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  • Kate Lentz

{October 2020}

Well, I finally did it. I completed another October drawing challenge. This is my fourth year participating, although to be honest, I technically did not finish last year's sketchbook. Last year I decided to focus on quality instead of quantity, and I went ultra traditional by only using a ballpoint pen. The theme? Portraits. All I have to say is...WOOF. That was rough. I still dabble in that sketchbook every once in a while. I would still love to finish it one day because I worked really hard on those drawings. Some of my favorites.

As for 2020....I feel like before the challenge even began, I kind of failed in a way. I remember back in April, I came up with a fun idea to turn myself into a paper doll and paint all of my Halloween-themed outfits. I also wanted to focus a lot on photography and the presentation of the finished pieces themselves. About two years, I really focused on "product photography" instead of just taking up-close pictures of the drawings, and I think that added a lot to the challenge. Anyway, I postponed working on this idea for several months because I always feel like it's cheating to work ahead before October begins. And in usual Katie fashion, I procrastinated TOO long. Once September arrived, I realized I would have to paint 100+ individual pieces in order to showcase all of my different outfits for the month. I attempted to try it, but quickly realized I did not give myself enough time...even though I had the idea FIVE MONTHS early!

For a bit, I thought I'd forgo the challenge all together. Work had been more stressful than it had ever been, I was exhausted every night when I got home, and honestly, I wasn't feeling very festive to be honest. At the time, I was very slowly working on a sketchbook I'd had since May. It was focusing on patterns and portraits. Though I still had so much to go, I was enjoying creating these pieces of art. I don't know why I had never experimented with patterns before, but it seemed like something I wanted to explore a lot more. I thought, "hmm...maybe this could be done for October." So I started writing possible autumnal pattern ideas on a post-it. Before I knew it, I had over 31 ideas. And just like that, I was excited again.

If you noticed the date I'm publishing this blog, you saw that it was a week past Halloween. And there's a reason for that. Patterns, though sometimes simple, are TIME CONSUMING! I learned that quite quickly. I absolutely loved how the entire sketchbook turned out (though of course some spreads are way better than others). I found the process of repetition and the flow of watercolor paints to be incredibly calming, even when I felt the pressure of falling behind. After the first week, I gave up the idea of posting a finished piece every single day. I had my ideas in my head, so I was truly in no rush. I knew I would fill the whole sketchbook, and quite honestly, I'm surprised I finished before Christmas.

Last year I used a Strathmore Mixed Media sketchbook....a rather large one. I very much enjoyed the hardiness of the paper, though I felt like I was wasting it's properties on ballpoint pen only. So this year I knew I would use the same sketchbook, but something slightly smaller, easier to carry around. Another thing I want to note on this particular sketchbook is that its soft cover. Since these get carried around with me literally everywhere for a month, sometimes more, the soft cover tends to get very beat up. This year I made a book jacket out of brown craft paper. Even though the cover isn't particularly pretty, I still wanted to keep it in tact during this journey. I found this to be quite effective. I also love that the pages are able to lay out rather flat, but that effected the spine quite a bit. If I were to use another sketchbook for patterns again, I would go back to my Arteza Watercolor Sketchbook. That one is my hands-down favorite, and the pages do lay COMPLETELY flat, which is important with watercolor.

As for the other materials, I used all of my favorites. I have pretty much experimented with all there is when it comes to drawing materials. Over the years, I have figured out what works and what doesn't. My main material was the Jane Davenport watercolor palette I got from Michaels a few years ago. This one is a very bright palette, but I also used another one of hers that's more muted colors as well. I also just used my normal ballpoint pen, a cheap mechanical pencil, Prismacolor colored pencils. Liquitex Gold Ink, and a few sorted black ink pens/markers. I enjoyed the variety this year, and I felt that the watercolor was the best decision. It layed out quickly, dried relatively fast, and it added a wonderful variety of textures and colors.

The patterns went over fairly well with my friends and family. Several people expressed interest in a print of these or possible fabric. I have always wanted to design fabrics, so it's definitely a new goal. I want to pick out the most successful designs and redo them on nice watercolor paper. Obviously I will have more time to work out the best layout and I can be a bit less sloppy with the execution. I think there's a lot of possibilities here--prints, originals, fabrics, tote bags, etc. I'm hoping to add several of these designs to my Etsy store...whenever that happens!

In the end, I am so proud to have another October drawing challenge under my belt. I had completed another drawing challenge back in April, and it always just makes you feel....exhausted, but accomplished. It's the best way to improve skills, develop a more sustainable art practice, and fill a ton of sketchbooks. I'm already looking forward to next year! I plan on taking what I learned here and applying it to 2021....A lot less procrastination, perhaps?

For any of you who participated in the drawing challenge this year, Congratulations! Whether you did one drawing or all 31, it's a huge accomplishment! If you have ever wanted to be more creative, join an art community, and improve your art skills, this is the way to go.

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