Greetings and welcome to October!

(n): The month of magical changes in nature, when greens turn to reds, oranges and yellow. Ghosts, witches and ghouls come out to trick us for treats. Clocks are altered, pumpkins flourish, and skies darken more quickly than we’d like.

It’s also the month of the daily pen and ink sketch, hence, #Inktober!

The idea behind Inktober is a daily sketch in pen and ink, sometimes on a provided theme, or in my case, on any topic you come across. So far I’ve been inspired to illustrate an image of the day based on what’s happening around the world.

Yeti

Yeti character concept illustration

Day 1 was an introduction to a project I’m working on personally, it’s a character called Yeti (my nickname from school days) who is displaying attributes associated with a variety of mental illnesses or neurodivergent disorders. As a character I’m still figuring out how she can best discuss these issues through the medium of black and white ink, perhaps some colour thrown in Shyamalan-style. What this project will do is help me to practice my craft whilst also learning more about the issues that are pertinent to my immediate world. So here’s Yeti, but more about her later…

Paz

Day 2 was pretty newsworthy to say the least. Only the day before, the world watched as military and civil police showed how not act like police during the Catalonia Referendum. The thing is, whether or not the referendum is illegal is almost background muffle compared to the scenes broadcast. Had it not been for the shocking number of injuries and baton-twirling demonstrations, I’m not sure I would have paid much attention to this little corner of the world.

But my eyes and ears are certainly alert to people being attacked for who they are, and what they believe in. Being in Wales, feeling a strong Welsh affection, I can empathise with the struggles of Catalonians. How else can their voices be heard? Take out the Referendum, replace it with another vote of any kind, and the police still acted outside of their duties. I’ve been face to face with raging crowds, it never occurred to me to just start hitting people with my baton. In fact, I never once had to use my baton in my career…my words were my weapon of choice. Actually, I did use my baton once, to open a locked gate at a football pitch.

Despite the horrendous display of anti-Catalonian sentiment by certain forces of the law, there was a counter-protest of paz. Messages littered the floor to remind folk that we’re dealing with humans here, not savages, not raging bulls, not monsters from the depths of our nightmares. People, who have a desire for a life outside of what is being handed them, and to achieve it peacefully. So, huge kudos to those who raised their hands in the air, even whilst the batons were swinging towards them—honestly, could you do that without peeing yourself just a bit?

Bipolar Awareness Day

Day 3 coincided with Bipolar Awareness Day. Naturally, this was my topic—I say naturally, to recap, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2015 and am still learning what it’s all about—but how do I get across what bipolar disorder is without attending to clichés. I made a stab at using matryoshka dolls to illustrate the many faces of this condition. I’d like to have gone further with this idea (perhaps I still can) by showing them at their different sizes and how they all fit inside each other. This is what my bipolar disorder feels like to me: not something that has gone wrong in my system, but in fact a part of me and how multifaceted my being is. I’m still battling with the conundrum of taking medicine in order to placate society of my extreme expressions, though it’s a sacrifice of myself I am willing to make if it means my family are better able to live with me. The medicine doesn’t remove my condition, it simply flattens it out, so imagine yourself squished inside a flat box—pretty uncomfortable, and every now and then its fairly frustrating to not have ample wiggle room to stretch out and reach for the stars..or hell, as the case may be.

World Animal Day

Day 4 allowed me to revisit a previous illustration I’d created on some wooden plaques a few years ago, and give it some extra detail and an additional little bug and title. I wholly admit that I find drawing animals—whether to scale or anthropomorphically (heck of a mouthful that one)—much more fun/easier/natural than drawing humans. I might have a reason for that. When I draw humans it doesn’t feel right to not draw them as life-like as possible. If there’s one thing I purposefully fixated on whilst studying art at school, it was my ability to draw people as they appear, not as I sort of imagine them looking as if through a kaleidoscope or a fishing net. The perfectionism is uncomfortable and stressful, so I have to remove it. Therefore, I am likely to replace the majority of what I illustrate with animal characters. Some entirely made up.

Super Thursday Mix Up

And that brings us to Day 5, simultaneously Super Thursday, World Teachers Day and World Ballet Day. My mind jumped at the possibilities of amalgamating these three in one image, but for some reason settled on dancing sheep in a classroom where the teacher is drowning in new books. Technically the books element is more relevant to bookshops, but adding that would be overkill.

This weekend I’m heading off to Bristol for the third annual Womens Adventure Expo, so only a miniature sketchbook will be travelling with me, and only a short amount of time will be put into each sketch as I’m likely to be busy listening to stories, running, chatting or wandering about Bristol by twilight.

If you’d like to follow my inktober challenge, check out my Instagram feed (for more of a description on each sketch), or my twitter feed for a brief snippet.

How’s your Inktober challenge coming along?

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