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

 

7 Ways to step up your Indie Author Career

For many months, I’ve resisted writing this.

Author advice columns and ‘do-it-better’ blogs often come off as pretentious.

And that’s the last thing I want to do.

Even so…

After swimming in the shark-infested waters of self-publishing for many years, I feel it’s time I share a few nuggets of wisdom. About writing. About marketing. About presenting oneself to the literary world. Now…these aren’t gonna be your typical Stephen King-ish motivational tips or super supportive rays of sunshine. I’m going off the grid with some of these. Because everything else has been said.

Here we go.

*

Audience

1.  Audience Building

We’re not talking about genres. We’re talking human beings, and we’re talking how you approach them after you’ve already written your masterpiece. So you say you’ve crafted a new work of erotica, an epic fantasy series, or a vampire romance? Fine. It’s all fine. Whatever floats your boat. The key to your success, assuming you’ve actually got the writing chops to write a good book, is to make people care. Spamming ‘check out my book’ ads on the net? Not gonna fly. Auto-messaging unsuspecting people on Twitter? Fail. The key here is to be interesting. You’re a writer, after all. When marketing, you’ve gotta use the same chops you used when writing the best parts of your book. Don’t be dull. Don’t be static. Build some awesome blurbs and engage people. Hand your business cards out at DragonCon. Strike up conversations with strangers at the bar who might like to read. Be your book. Live it.

Also…when audience building on the internet, use perfect spelling and grammar. It doesn’t matter whether or not you think it’s important. It is. Whenever an author posts a blog or funny facebook post with garbage grammar, it leaves an impression. And it’s not the one you want.

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Negativity2. Stay the F**K away from Negativity

You probably think I’m talking about other people’s negativity. I’m not. I’m talking about yours.

Let’s say you’ve got a website dedicated to your books, your art, your whatever. And let’s say from time to time you write interesting, relatable pieces about your life and your experiences (you should do both of these, by the way.) You wanna know what never to do? Project negativity. Ever. Like anyone else, writers have opinions. That’s all well and good. But for the most part, your army of loyal readers wants to hear positive (or least non-negative) stuff. Hate your neighbor? Cool. Shut up about it. Got a headache and some writer’s block? Nope. Another author crap on your book via Amazon? Deal with it. Sales in a slump? Don’t say a word.

It’s a slippery slope, negativity. Everyone feels they have a right to complain. Maybe they do, maybe not. But as a professional and as a person who wants others to feel good about your books, your persona, and your ability, I recommend keeping all but the most dire complaints to yourself.

Actually, I recommend this to everyone in the entire world. Not just writers and artists.

*

3. Get Great Cover Art

To be fair, some people can get away with having bland, homemade, or just plain bad cover art. What I’m saying is: don’t assume you can. Now…it’s true cover art can get expensive. Artists will charge hundreds for good work, and they’ve every right to do so. It doesn’t matter. No matter your budget, you’ve got to find a way to put your (presumably wonderfully-written) book beneath a cover worthy of cracking open. It doesn’t have to be an epic Greek sculptor/Sistine Chapel wonder of the world, but it needs to look good. Or cool. Or crazy. Just not boring. Never…ever…boring.

Oh, and speaking of good cover artists, try Amanda Makepeace.

And speaking of great covers she created

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Ego 4. Shelve Your Ego (not your Eggo)

What’s that you say? Someone left you a shitty review on Amazon? You got a rejection letter from a publisher? An author refused to do a review-swap (which you shouldn’t have agreed to do anyway)?

What I recommend in these and a thousand other less-than-awesome scenarios is that you not get butthurt. Ever. Artistic endeavors of any kind, and indeed life endeavors, don’t care about your sensitivity. Anger, jealousy, vengeance, frustration, cats sitting on your keyboard and deleting an entire chapter…all part of the dance. Simply put, you’ll get more work done if you shrug off all the crap and vent it creatively, rather than on Facebook.

Tip: Your ability to find greatness might very well depend on your ability to carve through all the emotions…and arrive on the other side unscathed.

