This will be my first year participating in Inktober but having participated in a variety of art challenges over the last year I feel adequately prepared to take it on. I’ve been wanting to include more art posts on this blog and Inktober is a great time to start!
If you’re new to Inktober, the rules are fairly simple as outlined here.
1) Make a drawing in ink (you can do a pencil under-drawing if you want).
2) Post it*
3) Hashtag it with #inktober and #inktober2018
Although these are the official rules I have seen a lot of artists take it as an opportunity to be creative under an extreme time constraint. There is an official prompt list on the rules page but after thinking on it for awhile I decided that rather than removing a block they left me pondering what to draw for too long.
I started participating in Instagram challenges last year ( @floralsyourway, @botanicallinedrawing and several others) as a way to challenge myself to have something to post and a way to participate in the art community on Instagram. I still have all of my old posts up and they’re an excellent reminder of how enriching the process of an art challenge can be no matter your skill level, experience or motivation.
If you’re interested in participating in Inktober but need motivation, support or something to help you procrastinate these are my tips based on other challenges I have participated in, succeeded at and failed at.
I made my own prompt list for Inktober 2018. I browsed a lot of Inktober lists, saved many of them and found many of them to be so inspiring and exciting but then I realized that I’m a bit slow because I’m still gaining confidence in my drawing skills especially (and if you follow the official rules inking/drawing skills are part of the learning/participation curve). I’m faster with watercolor but I wanted to stick to the rules because it will help me improve. So I made a list of my own based on projects I have wanted to try all year as well as takes on prompts I had seen and prompts based on images I’ve been finding inspiring lately. They are specific enough that I already have a direction for when I sit down to start drawing but I can modify them if I find myself extremely inspired.
2. The rule of drawing daily every day is there to inspire you to get in the habit of working regardless of inspiration.
I know that some people stick to the rules and see sketching or preparing ahead of time as a bit of a cheat. I used to think that but I found myself failing challenges when after five days of consistent drawing I had a day that was packed with important and unexpected things that kept me away from my sketchbook all day. By the end of the day I was tired and could not will myself to do it. Then the next day I felt I had failed because I should have figured out how to get it done. Then by the end of the month I had lost my momentum and was disappointed at myself for failing at a challenge that I really enjoyed participating in.
In July during my move I completed the whole month of the Florals Your Way challenge. I did this because when I saw the prompts I decided that I wanted to finish every single one and that I would find a way to do that while moving. When I saw the prompts I immediately looked up reference photos to see what the flowers looked like so I could start thinking about how I wanted to approach each one. Then I made sketches. My new approach to challenges is that sketching and finding references is a way to ensure that I can have days off to spend an entire weekend moving and still not fail myself in a self directed challenge. There were a couple days where I did two challenge prompts (thus completing them ahead of their “due” date) but for me the challenge was about finishing the prompts. Even though I was tired by the end of the month and had a few days where I wasn’t at all inspired I felt energized because I had set myself up to succeed rather than wasting energy lamenting my failure to do it perfectly.
3. Don’t just share and wait for likes.
Immediately after sharing my completed first prompt I began looking for other people participating in Inktober. When I first started my Instagram I was nervous that no one would want to view my work and felt disappointed at my low follower count unsure if I should even bother posting more. And then I realized that instead of waiting for other people to connect to me I should connect with people who use the same hashtags as I do because we’re interested in some of the same things and no algorithm will connect us as well as we can connect to each other.
Every challenge I have completed I have completed because I was connected to others participating in the challenge and found their work inspiring either because we were both at similar skill levels struggling to figure out how to represent what was in our heads or because I would find people whose work was beautiful who were experiencing the same struggle as I was but just happened to be further along. And then people commented on my work and I realized that there were other people who were somewhere a bit behind me learning lessons I had already learned and a helpful word would help them keep going.
The best energizer I have found in the monthly art challenges is actually commenting on other people’s work. It keeps me from focusing on how many likes I do or don’t get and makes me excited for the next day’s prompt and opportunity to see other people’s take on the challenge.
If you’re participating in Inktober this year, leave me a comment so I can check out what you’re up to! I know you’ll have a great time. There will be some days where you draw a couple lines and they aren’t exciting or inspiring but that’s good–you’re getting the bad stuff out of your head to make room for the inspiration that’s waiting just around the corner.