or 0.5. Day 28 ‘Gift’ was a slight exception as I drew the figure in a Kuretake Fude-gokochi, and finished it with a Pilot pen. One of the earlier drawings (Day 6 ‘Drooling’) was drawn entirely in a Gokochi. and another (Day 13 ‘Guarded’) was in a sepia pen, but otherwise I stuck to my favourite Pilots. When I’m tired and want to just work away at a drawing the Pilot with it’s hard, fine-point tip is always my first choice, though my published illustrations are nearly always in a traditional dip pen and ink bottle.

One of the big lessons I learned from Inktober last year was to experiment and expand my use of pens, but for this year, consistency and familiarity were at the heart of it. For years I only used dip pens for final art, and my sketchbooks, drawn with more convenient disposable pens, were a separate, looser activity. But the combination of exhibitions and Inktober has bridged the gap between sketchbook art and commissioned professional work for publishing. I’ve yet to illustrate a book using Pilot or Kuretake pens, but it might be on the horizon!

Well, now we’re into November, and I’m enjoying some time off these kinds of daily challenges for a while. I’ve been galvanised by these exercises, but I need to crack on with winding up some deadlines before I move house, then pack….. and I especially need to pick up the pace with my stories and book dummies!!!!

#Inktober #inktober2018 #sketchbook #pilotHITECC #illustration #blackandwhite #dailydrawing #penandink

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All illustration images © John Shelley, not to be used without permission scribblatosis(at)gmail(dot)com