Challenge Me

From time to time I think most artists will encounter a block, much like writer’s block, or as I like to call it, white canvas syndrome. If you make a living with your art, there is nothing more frightening than that endless blank canvas or paper waiting… Personally to combat this stomach knotting, twilight zone of emptiness, I’ve used various tricks, tools, incantations, whatever you want to call them, to get back to a more productive zone. I’ve done things like just go and sit in my work space, or studio if you will, and go over old ideas I’ve written about or tried, looked through art books, and more currently gone online for some free inspiration. Sometimes I write up a list of categories, such as wildlife (the animal kind, sadly I have none of the other), or just simply goof around looking through photos I like. But there is one more concrete tool that I have found to be useful, and that is the “art challenge”. In particular ink challenges, or more specifically “Inktober”. Created in 2009 by Jake Parker, an ink artist who was looking for something to ” improve his inking skills, and to develop more positive drawing habits.” Something I know I can always use, as there are so many distractions on top of real life needs, that it becomes very easy for weeks to slip by without creating something, and for the old ferrules to get rusty.

The prompt for this was “graceful”.

Therefore its crucial to find something that not only gets us off of our sorry excuses, but to also find something that is fun, challenging and engaging. For myself I have found that Inktober fits the bill. The premise of Inktober, is this; For each day of the month leading up to Halloween, there is a list of “prompts” . They don’t always have to do with Halloween, but generally they do. But it isn’t a rule or anything that you have to interpret the prompts that way either. Again it is meant to get you excited about creating something. It’s always interesting to see what other’s take is on each prompt. There is a massive range of ideas, styles, and talents submitted each year. I prefer not to look at other’s work for the day, so as not to be influenced. After you have drawn your idea, you upload it to the site on Twitter with a few different hashtags. I have even been surprised myself by what interpretations pop out of my head, heheh. They often take a completely different turn as I work on them, than what I had planned.

“Deep”

I used to use pen and ink quite a bit, back in the day in the “purest” form. Actual pens with removable nibs and small bottles of ink. There was something almost sacred about picking up these supplies, lining them up on my art table and working like the old masters did, learning by trial and error how to use this medium, careful not to splotch my work. Most of the time these were smaller pieces, and were very detailed. Like any time I am working, I tend to lose track of time and sometimes it feels almost mystical. I normally use either oils, or acrylics, mostly the latter lately. So it’s fun to take a month and work in a completely different medium. I highly recommend Inktober. Since Mr. Parker started it back in 2009, Inktober has grown exponentially into a massive worldwide endeavor. I’m posting some of my Inktober challenges for you here to see for yourself the strange, interesting and sometimes odd places it will take you. Enjoy, and I hope you take up the challenge. See you next time!

“Furious”
I did this as a “mash up” of two day’s of prompts, “trail and juicy”. I thought it was pretty clever, heheh.
“Ship”
“Squeak”
Another “mash up” “Climb & Fall” (It works both ways.)
“United”
“Mask”

“Drain”
“Poison”
“Tranquil”
“Precious”
“Angular”
“Bottle”
“Whale”
“Muddy”
“Prickly”
“Chop”

PS Please take a look at my site on Etsy- oMordah etsy.com/shop/omordah for originals and prints of my work. There is a price range so everyone can have some sweet art 🙂

Born Out Of Time

Is daydreaming a prerequisite of being an artist? So many I have known, and including myself tend to have this trait to one degree or another. For myself it is a necessary requirement of the job, letting my mind wander, and rest, gives me a clearer vision of what I want to do. As well as takes me on impossible flights of fancy, (which may not always be a good thing, ) but it is essential.

One thing I’ve always daydreamed about is being part of, what feels like to me, some of the more important times and births of genres in the history of art; The Renaissance, the time of the Impressionist, the Abstract painters of the 20th century, (I only missed that one by a few decades), as well as the coming of age of comic art. To have been included in one of these circles of great minds and talents would have been an incredible experience.

The era that I’ve always felt most drawn to, almost as if I had been there, was the time of the Impressionists. What an exciting, brave romantic time of a burgeoning artistic genre and group of artists to have been part of!

It was bold, and difficult. They were mocked, and bullied by fellow artists. The official royal salon did not accept them. It was most likely when the terrible lable of “starving artist” came to be, and most certainly was true in many cases. Because they were creating a new, often maligned artistic style, it was a constant struggle. Often even amongst themselves, the impressionist artist couldn’t always agree about what was “acceptable ” and what was just “too far”.

