Cats in the Studio – Revisited

Life is never boring with cats in the studio…

Drusilla is a very paws on cat in the studio. She likes to be involved in my creative process every step of the way.

It’s not all mischief and mayhem though, there’s plenty of quiet moments too. This may look like adoration, but she could easily be taking a moment to ponder her next move.

Adoration or Plotting?

What should I do next?

Hunter is more reserved, a silent stalker type. Thus, there’s less photographic evidence… But he’s here. Watching. Waiting. Always.

Take a look at the first installment of Cats in the Studio.

Art Process: Ripley

I told myself I wasn’t going to create any art for Month of Love, a weekly challenge in February, created by artist Kristina Carroll (she also runs Month of Fear in October–another addictive challenge). This is my busiest time of year. It’s essential I focus. My mistake was taking a peek at the challenges/themes for this year’s event. I thought, I’ll just take a look. Looking doesn’t hurt….

Said no artist, ever…

Ripley for Month of Love

Ripley for Month of Love

Month of Love (and its counterpart) are hosted through Tumblr. Click on the image above to read my official blurb. Below are some snippets from the creative process.

Graphite Pencils, Charcoal Pencils, Charcoal Stick and a Kneadable Eraser

Ripley is Graphite and Charcoal on 9 x 12 inch acid free drawing paper. It would have been nice if I’d had some charcoal powder on hand, but I made do with a stick I borrowed from my daughter’s supplies. I haven’t worked with charcoal since my college days. It was fun and messy! Working with the stick also turned out to be the better option as it gives the drawing an organic rawness that would have been absent with the powder.

I worked on the drawing over the course of two days. On one of those days this was all I worked on. Now it’s time for me to get back to work on my personal project. I have my first exhibit of 2016 coming up next month! Details to come soon…

http://www.amandamakepeace.com
http://makepeacearts.tumblr.com

Painting with Darkness, Part VIII

In recent weeks, I’ve been working with my paintbrush more than I’ve been writing.

Turns out slashing with paint gets the darkness out of my system much faster than hammering on a keyboard.

And so I thought I’d share:

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‘Fire Lens’ – 36″ x 36″

Fire Lens is 3 lbs of canvas. It’s huge! The photo here is somewhat muted, but the live version is lustrous and dark, a shining white eye wreathed in deep crimson and black. It’s a room dominator, to be sure.

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Dripping

‘Dripping’ – 36″ x 22″

Dripping was a tortuous painting. It started as a watercolor experiment and became much more. I saturated my paints with as much water as they could hold (while still maintaining a bit of grey/black) and went to work. The acrylics drained down the canvas. The white lines you see are drip marks, which is exactly what I wanted. The muddled blacks and gruesome greys are where I let the watered paint form into little puddles. This is one sad, cold painting.

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G Sunshine

‘Sunshine’ – 16″ x 12″

My kid, the G Man, won’t let me paint without him. He’s done almost as much canvas work as I have! Here’s a quick multicolor work he named Sunshine. It’s a stark contrast to my darkness, which I love about his method. He says this is what the sun looks like up close. Pretty close, right?

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The Hecatomb Master

‘The Hecatomb’ – 30″ x 20″

Most of my work is without purpose. I just paint what I want and let the brush fall where it may. Not so with The Hecatomb. This large canvas was created with a book’s front and back covers in mind. The book by the same name will be out soon. It’s a sequel to this and this.

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If you liked these, here’s a few Painting with Darkness posts from history. Like this. And this. And this.

And the darkest of all my art appears on these.

Until next time.

J Edward Neill

Badb Painting for the 2016 Twitter Art Exhibit

“Through art we can change the world.”

In 2014 I participated in my first Twitter Art Exhibit. <– Click to see my previous entry. The goal of every Twitter Art Exhibit is to raise money for charities, through the selling of postcard size art. This year’s exhibit is taking place at Trygve Lie Gallery in New York City, March 31st – April 21st, 2016. It will raise money to support Foster Pride’s Handmade Program. You can read a full press release here.

Once again I decided to with the magical bird theme… Big surprise, I know. This is Badb. She measures 4 x 6 inches and is watercolor and acrylic on Fluid Watercolor Paper (Cold Press, 140-lb).

Badb for the 2016 Twitter Art Exhibit

Badb is a war goddess from Irish Mythology. She was known to take the form of a Hooded Crow and instilled fear among soldiers to sway a battle to her liking. Below is a series of time lapse videos I took during the painting’s creation.

FOLLOW
Website: www.twitterartexhibit.org
Twitter: www.twitter.com/twitrartexhibit
Facebook: www.facebook.com/twitterartexhibit

The Art of Bird Whisperers

You may have noticed I like birds. My friend and artist, Melissa Gay, also likes birds. You might call us bird whispers! We both have our own unique approach to depicting these feathered creatures. What if we created a work of art from the same reference photo? How similar or dissimilar would be they? I thought it might be fun to find out and Melissa agreed!

Gyrfalcon Stock

 

Here’s a stock image of a Gyrfalcon I found on DeviantArt. We both took a few days to create our piece of art and then without even showing one another, we posted them on Facebook.

