5 Tips for a Great Inktober! by Dana Roberts

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This year was my first time participating in Inktober and my first foray into urban sketching. For those of you who don't already know - Inktober is a 31 day drawing challenge created by Jake Parker focused on your improving inking abilities. People have interpreted the challenge to mean many different things from watercolors with some pen outlines, to just using brush pens, to not using pens at all, but at it's core Inktober is about committing to a daily habit of drawing.

Before I get in to my tips for completing a drawing challenge, here's a little backstory on my history with art. Growing up I played soccer and would never have considered myself a creative person. I didn’t take art classes and spent all of my extracurricular energy on sports or volunteering. After college I ended up living in New York City, working a corporate job in tech sales. It wasn't until I was 26, living in Berlin with Lou, that I realized that I enjoyed drawing and painting. And it would still take me a little while to figure out that this was a true passion and something I wanted to devote myself to as much as possible. Cut to January 2018 and “committing to art” was at the top of my New Years Resolution List - part of my plan to achieve that goal was to complete my first Inktober…

And now here I am 30 days into the challenge! With Lou's constant support and his superhuman editing skills, we were somehow able to transform the entire month's illustrations into 15 videos on our Youtube channel, making October 2018 the most prolific month of our channel so far.

Top 5 Tips for Inktober

1. Define your supplies.

It is very helpful when embarking on any sort of challenge to make the parameters as narrow as possible. This way every day you don’t have to waste energy making multiple decisions, which wears down your will power. Should I use ink and a paint brush today? Or maybe colored copic markers? Or I saw this person post on Instagram with a really cool ballpoint pen drawing. There are SO many options when it comes to how to participate in Inktober that I found it very helpful to know that I would only be using what was in my pencil case - 1 ballpoint pen and my 6 Staedtler pigment liners.

I started each drawing with my .8 Staedtler pigment liner to write the date at the top of the page and create a boxed outline. Next I did a simple pre-sketch with a ballpoint Bic pen. Ballpoints are great for getting light lines down on the page to help map out the perspective. Then for the final illustration I used my Staedtler Pens* that my younger brother David gave me as a gift. Each drawing took me on average 1 hour with some of them going way way longer and others only taking 20 minutes. I did all my drawings in a Moleskin sketchbook also gifted to me by David.

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2. Pick a theme.

Like my first tip, choosing a theme helps narrow the decisions you have to make everyday. For me instead of using the official prompt list, I chose the theme of Van Life. I really wanted to make art that wouldn't have me constantly searching for reference images and spending time in front of a screen, so urban sketching seemed like the perfect fit. I hadn't done anything like it before launching our Sketchbook Stories series this past summer - but those videos definitely helped build my confidence going into October. Even with this theme of Van Life there were still days where the question "What should I draw?" would come up. But what is great about drawing from life is anything can serve as inspiration from dirty dishes in the sink to laundry in the washing machine. We filmed a lot of urban sketching in cities and majestic locations, but there were also many days not filmed hanging out drawing in the van which was the perfect balance for me.

Some theme ideas that I think I might pursue in future drawing challenges are botanicals, hands, strangers, Lou, and animals... There really are endless ways to take the question of what to draw out of the mix so you have no reason not to just jump in and start making art!

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3. Let go of perfectionism and stop comparing!

This one is a tough one and especially as someone who is just starting out with drawing I totally understand how perfectionism can feel completely paralyzing. In the past, I found myself scrolling through photos of illustrations by talented artists I admire and feel like there was no way I could live up to what already existed in the world. Over time, I found the best way to get out of this negative mindset is to focus on enjoying the process and let go of all my expectations. Why should I focus on the fact that what I can make at this point in my journey isn't worth hanging in a museum if the time I spent drawing brought me joy and fulfillment? It can be very hard to internalize this especially if you're sharing your Inktober on social media. I totally understand the need to be proud of each image that you share with the world, but at the same time daily drawings just aren't meant to be perfect. So let loose, enjoy yourself, and remember that showing up each day for yourself is the only goal, not what you actually draw. On top of that it will become much easier to be consistent without this mental road block which means progress will happen so much quicker!

4. Connect with people who support you.

Before I go into this tip I know how fortunate I am to have such a supportive partner in my life. Not only did Lou cheer me on as I did this challenge, he also devoted himself to share my entire journey with the world making videos at a speed faster than he's ever made them before. I didn't think we could get any closer, but Inktober has done just that and it is all because I was brave enough to pursue a new passion and Lou was game to support me every inch of the way. The thing is though you obviously don't need to have a fantastic husband to complete Inktober or make videos about the whole process! You could find a friend or a family member who might want to do the challenge with you. Along the way you could do daily check ins via text or snapchat to share photos of your drawings. Even setting up drawing dates at a nearby coffee shop, so you can enjoy creating together in person. Or if you feel like there's no one in your life that has any interest in drawing, I would totally recommend sharing your drawings via social media. The instagram art community is huge! Just use hashtags like #Inktober2018 or #drawingchallenge or #penandink and you'll be shocked to find thousands of people out there in the world with similar interests to you.

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5. Make your goals realistic

Everyone's schedule is different. You might be a busy student or work long hours and still want to commit to your art. Maybe you have a flexible schedule which leaves you with a ton of time on certain days of the week and not much on the others. No matter what your life looks like carving out time for yourself is critical for mental health and happiness. This is all to say you know how much time you have and if that means you have 10 minutes to dedicate to Inktober a day or 2 hours make sure that your goals reflect the time you have to commit. If you only have a short amount of time I would suggest doing just pen drawings and making them small. Also go into the month with very specific drawings concepts planned out for each day so that when you show up for your "Inktober time" you know exactly what you'll be drawing. That might mean getting reference photos organized for each day of the month before the challenge even begins or creating a morning routine that starts 10 minutes earlier than normal so you can squeeze it in before your hectic day begins. And please again don't compare your Inktober to anyone else’s. They may responding hours on each drawing when you might only have moments on your commute to work.


