Since we were talking about October drawing challenges in my last post, I thought I would follow up with how the October drawing challenge went this year, 2020.
As we all know, 2020 has been quite a year so far. I wasn’t sure I would even have the time or energy to take on the annual drawing challenge. But in late September, as interest picked up online, I found myself wanting to participate again. I really enjoyed the GNSI list and a number of revisions were made this year, including renaming it to Sciartober. In addition, a couple of other relevant lists came to my attention, one called WildOctober by artist Zoe Keller, and InkySciPatterns by artists Hana Ayoob, so I decided to pull from all three lists, depending on what prompt inspired me that day.
The Prompt Lists
How did it go?
I am happy to say that I was able to complete all 31 days again! It took until about November 4th or so, but I did it.
I decided to limit the size of my drawings to sheets of smooth Bristol paper about 5.5X7 inches. I drew a rectangular boundary box of about 3.5×5 inches in which to contain my drawing. For some, I went with a circle a little over 4.5 inches in diameter. This helped me to keep the drawings contained and a bit more uniform in the final product.
I am really pleased at how the drawings turned out. I still love detail! So it was tough to cut myself off, but also a good challenge to see if I could limit what I was doing, meet the prompt and not lose three days on one drawing.
Have you participated in the monthly drawing challenge? I would love to hear from you!
Have you heard of “Inktober“? It is a monthly art challenge held each October. It was created by artist Jake Parker in 2009 as a way to keep up his own inking skills and instill a positive, daily drawing habit. It involves a daily word prompt list to inspire artists to draw something each day.
I had followed “Inktober” on social media for years, but never quite had the time and motivation to actually participate. The prompts were not specific to my interest areas, and I just let it pass by…that is, until last fall (2019.) There was some discussion on the GNSI Members Facebook page about doing “Inktober”, but with a science illustration twist. We compiled our own list of natural science-themed prompts based on the wide range of subject fields that science illustration covers.
This list inspired me and many others. Some folks decided to draw one theme each day, for example, birds. Others, drew when they could squeeze it in. I decided, as a personal challenge, to draw everyday and every prompt. I sometimes fell behind a few days and then would catch up.
Ultimately, I was very pleased to have completed 31 drawings! Were the drawings perfect? No. Did I surprise myself by coming up with something for each and every prompt? Yes! As an artist who has focused mainly on botanical subjects of late, I really enjoyed the challenge of finding something for prompts like “archaeology” and “physics.”
I would highly recommend participating in “Inktober” if you have the chance. There are many different prompt lists or you can create your own. The most important part is to enjoy the challenge and see what you can accomplish!
Last summer, as I continued work on the wildflower drawings for the Van Hoosen Farm project, a wonderful opportunity came up to contribute illustrations to a coloring book project being produced by GNSI member, Cordelia Norris of Luna Creative. The project features illustrations of marine life found in the North Atlantic and on coastal beaches, dunes, maritime forests, and marshes and is titled, “All Along the Atlantic: From Open Ocean to Cypress Swamp.”
Her first book, co-authored by both Cordelia and illustrator Suzanne Matheson and edited by Joseph Cadotte, is titled “Hatchlings: A Coloring Book Anthology,” and celebrates birds of North America and features 35 illustrations by some of the leading natural history illustrators working today. In addition, twenty-five percent of the proceeds go to the Young Center, a human rights organization providing help to immigrant children.
For this latest effort, Cordelia put out a call to fellow GNSI members to find illustrators to contribute. Excited to read about the opportunity, I knew I would love to participate. Many years spent on vacation in South Carolina, including an annual pilgrimage to Brookgreen Botanical Gardens in Murrells Inlet, SC, meant that I had lots of reference photos of Atlantic coast subject matter! Cordelia sent details about the project to each artist who expressed interest and each person could choose species they were interested in illustrating. Many of the illustrators were drawing marine life, so I was excited to see choices in the section for maritime forest (yay, botanicals!)
I knew I would only have time to do one or two illustrations, so I chose two iconic tree species of the region, magnolia and live oak. Because it is a coloring book, the artwork has to be a line drawing that has some interest and details, but not too much.
The magnolia was pretty straightforward. I settled on the view of a magnolia blossom surrounded by its large, glossy leaves. I included the seed pod after the petals fall away as well. A bit of back and forth with Cordelia resulted in a bee for added interest. (Free coloring page download!)
The live oak was a bit more challenging. I originally wanted to do a view of the whole tree. It is such an iconic tree and instantly recognizable, especially if you have spent any time around them. However, the Spanish moss that graces them makes it a little tricky (at least for me!) to produce a coloring book style illustration that was satisfactory. Fortunately, I also had a close-up reference photo of the wonderfully busy surface of a live oak branch. In this view, Spanish moss, ferns, live oak leaves and bark details made for great subject. I did a detailed, but coloring-book appropriate line drawing and added a beautiful little Carolina wren perched on top. I was happy to see it chosen for the verso of the title page in the finished book! (Free coloring page download!)
In the end, over 45 illustrations by leading natural history illustrators were included in the book along with informative text by Cathy Meyer. As with the first book, twenty-five percent of the proceeds of “All Along the Atlantic” go to support a chosen organization, in this case the North Carolina Coastal Federation, a member-supported non-profit organization working to protect and restore the coast. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to participate and have my work appear alongside so many artists whose work I admire. If you get a chance, check it out!