Wow!

Same bird. Different art. Completely different vibe!

Melissa and I enjoyed this little experiment so much that we’ve decided to repeat it once a month. If you follow us on Facebook, be on the look out for our posts around this same time each month. You can also find our posts using the hashtag #birdwhisperer.

Amanda on Facebook – Melissa on Facebook

You can see more of Melissa’s art at www.melissagay.com.

Down the Dark Path – Resurrection

With new art comes new possibilities.

 Introducing ALL NEW cover art for the Down the Dark Path four-book series.

They’re slick. They’ve got terrifying new covers. They’re bound in feels-amazing-beneath-your fingers matte.

1 2

3 4

Book I preserves most of the original Amanda Makepeace art, but books II, III, and IV are darker than ever.

Drown in the darkest of all dark fiction series’ today.

J Edward Neill

The Revenant Movie Review

(Disclaimer: No major spoilers. Includes small plot revelations.)

 

Revenant: One who returns after death or a long absence

An apt name indeed.

The Revenant was a movie I knew I had to see from the first time I glimpsed its preview. A frozen wasteland. A grizzly Leo DiCaprio. An even grizzlier Tom F’n Hardy. And not to mention an actual grizzly bear. Terrible things were about to happen. Even watching the trailer, I could just feel it.

First, let me hit you with some truth. The Revenant is NOT for everyone. It’s not for kids. It’s not for teenagers. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s not for fans of Michael Bay, Kevin Hart, superhero movies, or happy endings. It’s dark. And when I say dark, I don’t mean in a visual sense. Or a gothic, ‘look how angst-ridden the hero is’ sense. What I mean is that the subject matter gets down to the very bottom of what it is to be desperate. And human. And hungry.

The Revenant may very well be the darkest movie I’ve ever seen.

And the longer I lie here and dwell on it, the more I like it.

What we’ve got here is Leo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass, an enigmatic tracker/hunter in the service of Captain Andrew Henry (Played sharply by Domhnall Gleeson.) Also in their group are the brutal John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and the young Hawk, who happens to be half-Native American (and Hugh Glass’s son.) These men find themselves on an expedition to collect and prepare hundreds of animal skins for sale, presumably to the American army.

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John Fitzgerald – Not a dude you want to F with

Without giving anything away, the whole sell-animal-skins plan goes downhill…and fast. The Native American Arikara, hostile with every right to be, get involved. A grizzly bear shows up. Tom Hardy is pissed. And death starts happening.

Let me summarize the next two and a half hours: Beautiful Violence

Because The Revenant is violent. So very violent. It’s not stylized. It’s not pretty. It’s not epic. It’s harsh. And it’s realistic. By realistic I mean it’s so visceral and unwashed that it feels like this is how real life was. It’s the opposite of The Matrix’s pretty skirmishes, Lord of the Rings’ bloodless warfare, and even Saving Private Ryan’s booming, catastrophic clashes. If I had to pick a movie to step through a door and experience in real-life, The Revenant would be last on the list. I’d be dead in seconds. And so would you.

But it’s also beautiful. So very beautiful. I fully expect this movie to take home the easiest Oscar for best cinematography ever. Not that awards matter. They don’t. What I mean is; every frame of The Revenant is poetry in motion. From the cold, sharp, deadly mountains to the frosted rivers to the snow-blanketed plains, the landscapes are stunning. I sat in my seat and felt the wind blowing over me. I saw the characters wandering beneath moonlit skies, and I was held rapt. The shots were all real. Very little CGI. The Revenant’s terrifying world is the truth. These places exist.

So what’s the point? What are these hard, hard men doing out in the middle in winter? It’s clear from frame one that some brave and foolish white men are moving through the wilderness during the last stages of the war against the Native American tribes of the American Northwest. They’re risking their asses, and they know it. But in the midst of this, Hugh Glass appears different. His son is half-Native American. He endures constant flashbacks (some of them a bit disconcerting) of his Native American wife and of the terrible things that happened to her tribe. His son, Hawk, is as noble as he is, and therein lies a problem. Fifteen minutes in, you know things are gonna go very wrong for Glass. And you know why. And how. It’s not just about racism. It’s about how some people know what honor is, and everyone else does not.

Kinda sounds like modern-day reality, right?

I suppose some people might say that the majority of the movie is a revenge/redemption trip similar to Braveheart. Or maybe a survival tale a la The Grey. I get it. And there are definitely moments in the movie that will confuse some folks. There’s not a ton of dialog. There are no one-liners. All the movie’s glory is given over to nature, not to man. Once it comes down to one dude slogging his way through the brutal wilderness, there is a slowness that will drive some movie-goers away. That’s all well and good.

But if you love movies, and you have a soul, and you’re willing to stop worrying about just simply being entertained, you’ll find something in The Revenant. It’s not just about white people fighting natives. The bad guys don’t wear capes to make themselves easy to hate. Every deed that happens here feels like it really could go down. It’s all so bloody human. When you finish watching it, sit down and ask yourself if you’d never do the things the bad guys do in this movie. If you’re honest with yourself, really honest, you’ll be conflicted.