*

Brush Off5. Brush off Compliments / Embrace Criticism

I’ll keep this one brief. Maybe. When seventeen of your friends read your book and tell you how awesome it is, ignore them. You heard me. Ignore them. Smile and nod, but let their words fall off your shoulders like yesterday’s dandruff. Why, you ask? Because while they mean well, their compliments don’t mean anything. Compliments and superlatives about your work won’t make you a better writer. Sunshine up your bottom might feel good, but it won’t lift you to greatness.

But criticism might. Your most valuable review on Amazon might be the single-star one. Your best asset might be the lone family member who tells you your ending doesn’t make sense, or that one of your characters is a whiny loser. When you free your ego (see #4) and become willing to embrace criticism, you allow yourself to grow.

If you need a metaphor, imagine a tree. The oldest, strongest trees are covered in knots, scars, and broken limbs. And yet the tree never complains. Not once. Not ever. It simply adjusts, heals, and keeps moving toward the sunlight.

*

6. Create an Image & Stick to It

Perhaps you’re really good at writing horror. Or maybe you’ve got a knack for writing killer romance scenes. Or maybe your descriptive ability is out of this world.  Cool. Now what I suggest is that you use your strengths to create an image. Mine is sort of this dark, brooding philosopher thing. Yours should be whatever you feel represents you, whether a fluffy unicorn girl, a dominatrix, a vulgar comedian, or a quiet librarian genius. Whatever. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s yours.

The point is: craft your image and use it as a presentation point to the world. Don’t be boring. Tell the world what you’re about. Speak to them as though you were your characters. It’s like this: you can either flood your social media feeds with writing memes and coffee-worship, or you can become a living, breathing avatar for your work. I’m being completely serious. I’m not suggesting you try to fake your audience out. Far from it. I’m saying to grab them by their collars. Shake them. Entertain them. Because really, what else are we here to do?

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7. Demand Honesty

This is a two-part piece of advice. First and foremost, you’ve got to be honest with yourself. Can you look at your work and say, “This is the best I can write. This book is as ready for the world as it’s gonna get.”? If you can, boom. Kudos. Publish it. If you can’t, then the honest author in you has to be ready. For more work. And lots of it.

The second part: demand honesty from those who help you. This means reviewers, editors, other authors, beta-readers, friends, and family. If they’re brave enough to read your stuff, you need to be brave enough to look them in the eyes and tell them to be utterly honest in their criticism. And you need to mean it. Really mean it. Like Brad Pitt in Fight Club, you need to hear them say it three times. (Anyone remember that scene?)

Because the only conversations in life worth having are the blunt, brutally honest kind.

Everything else is fluff.

Now get to work.

And try to have fun while you’re doing it.

*

J Edward Neill

Author of 101 Questions for Humanity

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead series

Where do you get your Ideas?

Signs and Symbols by Amanda MakepeaceWhere do you get your ideas?

If you’re an artist, writer, musician or anyone working in a creative field you’re bound to be asked. However, the question is a disguise for another. What they are really asking is how did you come up with this final work of art. The question implies there is some secret formula for making art–all it takes is that spark of inspiration. If that were true, we’d all be artists! Having ideas is only one part of the equation. The other half is a ton of hard work. Ideas are important though…and passion. Without either you don’t have anything to fuel the hard work. I’m always a little shocked when I hear an artist say they are struggling to come up with ideas. Maybe it’s just a foreign concept to me. I always seem to be brimming with ideas, so many that I must reign myself in so I stay focused. The well I draw from is all around me and inside me.

Are they struggling to find ideas or are they struggling to find that BIG painting idea? Are they too focused on the end result? When I think of ideas, I think of all the scribbles in my sketchbook and the notes that eventually lead to a painting. It’s a process. Even when I think I have a core idea for a painting, it always continues to evolve before I have the final artwork. I think some artists are looking for that stroke of genius, that masterpiece. This quote from Chuck Close sums it up well…

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work.”

“All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”

Just get to work.

Start by sketching something you love. What are you passionate about? Make list. I love nature, fantasy and myth. I also love horror movies, owls, crows and bones. I love taking hikes in the woods. My imagination is fond of mixing all of these together.

Sketches and Ideas

Spirit Owls by Amanda Makepeace

When I’m sketching the things I’m passionate about or getting out of the studio to embrace what I love, I can’t stop the ideas from forming. So if you’re struggling, stop sitting around. Take your sketchbook outside, or to a museum, or a busy town center or a cafe… Explore a new medium or tackle something you’ve never drawn before. Challenge yourself but remember, there’s nothing wrong with returning to things you’ve drawn or painted hundreds of times. You just might think of a new way to express that object or idea.

