Birds, Hedgehog, Plants, Pollinators, Pond, Visits, Wildlife

Gardenwatch #inktober2020

October 2020 has been a gardenwatch month like no other, without a single blog post. Later this month this blog heads into its 15th year and I could never have imagined it would have taken me back to my creative roots and drawing with gardenwatching as the inspiration. 31 days of daily drawings on subjects that I would never had considered drawing had it not been for this blog. Thank-you to everyone that has followed and posted comments over the years, you have been part of this.

Returning to ink drawing and now experimenting with watercolours is a fairly recent thing, the last two years. My drawing hand is a tad rusty and I’ve been a bit start/stop in trying to get back into it, but having a tight deadline works somehow. Taking on an online art challenge and braving posting sketches online, with so many amazing creative people, was a something I wasn’t sure I was brave enough for. My sketches wouldn’t be perfect, but it was about commitment in trying to complete them and gaining confidence along the way. That was my focus. I used a small moleskin watercolour sketchbook that was sitting unused on a shelf. A fountain pen was ordered a week in, to experiment with that. Something I’ve always fancied doing.

So what is inktober? Well, it is an online art challenge with a daily prompt list as inspiration for a subject to draw. It’s about developing positive drawing habits and has been going since 2009. I had never heard of it until recently. Once I decided to go for it, it made sense to me to make the prompt list fit with a gardenwatch theme and keep that throughout. Hmm that was a tad more challenging than I expected at times. Other times it was very easy. Time was the other challenge, my intention for quick sketching didn’t quite work out, just as my intention for a quick blog doesn’t either 😉

Twitter was where I took part in this art challenge, taking phone photos direct from my sketchbook. I liked seeing it as an informal snapshot of the day’s sketch. Colour varied with different light levels during the day and pages curved as I went through my book. I quite liked that. All sketches, bar one, were completed on the correct day. There are sections where the date order is out of sync as I preferred to work on the right hand side for some sketches. I kept changing my mind on working on just one side too, then I changed it back again!

All sketches below, apart from a house plant that sits on the windowsill of my gardenwatch window, are taken from images in the garden and many have been posted here at some point over the years. They mostly appear as they are in my sketchbook, in a double page spread. I cropped my handwriting off in all but the feature image above. Many are landscape but with so many (I wanted to include every one) I chose not to post them singly. Landscape sketches will appear on their side with the top being the centre of the double page on most of them.

For this blog post memory, the sketches were scanned with a colour setting chosen to match the average. There was never going to be a perfect sketchbook or viewing screen resolution match. Colour is really an add on here anyway, with this challenge being in ink drawing, my favourite. Exploring the ink/watercolour mix is fun though. All sketches have been digitally given softened edges to make them more uniform when some backgrounds are dark and some light.

Indigo was the colour chosen for the infrared sketches. The fox and hedgehog above was an instant favourite from the start ( a video grab of this meeting) and still remained so at the end. This was from Day 3 with inktober subject prompt ‘Bulky’. This gardenwatch fit refers to how bulky the hedgehog looks when its spines go up when under threat. I had never drawn animals and was thrilled that there was some likeness to the scared fox. Drawing beetles and ladybirds was not something I would have tried either, but thanks to this gardenwatch blog I had a go.

Over the years, taking photos for this blog have revealed small details in birds and other wildlife that are never properly seen when just watching them. So many surprises have been found when uploading images, including other species being in the frame too tiny to see when taking it. Drawing them, took that to another level. This exercise has opened my eyes to different details in garden visitors, like the the different lengths and widths of feathers on a Sparrowhawk’s back. If taking a photo the focus would be more on the head and the eyes being clear and the feathers an add on.

Inktober was a lot of work, make no mistake, but a wonderful focus for the month of October and one I will always remember fondly. My family enjoyed the daily focus too, helping with the brainstorming of gardenwatch fits for the daily prompts. I really enjoyed sharing the experience with them. This challenge wasn’t completely over until I shared the daily sketches here, feeling this is a brave move now too especially with them all in the one place. It’s a special gardenwatch record for me. After time playing with photo montages etc I finally went back to the basics of the double page spreads of a sketchbook.