And that’s beautiful. Because the best movies should make you think.

Look…I’m not sure whether or not The Revenant is my favorite flick over the last year. It had a few strange moments, to be sure. And sometimes it walked a tightrope of not knowing whether to be hard and cold or a little abstract in meaning. But ultimately, if you like movies about realistic human conflict, this is up there with the best of them. I recommend you go see it early in the day. Preferably on a cold, rainy day. And then, after it’s over, maybe even several hours later, I think you’ll start to like it more and more.

Just like I did.

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Like this review? Hit up my reviews of Mad Max – Fury Road, Whiplash, and my personal favorite, Ex Machina.

Or, since we’re talking about seriously dark fiction, drown in my short story, Let the Bodies.

J Edward Neill

More on Self Promotion

Social Media Tips

Self-promotion. The forest we try to navigate each day. If you sell a product, no matter what product, you walk this tightrope. It’s not as simple as shouting, buy my stuff, from my the highest peak. Self-promotion is hard work and it involves a ton of patience. It’s not always fun and you don’t always see results. I personally dislike the feeling of forcing my art on people. Each time I share something on Twitter I wonder, am I annoying folks? Is anyone even looking at my art? But then I start to pay attention to my statistics. Days I don’t share and talk about my art my views go down. Days I do… You get the point.
What might be the most difficult part about self-promotion for me, is the act of sharing things not about my art, but myself. I’m a quiet person. Not as quiet as I once was in my younger days, but my fellow Tessera Guild members will tell you–I’m quiet. I’m a thinker, and sometimes a loner. I don’t often say something unless it’s worth saying 100%. Ironically, this is key to self-promotion via social media networks. Key. When you interact with your fans you’re also building trust. Building trust will make your product look far more appealing than someone elses they don’t feel they know. Last year I wrote a blog post about building trust with online buyers after reading an excellent article at EmptyEasel.com. EmptyEasel is geared toward visual artists, but these five rules will apply to authors, musicians and anyone else selling something online.

I’m revisiting these five rules with new thoughts for the new year.

1. Don’t Make it About “You” “It’s about the community. People aren’t going to follow you if all you do is try to sell them stuff and promote yourself. Become a trusted resource, instead of a salesperson.”

Or better yet, become a storyteller. Whatever you’re creating, chances are there’s a story behind it and there’s an audience who’s ready to listen.

2. Be sociable “…the next time you think about listing one of your art pieces, take the time to figure out how you can present that piece in a more social manner.”

Don’t just post a link to the art in your shop. Think about making a collage showing the stages from sketch to finish.

3. Show the real you “Use a photo of yourself for your profile image, not a photo of your art, or company logo. People want to connect with people, not products or businesses.”

I’m not sure this is always necessary anymore, as long as your real face makes an appearance from time to time. There’s nothing worse than coming to know a public figure by their profile photo, only to find out it’s from 20-30 years ago. Don’t do that (unless you’re vampire).

There was suppose to be a dog in this photo! LOL Well, we both enjoyed the short walk. Beautiful day. 🙂 A photo posted by Amanda Makepeace (@amandamakepeace) on

4. Respond to your fans

“When you respond to your fans (or customers)…have a conversation with them.”

I try to respond to everyone and if I’m swamped with comments I will still post a ‘Thanks everyone!’ They are taking the time to make a comment, something totally voluntary, the least I can do is show my appreciation.

5. Be consistent

“From how you portray your company across various social networks, to how often you post…”

Also, remember that online and offline, you represent your art and/or brand. That’s why it’s best to be yourself, so when your fans meet you in public (whether it’s at a convention or the grocery store) they aren’t surprised…

I’ll be honest. There are days I don’t feel like socializing at all. I don’t beat myself up about that. Tomorrow is a new day and we all have off days. But when I am online I try to follow these rules and above all I try to have fun. I’ve met so many wonderful people since I joined social media and the various other sites you can find me. Some I even consider more than just acquaintances. They’ve become friends who support my creative vision and that’s invaluable.

Here are the social media hangouts I use most:

Instagram
Facebook
Tumblr
Twitter

I also have a monthly newsletter!

amandamakepeace.com

A Door Never Dreamed Of – Opened!

A thousand years from today, nearly all of humanity is jacked-In.

We sleep, connected to machines, dreaming our lives away.

For most, it’s the perfect life.

But for the few who never jacked-In, it’s exile.  

Abandoned, persecuted, and betrayed, the Outs plot their vengeance across the centuries.

And when they open the Door, two sides will meet.

But only one will survive…

A Door Never Dreamed Of

A sci-fi novella

Now Available!

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The beautiful SOFTCOVER, featuring the stunning art of Amanda Makepeace.

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The deadly E-BOOK. Ending Kindles everywhere.

J Edward Neill

The 7 best things from 2015

2015 was a pretty straightforward year.

It had a lot of suck: gearing up for an election, Rhonda Rousey, crappy movies, dabbing, death, war, and the continued proliferation of Facebook quizzes

But whatever.

For once in my life, I’m gonna dwell on the positive.

