Quick “happy-mess” ink drawings

I don’t know about you, but this Covid pandemic has me feeling like my life has been taken over by a constant decision-making cycle of checking the local infection numbers, trying to get a sense of how careful others in our social circle are being, re-evaluating the risks of anything that involves leaving our house, weighing the risks against each family member’s (un)met needs, and trying to figure out what’s safe enough for us to do.

When infection rates come down or country lockdown protocols lift, everyone around us starts seeing more people, going out without masks, and being less careful, which ironically makes it less safe for people like me who are immune-compromised to connect with others outside of our household. This pendulum dynamic means that we’re almost always out of synch with our social world, which makes connection feel harder, and not always very satisfying. And I’ve had no respite from the feeling of high alert or the constant careful decisions. I’m exhausted, and I miss the days where we used to feel safe to head out on a spontaneous adventure or stop in unannounced on friends and family, or have others stop in announced on us.

So this play session with ink and a dropper felt like exactly the respite from analysis-paralysis, decision-making and caution that I’ve been needing.

I worked with ink and a dropper, moving quickly and varying the pressure on the dropper so that the line thickness varied. Then I immediately placed a sheet of toilet paper on top of the image, causing the thicker ink lines to spread out, and very quickly lifted the toilet paper off before the ink spread out too much!

I’m so thrilled with these two dancers. They’re the perfect expression of the sense of freedom of movement, confidence, trust, safety, and vitality that I yearn for right now!

Each image took about a minute to create, maybe less. It felt so good to get to switch off my decision-maker, to be in my body and moving quickly, completely in the present moment. No time for hesitation or analysis. And I loved letting go of needing to monitor and control everything, and getting to enjoy the wonder of seeing what happened when I placed the paper down on the ink… what “happy-mess” would I find when I lifted it off?! I love how the “happy-mess” gave the little boy a shadow in this next one!

As you can see, once dry, I added some fine lines to some of them, using a black fine-liner pen. There are a few of fine-liner lines that I kinda wish I could erase (mostly in the red Proteas), but for the most part, I love how the contrast of the thin, controlled fine-liner lines seemed to emphasise the “life-of-its-own” nature of the inky “happy-messes”!

(I learned this ink dropper and toilet paper method from a self-paced course I’m taking with Carla Sonheim. I’ve taken several of her online classes now and they’re always full of fun and surprising ideas.)