Inktober is the challenge to draw an image using pen and ink, each day through the month of October. It was devised to encourage people to improve inking skills and develop drawing habits, and thousands of artists take part in it every year.

When this was shared with me on Facebook, I thought, “Yay. What a great idea- I’ll have a go at that.” How hard can it be? I can draw: this should be fun. It proved to be a lot harder than I envisaged; faced with the expectation of a drawing every day and the blank page in my sketchbook, I suddenly found myself lacking all imagination. I found that the prompt list didn’t inspire me, or ‘ping’ masterpieces in to my head, and random doodling always ended up as loopy foliage and flowers.

The answer came on our motorbike trip to South West Ireland. I was sitting on the windowsill of our B&B, late, over looking the River Laune in Killorglin, watching the lights reflect of the water. I found myself wondering if it was possible to draw a night scene in black ink: it was going to be a challenge, as the things I could see were negative space and what not to draw. I was soon totally engrossed. It was an interesting new perspective on drawing as I was concentrating on leaving shapes in the blackness, rather than actually drawing them.

The following evening, I drew the same view, but this time in the afternoon light. Now the challenge was trying to create different tones as the view recedes with just a pen and no colour.

We spent a fantastic week touring the region and enjoying uncharacteristically balmy weather and glorious views- many of them in my mirrors. As we travelled along, I decided that my enduring image of our trip would be that of my husband, riding along behind me, with the mountains in the distance behind him. I wished I’d had a camera on the back of my helmet, but I didn’t, so as we sailed back to Wales on a rather stormy sea, I sketched what I’d seen during our holiday. The details of the motorbike aren’t quite right, but it sums up our ‘Gigantic Irish Adventure’ for me.

I’ve carried on making sketches for Inktober but I haven’t managed to do one every day. It has been really useful in helping me to recognise that I am more able to draw when I’m looking at the view or object and interpreting it, rather than trying to think of something from my imagination. I’m also going to try to use the idea of negative space in some lamp shade designs: watch this space.

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