We’re into the first few days of the Inktober drawing challenge—have you joined yet? This month artists are challenging themselves to create an ink drawing each day, and we’re excited to see what people are creating. Art challenges are a great way to build up a daily creative habit and improve your skills, and this is a really fun one.
Artist Jake Parker created Inktober in 2009 as a way to develop his own inking skills, and the event has grown considerably, with thousands of people all over the world sharing their work on social media with the hashtag #Inktober. As I’ve mentioned before, my goal with the challenge is to spend quality time with my dip pens and inks, and discover what we can do together.
To prepare for a month of drawing with ink, I amassed some vintage nibs, a couple of nib holders, staked out a sketchbook with nice, smooth paper, and treated myself to some new inks, including calligraphy and acrylic. Some of the inks are waterproof, while others are water soluble; since I’ll be incorporating my drawings with mixed media, it’s nice to have a choice.
I spent the first few pre-Inktober days getting familiar with my pens and inks, discovering what effects I could get, and how best to use them. On this page, I experimented with a round nib and water-soluble blue-black calligraphy ink. I love the bold lines I got with the nib, and the deep blue ink color is seriously gorgeous.
With an extra-fine nib and red-brown ink I created some quick sketches and tested out various line widths by pressing the nib harder against the paper.
I’m eager to try the pens with watercolor, see what effects I can get with acrylic inks, and draw on various types of papers and ephemera—a great excuse to use up some of my ever-growing stash.
By the way, you don’t have to know how to draw to take part in Inktober. Create doodles, shapes, lettering, or patterns with ink. If you want to learn some drawing skills, go for it! The excitement is in where a daily habit like this can take you.
If you need inspiration, you’ve definitely come to the right place. Cloth Paper Scissors artists love using inks, and you’ll find even more ink-centric projects in our Art and Lettering Lessons. Take, for example, Kari McKnight Holbrook’s Lettering Lesson Volume 8: The Fine-Line Painting Pen. She uses a unique metal tool that delivers a fine line of ink via a little reservoir, allowing you to easily create beautiful letters and images. The reservoir lets you cover a lot of ground before refilling.
As Kari explains in the lesson, “The look is a bit organic, with depth of lights and darks within even the thinnest of lines, mimicking the lines produced with a dip pen.” The tool doesn’t rust, and can be used with ink, watercolor, and acrylic, and oil paints. I tried it and loved it, and in almost no time I was creating gorgeous letters and doodles, and mixing colors easily. You really need to give this one a go.
Looking for a way to really let go? Karen O’Brien has you covered. Imagine using the dropper from an acrylic ink bottle—just the dropper—to draw. She shows how in her book Imaginary Characters, saying that these ink drawings “can be a freeing starting point for a painting or journal page. Using a dropper as a drawing tool forces you to stay loose and expressive.”
Karen’s ink techniques for creating can also be found in Faces magazine; she uses an ink dropper to create the basic elements of a face, allows it to drip, then adds pencil, acrylic paint, and more to complete the piece.
A technique I’m in love with is using sumi ink with watercolor to create etegami, a type of traditional Japanese folk art. In “Mixed-Media Etegami” in the July/August issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, Diana Trout uses the jet-black ink to enhance postcards with renderings of natural elements such as flowers and fruit. Working with this ink in conjunction with watercolor makes for absolutely beautiful artwork, which can be enhanced even more with ephemera and washi tape.
There’s so much more to explore, and we have just the resources to get you started. Start today and join the Inktober challenge! (Inktober was created by Jake Parker. “Inktober” and its logo are trademarks of JP Creative LLC, and are used with permission. For more information, go to inktober.com.)