*****

Follow me online:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Patreon

amandamakepeace.com

There are no rules…

Hi everyone,

We’ve got something interesting for those of you who are artists, writers, poets, and bloggers.

Dylan Kinnett, the head honcho over at Infinity’s Kitchen, just sent out a call for submissions. He’s teamed up with Ink Press Productions to bring you more off-the-grid artistic work. And we at Tessera Guild couldn’t help but support the cause.

Infinity’s Kitchen is a publication specializing in experimental literary material. What does that mean exactly? Well…it’s got off-beat poetry, digital-age wordplay, word squares, and interesting pop art. And more.  It’s not what most of you are used to. And that’s what makes it cool.

In particular, the latest submission call (Active until June 17th) seeks anything artists and writers do in multiples. Like a series of images, a group of similar poems, a line of same-thought process Tweets, or short stories in the same setting. And these are just a few examples. The most interesting part of Infinity’s Kitchen is that there are no rules. If it’s cool, if it’s mind-bending, if it’s engaging, that’s what’s cooking.

Here’s the official submission sheet:

Inf Kitchen

And here’s the scoop:

Infinity’s Kitchen & Ink Press Productions are coming together to ask: What belongs on the internet? Send us your content and we’ll make it a book.

WHAT IS IT?

tweets / screenshots / commentary / instructions / recipes / maps / memes / clickbait / spam / lists / calendars / emails / embarrassing evidence / tattoos / whatever, it’s your content/

Submissions for the latest issue: open May 1–June 17

Send your submissions to:
inkpressproductions@gmail.com

I know I’ll be submitting.

Will you?

J Edward Neill

Fae and Unicorns and Bugs… Oh My!

June FaeYou were with me till I mentioned bugs, right? Hear me out! These are three fun art challenges happening in June. Like #mermay and #inktober, artists will be sketching/drawing/painting daily based on one or a combination of these themes. You’ll be able to follow these hashtags on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook:

#JuneFae – All things Fae: Fairies, Pixies, Brownies, Hobgoblins, etc.

#Junicorn – That’s right, a month full of unicorns!

#JuneBug – Bugs!!! Bugs aren’t your thing? Are you sure… The insect world is full of beautiful creatures like moths and butterflies.

These daily art challenges are open to everyone and it’s up to you whether you post daily or maybe weekly. Tag your posts with one or all of the challenge hashtags. Invite others to join in! Art challenges are a great way to explore new mediums, improve upon a skill or break out of a creative funk.

I’m going to use the challenge as part meditation and part art experiment. Much of my art tends to be detailed and leans more toward realism. For #JuneFae I’ll be creating spontaneous little tree sprite doodles with Walnut Ink (and occasionally with a little gold pigment added). These mini paint sketches will be a fun departure from my usual work! Below is a test sprite I doodled this week in preparation.

Tree Sprite by Amanda Makepeace

 

Here are some of my artist friends who will be participating too.

On Friday’s throughout June, be sure to also tag your #junefae art with #fairyfriday. Meredith Dillman will be sharing posts to her @FairyFriday Twitter account!

Why I don’t write negative reviews.

People who know me will say I’m cynical.

They’ll note my lack of optimism, my occasional indifference, and my somewhat dark view of humanity’s intentions. These observations are completely my fault. I’ve worked a bit too hard to earn a ‘cold’ reputation, and now I’ve got to live with it.

But…

Despite this image I’ve cultivated, there are traits neither my friends nor foes will ever observe in me. Things like anger, entitlement, a sense of vengeance, or a tendency to be judgmental. I’ve my share of failings, but these are not among them. I lack the genetic disposition to hate, to scorn, and to demand retribution. I just can’t do it. It’s not in me.

amazon-consumer-reviews

I will never be this guy.

So…

Like any American, I buy my share of stuff. Some of it is awesome stuff, like my writing chair, my epic-level pancake griddle, and the billion books I’ve collected for my son. Likewise, some of my stuff sucks. Like the patio umbrella I bought that rotted within a month or the DVD copy of Devil’s Advocate which turned out to be a blank CD (serves me right for getting excited about a $0.99 DVD.) In each of these cases, I spent money. Hard-earned money. And in each case I took my new possession home and installed it into my life.

