In the previous article, Gabriele Zubauskaitė explained what is Inktober. Continuing with this topic, I want to talk about the Inktober challenge for myself. I also decided to run this drawing marathon to the end! My ambition, with this daily illustration, is to overcome that critical inner voice that stops personal artistic growth. Almost subconsciously, automatic drawing popped into my mind.
What is automatic drawing?
Automatic drawing as a technique developed with Dadaism in the first half of the 20th century. This was the time when Andre Breton published his significant essay ‘The Automatic Message’ (1933), a theoretical work about automatism, whose ideas relate the technique to the underlying concepts and aesthetics of surrealism. Artists are still using automatic drawing and writing as a method of meditation and practice to this day.
Automatic drawing happens when drawing without thinking!
Inktober 2019 challenge
When I’m starting any kind of project, self-doubt might follow: it can feel that it’s not turning out how I intended, or that others could do better. This way of thinking facilitates a reduction in enthusiasm. These feelings would often make me abandon my projects before completing them. When I became aware of this self-destructive behaviour, I was able to adopt healing techniques such as tasks that build self-confidence. One of those is to allow yourself to draw something or anything without judging the outcome (if it’s good or bad), and not comparing it or yourself to others. And when else to do this kind of automatic drawing if not during Inktober? That’s like killing two birds with one stone (or another, more vegan metaphor)!
Automatic drawing is freedom for the mind to relax. Jean Giraud
I knew it would be extremely difficult for me to draw and publish the visual responses to the prompts on a daily basis. Nonetheless, I decided to just try and see what happens. Knowing the prompts of the day, I made a special effort not to look for inspiration or sketch out any ideas. I just sat down in front of a blank piece of paper with a loaded ink pen in my hand and let it guide me. Instantaniously unexpected visuals arose from the subconcious, the lines were curving themselves and a picture appeared. That was a nice surprise which gave me confidence!
Day One Topic: Ring. In fact, I was afraid of being unoriginal, I was worried that nothing would happen with all these pretty basic prompts. However, when performing such an exercise, it’s important to believe that something will appear on the paper anyway. And it did! In front of me were two goblins (now it’s a subconsciously evolving theme) with hands joined to form a circle. Finally, when the pen was withdrawn, my first reaction was critical, the drawing turned out to be silly and not worth publishing in my opinion. Yet I reminded myself of the goal of this exercise and the challenge of developing skills and allowing yourself to grow.
In the later days, things went sundry. Sometimes upon seeing the prompt, I knew right away what I wanted to draw, so it was only in part automatic drawing. I was creating without sketching and tried not having any second attempts! Though I didn’t always succeed in not judging my work. I have actually redrawn three of the illustrations because I wasn’t satisfied with the first attempt. The essence remained unchanged; without thinking, putting the pen down on paper and letting the subconscious create a storyline, carry out a spontaneous expression. So every day I tried anew to get into the state of effortless mastery.
A famous contemporary artist by the name of Moebius (Jean Giraud) also used this technique to exercise his imagination. In his words “it is freedom for the mind to relax”. Such relaxation stimulates the imagination by allowing thoughts to wander there, wherefrom they are usually brought back to their “concentrated” state.
During the challenge, I learned to notice, but not to judge, my emotional response to what I have created. I allowed the creation to exist independently from me. In addition, these patterns of subconscious mind flow do not happen quite by accident. In my case, the illustrations responded to given prompts, but the storyline scenes were encoded in my subconscious through experiences, desires, or beliefs.
Before publishing the drawings, I did a little analysis of what is depicted: what it embodies, who influenced me, who the accidental character was, what consumed ideas reflected in the visual interpretation? This analysis has become part of every piece, allowing it to be put into context. That’s how my goblin universe was created in 31 days.
How to draw automatically?
- Don’t have a prior plan;
- Let the hand move itself;
- Don’t be afraid to make a mistake;
- Trust your mind’s eye;
- Notice how you feel and think why.
All in all, I had a great experience with finishing my first Inktober challenge! There were ups and downs, some frustration whilst trying not to be frustrated, yet mostly it was a feeling of satisfaction. Seeing those creative illustrations come to life, gave me a boost of self-confidence and a knowing that it is in me to create.
To see all the goblins up close and read their stories, follow me on Instagram.
All the illustrations mentioned in this article are for sale! Please contact the author Gabriele Gikyte on her Instagram for more details.