Behind the Artist – Interview with La’Vata O’Neal

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

Doing this comic book thing as a writer who can barely draw stick figures means I have to lean on the artists who work with me. There is a level of trust that must exist when you hand over your finely crafted words for them to work their magic. So far, I’ve been very lucky in this regard on all the various comic related things I’ve done, but that is especially true with the Gilded Age.

I was happy when I reached out to La’Vata O’Neal (who has done the cover for the Gilded Age Graphic Novel… more on that later…) and she agreed to an interview.

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How long have you been creating art/working in comics?

I’ve been working in comics since Mr. Tony Cade decided to pick me up to do some work for him.

(Tony Cade is the Editor-in-Chief over at Terminus Media.)

At what point did you sit down and decide to become an artist? Have you had any formal training? What’s the first thing you drew?

When I was little I was interested in shapes and figures, still am of course, anything that isn’t a number or word! Though, I’m interested in writing due to its creative nature as well.

What things inspire you to create art? Favorite artists/creators? Influences?

I didn’t have an early influence back then because it’s really like an old love. It’s the serenity of it, though now I’m greatly inspired by many artists now, deceased or living. I’m particularly fond of old paintings because of the way they were able to capture a story in one image. They spoke with such power with just one image.

How do you manage your daily life with the art? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2? If you have the old day job, what do you do? Do you do anything to market/promote yourself?

I sketch daily and paint weekly, it’s like my fingers are possessed-

I’m joking!

I do sketch daily though to keep the creative flow. Whatever I produce in sketches I try to share and it keeps me relevant. I post to facebook, tumblr, and Instagram as the best way to market myself. At some point during the week though I’m always interested in learning new creative ways of doing art, so I’m usually reading up on some art form or for example how to do animation, etc. But At the moment I’m juggling a 9 to 5 job on top of the freelance business.

What’s your process? Digital vs. by hand? What do you prefer?

I love both to be honest; traditional is more expensive so the digital helps keep the budget down-but both, all day every day if I could! My process is a longer explanation, but a lot of it derives from traditional practices.

How do you work? Music while you draw? TV shows? Movies? No distractions?

I love to work while listening to music and if not music then an audible book.

What have you worked on previously?

I worked on a mobile game app, doing character design and illustration.

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in you art? In regards to comics, are there things that draw you in, something you see or read where you must put your own spin on the story/character?

Let’s see, reoccurring themes…Fantasy mostly, I’m most drawn to that I believe. But realistically, I’m drawn to anything that’s fiction as long as the story is good! As for putting my own spin on characters, it’s something I reserve for others to do at the moment.

Do you have a favorite thing to draw (genre, scenery, etc)?

My favorite thing to draw are fantasy characters, they’re interesting in their own way because they’re so dynamic and otherworldly. But as long as character has enough character they’re interesting to me.

What’s the most challenging thing about being an artist in today’s world?

I would say keeping afloat, isn’t that always the case though. It’s rough being freelance if you don’t know what you’re doing.

If you could go back ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?

Wow…hm…I know exactly what I would say and it has everything to do with being more exposed to the art world. The more exposure the more you’ll understand.

What is your worst habit?

My worst habit…daydreaming, maybe? Lol

Goals? One year from now?

Let’s see, one year from now I look to be employed by a studio and not just doing freelance, I’d like to try being under some other artists so I can learn more.

For the Gilded Age, you worked on the cover to the trade (which is amazing by the way). I know we went back and forth with some ideas about how to present the characters, but it seemed like the tarot card idea just worked not only on a story level, but visually just nailed it. After we figured out that direction, how long did you work on those pieces – fine tuning them?

It might have taken me around 30 total hours to complete the cover. It was a very pleasant experience working on the Gilded Age trade cover!

Have you worked on any Steampunk style images before?

I have not actually but trying something new is always a learning experience and it can also be fun!

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on my own project which still needs time to develop but it’s in the works, so keep an eye out! 😉

Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show?)?

Well that depends if people really want to know! I like being the mysterious type.

Where’s the best place to see your stuff on the web (website)?

www.leonealart.com

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I want to thank La’Vata for not only taking the time to answer my questions, but for being such an amazing artist. The cover for the Gilded Age Trade is ridiculous in every (great) way!

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

The Future (and history) of beautiful Video Games

Ever daydream of being somewhere other than wherever you are?

Well?

Maybe you fantasize about slumming at a beachside tiki bar?

Maybe you daydream of sitting in the backyard on a warm night, soaking up a pitcher of sweet tea?

Or mayyybe sometimes you dream of nestling on a couch with all the lights off, controller in hand, television ablaze with an amazing video game?

Yeah. You know you’ve thought about it. It’s ok to admit. I’m right there with you.

Daydream of this real-life scene….oh wait…that’s Skyrim!

Let’s take a moment to appreciate where we are these days. We’re in the golden age of video games, and that’s no exaggeration. As far as new forms of art (yeah, video games are art) games are advancing leaps and bounds ahead of other industries. Hollywood movies are kinda stagnant. Television is all reality shows, zombies, and superhero/crime drama.

But games…well.

Every time a new year rolls around, we get to swim in a shiny ocean of faster, prettier, more artistic gaming entertainment. For $60, you can either take your family to see a single 2-hour movie at the theater OR you can buy a game like Skyrim, Witcher, or Zelda -Breath of the Wild and create stories of your own via your console of choice.

My kid pretty much wet himself when he saw the preview of Zelda – Breath of the Wild

And so here we are. Another new year. After a powerful 2016, which saw a waterfall of hot, stunning titles roll over the precipice, we’re primed for what could be the most beautiful year of games ever. And I don’t just mean good games like I’ve listed here, but gorgeous, artistic, crazy-good looking titles. Like sharp and futuristic Mass Effect 4 and noir-looking Vampyr.

Which begs the question: what are some of the most beautiful game titles of all time?

Well…for starters:

Limbo (Playdead)

Windwaker (Nintendo)

Witcher 3 (CD Projekt Red)

Metroid Prime 3 (Retro Studios)

Mass Effect 3 (Bioware)

 

Ori and the Blind Forest (Moon Studios)

Beyond Good and Evil (Ubisoft)

The Last of Us (Naughty Dog)

Halo 3 (Bungie)

Inside (Playdead)

Half-Life 2 (Valve)

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A while back (and I mean WAY back) game-devoted site IGN did an article focusing on the best graphics ever. Now I don’t mean to be picky, but great graphics don’t always translate into superior beauty. Yes, realism is nice. And yeah, a poppin’ frame-rate is great. But sometimes it’s not the sharpest, most advanced games that strike an artistic chord.

