Today is October 1, the first day of “inktober” 2018.
For more information on what Inktober is, and how to participate or just enjoy, see my previous post on Inktober.
Pencil, pen & ink, watercolor & gouache on paper, roughly 9 x 12″ (24 x 32 cm) and 12 x 9″ (31 x 24 cm), respectively.
As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts on “Not the usual Van Goghs“, in a dedicated art career that barely spanned ten years, Vincent van Gogh was prolific, leaving over 900 paintings and more than 1,000 drawings. Yet art book publishers and museum curators often feel obliged to show you the same few “greatest hits” over and over.
They have a freshness, immediacy and feeling of location that would be the envy of many contemporary “urban sketchers”.
I think they also show the influence of the Impressionists he encountered in Paris, as well as the Japanese prints that were popular among French artists of the time, and which Van Gogh collected and sometimes emulated.
Inktober started as a challenge illustrator and cartoonist Jake Parker set himself in October of 2009, to draw 31 ink drawings in 31 days.
The goal, as in any exercise of this sort, was to get better end develop a more consistent working practice.
He repeated the idea the next year, promoting the notion that others should join him, and since then it has grown into a worldwide endeavor.
If you search on Twitter, Instagram or other social media platforms for #inktober, or #inktober2017, you’ll find the stream of those currently participating.
There is a lot of variation in style and level of ability, from novice to professional, and that’s part of what makes it such a great practice. There is no barrier to entry.
It’s not a contest, there are no real requirements or central authority deciding who can participate.
The rules, such as there are, are simple: do an ink drawing and post it online with the hashtags #inktober and #inktober2017 — repeat every day in October.
Even though this is the fifth day, it’s not too late to join in, I see lots of posts that say “late to the party” or “just joining in”. If you want to, you can throw in a few extra drawings along the way to come up with 31 by the end of the month.
You don’t have to use a dip pen or anything fancy; anything that makes marks in ink counts: ballpoint pens, markers, brush pens, whatever. The drawings don’t have to be elaborate or finished, and you can add color or not as you choose.
If you need suggestions for subject matter, there is an official prompt of 31 subjects on the Inktober website.
You don’t have to follow it, though. Lots of people make their own prompt list, or choose to do a single subject (e.g. cats, cars, portraits or monsters….), or just do whatever comes to you.
You can look through the social media feeds to see what others are doing, or simply for the enjoyment of it.
You will encounter a lot of work by beginners, and this is a Good Thing; part of the value of the practice is encouraging folks to get started. If you’re looking through with the thought of finding professional work, you might do better to seek the more curated experience of following Jake Parker’s Twitter feed, or the @inktober feed.
The images above are just some examples (mostly by professionals) that caught my eye. I particularly enjoy those images in which the artist has included their drawing tools in the photo with the drawing.
(Images above [some of these names are just Twitter handles]: Jake Parker, Moemai, Max Dunbar, Meredith Dillman, Abbe Branberg, Camille Marie, Chordephra, Loish, Alyssa Tallent, Jason Chan, Mack Chater, Sweeny Boo, Yuko Shimizu, Paul Heaston, Nick Nikopoulos, Stoaty Weasel, Ian McQue, Ira Sluyterman van Langeweyde)
Phil Dean is a British urban sketcher, who also goes by the handle “Shoreditch Sketcher” after the neighborhood in East London where he lives.
Dean avidly sketches the landmarks, streets and byways of London, both historic and modern, as well as documenting his travels to other cities. His style is a nice balance of loose rendering over solid draftsmanship and perspective.
He often takes an approach that is somewhat unusual for location sketching, using pen with both dark wash and white highlights on toned paper. This is a a technique more common to figure drawing, but it works wonderfully well in Dean’s drawings.
I couldn’t find much information on his materials, but in photos he appears to be using primarily markers, and I also came across reference to a fountain pen.
Stephanie Bower is an architectural illustrator and avid urban sketcher based in Seattle.
Like a number of other architectural illustrators who are also sketchers or watercolor painters in their off hours, Bower’s location sketches have a wonderful combination of loose, gestural rendering over a solid framework of perspective and geometric forms.
I particularly admire her fearless handling of complex cityscape panoramas and large interiors, like cathedrals and churches. She has a deft touch with her application of watercolor, adding enough to give her compositions color and presence, but allowing the pencil drawing to remain a strong part of the finished piece.
Her website is devoted to her professional architectural rendering, of which you can see a couple of examples above, third and fourth from the bottom. Even though more formal than her sketches, her line and watercolor illustrations have a warmth and visual appeal that the CGI modeling renders that seem to be dominating the field these days lack.
Her sketches can also be found on the Urban Sketchers site (note links to multiple pages at bottom), where she is a correspondent. She also teaches workshops at Urban Sketchers events. There is a brief video introduction of Bower in that role on YouTube.
She is also the author of one of the books in the Urban Sketching Handbook Series: The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Perspective.
What started as a modest intention to chronicle his travels on a book tour — in a way mirroring the journaled adventures of the character Authur Denison in Gurney’s popular illustrated adventure series, Dinotopia — has grown over time into not only a superb blog among art blogs, but one of the most in-depth and useful sources of art information and instruction on the web.
Gurney has been unstintingly generous in sharing his experience as an illustrator, author, plein air painter, instructor, model maker, videographer, and restless experimenter and investigator of artistic topics.
Over the course of time his posts on painting techniques, equipment, paints, color theory, drawing, and related topics have been turned into instructional books, YouTube videos, and most recently, a series of full-length instruction art videos.
Gurney has been a proponent of misunderstood and often overlooked painting mediums like gouache and casein, and Gurney Journey remains one of the definitive sources on the web for information and instruction in their use.
Long time readers of Lines and Colors will know I’ve long enjoyed Gurney Journey and recommended it often, along with Gurney’s other projects.
For those who may be new to Gurney Journey, I will recommend that you take a look at the post he did in 2016 on the landmark of 4,000 posts. In it he links to a quick overview of some of the most prominent topics. You can also explore using the list of topics in the blog’s left column, or the search feature at the upper left of all pages.
If you take the plunge, I will issue my Timesink Warning, and point out that I fell down that rabbit hole myself for a couple of hours while preparing this post, bookmarking along the way numerous articles I had forgotten about for future reference.