Holidays in Ink Week 2


How are you all doing at the start of Week 2 of the Holidays in Ink Challenge? Please let me know in the comments! I began Day 1 on November 24 with the page spread of herons and flamingos above. The first page or two in a new sketchbook is always a bit intimidating for me, so I selected a more familiar subject from the prompt list to begin. I've been wanting to study the leg anatomy of the longer-legged birds, heads of herons, and upside-down beaks of flamingos, so I did some anatomy studies on the page as well. My process prompt was Line Quality. I aimed for longer, more expressive lines, and to avoid chicken-scratchy, short, choppy strokes. (Materials list for all of the sketches in this post is at the end.)

Since then, I've been challenging myself to work more outside of my comfort zone, and I'm feeling.... well.... uncomfortable! This was exactly the state of mind I expected while exploring techniques and subjects that I use less frequently, or find difficult. The failure rate can be high when sailing in unfamiliar waters with changing currents, variable winds, and obstructions!  Hopefully some of my weaknesses will be strengthened during the process, and I will also discover ways of improving expression in my work. One thing I've noticed is that although most of my week's work is technically not as strong as usual, in other ways I think it has more impact and emotion. It's an interesting tradeoff. Creating art that is expressive and spontaneous, and also technically correct, borders on contradiction at times. 

I'm sure I wasn't the only one who didn't have time to sketch on Thanksgiving Day, so fortunately I built some days off into this holiday challenge. I ended up with six days of sketching for the week, and checked off six Subject Prompts and six Process Prompts from the lists. 

In the week ahead, I plan to tackle:

  • Flowers Subject Prompt (#10) with Blind Contour Process Prompt (#14) - Since I happen to have fresh flowers in the house (Thank you, Tarryl!), I'll put them to work!
  • Master Copies (Subject #18) with Notan (Black/White Process Prompt #5) - I'll probably use Turner references for these, from a book I got at the Turner show in Mystic
  • Boats (#5) with Ballpoint Pens (#4) - from my own photo references
  • Portrait (#25) with Drip Painting (#19)
  • And hopefully a few others that I haven't picked yet. It would be fun to do one of the Pen Making or Ink Making prompts this week. 

How about you? Leave a comment with your plan, if you're willing to share it. 

To have a permanent place for the prompt lists, and have the fun of checking things off every day, I did a two page organizational spread at the beginning of the book. I worked on it a little bit every day so it wouldn't be overwhelming! I used fun graph paper from a pad of assorted scrapbook paper that I had in the house, and affixed the sheets to the sketchbook with a glue stick.  The spread isn't quite finished yet, but you get the idea.... I thought it'd be good to put it out there, for anyone who wants a fun way to track the project right inside your sketchbook.

The sketches in this post were done with the following materials. Links are mostly Amazon Affiliate links, which provide a small commission to me should you decide to purchase any of these items, at no additional charge to you. 

Sketchbook: Arteza 8.25x8.25" square watercolor sketchbook (Link is for a 2-pack.)

Day 1 - Bird Sketches

Day 2 - Hands

Day 3 - Trees

Day 4 - Kitchen Sketch

Day 5 - Pears

Day 6 - Landscape

Prompt List Spread

If you haven't yet started the Holidays in Ink Challenge, but you're feeling tempted, it's not too late to dive in and set some goals for yourself! Here's a link to the post about the challenge, and prompt lists that you can use for inspiration.

If you'd like to see all of the Holidays in Ink Challenge posts, click here.

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  1. What an inspiring post, Jamie! I've been having a great time doing Holidays in Ink, and seeing your work and reading about your process and thoughts is getting me all the more enthusiastic!

    1. Thanks so much, Melissa! If you've posted yours, feel free to leave a link so others can see them. I'm really glad that you're doing it too; it helps keep me going!

    2. Thanks for the challenge. I’ve posted some of my sketches on nycurbansketchers fb page.

  2. Hi Jamie. I am so impressed. I love looking at your sketches and process. I really like your two page spread showing the subjects on one page and the processes on the second page. It's a great way to keep track of your progress. I want to do this, but haven't started yet. Would you believe that I am still doing Inktober - three more to go... and then I will start Holidays in Ink. Cathy