Take Playdead’s Limbo and Inside, for example. Neither game was a technological achievement, but both were atmospheric, subtle, and beautiful. And let’s not forget Wind Waker, now more than a decade old, using cel-shading to give gamers a whole new perspective of Link. Both were risky moves by their developers, and both paid off.

Speaking of developers, they haven’t always had the tools they do today. Take one look at my progression of best games ever, and you’ll see the jumps we’ve made in graphical power.

Which begs the question: which old-school games are the most beautiful?

What about….

Majora’s Mask – Nintendo

Quake 3 (id Software)

Neverwinter Nights (Bioware)

Myst (Cyan)

Knights of the Old Republic (Bioware)

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Admittedly, it’s slim pickings if you go much older than the mid-90’s. Games back in the day had to be fun first, pretty last. That’s not to say old-school games don’t have moments of beauty, but the highly pixelated graphics usually meant the beauty was due to the story or the atmosphere.

And that’s the true test, isn’t it?

A fun-to-play game can be good, but it’s the rare game that makes us think and feel, and thus it’s the rare game that’s truly beautiful throughout.

Games can be art. Art can be games. The better developers gets at making them, the more the line will blur.

And that’s a good thing.

 




You say you’re a video game god? Find out the truth by taking this quiz.

J Edward Neill

Creator of Coffee Table Philosophy 

Painter of Darkness

Painting with Darkness – Part XII

I like to paint trees.

A lot

Sometimes, even when I start a new canvas with every intention of painting a castle, a spooky city, or some other dark imagery, my brain misfires and takes control of my brush. Before I know it, I’ve painted yet another tree. I can’t help it. I’m a slave to impulse.

Knowing this, I decided to do a series of paintings to get all the trees out of my system.

And along came four little paintings, one for each season:

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Deep – for warm, green spring

 

dusklight-hi-rez

Dusklight – for cold, cold winter

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umber-hi-rez

Umber – for autumn’s arrival

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midnight-2

Midnight – for the longest night of summer

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I thoroughly enjoyed painting this series. These simple, yet fun paintings have a way of calming me. After working on them, I sleep better, I’m relaxed, and life feels easy.

You should try it sometime…

For previous Painting with Darkness entries: Part I, II, III, IV, V, VIVIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII

J Edward Neill

Cover Reveal – Darkness Between the Stars

A young boy will journey into the Darkness Between the Stars.  And he may never return…

I’ll have 20 softcover editions to give away as ARC’s (advance review copies.)  If you’d like one, and if you’re willing write an honest review, look me up on Facebook, Twitter, or via email.

And now, the amazing Amanda Makepeace cover art:

darknesspaperbackfront

darknesspaperbackback

A free preview (the entire first chapter) is here.

Darkness Between the Starsnow available via Amazon

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J Edward Neill

Author of sci-fi hit, A Door Never Dreamed Of

Creator of the Coffee Table Philosophy series

The Specter Ship

My first painting of the new year…

It all started with a challenge when a good friend dared me to:

A. Painting something using a rainbow theme

B. Don’t include any trees (which is kind of my calling card)

When I started, I had no idea what I’d end up with. I slathered a canvas with a full spectrum of watercolors…

…and went from there.

side-view

And some more action shots:

1 up-close-specter-ship specter-ship

Specter Ship

36″ x 12″ watercolor on deep-edge canvas

For more of my (slightly less cheerful) art, go here.

For a little something to keep the mood lively this year, hit this.

Until next time,

J Edward Neill

My life as a single dad (while making art)

Let’s be clear about one thing: I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But with that said, single dad art-making ain’t always easy.

Almost six years ago, my son (the G Man) burst into my life. He was the Kool-Aid Man breaking through the brick wall of me. Upon his arrival, I prepared myself for sleepless nights, hours upon hours of crying, and the end of all my life’s plans. But as it turned out, none of that really happened. The G Man slept astoundingly well. He rarely cried. And as for my life’s plans, they turned off the path by a few degrees, but were hardly shattered.

Surprise, surprise.

But there were two things I didn’t count on.  The first, me almost immediately becoming a single dad after G Man burst onto the scene. The second, finding out my son was also my best bro, my comrade-in-arms, and someone who never wanted to leave my side.

Which, as a writer, painter, and 1,000 mph blogger, wasn’t something I was fully prepared for.

me-n-g-at-ren

We destroy our turkey legs as a team.

Yeah…so…while it turns out my writing and painting didn’t slam to a halt, they changed. A lot. Let’s start by talking about sleep. As a young dad, I’d always had this notion that my son’s bedtime would be…oh I don’t know…8:30ish. Nah. Not so much. I admit when I meet other people’s kids, I’m alllllllll about them being in bed early. But with the G Man, I find myself allowing him to stay up late. Like late, late. So instead of waging war over arbitrary bedtimes, I dim the lights, turn on the music, and dive deep into conversations I never thought I’d have with a five-year old.

Things like:

What will happen when the sun runs out of hydrogen to burn

Why didn’t Sauron from Lord of the Rings make a second One Ring

And why didn’t evolution grant sharks the ability to fly

And so the months went by. G Man turned 3, 4, and 5. 8:30ish bedtimes became 9:30ish. 9:30 became 10:30. Chunks of late-night time I’d once devoted to painting, writing deep, dark novels, and meditating morphed into something else, something just as sacred yet completely different. While I’d never judge other parents for putting their kids to bed early, I just couldn’t do it with the G Man. I begun to crave playing silly games, watching kids’ movies, and teaching him how to master Zelda – Twilight Princess. “I’ll just sleep less,” I told myself. “I’ll start writing at midnight. That’ll work. Right?”

lobster-1

Trying on lobster costumes at approx 11PM at Target. Who needs sleep anyway??

Now don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t all roses all the time. By staying up all hours with the G Man, my production eventually took a hard hit. I started writing fewer than half the words per night than I used to. I finished maybe four paintings per month instead of ten. My sleep suffered, not because of staying up late building Lego armies, but because I still pushed my output to punishing depths. I swore off sleep in favor of creating things. Later and later, I stayed awake each night.

But it turns out the human body has its limits. I couldn’t keep pace forever. My mind and my work begun to crumble. I suppose a more reasonable person might’ve said, “Hey, it’s ok. You’ve earned a break. Be at peace with creating less in favor of more face-time with junior.”

F that. I want it all. 🙂

sombrero

That’s me running on zero sleep (and margaritas.)

There’s an everyday equation we all must follow in life. It’s something like X + Y + Z = 24 hours. X is made up of the stuff we have to do each day. It’s work, chores, commuting, and other obligations. X is the hardest to change. Most of the time, it is what it is. The weekday value of my X is approximately 13. That’s a lot, but I’m aware some people have it much worse. As for Z, it’s exactly what you think it is: sleep. Some people can get by on 4-5 hours. Others need 8-9. The more sleep one gets, the better one’s mind functions. Therefore, Z can directly influence the quality of the rest of the equation. My Z value is about 7 hours.

