The holiday season can be challenging for me because of the lack of a regular schedule, which, combined with more social time than usual, often makes it hard for me to fit in time for art. And since my art, particularly sketching, is an important part of who I am and how I quiet myself in God’s presence, I really need to set time aside for some art on a regular basis. Last year Holidays in Ink provided helpful structure, combined with the necessary flexibility for adapting to a changing schedule and variety of activities, and I am looking forward to sketching my way through the holidays this year, too.
My friend Jamie Grossman and I have again worked together on a list of suggested prompts to inspire us and to stretch us to improve our art. Last year I loosely followed the prompts, not pressuring myself to do them all, but picking and choosing what I was in the mood for and what fit with whatever was on our family schedule. I was surprised to find that in the end I had done most of the prompts in some form or other!
This year’s challenge is to complete a sketchbook cover to cover during the course of Holidays in Ink, which goes from Monday, November 22nd through Sunday, January 2nd– 42 days. I considered making my own sketchbook (you should see the beautifully bound sketchbooks Jamie has been making!), but decided that I wanted to keep things simple, so I’m planning to use a sketchbook I’ve bought– either a Handbook Paper Co. Travelogue Watercolor Journal that has 30 sheets (60 pages) or a Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook with 26 sheets (52 pages). Both have papers that handle ink and watercolor well and they have a reasonable number of pages to complete in 42 days.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how I want to approach Holidays in Ink this year. Ever since my three day retreat in early September, I’ve been trying to simplify my schedule and clarify my focus, since I realized that I was driving myself into state of ongoing stress. While we’re calling Holidays in Ink a “challenge,” I tend to think of it more as a guide for time and stress management that will help me stay focused and calm. And I’ll have fun experimenting with new inks and ways of drawing, all while improving my art!
I’m planning to use my ink time as quiet time apart from the hustle and bustle of the season to (literally) draw into God’s presence through the pages of my sketchbook. As I try to improve my page layout to have a pleasing balance of drawings and white space, I will give thought to how I plan my days with a balance of activities and quiet time for reflection. As I sketch familiar scenes or aspects of daily life, I will ask God to help me appreciate the beauty of these common sights. And as I experiment with the 25 new inks in the Diamine Inkvent Calendar (can’t wait to see what they’re like!) during Advent, I will ponder Advent as a time of preparation for Christmas with fresh eyes to give me a renewed and eager anticipation of Jesus’ coming.
We’d love to have you join us for Holidays in Ink! You don’t need anything fancy; just a sketchbook of reasonable length to complete in 42 days, and a ballpoint pen will do. Or, of course, you can play with all sorts of inks and pens or brushes. It’s fun and a great way to improve your art while stepping aside from the pressure of the holidays.
Here’s a link to Jamie’s post with all the details about Holidays in Ink: Holidays in Ink 2021-22 Information and Prompt List
And here’s a PDF of the prompt list: Holidays in Ink 2021 Prompts