I just finished drawing a page in my nineteenth ink book. This ink book is titled “Sidelong.”I randomly name these books by opening the dictionary and pointing to a word with my eyes closed. I fill up one of these books a year, which is about eight pages a month, so it was page 80 that I finished this October day. I figured I’d write about it while it was fresh in my mind.

First off this page was drawn with a red Pentel Sign pen (a marker). I normally draw with a black pen but a couple of months ago I opened my last black marker and haven’t bought any new ones since. But a few years ago I bought a box of red sign pens that I used to draw in a red covered sketch book. I finished the red book long before I finished the pens. I figure I’ll use up these red pens before I buy new black ones. Otherwise they’ll just go to waste.

I have habits when I draw in an ink book and the first habit is to draw one box in the upper left. Then I draw in that box. I try to vary the first pen mark I make in a box because that can determine the whole drawing and I’m looking to draw a variety of images. If I always make the same mark first a lot of the drawings will come out similar. With this woman’s face I drew the spiral on the left side of her hair first. After that mark I knew I’d be drawing a face. This is one of my simple smiling faces that I draw a lot of. I added the background elements last to give some visual interest to the top of the drawing but I left the spiral by itself.

For the next step I drew two boxes. The box in the middle top and the box on the right side top. I’m not sure why I always draw one box then two but I almost always do. It just seems weird to leave that right side box undrawn after I draw the middle box. I drew the head on the figure in the middle box first. Since I had just drawn a big face I wanted a figure in the second box. Since I try yo draw these on the fly without much conscious thinking I could never decide on what type of figure. So I ended up with a weird modern art statue of a figure. I added an equally strange figure on the right and some background shapes. This one has a bit of surrealism in it.

The third box has just a bust of a person it it. No background at all. I wanted to draw a very graphic person in a few lines. The top of his head and hat became stripped down and simple so that a background would clutter things up. I like the simplicity of this one but it looks like his head might be falling off.

I continued my drawing of one box in the second row and then decided I wanted something without a figure in it but had no idea what to draw. This is what that looks like. What is it? I’m not even sure. I used a lot of shapes in this drawing and some parts look vaguely like buildings but they don’t seem to be on any landscape. I can’t even tell where the horizon line is. Some drawings end up being an unsubjected mystery.

Here is where I drew two more boxes. The middle drawing went vaginal on me. People are usually quick to point out when an image is phallic but vaginal slips by them. People can really giggle at rocket ships but draw an extended diamond shape that looks vaginal and people don’t mention it as much. Unless you’re Georgia O’Keefe painting flowers. Either way I like this little drawing. It has a lot of good shapes and spaces. Sometimes I like the composition of an abstract drawing as much as I like an image.

Box number six has another of my clean line faces. He’s in a decorated outfit and I took liberties with his eyebrows and nose but other than that it’s a straightforward face. The horizon line by his shoulders and mountains on top of that is one of my standard backgrounds. It helps to define the space of a drawing.

Box number seven (drawn by itself) is where I got it in my head to write a blog about drawing this page. That made me weirdly self conscious. I couldn’t figure out what to draw for a moment so fell back into drawing a face. It’s strange that the eyes are in the middle of the composition as I almost never do that. It throws off the balance of the drawing as so much of it had to be the top of the head and the chin is squeezed by the bottom of the drawing. I don’t think I reached my place of unthinking with this one and it suffered as a result.

I drew the last two boxes and then tried to clear my head of my consciousness of drawing and writing. I think I succeeded for a few minutes and got this nice little composition out of it. Small little figures and big eyes. The eyes at the bottom were drawn last and changed the whole look of the drawing. It went from okay to intriguing with that addition. I think it was a nice recovery from the drawing before it.

And then the self-consciousness crept in again for the last drawing. I couldn’t clear my mind and then decided I wanted to draw a twisting figure but had no idea how I wanted to draw it. So I just started and went in whatever direction showed itself. It wasn’t much of a direction. The figure is weirdly twisted and the composition is flawed. Not that all the other compositions are great but this one is off by a mile. They can’t all be winners.

So this is just one page out of nineteen ink books over nineteen years. I don’t see anything special on it right now but I know that time changes things. When I’m looking for something to make a finished drawing from I grab one of my books and look through it until something catches my eye. Maybe next year something will catch my eye from this very page. We’ll have to see.