That means, on any given weekday, my X + Z value is somewhere in the 20 range.

Which means I have about 4 hours left over for Y.

What is Y, you ask? Y is free time. Y is options and choices. Y can be consumed by entertainment, exercise, planning fancy meals, et cetera. Or, as in my case, Y can be reserved for art. For writing. For creating. In any artist’s life, having a kid complicates the value of Y. It’s a complication I’m grateful for, and yet it remains. My single dad Y isn’t the same as a lot of other artists’ Y. Even when I’m free to embrace Y, I’m not really. G Man is always at my side, tugging, talking, wanting to listen to music together, needing to engage in conversation.

So I’ve made a compromise. During Y time, we paint together.

And if I need to write, he reads.

It’s a solution I stumbled upon about a year ago. And it was completely by accident. One day, as I tried to paint while G Man was discussing the anatomy of stumpy T-Rex arms, we stopped talking long enough for him to ask a simple question:

Can I paint, too?”

Yes. Hell yes. In that instant, I became a tornado of movement, laying out a dropcloth, handing him a palette, splashing out some colors to paint with. It took a few times for him to acclimate, but after a few weeks – and ever since – he’s been a painting machine. He even painted the cover of one of my books. Yes…seriously!

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Are they tropical trees? Wind turbines? Monsters’ hands reaching skyward? Hell if I know. It’s still better than anything I’ve painted.

The painting problem: solved. A full 1-2 hours every day of Y value: freed up.

But what about writing?

Figuring out a way to write during G Man’s waking hours was more challenging. And yet…  The solution conveniently turned up mere months removed from the painting revelation. Four words: Goosebumps, Deep Space, and Ninjas. Into his hands, I poured R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books, National Geographic magazines with lots of Hubble deep space images, and that silly series of ninjas-in-the-6th-grade books. Boom. Just like that, my Y time was defragmented. My painting output doubled. My writing was back on track.

And at the same time, G Man’s creativity soared. His reading skills improved drastically. His paintbrush moved with a mind of its own. (Only two spills so far.) He started asking for quiet time instead of demanding father-son Lego time. I was able to earn a tiny slice of Y freedom without planting my kid in front of a TV or kicking him outside.

Parenting is hard. This, I understand. What works today for me (and everyone else) might not work tomorrow. Soon enough, things like Little League, sleepovers with friends, and learning to drive will force some Y time to become X time. Ultimately, whatever becomes of my freedom, however small the slice gets, I’m ok with it. Because I’ll only ever get one chance to have a five-year old punch a sombrero off my face.

And that’s pretty cool.

Here’s some of the stuff G Man allowed me to paint.

And here’s the book I finished on his watch.

Love,

J Edward Neill

 

The death of 2016 – It wasn’t ALL bad

From the staff at Tessera Guild, we’d like to wish you a…

hny

2016 was one helluva ride, right?

Almost everyone famous ever passed away.

A reality TV guy became the U.S. president-elect.

And the best Star Wars film ever came out.

Meanwhile, the team at Tessera Guild punched out hundreds of articles on art, books, creativity, philosophy, and life, some of which you liked…and others you loved. 🙂

Here’s our top seven picks for 2016’s best, most engaging Guild articles:

My Mother – The Horse Diver

circa 1955: A diving horse and her rider disappearing in to a swimming pool with a splash. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)

circa 1955: A diving horse and her rider disappearing in to a swimming pool with a splash. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)

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Killing Your Darlings or Editing My Overused Words

writing

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Vanity Press: What Kickstarter RPG Rewards Are Available? – Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge & Luminous Echo

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Inside One Artist’s Mind

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Three Little Sunsets in Florida

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Interview with Brandon Easton, screenwriter for Marvel’s Agent Carter, Part 1

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And finally, included because it’s totally ridiculous (and totally true)…

Porn searches leading to our (totally) non-porn website!

pigs

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Here’s to everyone having an amazing 2017!

The Tessera Guild Team

J Edward Neill

John McGuire

Egg Embry

Robert Jeffrey II

 Amanda Makepeace

Chad J Shonk

Dark new cover art for a Collection of Shadows

Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Shadows

Earlier this year, 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 gathered to create a collection of flash fiction and short, grim tales.

It went a little something this:

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

Today we’re introducing new cover art for the book.

It goes a little something like:

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Machina Obscurum contains:

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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This book took shape due to the The Write or Die Project.

Check it out tonight…

J Edward Neill

Three Splashes of Darkness

Finally…

I’ve settled in my new house long enough to reboot my creative engine and slather up some new paintings.

I’ve got new lighting, a cabinet stocked with all manner of deep, dark colors, and a set of brushes sharper than any sword…

Please enjoy:

sylpha

Sylpha – 12″ x 12″

Sylpha is a character from my upcoming novel, Darkness Between the Stars. Here, I give her the abstract treatment. She cuts a sad figure, doesn’t she?

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forlorn

Forlorn – 12″ x 32″

Forlorn is the first painting I finished in my new setup. The colors are powerful, and the effect really strong in rooms with low light.

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lake-of-longing

Lake of Longing – 24″ x 48″

After I finished Lake of Longing’s red companion (Forlorn, shown above) I knew I had to paint a bigger, darker version. Lake of Longing is epic-level huge, and dominates my gloomy man-cave, just the way I love it.

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If you enjoyed these, you’ll probably also like these.

Until next time…

J Edward Neill

Ghouls, Demons, and Beasts

Here we are again. I have another spooky gallery of frightful art from the history vaults. You can see the previous posts here: Monster, Magic, and Moonlight and Eerie, Haunting, and Beautiful. Enjoy and have a Spooktacular Halloween!

AbleTalks Print Gala Online Store! #artforAT

Photo by Tami Kirkpatrick

Photo by Tami Kirkpatrick

If you weren’t able to attend the first annual Print Gala to benefit AbleTalks, you still have a chance to support this worthy organization and snag some cool art for your walls! The remaining prints from the event are available to purchase in the AbleTalks shop:

http://abletalks.storenvy.com/

All sales go to benefit AbleTalks, a non-profit that provides Tuition-free, independent, continuing education for young adults with autism and other intellectual disabilities that allow students to achieve the career of their dreams.

The Alchemist AbleTalks Print

Prints of my steampunk fox, The Alchemist, can be purchased along with many other fantastic works!

Print Gala Online Store

Don’t miss this chance. The shop will only be open till October 21st!

Painting with Darkness – Part XII

I like to paint trees.