But…

No matter whether my purchase turned out amazing or shitty, I didn’t let it affect my emotional state. Meaning; my pancakes were amazing, but not life-altering. My writing chair is so very comfy, but I don’t plan on living in it. And my Devil’s Advocate DVD is…well…still blank. I figure, no matter how great or terrible my purchases are, it’s not worth getting ecstatic or depressed about stuff. Because it’s just stuff, right? So even when my umbrella fell to pieces and my Xbox told me to F off when I slid Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron inside, I didn’t get pissed. I didn’t rush to the complaint dept. And I definitely did not write any scathing reviews.

Ok.

There was one exception.

It’s story time.

Very recently, I moved. It wasn’t a fun move. I had to leave a dream home I loved for a third-story apartment in a complex with about two-square feet total of green-space. It took two weeks to complete the move. It sucked. Hell, it still sucks. But the worst part was my experience with a not-to-be-named moving company. Two guys showed up to help me carry all my aforementioned stuff out of my beloved house and into a cramped, third-story shoebox. And to be honest, these guys sucked worse than leaving my dream home. One of them quit in the middle of his shift. I’m serious. He looked at me and said, “I’m done.” The other guy was slow. As in slooowwwwwwwww. In the end, I ended up carrying way more of my stuff than both guys combined. It was amusing…in a way. If you think paying someone else money while you perform hard labor is funny.

A few days later, the moving company sent me a review request.

Oh, was I ever tempted. I could’ve crushed these guys. In the big blank thousand-character space requesting ‘customer comments,’ I could’ve named names and drilled these guys seventeen new holes in their asses. I could’ve told them everything they did wrong, and I could’ve clicked ‘No’ in the big fat box labeled ‘Would You Recommend Our Service?’

And so I did. I killed them. I slew them. The fires of their failure are still smoldering. Their manager has called me…oh…a dozen times to apologize. And I’ve ignored him. Utterly.

a-bad-craigslist-mover

It felt a little bit like this.

bad-moving-company280

…and a LOT like this.

But there’s two differences between reviewing a moving company and reviewing art, books, and movies.

1. I reviewed the moving company privately. For their benefit alone. No public slander. No single-star rating on Yelp.

2. There’s no opinion involved in reviewing someone’s skill at box-lifting. There’s tons of opinions involved in reviewing film, paint, and words.

Which brings me here…to Tessera Guild…and to my personal website, Down the Dark Path.

From time to time I write reviews. Movie reviews especially, like this one and this one, and a recent review of Neil deGrasse Tyson throwing down some science in Atlanta. If you’ve ever read my reviews, and you should; trust me :), you’ll notice one thing they have in common: they’re ALL positive. Not positive in a blow-sunshine-up-your-ass way. Positive in a I-want-to-share-something-amazing kind of way. I review stuff I love because to me that’s the only stuff worth reviewing. Sure, I pick at a few small failures, but overall my comments on other people’s creative work are glowing. Because I want to spread the love, not stifle it. Because my opinions are better served helping people than shitting on other artists’ efforts. And because, let’s face it, the world and everything in it has plenty of bad reviews already.

A few observations:

A great review of an awesome piece of creative work will do hundred times more cultural good than a horrific review of something shitty.

When I see extremely negative reviews of movies, art, or books, I find it hard not to yawn.

I have better things to do (and so do you, probably) than sling stones at other artists and writers.

Opinions of art, movies, and books are rarely objective.

* * *

Look, I get it. If you spent $12 to watch a movie you hated, you’re entitled to vent about it. If you paid $9.99 for a crap novel on Amazon, you’ve every right to give it negative 47 stars. And if your umbrella rots while your lazy movers are carrying it, go nuts and complain to everyone. Scream into the heavens. Slap the cashier in the mouth. Burn down your local Wal-Mart. You’re allowed to do all of this.

But not me. I’m not allowed. I’ve banned myself from bitching. I’ve closed off the part of my mind that wants to nerd-rage about how such-and-such movie is awesome, but another one is trash. If I want bad reviews on stuff, I’ll just visit Rotten Tomatoes or post my selfies to Tinder. Sure, it’s fun to read a good rant, but it really doesn’t entertain me as much as it used to.

