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.