A lot

Sometimes, even when I start a new canvas with every intention of painting a castle, a spooky city, or some other dark imagery, my brain misfires and takes control of my brush. Before I know it, I’ve painted yet another tree. I can’t help it. I’m a slave to impulse.

Knowing this, I decided to do a series of paintings to get all the trees out of my system.

And along came four little paintings, one for each season:

deep

‘Deep’ – for spring

midnight-2

‘Midnight’ – for summer

umber-300x145

‘Umber’ – for autumn

dusklight

‘Dusklight’ – for winter

 

I thoroughly enjoyed painting this series. These simple, yet fun paintings have a way of calming me. After working on them, I sleep better, I’m relaxed, and life feels easy.

You should try it sometime…

For previous Painting with Darkness entries: Part I, II, III, IV, V, VIVIII, IX, X, XI.

J Edward Neill

Painting Soundtracks

I can be a bit obsessive when it comes to music. I frequently listen to albums on repeat, especially when I’m working on art. Music helps me stay focused and inspired. Here’s a little taste of what I listen to in the studio…

If I’m working on something a little dark or Sci-Fi, I will often listen to the album Drink the Sea by The Glitch Mob.

I have several albums I love listening to while I’m painting a fantasy piece. If it has a mystical aspect to it I’m guaranteed to listen to Seven Lions.

If the piece is more nature based I might listen to Of Monsters and Men.

Then sometimes, I just listen to whatever is calling to me, like Masterplan, Bon Iver, Florence + The Machine, Placebo, M83, Blackmill, Metallica, Evanescence and many more.

 

Strange and Shadowy Art

Hi there everyone.

While it’s true most of my creative time is dedicated to writing fantasy, sci-fi, and philosophy books, in recent months I’ve found myself wanting to paint. As in a lot. As in almost every night. It’s something I do to relax at the end of a brutal day of word-battling. And it’s also something I can do with my young son, the G Man, who can’t watch me paint without wanting to wield a brush of his own.

As the days have passed, I’ve found my walls, closets, and nooks increasingly stuffed with the art I’ve dreamed up. Most of it portrays dark cities, twisted trees, deep space, and eerie landscapes. It’s these things that fascinate me.

Always have.

Likely always will.

So today I’m sharing some of my favorite canvasses. If you like dark art, or if you’re just curious, please browse and enjoy. If you particularly appreciate a piece or two, feel free to say so in the comments section below.

I typically name (but never sign) all my art. But today, just to keep it messy, I’m leaving the names off. 🙂

Here we go:

15272346_10208233194483325_5513701102521009144_o forlorn scavenger-of-the-night

IMG_0062-300x147 img_0094-300x223image2-300x146 Illyoc-300x198

the-demon sylpha lake-of-longing 15271927_1043668525779570_626948488346795251_o

Ghostscape-6-297x300   Grave-Rain-235x300   Four-Swords-300x225 shadow-tree-1-300x225Hallows-3-300x226 Fire-World-300x150 Midnight-2 let-there-be-fire-300x298Ocean-6-300x221 Pale-Swamp-300x225 Spiritfall1-300x245 String-Theory-300x96 keys-to-the-end-300x181 The-Abyss-300x237 The-Emperors-Vision-300x196 The-Hecatomb-Master-300x196 The-Last-Tower-300x225 The-Underhollows-300x224 Firemass-300x300 Faint-Glimmer-225x300 Dusklight-147x300 Dripping-300x202

ashes1-300x150 cold-tree perfect-dawn-300x236 Descent-300x292 Cixh3l_UkAE_pM0-300x300 Cheerios-300x300 Brothers-Finished-e1430745967326-300x166 Blood-Dawn-300x146 5-300x221 The-Rabbit-Hole-292x300 shadow-tree-2-300x234 Ghost-Tree-300x225 order-of-dracul-2-294x300 umber-300x145

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Thanks for viewing!

Interested in acquiring some of my art? Check out these links here and here.

Love,

J Edward Neill

The search for badass bloggers!

artists%20wanted

Hey you.

Are you an artist? An author? A photographer? Or someone with something awesome to blog about?

Yeah. We bet you are. 🙂

We think you should know; Tessera Guild is looking for someone like you.

Did you just finish a rockin’ painting? Cool! We want you to blog about it.

Did you publish an epic novel or a smooth little short story? Nice! We want to interview you about it.

Or maybe you want a weekly platform from which to write or podcast about art, life, and the end of the world? Yeah. We can help with that.

Tessera Guild is looking to grow its readership and help fresh new artists and wordsmiths get the exposure they need. We have primary openings on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and weekends.

There are no strings attached. We don’t charge any money to anyone. We’re not in this for the cash.

Seriously.

We’re looking for full-time contributors AND one-time interviews, blogs, and press releases.

Interested?

Good. It’s easy. Just reach out to us via the comments section or send an email to JEdwardNeill@Downthedarkpath.com.

Tessera Guild gets thousands and thousands of hits every single week, and has been for more than two years now. Seems like a no-brainer for you to join us.

See you soon,

Team Tessera

Making a Publication on a USB Drive

Making a Publication on a USB Drive

by Dylan Kinnett

Contributor to the awesome website, Infinity’s Kitchen

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Publishing has become a digital process. Books, newspapers, magazines, and posters are all, for the most part, created using software before they’re printed, by machines, onto paper. The older traditions of letterpress, screen printing, and binding by hand have taken a back seat to these newer technologies throughout the publishing industry, but they’re not dead.

Ink Press Productions, an operation based in Baltimore, Maryland, is a publisher that focuses on a DIY aesthetic, and relies heavily on the tried-and-true manual, human processes of book-making.

In that same city of Baltimore, Maryland, another operation called Infinity’s Kitchen is focused on the question, “what is literature in a post-digital setting?” It’s also a website that features video and other multimedia. This project seeks to do things with writing that take advantage of what print can do, but it also publishes work that cannot possibly be printed.

These two operations are collaborating to produce An Internet, which is a digital publication that does not rely on the World Wide Web to be distributed. Instead, it is a physical object, a USB drive. Dylan Kinnett, of Infinity’s Kitchen shares some coder’s notes, about what it’s like to build such a thing…

In the early days of the project, before the interface for An Internet had any code to support it, we had several conversations, largely centered around THE Internet. What is it? What is it meant to be? What is it becoming? How do we feel about it? What would happen if we were to bring a DIY aesthetic to the whole thing? I found myself thinking often about the very early days of the web, before Google became the apparently omniscient automated oracle that it is now, when the web really was a more handmade thing. There were hand-picked web directories, and web rings, and links pages, that provided personally chosen connections between one thing and the next. These connections were made as often by individuals, sometimes hobbyists, as they were by other individuals who worked for small (growing) companies. Now, the whole thing is so vast that these connections seem to be impossible to curate by hand, let alone to comprehend, and so we trust algorithms to compute relevance for us. A hand-made internet, if there can be such a thing, should resemble those early days, more than the algorithms.

