It’s soon October and with that – Inktober! Last year, I did all 31 prompts. Read about my previous experience here and here!
This year, I intend to make at least some drawings. And because Inktober was such a great experience for me last year, I want to support you to take it too. Here’s an Inktober warm-up exercise. I hope it inspires you to use inks and black felt-tipped pens to create black and white art. Follow the steps to keep going!
1) Paint an Abstract Composition
Let’s start by playing with liquid ink! Mine is Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Ink. I make the image on Leuchtturm 1917 Sketchbook.
Put a few drops of black ink on a palette. Mix some water to the ink so that it’s grey rather than pitch black. Make some pale strokes with a flat brush. Then add new strokes on the top of previous ones. Work slowly! Enjoy each stroke and the translucency of it.
Turn the brush upward and make narrow strokes by using the tip of the flat brush. Experiment with both wet and dry brush.
Pick a small round brush and add some ink on the top of the narrow strokes. Now you should have an abstract composition that has a variety of painted elements.
2) Fill Spaces Between the Painted Areas
Use a brush pen or black ink that hasn’t been watered down. Focus on the center of your composition.
Fill most of the spaces between the painted areas with black ink. Leave some white to highlight the best parts. Black adds depth to the grey composition.
3) Draw Realistic Objects
Select black thin-tipped drawing pens of various thicknesses. I use Copic Multiliners from 0.05 to 1.0.
Choose a realistic object that you want to repeat in the image. My choice was women’s faces. For example, flowers or birds could be great too.
Look at the abstract composition and seek for places where you can add the objects. Add more black, and adjust the shape of the pale areas so that they partly outline the objects. When drawing the objects, play with the scale so that some are big and some small no matter where they are located in the image. All the objects don’t have to be fully visible. Some can hide partly behind the abstract elements.
I like to draw faces so that I sketch it first with a thin ink pen, and then adjust it by adding a black element beside the face. (In my classes Animal Inkdom and Magical Inkdom, I show easy step-by-step methods for drawing all kinds of fun figures.)
4) Doodle Decorations
Continue with the black drawing pens, and doodle on the blank and pale areas. I also use a handmade oval template to get a big geometric shape that is fun to decorate.
For decoration, the sky is the limit, but I like jewels, frills, laces, waves, and flowers!
When doodling, I also add shadows to the elements by drawing thin lines side by side.
5) Finishing Touches: Shadows and Highlights
Squeeze your eyes and point all the white areas. Usually, there are too many and it makes the image look busy. Pick a brush and paint most of the white with diluted black ink.
Especially the areas that are near the edges are worth toning down.
I also like to paint over the shadowed areas to give them a softer look.
White gel pen can be handy for those areas that need a little bit more white.
Inktober Warm-Up – Finished Piece
Here’s my finished piece again. See how limited the number of white areas is.
I hope you enjoyed this Inktober warm-up! Tell me – are you going to participate in Inktober?
I have often written about using your own art for inspiration and combining many ideas into one piece. But this time I want to show that more in detail. With the video below, I invite you to my studio to browse art journals and sketchbooks and see how you can practice, create, and also play.
The Best Inspiration for Art – Watch the Video!
Come to Draw with Us!
Come to draw and decorate animals with us at Animal Inkdom! You will get the published lessons immediately after the registration, and you can start drawing right away. Sign up for Animal Inkdom!
Here’s my latest illustration called “Living Paper Doll.” It expresses the world of fantasy that I have been able to find after changing some of my artistic dreams.
Trade-Offs to Create Joyful Art
For a long time, one part of me has admired old master paintings, yearned for more visits to famous art museums, and desperately wanted to master more and more skills. Another part has been less serious, playing with the idea of getting back to childhood, drawing animals and paper dolls, re-reading books like Emily of the New Moon, and watching Bride and Prejudice for the 12th time …
After October, or should we say Inktober, these two parts have started to shake hands and discuss what to save and what to throw out. A lot of that inner conversation has been about changing technical skills to using more imagination. Another trade-off has been between abstract and representational art. I no longer aspire to create fully abstract paintings. More than a fine artist, I am an illustrator of the mind.
If you look at this piece from January 2018, its visual style is very similar to my current pieces. But content-wise the change is a big one. This now looks empty to me.
Freedom of the Line or the Mind?
