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