Read the full Notes from a Coder article right here. *

By Dylan Kinnett

courtesy of InkPress Productions

Dragon Con Art Show Tomorrow!

The time has come! This afternoon I’ll be heading off to Atlanta with a car full of art for the 2016 Dragon Con Art Show. Drusilla and I have been hard at work in the studio preparing for what will be an amazing art show. I kid you not….

Drusilla is a little bummed I’m not letting her attend Dragon Con. She was totally up for a Kiki’s Delivery cosplay, which I admit would have been fun, but I would have to cut my hair super short–not happening. Sorry, Dru. On a more serious note, the 2016 Dragon Con Art Show is going to be an amazing show! This year’s Artist Guest of Honor is Stephan Martiniere, with guest jurors Daren Bader and Scott Fischer. You can check out the complete list of artist guests and participating artists in the show on the Dragon Con Art Show page. Below is where you can find me in the art show. I’ll have art for sale in the Gallery and for sale in the Print Shop.

Art Show Gallery

Art Show Print Shop

If you’re attending, don’t forget on Monday at 2:30 I’m hosting a panel on digital painting. I’ll be taking attendees through my process from sketch to finish!

Digital Painting: From Sketch to Finish

Dragon Con is fast approaching. Before I’m lost to the rush of art show preparations, I thought I’d share some facts about the panel I’ll be hosting this year.

Panel: Digital Painting – From Sketch to Finish

Day: Mon. 9/5 | Time: 2:30 | Grand Hall C

A detailed look into the process behind a digital painting. Gathering reference, models, the final sketch, using textures, painting techniques, and the myriad of decisions that go into a large painting. Slideshow presentation will be followed by a Q&A.

The painting I’ll be using for this presentation is Forest Dreams. I’ll be delving much further into the process than this GIF below. You’ll get to see all the reference I used, learn where I find models, hear me gripe about the challenges I faced and so much more. I might even show everyone the hideous first sketch I made for the idea of the painting.

If you’re not attending, I will be converting this to a video presentation after Dragon Con. It will be available first to Patrons and later on Youtube.

For My Fellow Creators Who Stay On The Grind

I’ve been a freelance writer for 10 years. I started out working for The Atlanta Voice Newspaper back in 2006, and I’ve been able to build a pretty decent career as a “hired gunslinger” when it comes to the written word. With the guidance of awesome folks like Maurice Waters, Tony Cade, Mark Stancil, and Dennis Malcolm Byron, I’ve been able to grow in this freelance world of journalism and comics.

The freelancing has provided me with some awesome opportunities, and put me in front of people that I never thought I’d ever be in the same room with. I’ve had a chance to interview such hip hop icons as Ludacris, Chuck D, and Andre 3000. I’ve had a chance to do client work on such award nominated/ critically acclaimed series like the CDC’s Kabi Chronicles: The Edge, Barron Robert Bell’s Radio Free Amerika and William Satterwhite’s Stealth: The Life and Times of Allen White.

Heck I even parlayed my love of comic books into doing a phone interview with one of my writing inspirations, the late great Dwayne McDuffie, for a story I did on black comic book creators with The Atlanta Voice Newspaper.

So when I say I’ve been blessed/ fortunate to have the career that I’ve had, that’s an understatement. I’m extremely grateful for every opportunity that has graced my pallet, not even including the creator owned comic book work that I’ve done.

But I want more. 🙂

This is what I'd love my 9-5 to be: writing full time, or something close to it. :-)

This is what I’d love my 9-5 to be: writing full time, or something close to it. 🙂

I want to do this full time, or at least close to it. I want to be able to provide for my family, and still parlay this love of the written word into my primary 9-5.

Is that greedy? Is that unrealistic? Maybe so, in today’s economic climate. But I’d be damned if I didn’t say I didn’t want more.

And you know what? I don’t just want it for myself, I want it for my fellow Tessara Guild members John McGuire, Amanda Makepeace, Chad Snok, J Edward Neill. For the kick ass poet/ rapper I know as I my little brother, Brandon Jeffrey, a.k.a OB. For my director/ writer/ Jane of all Trades cuzzo Gabrielle Hawkins. I want it for my ride or die brother in arms Sean Hill. For Barron Robert Bell. For Tony Cade. For Mark Stancil. For Takeia Marie. For Tanya Woods. For Maurice Waters. For Nicole Kurtz. For Deon Brown, William Satterwhite, Vincent Christie, Bobby NashAshton James Mason, and heck, everyone else I know I’ve missed because I’m apparently suffering early onset memory loss.

I want our collective love and passion for the fields of writing, art, comics, filmmaking, etc., combined with our strong worth ethic to parlay into something where we can do this for our 9-5’s. Because, hell we deserve it, and we are constantly putting in the work and drive to get there.

What I wanted to do with this post was give a shout out to my folks who grind at the 9-5’s that they have to work, to get to where they want to work (or at least closer to where both career’s bring in equal amounts of income).

Two songs that I love that I feel capture this idea of a creator doing what they have to do, to do what they love, are Lupe Fiasco’s Hip-Hop Saved My Life (feat. Nikki Jean), and Ace Hood’s Hustle Hard. I’m a hip hop/ rap fan so both speak personally to such a drive to find a way to do what you love, so you can take care of those you love, and still enjoy what you’re doing.

This post is for those folks like myself who would rush out at 5:00  pm on the dot to do an interview with someone halfway across the country. For those people who stay up to 1:00 am in the morning to knock out final edits on a personal project, or client work, knowing you have to be up at 6:00 am that day for your other job. Or for those who become true weekend warriors to put the final touches on an awesome piece of art, realizing that Monday brings yet another day of the main job that puts food on the table, and a roof over your families’ head.

And hey, reaching such a level can be done. I look at those creators who are doing what they love full time, 24/7 and feel driven to get to where they are, while also being extremely happy for them. Not for the reason of making a crazy amount of money. Nope, I simply want to get to a point where I actually love what I’m doing full time.

Heck, at least close to full time would be great, so I’m not choosy.

So to all my fellow “after 5:00 pm/ weekend/ up to all hours of the night/ holiday warriors-creators” I salute you with a Captain Benjamin Sisko toast. You, and all of your work is mad’ appreciated yo’.

Now get back to creating so we make these dreams a reality.

Benjamin_Sisko_toasts_the_good_guys_zps274bf4dc

Captain Benjamin Sisko approves this message

Painting with Darkness – Part XI

It’s been a little while.