So if you see a movie review, a book review, or a commentary on a piece of art, and if you see I’m the one who wrote it, maybe you don’t have to read the review at all. You’ll know it’s positive when you see my name.

Unless you work for the moving company.

Then you’re screwed.

J Edward Neill

Author of A Door Never Dreamed Of

Creator of the Coffee Table Philosophy series

Finding the Words

I’m not a writer. When it comes to writing anything, even an email, I put a tremendous amount of thought behind it before I begin. I’m the same with talking. There is always far more I’m thinking than saying. This is who I am. Don’t be mistaken. I have the ability to talk for hours with friends on a topic I find interesting or one that sparks my passion, but sitting down to write a blog post… I’d rather go back to my drawing or painting. What do I have worth saying to the world? I find it easier to speak through art, or poetry, because in truth I have simple loves in life.

Photograph by Amanda Makepeace

Photograph by Amanda Makepeace

***

Satin soft petals reaching toward
the clouds, sway aloft sturdy stalks–
To and fro, to and fro.

They lure me with luscious hues
To places unknown, and
Capture me with Spring incense,
A meadow inside my soul.

Lay me down midst the Aster and Sage,
So I may rest, may dream,
If lucky, live again.

© Amanda Makepeace

Post JordanCon Thoughts

I’ve been home three days now, but they’ve not been the best of days. I woke up Monday feeling rough and then realized soon enough I had a stomach virus. Today I’m better, but not quite back to normal. Not fun, especially after such an incredible weekend. Part of what I love about conventions is meeting up with friends I only see at conventions. I have a couple I don’t see but once or twice a year. So that is always a treat. I definitely had a little too much fun this weekend.

Photos…. I have very few. I’ve found that since I’ve begun attending conventions as an artist, I either don’t think about taking photos or I simply don’t have time. Here’s a very tiny collection, if you’re interested in seeking more out, the JordanCon Group on Facebook has a great gallery of images from this year’s event.

This weekend was my most successful convention to-date. I sold my largest, most expensive piece, Renascentia as well as, eight other pieces from my art show bay. As for the prints I brought, I only sold 1 of the Alchemist and 1 of Spirit Guardian, but all 4 of the limited edition Dawn and Dusk prints. Those were more expensive than the regular prints and smaller, so go figure. I obviously should have brought more. Live and learn.

Limited edition print of Dusk - Hand embellished.

Limited edition print of Dusk – Hand embellished.

Regardless, I’m kind of blown away. I don’t think I’ve ever sold so much art in one weekend. I came home with empty boxes! A few of the unsold pieces will go into my shop, but some of the pieces I will retire and others I’ll store for another show.

What was different about this year compared to last?

1. JordanCon hosted DeepSouthCon – It’s a travelling convention. Our attendee numbers were higher than last year and author Brandon Sanderson was there too.

2. I wasn’t an unknown. After winning Judges’ Choice last year I did gain new followers on Facebook from the convention, some of which became new fans of my art and in turn new friends. I returned to JordanCon this year feeling as if I was part of their family.

3. I was more active, socially. Last year, I didn’t really know anyone. This year, I had a few friends that helped me feel more comfortable. We all hung out a lot and went to various room parties where I met more people. I spent an hour behind John Picacio’s (Artist Guest of Honor) table, just chatting. And I was also a part of an event called Win, Lose or Draw. I’m hoping to be even more involved in the art show programming next year. Ultimately, I met and spoke with so many more people than I did last year. My lips are still chapped from talking so much!

It’s a little weird having a big blank space on my wall. But, I’m okay with Renascentia going to a new home. It was time. She helped me discovered exactly what I want to do with my art–what I want to say. It took a year, but now I have Earth Rituals about to begin. It’s an exciting time. 🙂

Painting with Darkness – Part IX

Maybe more than all my previous Painting with Darkness articles, this one has special meaning.

It’s the only piece I’ve done in the last three years that I didn’t work on in my epic painting studio.

And it’s the first I finished in my little shoebox apartment.

No matter…

Presenting my walkthrough of ‘Ghostscape.’

