Inktober Seven and Eight

I had thought by this point in the challenge that I would be getting fatigue from having to stick to someone else’s prompts, but instead I’ve been getting hooked on how to take different looks at the various topics

Day seven’s prompt was #exhausted and it felt appropriate after what was proving to be a long week at work. Staying wrapped up in a cocoon in my pit of a bed is an absolute tonic when I’m utterly fatigued

So this is the nearest to a self-portrait that I’m likely to do in this challenge – and it’s not even slightly based in the sight of Lady M when she’s suffering from a migraine *cough*

The snoring is definitely me though. Both Ladies M and S have expressed a desire to smother me with a pillow on several occasions but I have no idea what they’re talking about *cough*

Day eight was a little more difficult and I’m not entirely sure I’ve managed to properly capture my concept – of a star shaped crossing of spotlights of someone on stage: a star on a star, so to speak.

I think when I revisit this picture it will be on a larger piece of paper. The limited space in my notebook cramped the picture before it even started, and I really need to rethink the perspectives on this.

I think it’s the only one so far that I’m not particularly happy with, but that in itself is a learning opportunity. Hmm, almost sounds like I’m taking this seriously.

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Inktober Five and Six

I think it was at this point in the month that I looked at the prompts and my urge to draw monsters came to the fore.

Anyone who’s been keeping half an eye on my Instagram feed knows I regularly create otherworldly creatures as a form of stress relief and use pretty much any random piece of scrap paper around me to do so. This includes memos, minutes for meetings, post-it notes, and routing slips.

Having resisted the urge to draw a chicken for the #roasted prompt, I felt that actually drawing a chicken was too simple. Perhaps a reference to courage and it’s lack in an individual was a more fun direction to go while still giving me a chance to draw something with big teeth and claws.

This is actually my second attempt at the picture. The first was from a head-on view of the person running away, with a large claw and monstrous face in the background. It… just didn’t work as a composition.

So I went for a more cartoon-like figure skedaddling away from something outrageously huge, allowing me to get a better sense of enormous scale in quite a small drawing space.

Day Six brought a prompt that immediately felt related – drool – and is a not even subtly Giger-esque beastie with the prerequisite mouthful of drool. I drew it in gel-ink while waiting in the reception of an eye clinic while Lady M was being seen by an optician.

The elderly couple next to me very politely shuffled away as it formed pretty much in one long unbroken sequence in the page. I suspect I had the slightly manic look of the classic dabbler in Things That Man Is Not Meant To Know while scribbling away on this.

It was great fun..!

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Inktober Three and Four

In some ways having Inktober now is proving useful for my mental health and sense of purpose as it’s not a good time of year. I usually find it harder to write and communicate with people, and my sketches and doodles are usually filled with spikes and sharp edges

Having a month of artistic prompts necessitating curves and lateral thinking is therefore helping my brain flow into different methods of expression and composition.

Day three’s prompt – roasted – allowed me to take a more humourous vein than the first two days. I could have gone with images of meals, or animals in the oven. Then I thought of comedy roasts, and from there to cartoon practical jokes of things blowing up in faces and lightly scorching the victim.

Between that and my general love of the fantasy genre, and Dungeons & Dragons, I started musing on all the lowly goblins that have ever been depicted as rampaging into an area as a menacing mob, only to be robustly scattered by wizards casting large fireballs or startlingly bright lights at them.

Hence my moderately exasperated goblin with soot across his features, and smoke rising from his clothing, venting about his lot in life…

This led seamlessly into day four – spell – which I hardly had to think about at all. I could have just done a magic circle, or a spellbook, but I wanted a bit more of a dynamic picture as well as something iconic.

An open moor under dark clouds seemed a good setting for mystery and magic – after all it worked for Shakespeare – but with only a small notebook to work in it was going to have to be a view from a distance to impart any sense of scale.

As for the spell itself, well normally standing on the top of the moor with your hand in the air might get you a more shocking experience than anticipated, so I had to subvert that to show the power of the wizard. Rather than him getting struck by lightning, he would be the one striking the clouds and setting off what looks to be a mighty storm.

There’s nothing to say of course that the wizard won’t get zapped in turn if he stays up on that ridge. Learning does not necessarily guarantee wisdom.

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Halfway through Inktober already?

I’m taking part in Inktober again this year, so my Instagram and Facebook accounts have been peppered with different styles of doodles and sketches the last couple of weeks.

Unlike last year, I’m actually following the official prompts – forcing a little discipline and lateral thinking in my interpretations rather than just letting the pen go mad as I usually do.

I’m also not just working in black ink. I’ve been introducing coloured inks as well on some of them – mostly for contrast, but occasionally as an integral part of the picture. I’m trying new things.

Some of it I’m very happy with, and some of it I can take or leave. The latter category are ones that I’ll likely come back to at a later date if I haven’t immediately done so.