I’ve been focused less on art and more on invading the universe with my latest novella.

So anyway…

I recently decided to go over the top with another shadowy dark city painting. I love using the black & white color scheme…and I love eerie, otherworldly images.

Thus was born ‘Dead and Dreaming,’ the latest of my acrylic paintings:

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1

It all started with a blank 16″ x 24″ canvas. I blended water, black, white, and a splash of glow-in-the-dark paint. While I’ve yet to expose the painting to enough light to activate the glow paint, I noticed this particular blend made the swirled pattern go on super smooth. Those white dagger-like things…well they’re the first of many towers to come.

2

The most daunting parts of this painting? 1. Using a bookmark as a straightedge to get most of the towers with nice, flat sides. 2. Doing the math to make sure a large percentage of the towers were directed at the right angle to ‘surround the swirly abyss.’

3

So…after I added all the white towers, I moved in with my preferred color: black. I wanted the dark towers to be taller and more swordlike, almost as if they wanted to reach all the way into the swirly abyss. The effect was a trippy, alien cityscape. I was pleased.

4

You might have to enlarge the image to see it, but this is where I started to add shadows and ghostly windows to every…single…tower. I’ve done paintings like this before, particularly with The Emperor’s Vision, but the added challenge here was rotating the painting to make sure I didn’t miss a tower.

5

The finished painting. Hundreds of towers. Thousands of tiny windows. About 12 hours of painting time. I’m ecstatic pleased with the result. After a few matte coats of varnish, this one is going up on my wall until it sells.

The original canvas for Dead and Dreaming is now available for sale right here.

Prints and other materials are available for sale on my Society6 page.

For previous Painting with Darkness entries: Part I, II, III, IV, V, VIVIII, IX, X.

J Edward Neill

Earth Magic and Forest Dreams

This week I finished a new painting for my Earth Rituals series, Forest Dreams. It’s actually the second painting I’ve finished for this series, but the first can’t be shown due to an NDA (Non-disclosure Act). It’s been a strange experience not being able to share that painting. I feel it shows a progression of where I’m going with my art, leaving this new painting without an anchor. Alas, it is, what it is. After a rough month and a half in my every day life, it felt good to truly dive into this painting. I hope it touches you, as it has me.

Forest Dreams by Amanda Makepeace

Earth and magic,
Roots and stones,
Azure circles sown.
Whispers and wings,
Tendrils and leaves,
Forest dreams weave.

This painting, like Signs and Symbols, is set in the dream forest. But unlike the young man’s journey, which only brought him to the space between the two worlds, here we are fully immersed. The young woman is a fae, dreaming her magic into the earth. Her magic gives rise to a blue fairy circle.

If you’re going to Dragon Con this summer, you can see her in the Art Show. I’ll also have limited edition prints available to order starting next week in my shop.

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www.amandamakepeace.com

Support my Art on Patreon!

Two Years Later

Dragon Con 2016Two years ago, around this same time, I was preparing for my first convention as an artist. I’m doing the same now, for the same convention–Dragon Con. Genre art (fantasy, science fiction, horror) for me at the time was still a relatively new venture. I grew up on late 70’s and 80’s genre films. As a teenager I was consumed by Stephen King and other speculative fiction authors. You’d think this would be reflected in my art, but it wasn’t until 2012 that I began letting myself explore. A wall in my psyche came down and my art evolved. Two years later I was at Dragon Con and now another two years later I’m returning. In that time, I’ve continued to explore, evolve and learn.

I began thinking about what I truly wanted. What did I want to create with my art? What did I want to say? Did I need to say anything? That introspection gave birth to Renascentia. She is the first painting I felt connected to on a deeper level and I realized I need that connection. It reminds me of this quote I heard recently:

If you don’t feel anything for the painting your working on, your viewers won’t either.

When I brought Renascentia to Jordan Con in 2015, I realized the truth of these words. However, I still hadn’t figured out what I wanted. The vision in my head was still veiled in mist. It took nearly another year for me to begin piecing together what I now call Earth Rituals. I’m creating a body of work around this idea of connecting with the earth, but it’s not the only art I plan to make. I will continue to make purely nature art, delve into Sci-Fi, and whatever else catches my fancy.

Dusk OwlBut what have I done and learned over the last two years?

  1. I learned how to create art from direction.
  2. I ran a successful kickstarter and printed a book.
  3. I won Judge’s Choice from Todd Lockwood. O_O
  4. I signed my first contract with a small games publisher.
  5. I knew this already, but it was reaffirmed–true friends are invaluable.
  6. I will break my no dancing rule if you give me mixed drinks.
  7. I learned I don’t really enjoy game illustration.
  8. I learned you can be a part of a large community and still feel utterly alone.
  9. I learned there’s an art to using Instagram.
  10. I enjoy licensing art for book covers more than custom commissions.
  11. I learned I just want to create my own art, on my own terms.
  12. I guided my daughter through her last year of high school and into her first year of college.
  13. I was invited to be a member of Changeling Artist Collective.
  14. I launched a Patreon campaign that’s still going.
  15. I rediscovered my love of graphite and drawing.
  16. I’ve had a taste of being an art director (large project in progress now).

Ultimately, I’ve realized I’m not an illustrator, nor do I really want to be. Sure, there may be some overlap occasionally. If a project fits my vision and my style I might jump on board. But at the end of the day, I’m an artist. I think my art will always hover between fine art and the fantastic. In some cases it will sway back and forth between the two. That’s okay.

Forest Dreams WIP

From my current work in progress, Forest Dreams.

Why every web surfer should use StumbleUpon

You’ve probably seen this symbol before.

…and you’ve probably overlooked it completely.

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This is Stumbleupon’s logo. Pretty neat, right? It sometimes appears at the bottom of web articles. Some sites use it, while others don’t. Maybe you’ve heard of it, but odds are you haven’t really tried it out.

It’s cool.

No worries.

I’m here to tell you why Stumbleupon is awesome. Not only for web surfers, but for authors, artists, and internet content creators of any kind.

First, some facts:

  • Here at Tessera Guild, Stumbleupon accounts for more than 50% of all our site hits. Meaning hundreds of clicks every day and thousands upon thousands every month. That’s a lot. It’s invaluable to us, generating tons of new visitors every single day with minimal effort on our part.
  • At my personal book/art site, DowntheDarkPath, Stumbleupon accounts for 30% of my site hits, which is still a large percentage. Once again, it’s invaluable.
  • Stumbleupon is fun and easy to use.

Now, we could spend hours talking about how great Stumbleupon is for web surfing. How quick and easy it is to set up a profile, choose specific interests, and wander off on a ten-year long click safari. All these things are great, and totally worth checking out.

