Inktober: day two, “Mindless”

The prompt for day two of Inktober was “Mindless”. The first iteration of idea I had for this was a drop of water splashing into a pool. But that seemed more like mindfulness than mindlessness.

Then I thought of an image of a woman with a head full of butterflies escaping out of her mouth. A metaphor for mindless speech and thoughts. One thing that didn’t sit easy with me was promulgating the idea that women’s speech is mindless. There’s enough of that in the culture already.

A hand-drawn sketch of a woman with butterflies in her head and coming out of her mouth.
First noodling around for an image for “mindless”.

And someone along the way made me angry. And “mindless” turned into “mindless rage.” In looking for a reference image to express how I felt I found this beautiful woman (and ended up subscribing to the BitchMedia mailing list.) For images of butterflies, I found an article on monarch butterflies. Looking at both images on my computer monitor, I drew the following pencil sketch. (Click on the image to view a larger version.)

A hand-drawn ink sketch of an angry mother nature screaming up butterflies.
Pencil sketch for day two of inktober, with the theme “mindless”

It was only after I drew it that I came up with the title: “Mother Nature is Tired of Your Bullshit.” That’s when I got in touch with my subconscious and realized what the imagery was saying. I liked the juxtaposition between rage and butterflies (normally not associated with anger.) And the more I thought about it, butterflies are symbols of transformation and change. And the monarchs are disappearing because of climate disruption. This piece started because I was angry in the moment, and changed into something that expresses my rage about what we as a species are doing to our planet.

Because this is “Inktober” and the original inspiration for the challenge was an artist wanting to improve their inking skills, the next step was to ink the work. I’ve used Micron markers in the past, and they’re easy, with good control and fineness (it’s what I used on day one.) The results are also a bit “flat”.

I’ve always admired the irregular, calligraphy-like lines in the inking of traditional manga, so I started researching what would be involved in using a quill pen. I found a couple of videos on YouTube: “Difference Inking with G-Pens Vs. Microns” by Whyt Manga and “Dipping Pen Tutorial ❤ EVERYTHING You Need To Know ❤ How to Ink, BEST Brands, Best Paper, & MORE!” by My Mangaka LIFE. Which gave me enough courage and information to try.

I started with a $3.50 pen and ink set from Michael’s. First issue: the ink bottle had adhesive on the side, so when I opened the lid and tried to set it down and pull my hand away, it stuck to my hand and 80% of the very, very black ink spilled all over my drawing table. Good news: my fear of spilling the ink was all over in one go. Better news: the ink was water soluable. Best news: the grooves in the drawing table (my grandmother’s old kitchen table) kept all but one drop from falling on the carpet.

Delayed but undaunted, I cleaned everything up and then took my dip pen and the remainder of the ink across the room to my light box. Back this summer when I went to bra camp (long story) a calligrapher there recommended an LED light box for pattern tracing. I knew I’d want to do comics one day (and trace bra patterns) so when I came home, I bought a Daylight Wafer 3. It’s what the woman at bra camp let me try out and it is ah-maze-ing! (Eric looked at it and got a bit envious.)

To make a long story short, I had so much fun with my cheap-o pen and very small amount of ink, that I decided to make a trek to Artist and Craftsman in Seattle and purchase some more ink and a few other quill pens to try out. Here’s what I’m currently experimenting with. (There’s a learning curve, so I’m trying to stick with one pen until I’m fairly comfortable with it.)

Japanese brand quill pen and ink.
Tachikawa quill pen, G nib, Carbon Ink

And after a few iterations to get past the first part of the learning curve, here’s what I came up with. (Click on the image to view a larger version.)

“Mother Earth is Tired of Your Bullshit” by Syne Mitchell, 10-06-2019

It’s one more step on my path of learning how to create art and comics. I learned a lot today and had a lot of fun, and I made something meaningful to me.

Please share your thoughts: I enjoy your comments and feedback!