So eat some of this:

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The best movie(s) of 2015:

No. Not Star Wars. Ha. Not even close. The best movies of 2015 were Ex Machina, with its subtle nods toward one possible fate for humanity, aaaaaand Inside Out, among the most thought-provoking kids’ movies ever made. Please, let’s not talk about Jurassic Park (yawn) or Avengers 900. The year was short on excellence, but had high moments that might never be forgotten. Also considered for this list: The Revenant (technically didn’t hit theaters in time) and Mad Max – Fury Road (aka: the best action movie ever made.)

Machina

Ex Machina. Wasn’t really a hard decision.

 

The best book of 2015:

Whoa. Intimidating choices here. Admittedly I read less than any previous year since grade school (was too busy writing.) Nonetheless, with attention spans decreasing and the glut of vampire/romance/vomit thundering down upon the world, I’ve an answer for you. It’s Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning. It’s a bunch of slick short stories. It’s perfect for those who like quick reads, but who also like sharp, dark, excellent literature.

Trigger Warning

The best album of 2015:

Look. I get it. I know what you’re gonna say. You’re gonna talk about Drake, Adele, The Weeknd, or a bunch of other stuff with words. My full confession is that I can’t stand music with words. It really has all been said before. The sounds are what’s new, not the words. So with that in mind, I’m giving you an album you can actually use. It’s Junkie XL’s Mad Max soundtrack. Just blast this shit while driving and tell me it isn’t extreme fun. What’s better: no words. None. Just booming, thundering, 1,000 horsepower beats. Even my kid loves it, especially the unbelievably intense track – Brothers in Arms.

Max

The rhythms ARE the words.

The best meme of 2015:

Yep. Memes. They suck. They’re supposed to be miniature joke bombs to lighten everyone the F up. But nowadays they’re abused for politics, bullying, and stupid, never-ending inside jokes. So instead of sifting through the trash and finding something transcendent, I give you:

GIFSec.com

The best TV shows of 2015:

Look. I’ve a confession. I didn’t watch a single minute of anything not named football, baseball, basketball or hockey. Not a single, f’ing minute. So I’m leaving this one to you, the readers. What were your favorite TV shows? Because hell if I know. Just insert your show here __________________. I’ll trust your judgment.

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Jake Arrieta. What real reality TV looks like.

Most beautiful woman of 2015:

I know said I didn’t watch any TV in 2015. It’s still true. But I did catch a preview or two, and it got me thinking. Who’s this year’s new hotness? Who the F really cares? But since I made this a category, we’re going with that girl from that new show. I’m talking about Krysten Ritter. Followed closely by Rosie Huntington Whiteley. Yeah. I know. Rosie’s another nod to Mad Max. Shut up. 🙂 Anyway, Krysten really is stunning. Just look at her sulking here. If you can sulk and still be attractive, you’ve done something. Also a close runner up: Jan from the Toyota commercials. No kidding.

Krysten

Really? Right here on the train? Ok, girl from that show. If you insist.

Most handsome guy of 2015:

Who the F cares?

🙂

 

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This got really sarcastic, really quickly.

Cut the sarcasm out of your life with some deadly serious fun. Right here.

J Edward Neill

Signs and Symbols: the Last Painting of 2015

Through a forest of ash and mist he journeys to seek the truth.

Signs and Symbols by Amanda Makepeace

Ever since I completed Renascentia in January of this year, I’ve been mulling over the next step. For the first time in several years I felt as if I’d tapped into something inside me–something powerful. I knew it was the beginning of a new series of paintings, but my vision was still incomplete. It took most of this year for me to unravel the ideas behind what I’m now calling Earth Rituals. I’m not ready to reveal all, but simply put it’s a series of two types of paintings: 1. People communing with the Earth (like Renascentia) and 2. People communing with animals (like Signs and Symbols above). Later next month, I’ll delve deeper into how the idea for Earth Rituals developed. For now, I’ll say that the symbolism in the paintings is sometimes based in mythology and old religions; while other times, it may be a blending or creation of my own.

Stone EyeIn Signs and Symbols, a young man has entered a dream forest seeking the answer to a question. I leave the question up to you. He seeks a crow in the forest that will give him his answer.

What is a dream forest? – It’s a place where this world and the unseen one coexist.

What is on his hands/arms? – It’s a mixture of charcoal, earth and water. The symbol was drawn on top of the paint with talc.

What is that symbol? What does it mean? – The symbol comes from a stone I have in my personal collection. It’s one of my favorites and reminds me of an eye. In the painting, it allow’s the young man to see the spirit crow in the dream forest and to communicate with her.

What do you think he’s asking her?

If you’re going to JordanCon 2016 you’ll be able to see a framed, one of a kind embellished print in the art show! I should also have limited edition prints available in my shop in a few weeks.

amandamakepeace.com

J Edward’s premier dark art sale

 Finally…

At long last…

My paintings are for sale at Society6.

