Thursday, November 2, 2017

In the Mud by Jason Kirschner

I haven't posted on this group blog in a while. I've been off in the "dayjob" world and my fellow bloggers have been kind enough to deal me out of the rotation for a bit. (I mixed metaphors. I know. I'm ok with it.) But it's my turn today, and since we all know that I consider this blog the closest I get to therapy, I thought I'd share what's on my mind.

I have recently been taking a break. Not only from this blog but from creating kidlit altogether. Since the end of the summer, I haven't really written or drawn anything that could potentially end up as a book of any sort.  I was tired and I felt I was spinning my wheels but getting nowhere. I started a new season of tv at "dayjob world" and told myself I just didn't have the time but I think I was making excuses. I think I was just a bit burnt out. I doodled a bit here and there and wrote down random story ideas or plot points but nothing really constructive.
And then October rolled in. I forced myself to try Inktober as a way to start drawing daily again. Now I would consider myself a pencil guy. I draw with pencil on cheap paper and mostly color my stuff digitally. Ink doesn't really enter into my process. Plus, I've tried Inktober before and never gone further than 8 or 9 days. But it seemed like an escape ladder out of the small muddy pit of not-drawing I'd dig for myself. I don't know why it was muddy-- that's a mystery to me too.

SO...Inktober day 1, I posted something I wasn't entirely happy with but I felt an ounce of satisfaction at having completed something. I made a decision to do no erasing or digital doctoring.
"Don't be fussy," I found myself saying as a mantra.  Day 2, I started to try to explore the different things I could do with the few ink pens I found in my bucket o' art supplies. Maybe a teensy bit more satisfying.

Day 3.
On day 3, the prompt reminded me of a character I had written a picturebook manuscript about. It was the project I was spinning my wheels on earlier this summer. Day 3 was the turning point for me. On day 3,  I decided to make my Inktober about the bunnies in the book I wanted to finish. I christened it "Bunntober."

It started to be fun to visit the characters each day. And the ink became fun too. I got a few more markers and pens at my local art store. Now I could do grey washes with Copic wide markers and really teeny details with Micron pens. I still did my layouts in my very comfortable Prismacolor pencil #943 and then inked over it. The prompts gave me aspects of the characters to explore that I hadn't yet and the ink somehow made the drawing fun again because I got semi-finished sketches that did, but also didn't, resemble the work I was familiar with.
And people were commenting and liking my stuff. I wasn't an Inktober star like fellow D2PB'r Mike Ciccotello but I got a bunch of new followers and some really lovely comments. I know that's not why we make the art but encouragement is always lovely.  Most importantly, I think I've dug my way out of the pit and I'm ready to start my dummy. I've actually already started roughing out some pages and I think I might be finishing the finals in ink!

Day 24.
Day 31.

Day 25.
Day 27.
I guess this is a super duper, barely coherent, long winded way to say...if you're stuck in the mud, try something new.  A new medium, a new color scheme, heck...sometimes just a new sketch pad or a sharpened pencil might be the answer. It just might help you climb back out of the mud. Geez --there's the mud again. I'm going to go wash my hands.
Day 9.

BTW, if you haven't checked out the amazing work people have posted as part of Inktober, you really should. Superstar Mike Ciccotello is on Instagram @ciccotello and if you want to see more of my #bunntober experiment, you can find me on IG at @jkirsch118.  Our other D2PBrs are posting art on social media too...check out the links in their profiles.

By day, Jason is an emmy nominated set designer for television, with credits that include Harry, The Meredith Vieira Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and The Late Show with David Letterman. By night, Jason is an author and illustrator of children's books. You can find his debut picture book, Mr. Particular: The World's Choosiest Champion on shelves in bookstores everywhere. See Jason's work, both illustrations and set designs,  at . Follow him on instagram @jkirsch118. 


  1. Oh dear - now I feel this powerful tug to join Instagram so I can see more of this mischievous, intriguing bunny! Day 3 - wow!

    1. You should explore it. I mean...all social media is ...imperfect to say the least but it's fun to explore everyone's art. Some of my modern day art heroes post on IG and I get to see what they're working on which is lots of fun. Thanks for checking out the blog this week!

  2. Jason, I have to say (late though I'm finally getting to read this), I'm so happy for you that you were able to find the "soap" that helped rinse away that "muddy" windshield so you could "drive" again :D LOVin' the bunnies! :D