I've read somewhere that an artist's style is not something one has to learn from the outside to figure out. The flow of the process isn't about absorbing what is out there and finding which ones fit us but rather the opposite, letting what is in us come out for the outside world to absorb. The article said it in a simpler way but this is how it got stuck on my head. And for me, it is a source of inspiration - the thought that it (my artistic style, in this case) is already in me and all I needed to do was to let it out. And, this is the best part, because it is in me, try as I might, I cannot escape it. So no matter how much I try to draw or paint or copy an object or someone's work, it would never come out the same as the object being copied. It will always come out in the style that is inherently mine. Now, isn't that a great and inspiring thought?
My work therefore isn't on "finding" what my style is, as if it is lost out there wandering in the deep artistic woods, but is on me allowing that part of myself to be released and expressed. It is already here, within me. All I need to do is clear the way. This way of thinking had profoundly changed the way I see my creative journey.
Before I joined inktober, I admit, I wasn't a big fan of pen and ink. Mainly because I love colors and black and white felt too constrained for me. However, participating in inktober have definitely changed that. I now see pen and ink as an ideal medium for exploring the essential elements and foundations of an artist's style. Because it is a very simple medium, only a paper and black ink to work with, I was forced to work at the other elements in my drawings that otherwise I wouldn't have thought much about.
Black ink has a very fixed characteristic in that it is always black. There is no grey with black ink, so how do I create texture and tonal values with it? I found myself simplifying my drawings and putting in a greater focus on my line work. It made me consciously think about my shadows and lights and the negative and the positive ways of making an image. And because I could no longer hide behind vibrant colors or under the inherent water textures of my watercolors, my linework, composition and harmony in shapes needed to be brought to a higher level. Things needed to be simplified even as the expectations of producing a dynamic and expressive artwork remains the same.
The below inktober drawings are my favorites. In each drawing, I could see a part of my style starting to come out in different ways. I usually mull over an idea the moment I wake up every morning and by the time I need to execute it in the evening (with much trepidation), the idea and its elements are already stuck on my mind. It is then just a matter of copying the picture in my head. Not having worked with pen and ink before, I was surprised at how the medium could quickly render an idea into something that looks quite definite like it just came out from the printing press (after hours and hours of hard labour). Pen and ink, in my opinion, is one of the easiest and fulfilling mediums I've gotten to work with.