What I Learned from Inktober

One of my favorites this is from day 15

(I would like to apologize in advance for this being so long, but I learned a lot)

It’s November, I was unfortunately unable to finish inktober. I have 19 posted, however have sketched all

but two days and inked 7 or 8 of those, just not completely.

It’s a mixture of emotions that I wasn’t able to complete inktober this year.

On the one hand I’m quite upset that I didn’t finish the remaining days.. I got behind by 6 prompts on the last week and was never really able to recover.

I can’t help feeling like I failed…

I do see the reasons for the failure though, and learing is the better than lucky success, which I’m fairly convinced is what it would have been if I had completed inktober this year.

There are a few reasons I feel this way..

  • I did not plan at all!

I jumped in head first and last minute.

  • I did not find a good list of prompts for me..

I was only interested in half of the list and became bored quickly by the other half.

  • I mixed two prompt lists together..

This gave me very specific parameters and scenarios. I was not able to be creative with the prompt because there were two that I had to be combined.

  • In the beginning I made very large pieces..

This took up a lot of time. I did not change this until practically halfway through, and even then I only cut the sizes in half going from 11 by 15 to 11 by 7 1/2. Making the size more manageable would have cut down on time and not made me feel like I had to fill the space as much.

  • Time management..

I already mentioned that I didn’t plan, but this really was a huge problem! I spent about 8 to 10 hours on each piece, with the exception of maybe one or two.
This was because I had so many pieces to catch up on that I was unable to spend time on those particular prompts.

Now, for the positive impact, I feel like I have improved my art overall by not only starting, but finishing pieces.

I have encouraged myself to sketch daily and do most of the time. I feel like my sketching abilities have gotten better, but my work overall has not seen this much improvement, this quickly, ever.

Ink is now something that I am very comfortable with which is a great result of inktober! (I primarily used dip pens and Bombay inda ink)

I was looking into doing grisaia (pronounced griz-eye) paintings, which is when you put the values in grayscale with some sort of permanent, waterproof, not water resistant ink, paint, etc. Then add color by glazing over the entire piece using watercolors or other mostly transparent color.

It seems like something I can do now because of how much experience I have using the inks in a watercolor like application.

Halfway through inktober, I started to become excited about making art again. I have never lost interest in art but, I do become frustrated with the constant struggle of what I see in my head and what ends up being on paper…

I’ve been trying for years and I thought I practiced as much as possible. What I underestimated, was the act of finishing pieces!

You know a lot of people will tell you that good sketching habits are the building blocks of a good piece of art, but I have found that for me at least, practicing, by completing your pieces, is the quickest and most efficient way to improve my over all work.

It’s still just practice, but it’s practicing everything!

I became excited by the idea of using the mediums that I love, watercolor, soft pastels, oil pastels, inks and watercolor pencils in my work with this improvement.

I recently heard a story that a teacher separated a pottery class into two groups.

He told half the class that they would get a passing grade for the amount of pottery that was finished and grading would be done by pounds. 40 lb you get B, 50 lb you get an A, 60 pounds you get an A+, and so on.

The other half only had to make one piece by the end of the class.

There was a competition of who made the best piece at the end of the semester.

The old adage of quality over quantity would have you thinking that one of the people who had the entire semester to work on one ultimate piece would be the winner, but no.

It was in fact one of the people that had to make the most pieces of pottery that created the best piece.

The act of practicing start to finish is what truly does improve your skills.

I’m not saying that quality should be sacrificed for quantity, but putting your all into many pieces and challenges like this really does seem to bring out a certain level of improvement that I have not seen with simply making pieces and taking tons and tons of time on them. Especially since, ultimately I’m not happy with where I am as an artist.

I feel a lack in talent because I’m not able to take what I’m seeing and translate it into what I’m making.

It’s not that I’m a bad artist, it’s not about talent, it’s simply a lack of practice in my style.

In the start-to-finish process, I often really like my sketches, but end up not liking the piece finished.

Why? Because I haven’t put in the time to learn how to use my mediums the way I did for my sketches.

I am not practicing the finishing part. I am not practicing that ultimate render that I am striving for. I’m so focused on the sketch and whether or not I like the piece at the end of it, that I’m not moving on quickly enough to really gain a good understanding. I’m so afraid to do the things that I am not good at that I’m holding myself back as an artist.

For example: I don’t consider myself good at people. So, I usually stay away from drawing people unless I’m doing studies to improve my anatomy.

My sketches of anatomy have gotten better over the years, but I never felt like I could fully render a finished piece to my liking.

I became better at people this past month, because I rendered those sketches and I didn’t have time to worry about ruining it because I had to get on to the next one.

The challenge pushed me to do things that I wasn’t normally doing. I get a bit panicky about backgrounds because I feel like I’m not good enough at them to make them look as realistic as I like. However, because some of the drawings that I had to do would have looked stupid without a background, I had to do lots of backgrounds. Which has now made me more comfortable with doing them and I now feel like I am good enough at them that I’m not afraid to put them into my work.

To be honest even though I did not complete inktober, I feel like it has made me grow so much as an artist. That I would definitely do it again, even without planning, just because of how much more confident I am as an artist.

Although in the future, if I have time before hand I definitely think I would want to at least do the sketches of the weekend prompts before hand. That’s really where I got behind because I was not able to do anything on the weekends.

The other major thing that I realized was that I do have the time to make art.

As it is my long-term hobby and love, I don’t always donate as much time to it as I want to or as I should. I let everything else bog me down and make it impossible for me to really focus on my work.

Essentially, this last month, I didn’t have time to think about why I didn’t have time to do this.

I had to get things done. If I had to make 5 finished pieces in a day to get myself back ahead then that’s what I had to do. If I had to spend 7 hours, 8 hours, or 10 hours on a piece to get it finished then that’s what I did.

I realized how much time I have to draw when I make time to draw, or paint, or ink, or whatever.

I let my responsibilities bog me down, but I have to make my art a priority, a responsibility, because it’s something I’m passionate about, something I want to do for a living, and I am never going to get to the point where I can do that if I don’t put in the time.

It’s just as important as making dinner, doing the laundry, or taking care of (insert responsibility here)

It is a responsibility to myself, it is the thing that makes me sane, the thing that I love to do, and it also needs to have a place in my life.

It’s not “Hey, I’ll get to it eventually.” because you never will.

It really is something you have to make time for it and if you don’t then that’s on you.

I grew up hearing about people who play sports and how they say that in baseball the person that hits the most home runs is the person that’s also missed the most. The person that makes the most baskets in basketball, is also the person that has missed the most baskets. It’s not necessarily about the failure, it’s about the practice.

So, why don’t we apply that idea to Art?

The person that makes the most finished pieces, that makes the most effort, the most practice, that is who is going to be the best artist that that person can be.

It’s not about being better than some other artist, it’s about being better than yourself. It’s about pushing yourself to be at the place where you want to be.

As artists we are never happy with where we are. We always want to be better, but until we take the time to practice as much as anybody else does at anything else. We will never achieve our ultimate goal of creating something that we can be truly, truly proud of

I want to look back on where I started and say I did better. I improved. I did this.

I don’t think it matters if you have that mentality in art school or just as a self-taught artist. Most of the Masters never went to Art School either.

How good of an artist you are, no matter your style does not depend on anyone else but you.

What did you think? Leave a comment!