This week, I have been experimenting with the various art prompts provided by ‘Inktober’ (Inktober 2020). Inktober happens each year for the month of October when there is the online international drawing challenge to ink something each day for the month of October. The challenge is to create in response to a list of words,

These creations are then posted this to social media, in my case my Instagram feed – @clarisearle.

On Monday, the first prompt was ‘HIDE’ which initially brought nothing much to mind. I did some non-doing practice (in layman’s terms ‘staring into space’, or in academic terms ‘constructive mind-wandering’) for 20 minutes and my mind played with ideas from ‘hide-and-seek,’ to people hiding behind hair or behind fig leaves and so on. All these notions swirl naturally in the ocean of shared sociocultural ideas! A thought that reminds me of sculptor Matt Smart who said in a talk at Leamington Art Gallery that he was no more creative than anyone else, that the ideas were out there for everyone. I think of this now as the ‘shared ocean of ideas’ – you let the waters swirl and then fish out your favourites. In this case, the idea on ‘hide’ that eventually formed a simple single-panel that was quick to draw:

On Instagram, I was able to add a caption to the accompanying text of ‘Hide…and so they hid from everyone but each other.’ There was a little personal conflict here, as I wanted to emulate David Shrigley’s practice of adding captions, but at the same time I liked the minimalism of a single-panel with one word that the viewer interprets as s/he likes. Also, this is not what my mind or hand naturally produced.

Part of my interest in doing the ‘Inktober’ challenge was to use David Shrigley’s procedure, where he does daily drawings based on a list of words or prompts. However, his approach differs in that the ideas come directly from doing the drawings and he does not begin with mind-wandering ‘noodling’. His work tends to lead to entertaining captions that form a kind of cartooning (indeed he describes himself as a cartoonist rather than an illustrator, add quote). At the moment, I’m planning to attempt a direct David Shrigley drawing-thinking or ‘doodle-noodle’ approach in future.

On Tuesday, the prompt was ‘MUSIC’ seemingly abstract and tricky, but it took seconds to come up with a cartooning idea during non-doing practice. This worked better in my mind than in reality however, so it is perhaps good to come up with a few ideas. I gave up thinking about this once I had an idea – this wasn’t entirely due to laziness but the contention that the simple idea works well in cartooning. I have no real evidence for this however and it would be good to either find some evidence, or form a few ideas for practice to see which work best in visual experimentation.

This single-panel plays on the words ‘music to my ears’ where the ears are supposed to be French horns,

However, this doesn’t entirely work, as cartoon heads are often drawn without ears, so these ear-horns could be attachments to the head and undermine the idea.

Wednesday’s prompt was ‘FLOAT’ and it was more difficult to come up with an idea for this from the ocean of ideas. There were fleeting ideas of floating items from boats, rafts, feathers, ghosts or spooks, and even a ‘milk float.’ The last one cause me to smile, but I didn’t fancy the technicality of spending time drawing a convincing milk float. I prefer to draw organic and round shapes, so elected to draw a floating ghost:

This almost instantly got a ‘like’ on Instagram with the comment ‘so cute!’

This week has incidentally become a week of exploring funny drawings and styles along with the word prompt. My future aim is to develop funny drawings with clear gags that stretch beyond just the drawing.

Thursday’s cartoon is also probably ‘cute’ and could be a children’s book illustration. This one responds to ‘SHOES’ somewhat liberally as platform boots. This is because I was also thinking about my oldest friend’s birthday today and a memory of her wearing platforms to a nightclub and tumbling down the stairs in them. She looked amazing and then ridiculous (and well-humoured about it) all at the same time,

Friday’s final prompt was ‘ominous’ a fairly good prompt to tap into the current cultural preoccupation with Halloween this weekend. In my ‘mind-wandering’ I pictured ominous clouds, smoke, signs, moody destructive characters, but dismissed all of these. I’m not naturally drawn to the stuff of the dark gothic, so decided to enjoy a little light yogic punning with these Buddhist monks,

It was fun to do this one – it’s somehow satisfying to draw uplifting situations and happy characters (perhaps especially if you are in a good mood, as I was today).

It has been an interesting week working with art prompts and provocations, as each day forged an unpredictable creation.

There are infinite ideas in the ‘shared ocean of ideas’ so there is always something to draw. Nevertheless, it still feels a little stressful to attempt to fish something out each day and I’m glad for a break from this.

Next week’s practice will be a glad return to working with my ‘flamingo ballerinas’ after a commission to create a calendar with them for the Komubara ballet school in Indonesia. Already looking forward to working with familiar characters within a familiar idea.



Inktoberfest (2020) The Inktober Challenge, available at: (accessed 19.10.2020)

Shrigley, D. (2020) Are We On Air, (Episode 29, David Shrigley) available at: (accessed 19.10.2020)