Yet, with all of that, how exciting it must have been! They were rebels, outsiders, but passionately believed in what they were doing. They fought for their art, sometimes living in drafty, damp quarters, with little food, (hence the “starving artist sobriquet “). Often in between sales, or the help of patrons, they lacked art supplies, making what they could and reusing canvases to paint new works.

This may all sound pretty rough, and I imagine it was. But there is that wistful charm about it. Somewhat like looking back on our own “glory days”, growing up. There was magic in the struggle. It makes us who we are. It made them who they were, and they were true to themselves.

I imagine, living in an attic studio in old Paris. Lead lined skylight covering most of the ceiling, pans catching the rain where it drips down from the old, cracked caulking. It’s chilly, but there is some warmth from the old stove in a corner. A large bank of lead lined windows, looking out over Paris. Easels, canvases, and brushes everywhere. And being too thin, but still young, strong and dreaming of people loving your work. Meeting up with other like minded painters, giddily talking about what you’re working on, and dreaming of what’s to come with this new way of painting. Complaining of the fools who don’t quite get it. Knowing, feeling to your bones that you’re on to something great. That all the hard times will be worth it. Maybe not knowing that these are the glory days, but maybe a little part of you hanging on for dear life to it, because it is “something “, something important. And it was.

From The Sketchbook; Idea File

Day tripping

Hey guys! Here where I live, we have had, yet again another week of mostly rain. In light of that, (or lack there of light), when we do get the odd sunny day, and it also happens to be my day off, well, if I have a chance to go somewhere, I go for it. Today’s adventure was to take a day trip over hither and yon, through the lovely Catskills. So we grabbed our water bottles and hightailed it to the mountains. And other than one town being a place better left unmentioned, and a twenty minute detour through the hills of “Deliverance”, it was a beautiful day. Also, due to this impromptu diversion, I’m a bit late with this post. But here it is, and this “From The Sketch Book” is a little different. I thought that maybe you would be interested in a little insight into how the mind of an artist works, or at least this artist. So this blog is just that.

“Q and A a Day”

Some time ago I happened upon an interesting sketchbook of prompts. It’s a thick book with four blocks per page and one prompt per page. It’s set up so that the artist can return to a block from each page, over the course of four years. This struck me as a very cool idea. And the best part is, although originally a seventeen dollar, (nineteen dollar book in Canada), it was at a dollar store! That’s right guys, a dollar! So without further adieu, I give you sketches from “Q & A a day” , A Dollar Store Score. (I should also mention that these sketches usually took under a half hour, some only minutes, so are by no means, “master pieces”, and are in no particular order.)

“Sunflowers”

Apparently I was “feeling sunflowers on this day”. I have no idea why. But I thought this would be a good one to start with, as most of today was very “sun flowery”. (Except later in the afternoon when surprise, it rained. Which is OK because we were home by then.)

“Hamlet”.

This one’s simple, the only Shakespearean thing I could think of was “Hamlet”.

”Dandy Lion”

I guess this is my idea of a “pattern in nature”, or maybe I just felt like drawing a dandelion.

“The Tramp and The Kid”

Somewhere in “editing”, the note I had written about this little drawing got waylayed. I actually did this while at the “other” job, (don’t tell 😉 For some reason there was a book about Charley Chaplin on the shelf. This is my rendition of a scene from that book.

Self Portrait. (I think I need some lotion.)

“Balloon Kid” forever!

Still looking for a “Balloon Kid” so I can be nostalgic. There were only a few games I liked and was actually able to play; this, Sonic, and the game all parents liked, Tetras. (I do like “Kingdom Hearts” now, but rarely have time to play), ah, well.

“Ladie’s”

If you’re a woman, this needs no explanation.

“Here Be Dragons”

Although this isn’t my best dragon drawing, I liked the idea of this because of one of my favorite quotes; “Here Be Dragons” meaning “dangerous, or unexplained territories”, a quote often used on ancient maps. Which pretty much sums up my life experiences.

“Solace”

A cup of tea and some chocolate is usually a good antidote to the “dragons” in my life.

“Target”

Target practice for those dragons.

“Umbrella”

This one just said to “draw an umbrella”, which are always fun to draw.

“Pop”

…not sure if I’ll ever get this kernel completely popped.

“?”

Can you guess my sign?

Too obvious?

“Dog day”

My puppers had her back to me… humm, did I offend her?

“Life of a Tree”

Again, I’m not sure that this tree will ever “grow to maturity”, but it will be fun if I actually do it.

“Wand”

Come on, “Genie’s lamps”, aren’t real.

I hope you enjoyed this, and maybe when I do this again, I’ll have a bit larger piece of popcorn, and an oak sapling. See you next time!