But today I’m pitching it to authors, artists, and anyone who has ever published anything on the web.

So…

You say you’ve got a website. You’ve populated it with high-quality contents, graphics, and cool links to cool things. But…you’re struggling to get clicks. Facebook and Instagram earn you a few, while Twitter and Linkedin are graveyards. What other source can you possibly hope for to direct traffic your way?

Yeah. You guessed it. Stumbleupon.

untitled

I guess that’s an S and a U. Whatever. Decent-looking logo.

How it works:

  • People (usually content creators or readers) submit content to Stumbleupon with just a few clicks. Submitting takes between 3-7 seconds. Super easy.
  • Other people click the ‘Stumble’ button on top of Stumbleupon’s main page, at which point the site will redirect the person to a random article or website. Only…it’s not entirely random. The more likes a page has, the more likely it is to be ‘stumbled upon.’  Meaning, if you’ve got an article or blog that a lot of people click ‘Like’ on, it could go viral.  (This has happened to Tessera Guild multiple times, often resulting in 10,000+ page views in a matter of hours or days.)
  • By curating enough high-quality content on your website and adding some of it selectively to Stumbleupon, you could see residual visits to your page for many months.
  • More visits mean more exposure. And whether you’re selling something or simply trying to start a web-wide conversation, this is good news.

Oh. And here’s a huge piece of advice for people who use Stumbleupon to promote their stuff:

  • Don’t exclusively submit your own content. In fact, submit and like other people’s stuff more than your own. Also, if you can avoid it, don’t submit stuff that’s purely sales pitchy. Add funny, cute, informative, or awesome stuff instead. The sales or engagement will come from visits to your website…assuming you’ve got quality material.
  • Some people will say to ‘never’ add your own content. Nonsense. Just be super-selective.

Now it’s true…most people I’ve met have never even heard of Stumbleupon. They surf the web the old-fashioned way (with Google.) There’s nothing wrong with that. Google is awesome. It’s just that Stumbleupon refines the process, guiding surfers to random, fun stuff in a cool way. It also appears to have a tendency to ‘go viral’ more often than other outlets like Facebook or Twitter. And content with enough likes will keep getting hits indefinitely, meaning way more residual clicking than other social media.

Look, I’m just saying,

If you’re a surfer, give Stumbleupon a try.

Or if you’ve got something cool, smart, and engaging to submit, use it as another sharp tool in your exposure arsenal.

Oh, and here’s the one lil’ old article I submitted that convinced me to start stumblin’ forever.

LUB (Love you, bye)

J Edward Neill

WebImageFront

Instagram Art Giveaway

Instagram Art Giveaway

That’s right. I’m having a giveaway on Instagram! It’s my way of saying, Thank you. Thank you to everyone following me and taking the time to support my art. One lucky winner will receive the 4×5 inch watercolor painting shown in the image above. To enter, be sure you’re following me here:

http://www.instagram.com/amandamakepeace

Then, follow the directions in this post:

The deadline to enter is July 15th!

Art of the Fantastic

We all have favorites. Favorite movies, books, authors, etc. But does everyone have favorite artists? If they don’t, they should. The worlds of the imaginary and mythic are sometimes the most inspiring of all. They are dreams brought to life. Here’s a few of my favorites from living artists you can support now–today.

Artists: Marcela Bolivar, Brom, John Picacio, Stephanie Law, Reiko Murakami, John Jude Palencar, Charles Urbach, Michael Parkes, Omar Rayyan, and Lauren K Cannon.

Who are your favorite artists?

Ten Things Not to Do at a Literary Reading

Ten Things Not to Do at a Literary Reading

I’ve noticed that literary readings, like any live performance, are bound to have some glitches here and there. There are some very common glitches, though, in readings by professionals and amateurs alike, and I think they should be easily avoided.

If you’ve ever been to an open-mic, spoken word, or poetry event, then you’ll know what I’m talking about here. If you’ve never been, perhaps you can use this list to explain why you haven’t. If you’re ever behind that open microphone or featured on that stage, please don’t do any of the following things.

  1. Don’t Mention Your Rehearsal

Whether you did or did not remember to rehearse your reading beforehand, just don’t talk about it. Your audience would like to think that you are experienced, or at least competent. If you did rehearse, that’s great but it should be evident by the quality of your reading. If you skipped over a badly-needed rehearsal then there will be no need to restate the obvious. Maybe you don’t actually need to rehearse. This is unlikely but in any case, just don’t mention rehearsing. Instead, get on with the reading.

  1. Don’t Say, “I Just Wrote This”

This tip is mostly intended for the reader who wrote something in the moments leading up the performance. At an open mic event, this happens frequently, but it isn’t very polite. Taking notes while someone else is reading is one thing, but don’t completely ignore the other readers, just so you can scratch off something you “just wrote” and then read it immediately, unedited, to a live audience. There’s a way to present new, timely work, but this isn’t it. (An exception to this rule may be required, for example, if yesterday was a major historical event, or if an important  chapter in your life ended or began last night.)

  1. Don’t Riffle Through Your Papers

If you haven’t decided what to read and in which order, you’re not ready to read. Have a plan. Stick to it. Small deviations from the plan are probably inevitable at a live event but please don’t make the audience watch you thumb through your ratty notebook while you mutter to yourself about what you might or might not read.

  1. No Spoilers

Don’t explain each and every piece before you read it. If some initial context is needed, keep it to a minimum, providing only the very essentials. You should let your work speak for itself as much as possible.

  1. Don’t Diss Your Own Work

Believe or not, some writers actually announce to the audience that they don’t care for a work, and then proceed to read it to a live audience! This may seem to the writer like a kind of humility, but it has a very different effect on the audience. If you don’t even like the work, then an audience might think, ‘Why should anybody else bother to give a damn?‘ Similarly, you shouldn’t mention whether anybody else does or does not like the work, unless it’s a celebrity or a mutually despised tyrant. Just read the work, and allow the audience to make up their own minds in their own way.

  1. Don’t Speak Too Quickly

Especially where poetry is concerned, it is very important to give the words some room to breathe. If you have a time limit for your reading, it would be better to fill the time well than to fill it completely. Don’t try to cram too much work into your reading. Instead, choose the right number of quality words and read them slowly and clearly.

  1. Don’t Speak Too Quietly

Before speaking in public, take a deep breath and imagine you are speaking to the person who is furthest away from you. That person will appreciate being able to hear you. This rule applies with and without the use of a microphone.