Those are my 5 tips for completing Inktober! And I will definitely be keeping them handy as my drawing challenge has not ended. I had no idea how daily drawing would turn out and I am happy to report that it was a total success. So much so that I’ve decided to keep going with the daily drawings for an entire year. My birthday is October 1st, which means I will be drawing every day of my 28th year :) Thank you so much for all the support this past month. It has been such an incredible experience to share my drawings with you in our videos every other day and I can’t wait to turn them all into a zine for you soon!

All my love,

Dana

* The link to the pens I used includes Amazon affiliate links. Lou and I are participants in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Camping on Berlengas by Dana Roberts

This post is going to tell you everything you need to know about camping on Berlengas from how to make the reservation, to what to pack. We had an incredibly relaxing 36 hours on the island and would highly recommend it if you are looking to get away and be surrounded by nature.

What if you could spend the night on a tiny piece of land in the middle of the ocean listening to the calls of seagulls, the crash of waves, and wishing the clouds would pass faster, so that you could see the bright stars that had been promised?

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Berlengas is an archipelago 15 kilometers off the coast of Portugal. To get there you must take a 20 minute ferry from the harbor in Peniche. Lou and I went on one of the last days of the season, which runs from May 20th to September 15th, so it wasn't hard for us to book a ticket. Though I have read that if you're trying to go in the middle of high season, it is important to plan your trip in advance. If you come to Peniche outside of the season you can still visit the island, but have to go with a licensed tour operator.

Booking a ferry is quite simple - I just called (+351) 262 785 646 to make reservation with Viamar, one of the many ferry companies. If you're already in Peniche, you can go to the ferry harbor and there are a bunch of kiosks where you can purchase your ticket in person. For us it was 15 euro each way because we were spending the night on the island. Be aware the prices change depending on day of the week and month and if you are just going for the day or spending the night. Here you can check out the full pricing table. Make sure when you are setting up your reservation to clarify if you will be spending the night on the island.


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If you want to camp on the island as well there is one more step to complete your reservation. You must email campismo.berlenga@cm-peniche.pt with your name, address, telephone number, check in and check out and the tent capacity. Then they will send you a confirmation as well as their banking information so that you can make a bank transfer for how much your campsite costs.

Prices per tent per night:

  • 2 Person Tent – 10.30€

  • 3 Person Tent – 14.95€

  • 4 Person Tent – 19.60€

Next email them a screenshot of the bank transfer and they will send back a final confirmation. You must print this receipt. They make it very clear in the email that without a printed receipt you will not be allowed to sleep on the island. However, when we arrived on Berlenga, there was no one patrolling the campsite and just went to the number on our ticket and set up our home for the night. It's possible during high season they are a bit stricter, but the overall vibe to the island was be respectful, but no one is there to tell you what the rules are.

If you have any other questions about the camp site and want to talk to someone here is the full contact information:

Telephone: 262 789 571

Address: Posto de Turismo de Peniche, Rua Alexandre Herculano, 2520-273 – Peniche

FYI There is also accommodation available in the 17th century, São João Baptista Fort, but it is extremely minimal. I believe you even have to bring your own sleeping bag and flash light. The rooms don’t have bathrooms on suite. This article gives a lot of information on São João Batista Fort.

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The island is very small and within a few hours Lou and I had walked every single trail. The main attraction is the incredible São João Baptista Fort as pictured above. We had a great time filming and photographing with such a unique backdrop, and then explored the inside of the fort where there is a lovely little cafe.

But after the exploration, Lou and I spent the majority of our time perched on the cliffs, listening to the ocean crash below below. It was peaceful and for us getting to feel bored felt like a luxury that made time move slowly in the best way possible. But if that's not your version of a fun trip, definitely bring some entertainment. In fact, because the campsite is so close to where the ferry drops you off, I recommend bringing everything you want to feel cozy and comfortable.

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Packing List for the Camping Trip:

- Cash (the island is cash only and there is no ATM)

- Snorkel/Mask

- Bathing Suit

- Fleece ( it got a little chilly during the night)

- Water (There was access to some fresh water on the island, but I am not sure on the quality of it as everyone I saw was drinking bottled water. I recommend bringing a 6L bottle of water to share between two people for drinking, teeth brushing, etc as the bathrooms have salt water in the pipes and more if you plan on cooking)

- Deck of playing cards, a good book, journal/pen, or other wholesome entertainment

And please pack the other obvious necessities for camping like food, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, toiletries, change of clothes. Once you get to the island there is very little - so if you forget your sleeping bag you are out of luck!!

There are two places where you can get food on the island if you don’t want to cook, but there aren't any vegan options. We just brought food with us. If we had known how close to the ferry terminal the campsite was we would have brought a camping stove and food to cook because it really is the most relaxing camping activity in my opinion.

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Lou and I didn't take any tours during our visit, but if you want to go on a snorkeling trip or dolphin watching, there are many many tour companies that will help you see the abundant sea life that call Berlengas home. We saw a lot of people using the company Feeling Berlengas and they seemed to be having a great time.

If you make it to Berlengas please let us know as we would love to hear what you think of the crazy island home to so many birds and other wildlife.

— Dana