I think I’ll talk about a couple at a time, at least around my thought processes – if only because it then gives me something to focus on in my posts here.

The first one – poisonous – was done while on the train down to see Lady S on one of my Mondays off. I’m trying to do each picture on the actual day rather than get bogged down in overthinking in the planning process.

I knew I didn’t want to go with snakes (venomous) or bottles of poison as it seemed too obvious. Then I thought about bullying, which is a personal bugbear that I try to always challenge, and remembered the concept of poison pen letters – largely supplanted by cyber-bullying these days.

Despite the train’s motion as I sped between Waterloo and Portsmouth, I whipped a fountain pen and typically unpleasant missive into shape on the page of the notebook in my pocket and away we started on Inktober.

The second image – tranquil – was easier to conceptualise but felt more of a change from my usual hyper-detailed grotesques. A clearing in a wood, with a fairy ring if mushrooms seemed just the ticket, with a nod to my usual fantasy leanings.

While it isn’t as clean a set of lines as my usual style, I quite like the light and dark balance and sense of perspective in this one. It’s definitely a step away from my comfort zone, which feels somewhat ironic given the subject.

Other options I considered included a lake, a mountain view, and an open book.

More posts to follow; watch this space

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Things the cub Says: Polygaming

I love language, and especially the intricate dances we can make it do to play with nuance and imagery. My favourite forms of literary criticism when studying English were Structuralism and Semiotics – and I make no apologies for how these approaches inform my appreciation both of the written and spoken word around me.

As an example – how many of you have looked at this blog entry’s title and assumed that this will be an item about the effects of our polya lives on a youngster? Sorry to disappoint (I lie, I hope you’re now questioning your assumptions) but this is about language.

You see, the cub has an enquiring mind and picks up concepts extremely rapidly. In this instance his Spanish teacher introduced him to the word polyglot – someone who speaks many languages and this has obviously resonated.

He proudly announced the other day that he is a polygamer – and when asked to elaborate he described his reasoning as follows:

He doesn’t play games on only one platform, enjoys playing many different games, and in those games where there are different characters, he enjoys trying out the different characters to see how differently they play. Therefore as someone who enjoys many different ways of playing games, he is a polygamer.

I suppose if I was being pedantic and insisting on a purely Greek root it should be polypaichnídi or polyagon but that introduces far too many new angles of enquiry. Sorry, not sorry.

It amused me

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Things The Cub Says: The Bag

So, the cub has a very strong sass-game, inherited from his mum, that combines with the natural sense of wonder at the world that a young lad has anyway to produce some amazing moments from time to time.

The backpack that he wears to school looks a bit like a cartoon monster. It’s a bright lime green, has big eyes and felt teeth along it’s fold down edge. At the beginning of term, Lady M taught him to treat it like The Monster Book of Monsters from Harry Potter. This involves gently stroking its spine (the top) before opening or closing the clasp. She even made the bag shuffle and roar while he wore it to emphasise that he needed to take care of it or it would fight back.

Fast forward to this morning and I get a message from Lady S that she has made a packed lunch for the cub, and try as she might she can’t get the bag to close. The cub walked up, took the bag off her, stroked it’s spine, and closed the bag without any problems.

He then looked her in the eye and said: “you don’t show this bag the love and respect it deserves.” He then added: “Jo knows how to treat my bag.”

To say that Lady S was a bit gobsmacked is an understatement. We have been teasing her on our group chat, saying we can’t imagine where he gets his sass from…

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A week off: Portsmouth School Runs

We’re having a rare week all together and I have been rediscovering the joys of the school run as Lady S was a bit under the weather the last few days. (She is again this morning, but it’s self-inflicted today after a little too much wine last night at a meal for the whole polycule.)

I digress.

The cub has been discovering that I am not quite so easily wrapped around his finger, but that I am also more than happy to act completely daft at a moment’s notice.

So far we’ve convinced him that his monster-like school bag is related to the Monster Book Of Spells from Harry Potter, and needs it’s spine stroking before being opened. I have also taken to occasionally lumbering and loping like a silverback gorilla to speed him up in the mornings. It sounds daft, but it encourages him to catch up and try and tickle my tummy.

He’s a bright, inquisitive, energetic boy, who tries to push boundaries as much as any normal kid just starting at junior school – and his teachers are already singing his praises. He also has a rebellious streak a mile wide; and seems genuinely surprised when most of his attempts to subvert things like putting on shoes are met with my spotting them and teasing before he’s even finished starting.

We were talking last night about how we’ve all been pitching in this week – how it spreads the load and reduces stress to know that all of us are invested in helping raise and guide him.

I just didn’t expect, as the Charleesi starts her second year at university, to be brushing off the parenting skills again. Life’s funny that way, isn’t it?

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