Likely story. I’d originally written this post in November but never finished it.
0ne of the last times I updated this creative wonderland of nonsense, I was neck-deep in making postcards and sending them to friends, strangers and pets all over. Since then, I’ve been doing some bookbinding, and in October, I jumped into Inktober!
It’s a fun challenge. What’s even more enjoyable is seeing the work of other artists. I’d enjoyed watching the challenge since its inception until 2018, when I decided to take part myself. I used a brush and ink wash technique, strictly following the prompt list, but then life got in the way, and I got behind.
This past fall, I debated on whether to participate or not and then on the 1st of October, I got up and decided I’d take another crack at it.
It went well! I dusted off last year’s family photos theme, which was loose, scratchy micron sketches of old family photographs. I completed many drawings of these photos; A lot of my mom’s family, some of my dad’s, and I almost always found some snippet of family history or an anecdote to accompany the drawing.
If you’ve been following me on this challenge, you might know that I am obsessed with old photographs—mine and anyone else’s. I discovered a lot by drawing these old photographs. A picture is worth a thousand words, as they say, and these photos have so much to tell us about the past. But I digress. That’s a post for another day!
After 23 days, I quit! I know. I was so close. Why would I do that?
When I started this challenge, I had a few goals in mind. The first was to complete the 31 days. The other aims were to strengthen my freehand skills, develop a little more patience with drawing finer details, and lastly, I wanted to give these photographs new life. They’d been sitting in these albums for 50+ years, and I thought it was time to give them some air.
So on day 23, I got up, poured my coffee and sat down, ready to draw. I looked through the many scans, put a few marks down in my sketchbook, and just then, I felt like I’d set out to do what I wanted to do. No. I didn’t achieve the first goal of completing the full month but did accomplish the others. I was done.
Not to mention, it had already started me down the path of digitally illustrating some of these photographs. Specifically, the ones of strangers —people whose names I might know but who have lived in these small square frames for so many years, unregarded and now barely remembered. They are moments in time—moments that necessitated the use of a film exposure—something so easily discarded today’s digital cameras. These moments were important enough to capture on film but left forgotten.
To explore this theme further, I’ve been continuing to digitally illustrate these photographs and record the memories associated with them. Not only that, but I’ve started creating vignette comics of these moments as well, pushing them further in my imagination and creating fictional narratives. It’s been fun, and I hope to share more here someday.
So stay tuned…
Recommended reading: The Strange Lure of Other People’s Photos, by former Editor in Chief of Life Magazine, Bill Shapiro.