If you’re into my dark art, and you know you are 🙂, click the pics below to get your very own art print or canvas reproduction:

 

Ghost Tree2

Ghost Tree

 

Spiritfall

Spiritfall

The Underhollows

The Underhollows

Ocean 6

Ocean of Knives

Grave Rain

Grave Rain (Cover art for the short story – Let the Bodies)

Pale Swamp

Pale Swamp

The-Abyss-300x237

The Abyss

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Black Moon Rising

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Falling In

Enjoy,

J Edward Neill

Inspired by Tolkien

“Some of my kin look just like trees now, and need something great to rouse them; and they speak only in whispers. But some of my trees are limb-lithe, and many can talk to me.”

— J.R.R. TolkienThe Two Towers

Shepherd of the Forest

Tolkien’s Ents have always been a favorite of mine. I suppose that’s not too surprising if you know me well enough. If given the opportunity I’d spend an entire day roaming the woods. I only wish our forests were protected by such magnificent beings.

I created this shepherd specifically for the EBSQ Inspired by Tolkien exhibit. If you like him, click the LIKE button here: http://www.ebsqart.com/Art-Shows/Exhibits/Tolkien/429/1/

A Door Never Dreamed Of – Cover Reveal!

 

A few weeks ago, I teased the backstory for my upcoming sci-fi novella, A Door Never Dreamed Of.

As for the cover art, it’s been done for more than a month.

In August I reached out to Tessera Guild goddess, Amanda Makepeace. It felt like an obvious choice. I mean…she’d already done amazing work on the covers for The Sleepers, Hollow Empire, Nether Kingdom, and Old Man of Tessera. I never had any doubt about who I was gonna ask.

For almost a year, I’d been itching to find a way to get Amanda’s painting, The Jupiter Event, onto one of my book covers. I just happened to be wandering her website when I stumbled across it. After seeing it, I  knew it would be a perfect fit. After all, Jupiter is half the setting of the book (sort of.)

The scary, spidery, black-as-death image she’d created was perfect for the Achilles space station, home of the exiled Outs.

 And so…

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A Door Never Dreamed Of

Update: this title is NOW AVAILABLE!

If you need cover work or if you just want cool art for your house, I suggest Lady Makepeace. You can’t go wrong.

J Edward Neill

Machina Obscurum – Set List of Shadows

Coming in early December…

Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows

More than 20 shadowy shorts by authors: J Edward Neill, Chad J Shonk, River Fairchild, John R McGuire, Phil Elmore, JL Clayton, Robert Jeffrey II, F Charles Murdock, and Roy T Dodd

 

Tread lightly into ancient, forbidden realms.  Wander into the futures of apocalyptic worlds. Know what it feels like to face the darkness alone. 

No matter what whets your appetite: sci-fi, horror, fantasy, or hard, dark realistic fiction, A Collection of Small Shadows has it all.

…and more.

Machina Front Cover

Contents:

The Stiletto

Appetite

My Ears Rang 

The Sleepers

Phoenix

The Jupiter Event

Proxy: Fontane Di Roma

Til the Last Candle Flickers

Old Man of Tessera

Let the Bodies

Crispin

Murgul

And I Feel Fine

The Crossing: Moonlit Skies

Ice Cream

The Journal

The Sound of Silence

By the Time I get to Arizona

The Dark That Follows

Herald of Tessera

Crawl 

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Will be sold as a sexy black matte softcover and an electrifying e-book.

The Write or Die Project is complete.

J Edward Neill

Painting with Darkness – Part VI

A few months ago, I got it in my head that I wanted to paint something huge. Something to be the centerpiece of an entire wall. Something that if people walked by, they’d have to stop and look.

And of course, it had to be dark. Because…well…you know.

And so I present: Ocean of Knives

Ocean 1-

After securing a 36″ x 48″ white canvas, it sat in my closet for a solid two weeks while I stewed on what to paint. Would I use colors? Blacks & whites? What would be the subject matter? And once I finally stacked the canvas up on my easel, life got precarious. Each brush stroke threatened to topple the easel and ruin everything. I had to be like Muhammad Ali: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

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Ocean 2

Surfaces started to take shape. Pale rivers flowed from the hills into a deathly ocean. Things were looking stark already. I loved it. And yet, while making wild ovals and grey hills was fun, it was by far the easiest part. Life was about to get harder.

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Ocean 3

Ocean of Knives was meant to be a companion piece to my novel, Down the Dark Path. I began adding watercolor towers (knives) in the distance. Like snowflakes, each ‘knife’ had to be different. Some were forked, others straight as sin. Looks kinda barren in this pic. It wouldn’t stay that way for long.

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Ocean 4

Now it came time to add the big towers. To make them straight, I carved out varying lengths of posterboard and used the pieces as straight-edges. For the wavy and irregular towers, I freehanded. Raise your hand if you’d like to live in one of these things. Am I the only one? Well ok then…

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Ocean 5

The quality of this pic sucks because I used my iPad. But I couldn’t leave it out. It shows the towers almost fully added. I still needed more watercolors for the faraway ones. And I needed street-level buildings to fill the city out. But progress was made. By this point, I’d spent about 12 hours on the painting. Whew.

