Inktober 2017

If you haven’t heard of Inktober, it’s a yearly challenge project to create an ink drawing for every day in October. I decided to give it a go this year, inspired by Lucy Bellwood’s 100 Demon Dialogues project. I liked the idea of using the structure and limits to improve my drawing skills, and added the additional challenge of foregoing pencil sketches and drawing without any guides. I cut up the papers and added the frames and captions in advance, then carried a small bag with the supplies around with me and tried to draw every day. For all but the cupcakes picture I used photographic references, mostly from Arkive.org‘s wonderful library.

The experience was pretty great. I enjoyed the discipline, the steadily growing accumulation of completed drawings, and how much I feel my skills improved from first to last. In fact, I enjoyed having a ‘daily’ project so much I started another one promptly in November! For now, here’s a collection of snaps of my Inktober 2017.

Kitchen and Bathroom hand-painted tiles

Hand-painted for a kitchen (floral), and three bathrooms (black, blue, and trees-with-bright-backgrounds).

I created these with Pébéo Porcelaine 150 paints, and Marabu Porcelain Painter fine-line pens. They’re baked after drying to become ‘dishwasher safe’, but we have some concerns around durability, so we may add tile sealant or other protective coatings before using them in anger.

The paint is translucent and shows every brushstroke, dries quickly and subsequent layers lift earlier ones, so it’s really tricky to get consistent results with – I especially had trouble with areas of saturated colour, be they solid or gradients. Textures were much easier to achieve. The pen also was tricky to work with – the ink dries onto the special (and fantastic!) nib within seconds of you getting distracted by something, so I had to keep the lid in my free hand so that I wouldn’t forget to cap the pen. When (and I don’t mean ‘if’) the tip gets clogged, I found the best way to clear it was to soak it in warm water until most of the pigment floats away, then flush it through with clean water. I’d then blow through it to get the water out as much as possible (it mucks up the ink), and use a pin and magnifying glass to remove any stubborn pigment from the weird little flanges that channel ink down to the tip of the soft plastic nib.

A very interesting and tricky medium, but I think after this many paintings I’ve got enough of a handle on things to be able to achieve what I set out to when setting paint to tile.