Peony and Parakeet

How Inktober Helped Me To Cure a Creative Block

Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet and her ink drawing on a Nuuna sketchbook.

This month, I am participating in a daily drawing challenge called Inktober. My goal was to make 10 ink drawings based on the first ten official prompts. I have passed the goal, and now I am trying to make as many as I can. As an experience, this challenge has had a ground-breaking effect on me. With Inktober prompts, I have discovered a creative block and cured it!

Supplies

For the first five drawings, I used black pens and inks from the stash. My illustrations have been quite detailed, so they take a lot of ink. I have made some purchases and will need more pens if I keep going. Here’s what I have currently in use!

Nuuna Square Bang Sketchbook and drawing supplies

I make the drawings on Nuuna Square Bang Sketchbook. It is 9,5 x 9,5 inches, which is a good size for daily work. The basic pens are Copic Multiliners. The tip sizes that I now have are 0.1, 0.3, and 1.0. I am planning to purchase 0.05 too because I like to draw small elements! I also have a Pentel brush pen for larger areas. I love this pen. It is refillable and comes with extra ink tanks. The brush is wonderfully soft and precise and the ink flows effortlessly.

My Expectations – Stretching to a More Masculine Zone

I started the challenge with an open mind. Building Watercolor Journey was a huge workload. I wanted to make a comprehensive class, and it took a lot of my time during the summer. Now when I got the self-study version available, I wanted to reward myself by taking part in the challenge. My idea was to draw what I love, the only limitations being that I had to use black ink and follow the prompts.

Because Inktober is mostly for fantasy artists, the themes are very different than what I would choose. Many of the prompts are about the darker side of life, but I thought that little stretching would do me good. The biggest fear that I had was that the people who follow me on social media would totally ban me. I knew that because of the prompts and the black ink, my work would look more masculine than before. But I didn’t expect anything ground-breaking to happen regarding my style or visual voice. But something did happen, quite unexpectedly.

Discovering a Creative Block

When I picked a pen and started drawing the first image, I heard myself saying: “Paivi, be careful.” The tone was gentle but the voice was definitely of my inner critic. And as soon as I wondered what I should be careful about, an old drawing came to my mind. It was a black ink drawing as well, an exercise for the first class that I took in industrial design. We had to make a series of images showing the product, and mine was a hilarious collection of detailed drawings showing all the enthusiasm I had for industrial design back then. I don’t remember the exact words that my teacher used but I got the message that it was all wrong, a bit pathetic even. I should be more systematic and not so decorative.

It was a critique that was beneficial for an industrial designer but totally irrelevant and wrong for a person who is more of an artist and illustrator. But back then, I was not able to see that the direction that I was heading was different so I took it deep into my heart. I also remember some other situations during my studies when I was accused of being too decorative. That was good for me back then, opening my eyes for expressing the form instead of the surface only. But now when working in the field of art, the situation is different.

So when I heard the whisper to be careful, it meant that I should not be too decorative when drawing industrially manufactured items like syringes that I intended to include in the first drawing. Becoming aware of this block has turned a new page in my artistic path.

Inktober #1 – Poisonous

Maybe sometimes we think that something is poisonous when it’s not?

Poisonous - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

While drawing the first entry for the challenge, I allowed myself to be as decorative and detailed as possible. I accepted the union of industrial objects and more abstract elements and went with the flow. Here’s to those past student years!

Inktober #2 – Tranquil

To me, tranquility and yarn go hand in hand. In the evenings I like to knit, cross-stitch, or quilt to calm myself down. So it’s like the threads and yarn tie little moments happened during the day together. The day that felt chaotic in the afternoon becomes tranquil and meaningful before I go to sleep.

Tranquil - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

The second insight came with the second prompt. I haven’t even considered myself a surreal artist, but the drawing came out so naturally that it started to make sense.

Inktober #3 – Roasted

After starting to work from home, I have been forced to get deeper into the world of cooking. I have made some disastrous meals because I don’t like to follow recipes and don’t have much experience either. But now, after four years, I have found a way that works quite often. I buy good ingredients. I study several recipes and then figure out what my version could be. I use a timer a lot, just because I am often in my thoughts and don’t realize how minutes fly. I like roasted vegetables, especially roasted carrots, so this is for them!

Roasted - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

With the third prompt, I wanted to try if I could make something out of less romantic subjects that I would normally choose. Here, I found drawing the oven most inspiring which was an interesting observation. Is the industrial designer raising her head?

Inktober #4 – Spell

I connect the spell with the atmosphere of the inner world. It could be like a cloud hanging over the scenery, sending sounds and lighting candles. I haven’t been a big fan of fantasy novels or such, but when I am creating, the fantasy can easily take over!

Spell - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

The prompt was a weird one for me, but the result is the old average. It didn’t feel so comfortable anymore. Something was lacking there.

Inktober #5 – Chicken

Something big is happening and the change feels scary.
– “I can’t do it! I have to protect what I already have.”
And then the whole universe shouts “Chicken!”
You can’t stop the change. You need to follow the eggs.

Chicken - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

The fifth drawing started as a funny one, but at the end, it felt like it was speaking about me. Consciously, I didn’t have any idea what had changed but it felt that I can’t keep on creating like before.

Inktober #6 – Drooling

When your mind is drooling for beauty so that you feel you are eating all the forbidden fruits.

Drooling - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

In this drawing, it became visible and clear to me that my creative block had forbidden me to draw decorative items that I adore. I love high fashion, jewelry, elegant fabrics, tassels, pearls, fur, you name it. I don’t grave them so that I would like to wear or own them but my world of fantasy never has a lack of this luxury. I have always thought this is a superficial characteristic in me, but this attitude feels too restricting now when I am more conscious of it.