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Ocean 6

The finished painting – 18 hours in. See those little pale dots? They’re windows. I tried to count while adding them, but lost track at 2,000. Yes really. I figure there are about 3,000 little white windows in all. Tedious as hell, but utterly worth it. Also notice the deepened shadows the towers cast across the water.

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Ocean 7

Just to show scale, here’s my 4yo, G Man, standing beside the painting. He’s a bit tall for his age, but even so. The canvas is about 4 times his size.

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While painting this bad boy, I listened to soundtracks. A lot of Hans Zimmer, David Julyan, and Clint Mansell. Nice, brooding stuff, all of it.

Hope you like ‘Ocean of Knives,‘ companion piece for Down the Dark Path.

For other dark art I’ve done lately, look here and here.

J Edward Neill

Eerie, Haunting and Beautiful

It’s that time of year again… I hope you enjoy these fantastical artworks and have a delightfully dark Halloween!

 

Did you miss last year’s post Monsters, Magic and Moonlight?

How to write an Amazon review

Ever tipped your server before?

Ever gotten a new tattoo? And when it was time to pay up, you added a little cash for the artist?

Ever gone to a bar, heard a local band rock out, and tossed a few bucks in their hat?

Of course you have. You’re cool like that. You’re a decent person. You recognize quality when you see it.

So why not do something even easier (and cheaper) when you buy a piece of art, a book, or really any creatively-made material from Amazon?

After deep research across a vast consumer base (aka: asking a few people who read my books) I think I’ve arrived at the reason.

You don’t know how.

It’s understandable. You’ve just hung an awesome new slab of art on your wall. You’ve just read a kickass story. You’ve just picked up a fantastic new handmade-from-real-human-bones necklace. You think to yourself, ‘Damn. I love this thing,’ and you go about your life. After all, you’ve already paid for it. Your role is finished, right?

What if I told you, in about 60 seconds, you could make a much larger difference in the artist’s life than the 7% profit they might have made from selling you that awesome shit? What if I told you that an Amazon review is about 1,000% times more important than the $0.35 cents they made on the sale? It’s true. Because really, 60 seconds is about all the time it takes to write up an honest Amazon review.

I’m dead serious.

“How do I do it?” you ask.

Fair question. Here’s how:

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 First, go to the Amazon page where you bought the kickass piece of art in the first place. Scroll down until you see this:

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most-helpful-reviews

Because EVERYONE needs an Inflatable Unicorn Horn for their cat.

See that juicy lil’ button that says ‘Write a Review’?  Good. Click it.

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Next up, you’ll arrive at a Sign-In screen.  Take 4 seconds to log in and click the ‘Sign in using our secure server’ button. Boom.

Sign in as

Whew. 10 seconds in and I’m exhausted.

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You’ll immediately be sent to the screen below. It’s really, really easy from here on out. You click the stars to tell Amazon how awesome/not awesome your new purchase is. And then you type in your review. Amazon recommends 75-500 words. Don’t feel like typing that much? Cool. Just offer two little tiny sentences about how this art, book, skull-necklace, or cat unicorn horn made you feel.

REview me baby

“This book fucking rocked. I made sweet love to my husband while reading it in front of a roaring bonfire. I hope the author comes to my house and tattoos his next masterpiece on my buttocks.”

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And just like that, you’re done. It was that easy. Now just hit ‘Submit.’  Research proves you’ll die 700% happier for knowing you helped an artist, author, or cat unicorn horn manufacturer.

But seriously, here’s some helpful hints:

  • Don’t ever mention knowing the artist or author personally, even if you do. Big turnoff.
  • Be honest. Seriously.
  • Review the product. Not the maker of the product.
  • Even 3 and 4-star reviews are awesome!
  • If you’re feeling extra nice, mention something you really liked about your purchase. Such as, “My favorite part of the book was when the evil minions of darkness pillaged the farmer’s daughters,” or maybe, “My cat Fluffy crapped all over the floor when we put the unicorn horn on her. Which means she loves it!”

To test my theory that reviews typically take no longer than 60 seconds, I just reviewed two books on Amazon. For real. One took 48 seconds. The other took 58 seconds. Which means, in less than two minutes, I helped two artists out, gave them more exposure (more reviews earn WAY MORE Amazon page views) and slapped a virtual ‘tip’ on the artists’ tables worth its weight in gold for their future.

60 seconds or less.

Easy as pie.

Just for hanging in there, I offer you Fluffy, pissiest cat on the planet:

UniCat

“Put this thing on me one more time, and you gon need medikal atenshun.”

Read my latest short story here.

Or get this and be the hero of your next get-together with friends.

J Edward Neill

What Lies Beneath

Beneath the skin, beneath the ground, beneath the ______

October is full of art challenges. I’ve been having a blast with my Inktober adventure, but there was one other challenge I hoped I might tackle. Month of Fear is a weekly challenge in October. Each week has a different theme/prompt. The event has official artists participating, but anyone is free to participate. I knew I had no hope of creating a painting each week, so I decided on one.

The devil hath power to assume a pleasing shape.
– William Shakespeare

Second Skin by Amanda Makepeace

Supporters of my Patreon campaign has access to a Resource Pack that includes a GIF image of the painting’s progression, the Photoshop brushes I used, textures and reference. Now I better go catch up on my Inktober drawings!