How many times have we tried to grow our drawing and painting skills to become “looser”? And how many times it has led to more stiffness regarding the use of imagination?
I have to admit that often we art teachers can be blamed here. It’s easy to focus more on the technical side, composition and such, rather than supporting the growth in expression. But on the other hand, “techniques” and “step-by-step” are often the words that students want. Expression and imagination sound much vaguer.
However, joyful art is created with free spirit. Now I feel that if I had to choose one stiffness, it would be the stiffness of the line instead of the mind.
Joyful Art in Practice – Forgotten Piece Gets Completed
Last weekend, I organized my studio and found a piece that I had started in July. I hadn’t finished it because I had no idea how to proceed. It was made on a huge piece of paper that I had later cut smaller just to be able to store it more easily.
Last summer, I did many experiments with graphite pencils. Here I also used watercolors, one of my favorite supplies. Now I wanted to add some ink drawing as well. It was a lot of fun drawing my current favorite subjects, animals, to this forgotten piece.
Ink pens and watercolors go well together!
First I thought I make this piece a self-portrait by drawing my face on the background. But then I thought about my business name Peony and Parakeet, and how Peony represents beautiful things while Parakeet is for curiosity and play. So the idea of a face changed to a bird. Notice how the elements blend with each other, creating a sense of unity to the piece.
I toned down the bright white areas with yellowish green. I used Daniel Smith’s Rich Green Gold. It’s one of my favorites when painting with watercolors.
Paper Playground in the Studio
My studio has always had a minimalistic feel, but now it has got more and more joyful art that I don’t want to put away!
One of the big joys in January has been the art that has been created by the participants of Animal Inkdom. On Monday, we will start a new module and it’s about drawing birds. I am so excited to see what everyone will create from the class projects.
These paper dolls feel alive to me. They radiate hope that was always present when I was a child. I was living in a dream world most of the times, and back then, there seemed to be nothing extraordinary. But for an adult, it’s amazing what the mind of a child can discover, and sad how we ruin that when starting to follow other people’s expectations.
Art, Hope, and Humor!
There are no boundaries in art. Art includes hope and humor as well. To me, exploring humor joy has revealed new ways to create. I feel that I am now better at delivering a sense of mystery, dealing with dark themes, combining suspense and silliness, and accepting that sometimes art can be so bad that it’s almost the best possible kind of art!
Come to Animal Inkdom to draw with us, we’ll start with the birds on Monday. The previous module “Bees and Butterflies” arrives immediately after signing up, and you are good to go! >> Sign up here!
Here’s what this challenge did to me:
1) Following the prompts and working with black ink only revealed some creative blocks. Becoming aware of these helped me to remove them!
2) I found what I love to draw and it has strengthened my visual voice.
3) I have always liked to draw with non-erasable ink but now I am addicted! I am more creative when I can’t erase the lines.
4) I have a lot of stories to tell that have never found their way to my art before.
5) I like being challenged by weird words that are difficult or even appalling to visualize.
What you can learn from all this:
a) Draw with pen or pencil only now and then so that your voice won’t get hidden behind the products.
b) Write what people have said to you about your creative skills. These may have been good advice back then but irrelevant now.
c) Start a list about things you love – these are also the things you should draw, no matter how superficial or deep they are. Make sure you include some things you loved when you were a child.
d) Give yourself a problem and solve it by drawing. Don’t settle for the obvious solutions!
Strengthening the Visual Voice – Watch the Video!
In the video, you can see all 31 drawings as a flip-through video, some thoughts, and how I used my sketchbook during the challenge.
I also attach the drawings in this blog post with the notes that I wrote for each one during Inktober.
Inktober #13 – Guardian
The external world may be designed for extroverts, but every introvert is a designer and guardian of her own world.
Inktober #14 – Clock
As a child, my favorite play was to be the queen of England. I lived in a small town near the Russian border, and the only real luxury was nature. To me, trees were the pillars of the enormous halls, and I graciously wandered from room to room, repainting every plant and bird in my mind. No matter what’s the time or the place, this is still true: We can’t be the queens of England, but we can all be the queens of Imagination.
Inktober #15 – Weak
Even if all the ties and responsibilities may feel heavy, they are what keep us going through the hard times. Let’s stay connected so that we can support one another!
