Inktober and Restrictions

Last year I tried doing Inktober, that online art challenge where you create an ink drawing every day in the month of October. I got about three days into it before something else claimed my time and I didn’t want to spend the time catching up. This year is different, in part, because I have a clearer focus than last time. Things (like paid work and deadlines) still claim my time and with less than half the month left to go, I’m still behind schedule. But this new focus keeps bringing me back.
What is so different from last year? First off, I now follow Jake Parker, the originator of Inktober, on Instagram and I got the official prompt list well in advance. If I had been a diligent monkey, I would have started conceptualizing back in September, but I didn’t. Secondly, I decided to go into the challenge with a goal in mind — improve my skills in drawing faces and hands.


My scattershot approach to subject matter is obvious in the first five days. But the portrait of Eric Idle as Sir Robin (day 5 – chicken) set me off in a new direction. Still focusing on faces, but not so much on hands, I realized that movies were a great source of reference material. I can work with the title, like Whale Rider (day 12 – whale), a scene, like from Tom Jones (day 6 – drooling), a character, like Bella Swan (upcoming day 15 – weak), an actor, like Andy Sirkis (day 9 – precious), etc.


Even though I have placed another restriction (movies) on top of my first (faces) which I added to the existing restrictions of the prompt list and working in ink, it is actually easier for me to come up with ideas. This is seeing restrictions as a container, like a mold, within which you create something. It’s not my concept and I don’t remember where I originally learned it, but I think it’s valuable. Some may balk at the word ‘restriction’ thinking it has negative connotations. If so, then think of setting strong parameters or guidelines instead. You should end up in the same place.
Above all, keep making art.


Do You Wanna Buy My Avatar?


For those of you who missed the 30×30 show last July, you now have a second chance! The remaining originals, including St. John here (currently my FB avatar) are going to be back on the wall. There will also be prints, prints, prints.

Check it out!



I’ve always loved how the scribes of the old insular manuscripts would contort humans and animals into almost unrecognizable shapes, all to fit into a particular space, a la the artwork in my previous post. I also wanted to keep playing with the ‘i-knot’ theme. This formed a clear link (at least in my mind) to the i-pod ads beginning around 2005. Bright, changing colors with a figure in almost silhouette, and the i-pod and earbuds in white, all moving to music. These three pieces were directly inspired by those ads.

i-knot: Air Guitar

i-knot: Air Guitar

i-knot: Hop

i-knot: Hop

i-knot: Bellydance

i-knot: Bellydance


But here’s the funny thing: I don’t remember actually seeing the ads. I know I must have at some point as they are so ingrained in my memory. Around the time these ads came out, our TV died and we never replaced it. My son remembers seeing the ads on billboards and they have perhaps reached the status of an iconic image. Do a Google search for ‘i-pod advertisement’ and you will see other artists versions ranging from Darth Vader to Homer Simpson. Such is the power of popular culture.

Was there an equivalent in 800 AD? I’ll look into that question in a later post. In the meantime, dance like no one is watching.

I’m having a hard time getting the scan for i-knot: bellydance to look good on the blog. It should be a lot more magenta. It also sold opening night. Last time I checked, the other two were still available.