October Ink – Ice, Music and Intimacy

This is the last but one post for the whole Inktober thing. At first I quite enjoyed drawing everyday but as things got busier at school and my health became more problematic it got harder and I had to slow down. I also felt that the discipline of drawing based on a word was good and irritating at the same time. It was good because my imagination and creativity had to follow as yet untrodden paths which helped me come up with some pictures I would not otherwise have drawn. It was irritating because art is one of my deepest pleasures and to follow some arbitrary words wasn’t always where my heart wanted to go. I think the best thing to have come out of it from my point of view was a chance to really work hard in one medium – pen and ink. The worst thing was the self-imposed pressure to get stuff done, especially as I was finishing all of this off in the October half term holiday so I didn’t have to work on it at all during the most demanding half term of the school year.

So these pictures were of a shell…

…a Cornet…

And the pattern of frost you can sometimes see on car windscreens in the early morning as you go off to work…

I really enjoyed drawing the ice although I couldn’t get close to the perfection of the actual frost you can sometimes see. Nature is a grand master when it comes to painting. I also really enjoyed drawing the Cornet.

At a teenager I played the Cornet and Trumpet in various brass bands, wind bands and orchestras as well as a Trad Jazz band. It was a privilege to play those parts as I often got the tune or main theme. It was a bit scary too though because you can’t hide a mistake if you’re playing a trumpet or cornet. The thing I liked most about that was becoming fully part of one another as we all played together.

There is a closeness in playing with a group of other musicians which is very intimate. Like other forms of intimacy it seems to bind together those who take part in it. You get to feel a sense of the inside of another person when you play music together. It’s like you can feel their heart singing inside the music right next to your own. Autism frequently makes me feel adrift from other people and they sometimes seem like little black boxes where all I can know is their input and output patterns, but with music I can see where otherwise I am blind. It’s a real joy.

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October Ink – Aliens, Autism and Christmas

 

Feeling Alien at Christmas

My subject for this week is Alien.  I’m quite fond of aliens.  Being autistic, I end up feeling like an alien from time to time just from being so different.  I think I feel this quite a lot in the run up to Christmas.  Everyone else seems to be enjoying it and looking forward to it but I dread the whole thing.

I feel loads of anxiety about finding presents which my family and friends will like and about giving presents of the right kind to the right people.  It always seems like an impossible task and unless someone tells me something they want I am really at a loss as to how to go about it.  Then there are all the parties and events going on at work and at home.  I really really dislike parties so I don’t go to any except the class party at school (which is part of my work and is fairly well organised and controlled).  Then there’s the Pantomime.  Every year our whole school  goes to the pantomime.  It’s really difficult – too loud, with audience participation.  I’d rather poke my eyes out with a sharp stick.  Luckily this year, thanks to an excellent head teacher, I’ve been able to be the member of staff who stays on the school site for children who, for one reason or another, are not able to, or dont’ want to go.  That is brilliant!

I think I would like Christmas more if people didn’t give presents and made less fuss about the whole thing.  Once we hit November all the shops start filling up with Christmas stuff – trying to sell us all sorts of rubbish to give to someone else.  Then there’s all the decorations making everything look even more busy, not to mention the demented Christmas music – it literally does my head in.

By the time this post goes out (I’m writing it in October half term) we will have finished our class Christmas Performance at work.  Of it all, I don’t mind this part of the holiday season; the children learn so much from working together, and having a goal, and being brave in front of an audience.  They grow up immensely through this one activity.  It’s beautiful to watch that happen and help it along.

 

Giger’s Aliens

As well as seeing the alienness inside my psyche I have also been fascinated by Giger’s Alien designs for years.  I think the fascination comes from them being both beautiful and somehow repellant at the same time.  So this week I decided to draw my own tribute to Giger.

