Ink is the art medium of October at Tomah Middle School.
Art teacher Libby Hansen said it’s all part of “Inktober,” a worldwide initiative for people to draw more, which was started in 2009 by a man named Jake Parker.
The only guidelines are the piece must be done in ink and be inspired by a daily, single word prompt, which is different each year.
Hansen said the students have been creative in their interpretations of the prompts, some of which include spell, flowing, tranquil, poisonous, scorched, expensive and weak.
“I’ve had some really clever ones (turned in),” she said. “For (the prompt) chicken, I’ve had some that have drawn an actual roasted chicken, but one girl ... has a farm scene and has a single chicken feather floating by.”
At TMS the initiative is school-wide. Hansen said anyone can participate even if he or she isn’t enrolled in an art class. She has gotten a great response from the students.
“It’s all voluntary. I did have a group ask ‘do we get a grade for this? Is it extra credit?’ and I said, ‘no, but you do get extra drawing practice out of it,’” she said. “My sixth-graders are the ones that have been doing it the most. They’re absolutely eating it up; they love it. I have at least three kids who have stuck with it and done it every single day. It’s a little bit of a commitment to set aside time every day and do it.”
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This isn’t Hansen’s first time participating in Inktober with students, but it’s the first time she has led the project at TMS. Prior to this school year, she taught art at Mauston High School for nine years.
“I had students last year at my previous school, a handful that did most of them, but nothing like the response I’ve had here with these sixth-graders,” she said.
Hansen said she has also had students who aren’t in her class stop by to pick up a 4x4 square piece of paper she’s having students use for the initiative.
She participates in Inktober herself.
“I’ve been trying to work only in blue pen, so I’ve kept all of mine the same out there, so when they see them they know they’re mine,” she said. “It’s good for them to see me drawing too ... it’s good to have them see us make actual art as well. It drives their creativity.”
Hansen said what she loves about Inktober is how excited, fast and creative the students are.
“I love to see what they come up with on their own,” she said. “They generally don’t ask me what I think they should draw, and I like that because it’s not a guided thing. The only criteria is ink, and I give them a certain size piece of paper and they have to sign it, and that’s about it. What they come up with is really on their own, and it’s their creation they’re pulling from their brains. I don’t even see any of them looking up something to come up with an answer; they just sit down and start drawing right away.”
The initiative’s last day is Oct. 31, and afterward the students’ work will be on display at the gallery at Lincoln Middle School in La Crosse, Hansen said. The art teacher there is her friend and has invited her to share the students’ work during the entire month of November since the display for that month is “Inkcredible,” which is art made entirely out of ink.
Meghan Flynn can be reached at email@example.com.