Inktober #16 – Angular
Have you seen the newest version of The Great Gatsby? It’s directed by Australian Baz Luhrmann, and it’s gorgeous. My favorite scene is the big party scene where everybody dances disco: “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” wearing art deco party dresses in a divine-looking villa with pools, staircases and all. So today and tomorrow my Inktober pieces are dedicated to a big party, and you are all invited!
Inktober #17 – Swollen
Let’s continue the party from yesterday! Imagine that art has two feet. One foot represents the techniques, and the other one is the imagination. Moving forward in one foot only is impossible in the long run. You need both feet. And – even if sometimes your other foot is swollen, don’t let that bother you too much! Here’s to celebrate our creativity!
Inktober #18 – Bottle
If only we could bottle nature inspiration! I would have a stash of Finnish summer days! Now when trees are losing their leaves, I could spray some summer breeze and the smell of peonies!
Inktober #19 – Scorched
Sometimes the process is more beautiful than what comes out of it. All of us who like arts and crafts have experienced that, do you agree?!
Inktober #20 – Breakable
The misconceptions about what we can’t do are breakable. When becoming aware of any of mine, it feels like I have been a bird inside a soap bubble forgetting to use the beak. Why float inside the bubble when you can fly? Let’s believe in ourselves!!
Inktober #21 – Drain
After drawing some ethereal and romantic pieces, I went to a couple of contemporary art exhibitions and this happened! When I was studying industrial design, it was made clear to me that this is NOT the acceptable style to draw. But today, let’s not care about those “don’t”s and “no”s and denials, and let the humor be a part of the art!
Inktober #22 – Expensive
What could be the most expensive bouquet ever? All the four seasons in one bunch!
Inktober #23 – Muddy
I believe in mud and dirt. If life becomes too sterile, it is not enjoyable anymore. That’s why I have animals and house plants, the garden, and I think that those who have children share this thought too. The same principle applies to art as well. If every stroke you paint, every line you draw is controlled and pre-planned, it lacks the soil where the ideas grow. So here’s to celebrate the mud in our lives!
Inktober #24 – Chop
Now when I am well over the halfway, I have started to make a list of things that I love to draw. My list includes stuff like folk art, antique jewelry, glass, fabric, etc. Most of them are quite decorative and luxurious stuff. I have also sliced and chopped these words to less general subjects like Russian handpainted trays, victorian necklaces, crystal, kelim, etc. It has felt like day by day, I am getting more hang of what I really love to illustrate. One item on the list is citrus fruits, oranges, lemons, etc. so I made some for today’s challenge, decorated with jewels and folk art, of course! — Tell me, what’s on your list!
Inktober #25 – Prickly
Virginia Woolf has said: “You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” So when the pot feels prickly and the hat too heavy, there can still be some kind of peace and satisfaction in all that.
Inktober #26 – Stretch
This one is dedicated for all who love to write. Many prepare for NaNoWriMo to write a novel during November. I am more of a visual creator, but there’s definitely risktaking involved in both writing and drawing. You never know where it takes you, but that’s also a big part of the reward!
Inktober #27 – Thunder
Only 4 to go! Really enjoyed drawing this one.
Inktober #28 – Gift
Out of the box, towards the change! Ink pens and watercolor on Bristol paper.
Inktober #29 – Double
When you get to spend time with someone who likes similar things … Thank you, my friend, fantasy artist Eeva Nikunen! Here’s for the friendships between artistic souls!
Inktober #30 – Jolt
When I started this monthly challenge, I was quite timid. First, I used everyday life as an inspiration, but the more I drew, the more I yearned to go on a journey to the hidden world. I have always loved Russian zhostovo paintings, luxury handbags, decorative fabrics, antique jewelry, Dolce & Gabbana … so slowly all the luxury found their way to these drawings.
First, it felt like they would be fragile and disappear soon, but now I can take a hammer and hit them, and they just keep flowing onto paper. I have cried because I have lost a part of my old style and mindset, but after 30 drawings, there’s no hammer big enough to make all of this luxury disappear. Thank you for still following me, I know this has been quite a change for many of you, I hope you continue the journey with me anyway.
Inktober #31 – Slice
After the challenge, I am a like a nomad, carrying all the stuff that has come along with the journey, wondering what will happen next. Time will tell! Here, have a slice of cake with me to celebrate both this accomplishment and Happy Halloween!