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Leaning into My Art Fears - Diving into Pen & Ink

This past October I participated in the Inktober drawing challenge. If you’re not familiar with Inktober, it’s essentially a month long art exercise with the rough goal of drawing something with ink for each day of October. That something could be anything, but many people follow a prompt list established before the challenge begins.

In past years I created 1 or 2 ink drawings for this challenge, but the idea of drawing and posting one drawing a day for 31 days was too intimidating. Ink has never been a medium that I felt confident with and for that reason I wasn’t motivated to practice.

The lack of confidence was due to the inherent permanent nature of ink. When I’m drawing with a pencil, I rely heavily on my eraser to redesign the image until it’s just right. This obviously isn’t an option with ink. I remember a few occasions working on an ink drawing, cautiously optimistic about how the sketch was progressing. Then something unfortunate would happen. I would make a few marks I wasn’t happy with; lines that threw the image off. My inner voice started talking:

Should I draw over top of the mistake?

How can I fix this?

Ugh, I have to start over...

A few difficult experiences like this led me to believe this medium was too difficult for me to learn. Failing at something is hard and it was much easier to stay in my zone of familiarity (pencil and watercolours) than it was to make an effort to expand that zone.

These days I’m trying more and more to lean into the areas where I don’t feel comfortable. I know from experience that if I practice something consistently, I will eventually improve even if progress is slow. I also had to remind myself that mistakes are okay and they’re a necessary part of the process. With this mindset, the 31 day challenge felt possible. In preparation I created my own prompt list of forest animals so that each day I was excited about the subject I was to draw.

Over the course of the month, my relationship with ink shifted from doubt and trepidation to excitement and curiosity. Once the challenge ended, I wanted to continue practicing with this medium so I signed up for an online course led by ink artist Sorie Kim. There is so much to learn and I’m confident that any ink knowledge I gain will be applicable to other fields of my art.

If you’re like me and avoiding practicing something you want to improve at, I’m here to tell you that you can do it! You will get better at that thing if you stick with it.


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