In 2009 Jake Parker, an illustrator and teacher in Utah, decided he wanted to challenge himself with 31 days of ink drawings to improve his inking and generate some positive habits for himself. I’ve participated in Inktober for the last three years and this year, when the 31 day challenge was complete, I didn’t feel super accomplished. Maybe because they didn’t offer my size shirt this year or maybe because I decided to make every one of the pieces about an opossum that more resembles a rat. Whatever the reason, I just felt a bit empty.
Instead of doubling down on the feeling, I decided maybe I need to improve my art style. It seems like most of the time I only really produce anything creatively during Inktober and I’m not really happy with most of it. I work ten hours a day (sometimes up to 14) and I’m out of town three weeks of the month so it’s kind of difficult to stay motivated to do anything. My wife tries to motivate me, but other people cheering me on just makes me feel worse. So…. here I sit… stagnating. I decided to start from scratch and started watching training videos and procrastinating. My figure study mojo is basically gone and I became more discouraged. I wanted something different than a back to basic approach and was feeling more lost than before. But there’s hope.
I decided that if Jake Parker can do it, challenging himself to 31 days of inking, I can do it too. What do I want to improve? I have always loved watercolor and how the colors flow together but I’ve never been great at it. The first piece of art I ever sold was a frog in water color, but it wasn’t what I would consider awesome. On top of that, I’m always saying “I’m not really an artist anymore. All I do is illustrate”. I want to change that self perception. Illustration IS art. Anything creative that brings some beauty to the world is art. Anything requiring skill and understanding is art. I’m hoping to change my perception and improve the skill. On top of that, I want to continue inking and improve my draftsmanship. I have a very tiny tremor… nothing major just a little shake (like too much caffeine or I’m really excited about something), but it keeps me from drawing a straight line. I want to either improve that or come to accept my sketchy line-work which is far more likely.
I don’t expect this to become a movement like Inktober. We’re not all Jake Parker, but I want it to feel like I’m accomplishing something. I’m trying to trick my brain into self-motivated-accountability-mode. I’ve created a logo and I’ve got a Tee-Spring store with merch which I will be proud to earn for myself as I go through the challenge. So, what is the challenge? A line and wash, ink and ink-wash, or watercolor piece daily for each and every day of winter. Astronomical winter is Saturday 21 December 2019 through Thursday 19 March 2020. That’s 90 days worth of art and I’m calling it Line and Wash Winter. Also, to keep things interesting, I’m taking yet another page out of Mr. Parker’s book. I’m working from a randomly generated list of prompts. My wife chose 10 words and a random word generator took care of the rest.
Do I expect to be successful? Well maybe. I can’t claim to be the most focused and least lazy person on the planet. I can only hope that this keeps me on track. I’d love to look back on this experiment and feel like I’ve accomplished something like I did that first inktober.
Check the Line and Wash Winter Page for more details on Rules and the word prompt. I’ve released the word prompt list a little early because this is a lot of work and I think some pre-gaming is in order.