If you have found yourself reading this, I hope you are well and keeping safe. I’m looking forward to catching up with the blogging world again soon and wondering if other bloggers have been setting themselves challenges too. Maybe I’ll discover a good variety when I start browsing. Sending my best wishes to you all. Here are the results of my first inktober challenge…

Day 1 Prompt was ‘Fish’, best fit was the heron that went fishing in wildlife pond.
Day 2 Prompt was ‘Wisp’, best fit was the wispy Bill McKenzie, clematis seed head.
Day 4 Prompt was ‘Radio’, best fit was the antennae of a social wasp, this was fun.
Day 5 Prompt was ‘Blade’, best fit was ornamental grass that hedgehogs forage under.
Days 7 Prompt was ‘Fancy, best fit was the fanciest bird to visit garden, the Waxwing.
Day 6 Prompt was ‘Rodent’, I hadn’t realised our beloved Red Squirrel was classed as one.
Day 8 Prompt was ‘Teeth’, I had no idea snails had around 14,000, in many rows.
Day 9 Prompt was ‘Throw’, it had to be the ball shape of roosting blue tit in nestbox.
Day 10 Prompt was ‘Hope’, thoughts went to the frogspawn survival & all pond wildlife.
Day 11 Prompt was ‘Disgusting’, the ladybird was best here, tasting foul to predators.
Days 13 Prompt was ‘Dune’, drifts of snow with bird food scattered on ground was best here.
Day 12 Prompt was ‘Slippery’, an old photo of frog slipping out small pond was the fit.
Day 14 Prompt was ‘Armor’, sees a soldier beetle lifting its armour about to fly.
Day 16 Prompt was ‘Rocket’, with a small, tight flowered foxglove as the fit.
Day 17 Prompt was ‘Storm’, was the hardy goldfinches at feeders in any weather.
Day 15 Prompt was ‘Outpost’, was house martens nesting at the front of house.
Day 18 Prompt was Trap’, a double page image for the danger of litter to wildlife.
This small sweet bag nearly suffocated a hedgehog. I pulled it off in horror.
Day 19 Prompt was ‘Dizzy’, and memories of feeling exactly that on a windy beach visit.
I was transfixed trying to take photos of cinnabar moths feeding on ragwort.
Day 21 Prompt was ‘Sleep’, best fit was an aloe vera , the oxygen it emits can help sleep.
Day 22Prompt was ‘Coral’, best fit was colour related with penstemon bells that bees love.
Day 22 Prompt was ‘Chef’, this one was tricky. I went through all images of bird feeding experiments and found this Jan 2011 one, the garden chef’s hidden plater selection.
Day 24 Prompt was ‘Dig’, one of the small pond’s rebuilds was best fit here.
Day 23 Prompt was ‘Rip’, Sparrowhawks have been seen ripping their prey in garden.
Day 25 Prompt was ‘Buddy’, it was through feeding guinea pigs that we discovered
hedgehogs visited here. Day 26 Prompt ‘Hide’, sees mice hiding under bird feeders.
Day 27 prompt ‘Music’, is male blackcap with 2nd best song in top 10 British birds.
Day 28 Prompt ‘Float’, had to be the boatman in the pond having caught a ladybird.
Day 29 Prompt ‘Shoes’, went tech with tripods needing to have sturdy shoes.
Day 30 Prompt ‘Ominous’, best fit was a large spider falling down on me in the garden.
Day 31 Prompt ‘Crawl’, was always going to be damselfly nymphs crawling up pond plants to shed their skin and emerge as adults. They are almost transparent as they dry their wings.

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch on November 3rd 2020.

4 thoughts on “Gardenwatch #inktober2020

  1. Your sketches are brilliant. It is so true that you set the world very differently through the eye of the camera. That’s my challenge this year – to learn more about my camera

    1. Thank-you Sue, looking back through my sketchbook is great, I can’t believe I attempted these subjects. it was great practise, I need more subjects now to keep going. I’ve never had a populated sketchbook since my teens, I’m loving it, I keep picking it up and flicking through the pages.

      Yes, to the camera outlook. You take great images already Sue, enjoy challenging yourself there. Wishing you many different and dramatic skies to experiment with. I’m thinking skies are a very big challenge, enjoy! Best wishes to you both.

  2. Thanks for sharing these Shirley. You are a woman of many talents! It is years since I last used my watercolours and I keep thinking I should dig them out.

  3. Thank-you Anna, It has been pen work that I was really returning to here with the watercolours being quite a recent thing. I do hope you dig out your paints again and enjoy working with them. Your snowdrops would be a great subject 😉

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