New Cover Art for the Coffee Table Philosophy series!

Boom!

Three new books in the Coffee Table Philosophy series.

…with ALL NEW COVER ART.

101 Questions for Women

101 Questions for Women Cover

Chock full of questions about sex and relationships. But also contains questions about life, love, and humanity. Geared for women, but accessible to everyone.

 

101 Questions for Midnight

101 Questions for Midnight Front Cover

For those who favor their questions cold, hard, and serious. Each page contains one question about Life vs Death, Good vs Evil, Morality, Sex, etc… Turn down the lights, pour yourself a drink, and settle down into a darker brand of entertainment.

 

101 Sex Questions

101 xxxy Questions Front Cover

Like a quiz book…but for your libido. Meant for hot nights with your partner, candid conversations with a lover, and parties during which (almost) everything goes. Includes questions on relationships, love, and of course, TONS of smoldering sex.

 

 I’ve still got softcover versions with the original cover art available. I’ll sign ‘em and ship ‘em free in exchange for Amazon reviews. Though after the originals are gone, they’ll never be available again.

 The rest of the Coffee Table Philosophy series is available here.

J Edward Neill

Painting with Darkness – Part V

As summer’s warmth fades and the days die earlier than before, I find myself in the studio for long stretches of time.

Some might say locking myself indoors with brooding soundtracks playing in the background and a crispy cold glass of scotch on the table is a swift road to being utterly alone.

My point exactly…

My latest painting: All Hallows

Hallows 1

I started at the bottom with water-diluted oranges and worked my way up. With every inch gained toward the top, I added drops of red and black. Watercolors became solids. Lights became darks. The striking colors satisfied me. And the hard blacks on the bottom were fun to paint (and easy!)

Hallows 2

Now came the time-consuming part. At first, I worked on the trees with a 1/4″ wedge brush. Then, as the branches thinned, I used the sharpest-point brush in my arsenal. The tops of the trees began to look like claws. It was exactly the eerie look I wanted.

 

Hallows 3

Completing the trees was a full-day task. I used my daggerlike brush to add sharpness and realism to every branch. As is always my theme, I made the trees curl toward the center of the painting…as if reaching for something unseen. I considering adding more to make this a full-blown Halloween-ish work, but decided to keep it simple. Blacks on color. Nothing cheesy. Stick to the plan of painting with darkness.

All in all, this canvas was fun and simple. In other words, my favorite kind.

The same night I finished All Hallows, I began work prep work on a huge 36″ x 48″ canvas, my hugest ever:

Ocean of Knives

This’ll be called ‘Ocean of Knives’. The canvas is 3′ x 4′. It’ll take weeks to finish, for sure. Gonna need a lot of wine…

Recently, I used one of my grimmest works for the cover of Let the Bodies, my latest short story:

LettheBodies_BlogLg

Painting your own cover art…fun!

 And previously in the ‘Painting with Darkness’ series:

The Emperor’s Vision

The Underhollows

Brothers

The Last Tower, Pale Swamp, Four Swords, Grave Rain

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See you next time. Painting with Darkness, Part VI will feature the finished version of ‘Ocean of Knives.’

J Edward Neill

Tyrant of the Dead

Inktober is Here!

Inktober 2015Inktober 2015 is here, everywhere online with the hashtag #inktober. I’m super excited to be participating this year. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for the last few years, but I’ve never had the time. This year, things are different!  I have the inks, paper and time to pull this off.  If you follow me online you’ll be able to see my posts daily on Instagram, Facebook, Twitterand Tumblr.  However, if you don’t want miss a single ink drawing then I recommend attending myFacebook Event.  The event page will have each daily post all in one spot and it gives anyone the opportunity to purchase a drawing before they go into my shop in November.

I’ve decided to go with a theme for my first time – Crows, Skulls and Owls! Here’s my first Inktober drawing – Contemplation.

Day 1 - Contemplation

If you want to keep up with other artists participating in the challenge just search for the hashtag #inktober on October 1st!

You can learn more about Inktober athttp://inktober.com/

 

Creating for the Future

Creating for the future, or the long-term, is what I’m doing right now. I recently finished a large commission and I won’t be taking anymore for at least a year. That’s kind of scary! Commissions have not made me rich, but they have been a nice cushion. So why on earth would I do this? I’m thinking about the future. I have a list of paintings I want to create and while I love the commissions I’ve tackled they aren’t MY creative vision. I’m also in dire need a cohesive portfolio, one that represents ME, for next year’s DragonCon jury process.

The last few years have been a journey to reinvent myself, my art, and find my true passion. I feel I’ve finally breached a wall in my psyche and now I want to create art where my vision and heart collide. That first glimpse over the wall was of course, Renascentia, which is also quite apropos since the name means rebirth in Latin.