* * *

Ghostscape 1

I hope you’ve got your reading glasses on. This is the soft pencil work I put on the canvas before a single drop of paint ever touched it. I’m not gonna lie; the geometry was challenging. See that circle in the center? It’s dead-on in the middle down to the millimeter. What’s special about it? To trace the circle I used the 60-year old mixer bowl my grandmother many times used to make my pancakes.

Ghostscape 2

Begin the darkness: First I swirled watercolor blacks and sepia tones in the background. Then I used a hard straight-edge to paint in the black ‘towers’ jutting out of the sphere. And then…I added even more sepia and filled in the center sphere to give it depth.

Ghostscape 3

More towers were needed. I realized I hadn’t added enough. Also, I darkened the center sphere. Also also also…I used pale watercolor blacks to slice in distant towers behind the hard, sharp foreground towers.

Ghostscape 4

What can I say? I wanted even MORE towers. In this shot, although it’s hard to see, I used whites to give the towers a reflective quality. Like they’re made out of polished obsidian or some hard, dark otherworldly metal.

Ghostscape 5

Now began the hard part. And by hard I mean TEDIOUS. Using a tiny brush and some titanium white paint, I started adding windows and doors to the towers. I imagined a ghost behind each window…and NOT a friendly one. At the time this picture was taken, I’d spent two hours just dotting in windows and adding texture to the towers.

Ghostscape 6

Ghostscape – the final image. I like how the ring of lower tower lights frames the center of the sphere. It’s kind of a never ending city swirling around a tiny, terrifying planet. So…anyone up for a vacation?

Now…the only question is:

Which way to hang it?

In other words, which towers should point up, and which should point down?

Hmmmmm…

* * *

The original canvas of Ghostscape – Approx 24″ x 24″ – is available for sale for $300.00.  Reach out to me at JEdwardNeill@DownTheDarkPath.com if you’re an interested buyer.

Love,

J Edward Neill

Author of novels A Door Never Dreamed Of and The Hecatomb

Art Show: Jordan Con 2016 Tomorrow!

JordanCon 2016

It’s time once again for JordanCon! I’ve been consumed lately preparing for the Art Show. Consumed. I got behind earlier in the year when I was working on a painting for a secret project. I still can’t share that painting and it’s slowly killing me inside. Ha! But attendees at JordanCon will get a sneak peek if they buy one of my prints or an original from my bay. A crop of the painting is on the backside of my new business cards! I will be carrying some business cards on me too, if you’re brave enough to come up to me.

This year is a little different than last. I’m officially a Guest of the convention. Just a small guest, but a guest. Yay!! Saturday morning, attendees should head to the Washington room, across from the Art Show. At 11:30 a.m. four artists, including myself, will be playing Win, Lose or Draw. I promise you it will be hilarious.

Win, Lose or Draw at JordanCon

You can see almost all of the art I’m bringing to JordanCon in this public Facebook Gallery – JordanCon Art Show. I’ve pointed out which pieces will have prints in the print shop too. As always, I’m open to talking about my pieces if anyone is curious about my process and inspiration.

I’m heading out today around 5 p.m. for Atlanta. See you soon JordanCon!

Daydreams and Wanderings Anniversary

Daydreams and Wanderings

Friday, on April Fools Day no less, was the one year anniversary for the day my sketchbook funded on Kickstarter.  It was an experience I’ll never forget. The months afterward were just as exciting too. Holding my book’s proof in my hands. Opening my box of beautiful little books. Working on the sketches for my Kickstarter backers.

Daydreams and Wanderings Sketchbook

To celebrate the anniversary of my Kickstarter success I’m offering the remaining copies of my book for the early bird price of $15–originally only available during the Kickstarter last year. So if you missed out on my campaign, or want a second copy to gift to a friend, take advantage of this sale price. The sale runs till April 5th.

BUY YOUR COPY TODAY!

Here’s a look inside…

Pencils, Paint, and Pain – Tyrants of the Dead Art

It was long and difficult journey to publish my first three fantasy books.

I spent ten years writing them…then another two years in rewrites.

Along the way, I created and commissioned a ton of art for the series. Some of it was inspirational. Other pieces were meant as cover art, and still others for marketing.

Today I’ve brought a ton of it together. Think of this as a unified sketchbook. It includes pieces by the elegant Amanda Makepeace, the gifted Eileen Herron, and the super savvy Damonza.

