In October I took part in InkTober. Founded by artist Jake Parker, InkTober is a free online event during which artists all over the world create 31 ink drawings in 31 days. Then share them on social media with the hashtag #inktober.
I searched for #inktober on Twitter. It brought up numerous brilliant and intricate ink drawings by wonderful artists. Intimidating. Or at least it could have been, had I decided to compete with them. I hadn't. I'd decided to do the opposite...
I drew dozens of messy and spontaneous ink doodles. Quick, loose and unplanned. I put brush and ink to paper and let intuition do the rest. It was fun! Figures emerged. Doing things. I wrote words that came to mind.
It took me two mornings to do. One on the 13th of the month (I was late), and one a week or so later. On both occasions I picked out several drawings that I felt happy to share, then scanned and cropped and posted them online.
In total, I spent approximately 7 hours on InkTober. That's not much. But I had prioritised other work for October - dog portraits and sketches - so 7 hours was all I was prepared to give it.
Which, do you think, attracted more positive feedback in October? The ink doodles that took minutes to create? Or the dog portraits that took hours?
Yep, you guessed it...
The joke was on me. I had assumed that the more time you spent on a work of art, the better it was. Sometimes that's true, sometimes it's not. Anyone who has overworked a painting or muddied a pastel drawing will know what I'm talking about. Less can be more.
It's the quality of the marks, and the combination of them, that make a great visual work of art, regardless of how much time is spent on the piece as a whole.
What determines a great work of visual art is debatable, but for simplicity's sake let's just say it demonstrates the artist's vision and skill and it connects with people that see it.
In that respect, the history of art is filled with examples of artists who produced great art without investing huge amounts of time in it: paintings by the Impressionists, paper collages by Henri Matisse, single line drawings by Picasso, and so on.
I'm not saying my InkTober doodles are great art. They're not. What I'm saying is:
You don't need to spend huge amounts of time on a visual artwork for it to demonstrate your vision and skill and for it to connect with people that see it.
So get cracking!
Richard Pettitt, cartoonist.