Renascentia by Amanda Makepeace

If you want to follow me over the wall and pitch in $1 a month, take a look at my campaign on Patreon. Seriously. I’m only asking for $1 a month. Crazy!! But that $1 will add up and you’ll get an inside look at my creative process and a nifty little reward each month too. I’ll be sharing sketches, progress shots, tips and how’s to articles and videos on a weekly basis. Basically, double what I share on Instagram. Patrons will also get to see the creation of my next sketchbook volume before anyone else.

My Patreon campaign will help keep me accountable, keep me pushing ahead with the art I need and want to create over the next six months. If it does well, then it will also help me with funds for art supplies and maybe further down the line, funds for more conventions. I hope you’ll consider pitching in $1.00 a month while I go crazy making art!

Support me on Patreon

Return of the Whatnot

Yes. The whatnot post has returned. I know you’ve been lost without it, adrift in a sea of the unknown. Never fear. I’m back with all the little things you’ve missed and new ones you never knew existed.

The Bone Oracle Drawing1. DragonCon – Over the last two weeks I’ve had numerous comments and questions about the convention. No, I’m not going this year. Since I’m not in the art show this time around, I couldn’t justify the expense. This happens to be my daughter’s senior year in high school. Other expenses I have right now include: SAT and ACT exam fees, 2 AP exam fees, Senior Dues, Senior Portraits, Yearbook, College Application fees, and more. That’s a lot of money. I’ve also just begun a two month subscription to Schoolism (purchased during their Kickstarter). In the end, it just didn’t make any sense to attend DragonCon. Fingers crossed for next year!

2. Bone Oracle Prints Prints are now available in my shop, but for a limited time. The graphite drawing is going to be the starting point for a painting of the same name. When I finish the painting the print of the drawing will no longer be available. Any prints purchased will have a number on the back, bottom right corner. The original drawing will be coming with me to JordanCon in April 2016.

3. Secret Shop – I bet you didn’t know I had a secret shop. You can find it on my website by clicking Five Dollars in the menu.

4. Creative BloqYou may have heard about a recent Kickstarter lawsuit. If not, you can learn more about it today at Creative Bloq (the blog for ImagineFX and other creative magazines) and you may run across a familiar name and image. 😉

The Dracula Dossier: Directors Handbook5. Books – Usually, I read about 2-3 books a summer. It’s a busy time of year. But for whatever reason, I managed to read 10 books this summer and I’m in the middle of my eleventh. Some of them have been re-reads and others brand new. I enjoyed John Scalzi’s Lock In so much I bought a hardback copy after reading it on Kindle. Books… NomNomNom…

6. Biter Bash 2015I’ve reserved a table for the small event, December 5-6 in Roswell, Georgia. I will be selling art prints, sketch cards, and whatnot. I’ll also be bringing along some copies of my sketchbook Daydreams & Wanderings.

7. The Dracula Dossier – Myself and many others created art for this book. I’m thrilled I could contribute. I can’t share the art yet, but it won’t be long now! The book is available for pre-order from Pelgrane Press.

Art Museums I Yearn to Visit

I’m a child of the Washington D.C. suburbs; which means all of our school field trips consisted of visits to the major museums. As a parent and artist living in London, I spent a lot of time taking my daughter to the all the major museums and visiting them for my own enjoyment too. While studying at Kensington & Chelsea College, we spent a several hours sketching classical paintings at the National Gallery. I love museums. When I graduated from the University of Georgia my mother gifted me with my first trip abroad. I chose Paris in part for the museums! During the time of our visit I was a little crushed to find out the Musée de l’Orangerie was closed for renovations, so it’s naturally on this list. The list below is just a few of the art museums I yearn to visit.

Panorama_Interior_of_Musée_de_l'Orangerie_2

Panorama Interior of Musée de l’Orangerie 2″ by Jason7825 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons

1. Musée de l’Orangerie – Paris – Home to Monet’s water-lily paintings, known as the Nymphéas. Can you imagine standing in this room?!

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Van_Gogh_Museum_Amsterdam

Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam” by Taxiarchos228 at the German language Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

2. Van Gogh Museum – Amsterdam – This was another almost/maybe. While living in London, my daughter and then husband made plans to fly to Amsterdam. We were at the airport, but before boarding the plane my daughter (5/6 years old) realized she couldn’t find her seahorse plushie (from the London Aquarium, so it was mega important). We missed our flight and went home. Oh well!

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Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

3. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum – New Mexico – I’ve mentioned before the impact O’Keeffe’s art had on me as a young girl. My mother kept a book of her art on our coffee table. No doubt I was exposed to a lot of art and artists as a child, but O’Keeffe was the first that made an impact.

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MoMA

4. New York Museum of Modern Art – New York City – It’s the MoMA and I’ve never been to New York City! The MoMA has over 10,000 artists in it’s collection, including Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night. Of course, if I took a trip to New York City the MoMA would only be one place I’d visit.

A few other museums I’d visit have to visit (not listed are the multitude of galleries):

Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art

Whitney Museum of American Art

Brooklyn Museum

I’ve seen nearly everything in Washington D.C., London, and Paris. New York seems like the next big city to visit. Internationally, I’d also love to visit Italy (Florence and Rome especially) as well as Saint Petersburg, Russia. The list could go on forever!