Please enjoy the art of my Tyrants of the Dead series, which includes the novels Down the Dark Path, Dark Moon Daughter, and Nether Kingdom:

Ur Orig Sketch

Let’s start with a dirty little sketch I did. I sent it to Amanda Makepeace to aid her creation of Nether Kingdom’s cover art. You’ll see in the next pic how she took my humble idea and made it grand.

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Lady Makepeace’s full cover art for Nether Kingdom. This demonic dude is one of the Ur, the primary villains in the series. His skin is shadow, and his insides glow with starlight.

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Sarco

Here’s another bad, bad creature. This full-color piece was Eileen Herron’s vision of a Sarcophage (undead knight) who plagues the pages of book two in the series, Dark Moon Daughter. It’s one of my favorites.

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Dark Moon Daughter Createspace Kindle Front Cover LARGE

What’s this? Why, it’s the original Eileen Herron cover art for Dark Moon Daughter. I commissioned a full-scale painting, which still hangs in my bedroom to this day. Ultimately we went with something edgier and darker for the final cover, but I still love this piece.

 

DMD Warlock Image

This guy (in the lower right of the full painting above) is the only existing image of the malevolent Warlock. Ironically he was modeled after Eileen’s husband, who’s pretty much the opposite of evil.

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The Underhollows

Here’s a painting I did in 2015. I named it the Underhollows. It doesn’t appear in the books, but is meant to show what the world would look like if the villains won.

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Dark Moon Nether Kingdom Concept Dark Moon Daughter Interior Cover Art Cropped

Two Eileen Herron sketches of Andelusia, the series’ heroine.

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 IllyocHere’s a huge canvas painting I did called ‘Illyoc.’ It’s a bit abstract, I admit. It’s a view of the dark stronghold Malog, as seen from a balcony.

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NetherKingdomSKetchFUllCover

A conceptual piece Amanda Makepeace did. You can see how it’s the beginning of the Nether Kingdom cover. Pretty ghostly, yeah?

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Ur-Shadow-Sketch-390x500

Kinda looks like the killer from the Scream movies, yeah? It’s actually the first ever sketch of the Ur. Another Eileen Herron piece. Nice and creepy.

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Ande Cover 2 (GIMP)  Ande Full Body

These are shots of Eileen Herron’s original cover art for Down the Dark Path. Once again, she painted a large canvas for me which still hangs on my wall. The redhead is pre-darkness Andelusia. The guy with the flaming sword is Garrett Croft. The big red spiky ball was the concept for the evil Soul Orb. I love this painting. But as it turns out, it didn’t photograph well for the final cover. Check out the lone black lock of Ande’s hair. Hint…hint…

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Dark-Andelusia-Landing

Another Eileen Herron sketch of Andelusia. This is our heroine gliding out of the shadows. It’s a simple little drawing, but I’ve always been in love with it.

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Ande J Sketch Ande sketch DMD Ande11 Ande33

Early sketches of Andelusia by me (top left) Amanda Makepeace (top right) and Eileen Herron (bottom.)

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A promo digital painting of Andelusia by Amanda Makepeace.

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Here’s what the Soul Orb ended up becoming. This is just a sliver of Lady Makepeace’s cover work for Book I. And yes…those are bones!

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1 2 3 4

You’ve probably seen these before. I post them all the time. Book I is Amanda’s full cover art. The other three are paintings I did in 2015. The original canvas for Book II (Ghost Tree) ended up being a Christmas gift for a family member. The other two still hang on my wall at home. The painting for Book IV (Ocean of Knives) is epic-level huge, measuring in at 36″ x 48″. It took a month to paint!

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Dark_Moon_Daughter-InitialCover

 

This one was done by online professional, Damonza. He custom-did the entire thing based on a photograph of a woman I was dating at the time. That’s post-darkness Andelusia, and the eyes in the background belong to the Ur. This one is a fan favorite, probably because it’s so damn sexy.

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Eileen Herron’s art for Down the Dark Path…the bookmark. That’s a Furyon knight, fully armored and standing in a storm. It’s a badass piece. I wish I could’ve found a way to make it work for a book cover. Maybe someday…

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 DarkMoonDaughterBackCoverFinalCreatespace

 This was the original back cover for Dark Moon Daughter, which I nixed after Damonza finished his sexy cover. This was my first ever attempt at making a back cover by myself. It’s not horrible (but not good, either.)