  1. Don’t Sound Like You’re Reading

This one is difficult to define and to avoid, but it is the critical difference between a “reading” and a “performance”. To break this habit, it helps to make some audio recordings. Record yourself speaking naturally, and in conversation. Then record yourself reading a difficult text you have never read before. We’ve all had to suffer through difficult readings: at school, political and religious events, meetings at work. It’s not fun, so your performance should not sound like a “difficult” reading. It should sound natural, like conversation.

  1. Don’t Ignore the Audience

Look up from the page. Look out at the audience. Remember, this is a live event. You may be nervous, and afraid of the audience, but please don’t ignore them. They’re people, too, and you just might notice that they’re smiling, thinking about, or otherwise responding to your work. It is important to be aware of these things.

  1. Don’t Forget to Stop Between Pieces

The audience needs some time to move from one idea to the next, and you probably do too. Besides, if you pause for a moment, you might get some applause.

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This concludes my list of ten things not to do at a literary reading. For some tips on what you should do instead, try Adam Robinson’s article How to Deliver a Poetry Reading. For musicians, there’s a similar list: advice for musical performances by Thelonious Monk, in his own handwriting.

If you’ve got anything to add to the do and don’t list, please post in the comments!

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Dylan Pic

Dylan Kinnett is a writer, spoken word performance artist, and the founding editor of Infinity’s Kitchen. His writing seeks to alter traditional literary forms with the use of media, hypertext, and performance. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

His home base is http://infinityskitchen.com/

 

The Darkest Art Prints Ever

Whenever I’m not writing dark fantasy novels, philosophy books, or sci-fi books, I’m painting.

Acrylics. Giant canvasses. Spooky, surreal art.

The original paintings are for sale here.

But for those who want affordable prints, framed art, canvasses, and tapestries of my work, I’m selling them on the amazing art site, Society6. It’s a pretty awesome place. You should go there. Now.

Some of my most popular prints appear below. Click ’em to check ’em out. Also important, you can choose from several different sizes and formats for each one. Don’t be shy. Get as many as you want.

Last Autumn 4 Ghostscape Ghost Tree2 Pale Swamp

Ocean-6-300x221 The-Abyss-300x237

To look at ALL my available Society6 art prints, click HERE.

Love,

J Edward Neill

Ideas and (the lack of) Time

We’ve probably all wished at some point in our lives for a double of ourselves, to help us with our mounting To-Do list or just to be in two places at one time. There never seems to be enough time for everything. I’m continually blessed and plagued by ideas that I then have to prioritize. Do I have time for this? Is this more an experiment or is it part of my main vision? Sometimes side projects get put on hold, because I have to feed my soul and creative vision. That vision is the core idea of what I’ve been moving towards over the last ten years and it’s the heart of my art. Regardless, I’m still pulled toward these other ideas. Sometimes I jot them down in my sketchbook of ideas and that’s end of it. I can always return to them later. While others I start and then push to the side, hoping I can return to them later. Here are a few…

The Mystics

Yes, the steampunk fox everyone adores is part of a series of paintings. The Mystics are a fictional council, tasked with protecting the animal kingdom from human encroachment. I still want to continue with this series. I even have the fourth member sketched out, but… Time…

Rings of Magic

These are the pencil drawings for two of four small paintings I have planned. I even have the frames for these. Each ring has a story and a power someone has abused.

The White Crow

Remember these from Inktober 2015?! I said I was going to publish a book titled The White Crow. I’m still planning to publish this book. I promise.

I wouldn’t mind having a clone of myself–one connected to myself, so I was conscious of everything happening and also part of the decision making process. Science fiction, I know…


www.amandamakepeace.com

Painting with Darkness – Part X

After a short layoff, I’m back to doing terrible things with my paintbrush.

Dark cities, twisted terrains, and this time around, an eerie, abstract tree.

I call this one, ‘The Last Autumn.’  The original is for sale here, if you’re interested.

Now let’s talk about how The Last Autumn came to be:

Last Autumn 1

It all started with a 24″x 24″ super-thick white canvas. I used a straightedge, a level, and a twenty-year old pencil (yes, really) to divide the canvas into perfect halves. With my little wooden palette, I paired up acrylic golds, blacks, reds, yellows, and whites. I mixed them at random, and when I was done with the first coat, I poked golden dots all over the right side of the canvas. Voila. What you see above.

Last Autumn 2

For the left side, life got a little easier. I mixed gold, black, and umber, and went nuts with fast, broad strokes. Before it dried, I poked little white ‘leaves’ into the background. The difference between the two halves was stark. I loved what I was seeing.

Last Autumn 3

About 0.0003 seconds before starting with the right-side tree, I had a revelation. A. I wanted to flip the painting over so the darker half would be on the right and the red/gold half on the left. I have no idea why. It just felt right. B. I pulled out a sand-based gel with which to paint the tree. For those not familiar, the gel adds a texture you can see and feel when you’re up close to the painting. It’s so ridiculously fun to paint with; I suggest everyone try it.

Last Autumn 4

For the left side of the painting, I mixed pure black with more sand gel. I used four different brushes, starting big and working down to the tiniest branches using pretty much the smallest acrylic brush you can buy. It was tedious, but I loved it. Each flick of my wrist gave life to a new branch. The picture here is pre-varnishing; the sand gel takes forever to dry. The plan for this painting is to use a heavy gloss, which will make the colors pop and allow The Last Autumn to be a centerpiece for any room.

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Thanks for reading!!

For previous Painting with Darkness entries: Part I, II, III, IV, V, VIVIII, IX.

To buy The Last Autumn, go here.

J Edward Neill

Author of Matrix-like A Door Never Dreamed Of.

And creator of the Coffee Table Philosophy series.

 

The Changeling Artist Collective

Changeling Artist Collective

change·ling

ˈCHānjliNG/

noun

  1. a child believed to have been secretly substituted by fairies for the parents’ real child in infancy.

Changeling. The word itself conjures fantastical visions and now it’s also the name of a new Artist Collective founded by Rachel Quinlan. I’m honored to be a part of an extraordinary group of fantasy artists. Each month we’ll be hosting themed auctions on our Facebook Page. The first auction, Bugs and Beasties, launches July 13th! You can also follow updates on Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr.

And now for what matters most–the Artists behind the Changeling Artist Collective! If you’re following our Facebook Page you’ll be introduced to these artists, one by one, in the coming weeks.

Rovina CaiKristina CarrollIris CompietCollette J EllisTiffany EnglandSam GuayEmily HareJana HeidersdorfJayde Hilliard-SimpsonMaggie IvyHeather Hitchman LambertEmma LazauskiAmanda MakepeaceSerena MalyonBelinda Jane MorrisFergal O’ConnorRachel QuinlanAngela Rachelle Sasser,
Anna K. SzalasTiffany TurrillAnja UhrenJabari Weathers, Ren Willows