Inktober is here again!

It’s October 2nd.  I should have started yesterday.  However, I’ll make up the time!  October is my very favorite month and a truly beautiful time in Arizona.  So here we go, welcome to Inktober!

Feel free to join in – if you have a blog and are participating, comment away so that future readers can see your work too!  I will accept either analog or digital ink.  Maybe if we can get some participation, I can do a little art show at the beginning of the month!

Here is day 1:

Darth Decaf 900
Darth Decaf

 

Here is day 2:

Shrieker 900
Shrieker

 

***

(Need art supplies like I do?  Dick Blick.com has some amazing sales and fantastic products for anyone who is interested.  A small portion of the proceeds from any purchase you make by using this link will go to support Mindflight.  I buy from Blick, and I’ve never found a better art store!)

Inktober Day 27: Quoth The Raven –

Nevermore!

Today I’ll post a copy of Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem, in honor of my Mom, who is named…

…Lenore.

 

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more.”
    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
    From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
            Nameless here for evermore.
    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
    “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
            This it is and nothing more.”
    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
            Darkness there and nothing more.
    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
            Merely this and nothing more.
    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
      Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
            ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”
    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
            Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
    Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
            With such name as “Nevermore.”
    But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
    Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
    Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
            Then the bird said “Nevermore.”
    Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
    Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
    Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
            Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”
    But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
    Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
    Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
            Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”
    This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
    This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
    On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!
    Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
    “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
    Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
    Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
    On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
    Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
    It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
    Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
    And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
            Shall be lifted—nevermore!

-Edgar Allen Poe

 

crow web.JPG

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!

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!

Observation: The Artist’s Eye

If you are a representative artist, observation is the key to everything. If you take pictures, look at your subject from all possible angles. See things others might miss. If you draw or paint, pay attention to where the light falls, where the shadows lie, how the colors change in your subject depending on when you look at it.

Try different ways of looking at an object, too. Blur your vision and look at the masses, the major areas of color or form. Look at a tiny area of it. Try tracing just the outline of an object, to help you look at the negative space around it. Maybe even pull out a magnifying glass.

For example, take a look at this photo.  Can you tell what it is?  You could make it into water, or fabric, or a landscape, or take it as it really is – sun shining off cat fur.

How you see is as important as what you see!