It began as a landscape head portrait but the drawing seemed to want to extend itself into a full body.  Luckily I was using the first page of a two page spread so I could extend the picture if I didn’t mind the crease showing through the image.  I began in pencil and then inked it with a very narrow pen (0.2).  Then I added some stronger 0.8 lines to pick out the large forms within the body.  This came out as a reasonable outline drawing…

 

Then I began filling in the details and shading.  Rather than trying to ink a pencil drawing I tried to use my pens to draw directly, just as I would with a pencil.  I also added the alien’s right hand because having it hidden seemed odd.  Because the image is twice as big as the others I’ve done in my sketchbook, it took quite a while to do this but I was pleased with how it turned out…

 

October Ink – Pine Cones and Meditation

I have always loved the pattern of pinecones but have never tried to draw one before so it was a pleasure to have a go at this…

It was done using my Pigma Micron pens, a brush pen and, for the shadow, a non-permanent ink washed out with water on a brush.

My second drawing for this week was on the theme of “Meditation”.  When I’m well enough nowadays I go to the Quaker Meeting for Worship.  It is what people in the US would call unprogrammed worship.  There is no sermon, or songs or litergy.  People just sit together in silence.  If someone feels “led” they stand up and speak to the Meeting.  I still don’t know what “led” means in this context so I never speak.  It’s no loss though because the whole speaking thing is a mindfield when you have autism.  The thing that I love is the chance to be with other people in an almost intimate silence where I don’t have to think about how to connect to them or speak to them – just sitting there is enough.

In my long lost past (somehwere in the Jurassic!!) I practiced Buddhism for about 12 years.  Again this was really just sitting.  It was the Soto Zen practice as taught by Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey and a monk who travelled down to a centre in the South called Brother Raymond.  I think I got the same feeling of silent companionship from that too.  It also gave me the ability to let everything go in meditation and just be.  This is the most comfortable peaceful place I’ve ever been to.  At first it was hard, my mind just kept going when I told it to stop.  But I found I could do it if I concentrated on the weight of my body  on the floor and just noticed each thing and let it go.

So this picture of meditation, although quite abstract is about these two experiences…

 

 

The idea is that the world is all going on outside and the person meditating has just stepped of the metaphorical conveyor belt for a while and just sits there breathing.

 

At first when I made this picture it was like this…

I couldn’t darken it with my brush pen because it’s got a bit blocked up so I did it digitally…

Then I added a shadow around the person to highlight how the world just dims and quietens in meditation…

Having done all of that I’m not sure if I like the final result.  Sometimes I think the original ink drawing was better…

(With Shadows)
(Original)

October Ink – Underwater Spacecraft Warrior

By this stage in the Inktober challenge I was really flagging. I’d got really behind during term time at work and was trying to both catch up in half term and finish the whole thing in the same holiday. I found I was drawing from when I woke up to when I went to sleep! I even took my sketchbook and pens with me on the days when I was my son’s designated driver for his A’level Geography primary data collection. So while he was out at each location getting his data I would work on my drawings. Basically it became a real chore and all I could think about was finishing the blooming thing.

So, I had to set a limit to what I was doing during half term. If I couldn’t finish, I wanted to at least get enough done so that I could get all my posts prepared for the second half of the autumn term. It’s the busiest time of year in teaching with Christmas productions, the Pantomime, lots of wet play, all the normal work to do as well and lots of over-excited children! Mostly I managed that, although I did cheat on one picture which was the one inspired by the word “warrior”. I used an ink drawing I’ve done in the past.

Anyway here are the drawings…

This one is “Underwater”. It’s pretty abstract and was done using a white gel pen on top of black ink painted onto my sketchbook.

Next we have “Warrior”…

This was actually done years ago but because it fits so perfectly I used it for Inktober.

Finally I went for a drawing of the space shuttle in a simplified Art Deco style…

This was really easy to do. The hardest thing was avoiding the temptation to add details.

Then I cleaned up the drawing and added the Art Deco style colours in Photoshop 6.0