Inktober #7 – Exhausted

Here’s how I define the exhaustion of the 21st century: You have done too much, and it feels like you have done nothing yet. You have too much stuff to sort out, and it feels like you haven’t got all you need. You are at the bottom of the big pile, and the clock is ticking: “Don’t forget! You are late!”

Exhausted - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

When drawing like this, I feel the satisfaction that I have never had before. It’s not that this way of expression would be technically more brilliant than my best work so far or superior to what everybody else does. It’s just that it’s like looking myself in the mirror, seeing all the goods and bads, and accepting what’s there. Isn’t it so that no matter how much you admire other artists if you imagine their work to be yours, it feels empty or defective in some ways? At least to me, there are hundreds of artists that I admire passionately and would happily hang their paintings on my walls, but if I were the one creating them, my fingers would itch to change something.

Inktober #8 – Star

Even if I work from home and live an extremely boring life (if you look at it from outside that is), I am a nomad, we all are. We get it when Harley-Davidson advertises motorcycles with the slogan: “Everything you need, nothing you don’t.” It’s about The Freedom – a full-designed package of service including a couple of woven carpets, one string of prayer flags, five long minutes of photographing bokeh and flares on the mountains, a ride downhill feeling a warm wind and hearing the sound of the beautifully polished engine. Some change the motorcycle to a horse or even to a Corvette, but it’s all the same, here’s to The Freedom!

Star - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

During the challenge, I have not only found new ways to draw, but I have also discovered that I am bursting with stories! Most of the stories are connected with items that have a symbolic meaning to me.

Inktober #9 – Precious

We get excited about a new thing. The next thought is that we need the products. All the products. Happened to me so many times! But hey, let’s not get lost in the products. Discovering yourself is more precious than any product.

Precious - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

What if the challenge wouldn’t have the restriction of supplies, and what if it wouldn’t be specifically for inks, related to my creative block? It’s possible that nothing would have changed. Seeing the stream of simple drawings and how they change one after another, has brought such clarity that I wonder how many times the creative blocks hide under products. When I have bought a new set of this or that, have I subconsciously avoided the block?

Inktober #10 – Flowing

In the Renaissance, the strong currency called Florin enabled the birth of financial professionals like bankers. Today, their working environment looks very different, and the change may feel vast, but that’s only if we keep our perspective narrow.
The facts:
Renaissance was about 500 years ago.
The age of the earth: 4,5 billion years.
The age of our universe: 13.8 billion years.
Here’s to honor all who work in finance but also to remind how money is just a tiny island in the flowing ocean of time.

Flowing - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

As a former engineer, I believe in the power of knowledge. But it’s new that I want to express that in my art too!

Inktober #11 – Cruel

Life can be cruel. It throws more and more for those who already have plenty while those who have nothing can’t get anything.

Cruel - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

This prompt was not an easy one. I felt sadness and shame. But once I got the idea,  I had to draw it out.

Inktober #12 – Whale

Love makes us brave. No matter how timid we are, we can do anything for those who we love.

Whale - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

During Inktober, I have found a way to connect the things that I love from storytelling to decorative designs and illustrational art. So far, it has brought a new sense of happiness in my artistic path. It’s also a scary feeling – what will happen next, what will I do with all these? Time will tell!

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22 thoughts on “How Inktober Helped Me To Cure a Creative Block

  1. Seems you used to play with lines, circles, drips, and gradation and then discover some meaning from all that imagination. These drawings look like you are playing with ideas, things, emotion and reason. Maybe the engineer is taking over saying build with structure and the whole will be exciting and new. I love the way you embrace change and reach out to discover the ‘new’ – you are brave and like a pioneer, will discover way more than just enjoyment. You will discover more about you – how exciting! A true hero.

  2. Thank you Dear Paivi for sharing your experience and Art. It is amazing what can be discovered/uncovered! Best wishes and much joy to you as you keep exploring and creating.

  3. Fantastic drawings. Can’t imagine doing that for a whole month. Love the variety you can come up with and still stay true to your style.

    1. Wendy, I had some plans for a painting class before I started this challenge. But now I am changing my plans and will have a drawing class instead, so stay tuned!!

  4. Wauw and wauw again, I love how you have given shape to the prompts!!Thanks for sharing this with us!

  5. It is interesting to see this new side of your art. Very nice. I love the variety in your ideas and the wonderful textures. They are very detailed with so much to look at and discover within the twists and turns in the design.

  6. It has been fascinating watching you draw your way through Inktober! I love how you connect the drawings with a story and deep meaning. I look forward to seeing the rest.

  7. These are gorgeous Paivi, I love all of your detail, and the amazing things you’ve come up with for each prompt. Look forward to seeing the rest!

  8. Such interesting work Paivi, and I so appreciate your sharing the thought processes that accompany each piece. I particularly like #12 Whale and having just had all our grandsons here relate so well to the sentiments expressed.

  9. Your drawings are fascinating-technical yet surreal! I appreciate even more the expression of your thoughts behind each drawing. Such insights! So thought-provoking! You are a gem, Paivi!

    1. Thanks so much, Gina! Combining technical, surreal, and thoughtful has been inspiring to me. I am thinking about doing it after Inktober too!

  10. I was following your blog looking for artistic inspirations. I wa not expecting to get useful and beautiful insights that translate do well into life. Thank you Paivi!
    BTW – I love your gentle way of speaking. I am kind of highstrung and impatient so listening to you makes me relax and reflect.

    1. Thank you, Maria!! My blog and classes are for all who are (or want to become!) passionate about art, both spiritually and practically!

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