Improve your drawings – with one simple trick!

Happy Inktober Day number 26!  I missed yesterday so today’s a tip, too.
If you are drawing anything with hard edges, your work will look so much better if you use sharp, clean lines and good perspective. So, how can an enterprising artist keep their fluid, natural lines and combine them with correct mechanical structures without the whole thing looking stiff?

I find that what works best is to rough out my drawing in pencil, so that things still look natural, and then use a clear plastic ruler to redraw anything that needs to be exact. Simple!

That way the woman at the table can still have her beautiful, flowing hair and her frilly dress, but the stripes on her tablecloth will be even and the legs straight. Or the wild horses can still look dynamic and three dimensional, while the old fence posts they are standing near still stand straight and tall with good parallel lines. Think of how the impact might be different if those posts were drawn with wavering unrealistic lines. A great opportunity for contrast would be completely lost.
Paying some attention to how things are really shaped, even in your sketches, will give your work a more grounded, realistic look and bring a hint of professionalism. To me, nothing is sadder than seeing an artist draw a really beautiful figure, animal, or natural landscape – then completely ignore the structure of the piece, so the setting looks skewed and lopsided because none of lines are straight, even when they are supposed to be. It’s a fast way to ruin an otherwise beautiful work.
Best of all, this problem is not only easy to fix, but helps train your eye to be a better artist!

Day 0: Blogging Tools to Help You Work Faster, Write Better, and Land More Readers — BayArt

Blogging is an art, and using the right blogging tools will make your art rise and shine! This is an epic list of blogging tools to which you can refer, and find new tools to enhance your blogging experience as well as the experience of your readers! This epic list of blogging tools consists of…

via Day 0: Blogging Tools to Help You Work Faster, Write Better, and Land More Readers — BayArt

From Subdued to Superb

via Daily Prompt: Subdued


I love taking pictures of the moon, and I finally have a camera that will do it, however the photos are often grainy.  What’s an amateur lunar photographer to do, especially on an evening when there’s obstructions in the way, but that moon coming up over the city is so beautiful?


Not for me – I use GIMP, the free art program.

Through judicious use of the clonestamp, fuzzy select, gaussian blur, and layers features this subdued image was totally rehabbed.  Clone stamping near parts of the sky got rid of the power line, selecting just the moon itself then putting it on another layer so we could blur the rest got rid of all those speckles, and a simple “white balance”operation cleared up much of the atmospheric haze on the moon itself.

Here’s a better view.

original shopped moon 1000.JPG

shopped - I can't see the pixels 1000.JPG


DIY Camera Monopod

I wanted to take a picture of the moon last night the same as I did two nights ago, but it wasn’t in the right position to use my usual trick of bracing my camera on the back fence.  Still, the sheer beauty of the moon as it peeked through the treetops made me find a way, and it worked well enough that I wanted to share it here.

I sat in a chair so that part of me was braced, and for a monopod I used a sponge mop!  It was dry, so no harm done to the camera.  However it worked well enough that I was able to get several shots of the moon.  At maximum zoom, it’s of course rather hard to hold still, and this little help was invaluable.   The spongy texture was stiff enough to support my hands and the camera, and soft enough not to scratch the finish, and the pole handle made a sturdy base that I could angle as I liked.

The featured image shows my result.  Still not perfect, but my camera isn’t a fancy expensive one and I was doing without a tripod or telescope.  I’m happy with it!

Introduction to Sumi Painting

Japanese ink painting is an ancient, yet truly enjoyable art form that creates a striking, often monochromatic style. Some consider it a Chinese art, however these paintings are very highly esteemed in both countries.

It trains you to paint bravely, being careful and fluid at the same time. It shows you how to go with the flow and not look back.

Sumi ink stone

Some people use colors in their sumi paintings, even gold paint, but I currently don’t. At it’s essential core, this kind of painting is about deep black ink, a natural-bristle bamboo handled brush, and some nice paper.

One of the really cool things about sumi painting is that although you can buy liquid ink in a bottle, you can also grind your own. Ink sticks are generally made with pine soot and natural glue. You rub them against the ink stone, with a little water, to make your ink. There’s something very grounding about watching the ink form in your stone.

Sumi Brushes

Ink stones aren’t too expensive, neither are brushes, and you only need one or two to start. Paper can be pricy but there are cheap options, so this is an easy thing to try. If you decide to stick with it, you can get better materials.

When you are getting started with sumi, it helps to try making different strokes – the direction your brush moves in, combined with the pressure you use, determines what your mark will be. Sometimes you need to plan ahead with your marks, because you have no way of erasing, but if you hesitate you will put down too much paint. It’s good to practice by trying to copy a simple painting, to see how to make the lines and marks.

Sumi ink can also be thinned out to make washes, like watercolor. If you use the proper kind of paper, Japanese Washi, it will preserve all the fine details you have made and the ink won’t spread too much, nor sit on the surface.

There are, of course, online tutorials, videos, and books to teach you this art, or you can play around and see what you can make on your own. Sumi can even be a form of moving meditation. A common exercise is to breathe deeply and see how perfect a circle you can draw with a single stroke.


I’ve barely scratched the surface here but I hope you can see what endless vistas can be explored.  If you’d like to try too, click on the images to see where to get the supplies.


(featured picture by Pixabay, art materials from

The Magic of Detail

Fox Pond Detail.jpg
A small detail from one of my paintings


Whether we’re talking about a story, an article, a painting, or a drawing, the devil really is in the details. Get them wrong and you have a flop. Get them right and you’ve made something great.

Research is really important to make sure you get those details right. Just how should the knight’s sword gleam? What does a rose smell like, exactly? How does a Great Dane generally behave? What are some of the normal brands of potato chip bought in the East Coast?

Details, and how you portray them, are everything. If you’re writing about an object, the reader should know what it looks like. They need to know the color, make an model of the car the protagonist sees. The scent of the forest as the heroin walks into it. How the fur of the wolf feels as the hero tentatively strokes its ruff.

In a picture, little details can really make it come alive. Say you paint a mountain scene. It’s pretty, but what’s going on? Add a bird, and there’s life. Add a boat and a mysterious head in the high mountain caldera-lake, and you have a story. What creatures populate your woods? Who walks through your cities? What do they wear? How do they live? In a portrait, what favorite piece of jewelry, what sly look of the eye, will the viewer see?

Remember to include these things and watch your viewers, or readers, love you.