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The Emperors Vision

 Here’s The Emperor’s Vision, a painting I did in 2015. You can probably see the similarity to Book IV’s cover art. This is meant to be the dark city of Morellellus, in which the very first passages of Down the Dark Path open. It’s still one of my favorites. It was among the very first things I painted for the series.

Ocean 6

Finally, I did a piece called Ocean of Knives. It’s an expansion of The Emperor’s Vision. Same city, same concept, but four times the canvas space.  This painting would quickly become the cover art for Down the Dark Path – Book IV in the mini-series.

Also, here’s a bunch of sketches I did wayyyyy back in the day.

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I hope you enjoyed this glimpse behind the scenes.

Love,

J Edward Neill

Are you an artist, a writer, or just a badass with words to say?

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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, Fridays, 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 the contact link. Or send an email here.

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

 

Petite Works Group Show Walk-through

My painting Bone Magic is currently in a group show at Eight and Sand Gallery in Seattle. It’s a little show, for little works of art. Take a look!

Petite Works Group show Eight and Sand Gallery in Georgetown Seattle.

A video posted by Alexandria Sandlin (@cherrybonesalex) on

Petite Works Group ShowBone Magic is a 4×5 acrylic painting on Arches Watercolor board. The painting has been sealed with a gloss varnish. I attached an actual vertebrae from my personal collection to the solid wood frame.

The exhibit runs till April 1st.

Bone Magic Frame

Inside one Artist’s Mind

Warning!

This blog post may disturb you or in the very least make you question the author’s sanity.

 

On any given day there are a multitude of random thoughts and questions that pass through my mind. This is but a glimpse.

  • Is that a hawk or a vulture? Vulture.
  • I want one of those for the studio.
  • I NEED that for my studio.
  • What would people think if I started collecting roadkill?
  • Coffee. Coffee. Coffee.
  • Ugh, this painting sucks.
  • I need to draw more skulls.
Not roadkill--found under my bushes.

Not roadkill–found under my bushes.

  • I should paint a skull.
  • I need to find more bones.
  • Will I ever find a shed antler?
  • Tea. Tea. Tea.
  • This painting isn’t looking so bad now.

Some of my collection

  • I really want to find a crow feather.
  • I love this painting. I bet everyone will hate it.
  • Should I cover my gray hair? Who cares!
  • Is this a coyote track?
  • I wish I could take this mini skeleton home with me.
Mini Skeleton

3 ft. Skeleton seen in my Rhuematologist’s Office

 

  • I should organize my _____ .
  • I love this paper. I need to buy it all.
  • I wish I could back this Kickstarter.
  • I wish I could attend _____ convention.
  • I should save this small scrap of paper. I might use it for something.
  • I should save ______, I might use it for something.

These aren’t the only things that cross my mind, but they are some of the most reoccurring thoughts I have. I have folders on my computer filled with photos of bones. Not long ago I was keeping some bones in my jewelry box. Okay. I’m going to go refill my coffee now.

www.amandamakepeace.com

Watch me Draw

I don’t have much to say lately… So instead of me rambling about nothing of great importance, you can watch me draw a Red-wing Blackbird.

This drawing was my piece for this month’s #BirdWhisperer project. Red-Wing measures 9 x 9 inches, graphite and color pencil on Bristol paper. He has a new home in New York.

One dead. Every night. Forever.

Let’s keep 2016 cold.

Nah. Let’s keep it chilling.

Introducing the cover art for my novella, The Hecatomb.

TheHecatombWeb

Hecatomb (n) – an extensive loss of life for some cause…

The Hecatomb contains four spooky short stories, including fan favorites Let the Bodies and Old Man of Tessera.

The stories are all set in the same world.

It’s up to readers to decide in which order they take place…

TheHecatombWebBack

The Hecatomb is now available for Kindles and in a deep, dark softcover!

Special thanks to Amanda Makepeace for helping me put my original painting into print.

See you soon…

J Edward Neill

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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Let-There-Be-Fire-300x298

‘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.

untitled

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?

🙂

 

* * *

This got really sarcastic, really quickly.

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

J Edward Neill