Painting with Darkness – Part V

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

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

My point exactly…

My latest painting: All Hallows

Hallows 1

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

Hallows 2

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

 

Hallows 3

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

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

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

Ocean of Knives

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

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

LettheBodies_BlogLg

Painting your own cover art…fun!

 And previously in the ‘Painting with Darkness’ series:

The Emperor’s Vision

The Underhollows

Brothers

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

* * *

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

J Edward Neill

Tyrant of the Dead

Inktober is Here!

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

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

Day 1 - Contemplation

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

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

 

Creating for the Future

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

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

Renascentia by Amanda Makepeace

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

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

Support me on Patreon

Return of the Whatnot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Art Museums I Yearn to Visit

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

Panorama_Interior_of_Musée_de_l'Orangerie_2

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

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

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Van_Gogh_Museum_Amsterdam

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

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

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Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

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

***

MoMA

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

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

Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art

Whitney Museum of American Art

Brooklyn Museum

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

2015 Chesley Award Winners

The 2015 Chesley Awards were held last night at Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention,  in Spokane, Washington, USA. Congratulations to all the winners!!

The winners are:

Beneath the Surface by Jullie Dillon

Best Cover Illustration / Hardcover

Julie Dillon, Shadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses Anthology edited by Brandon Sanderson; Dragonsteel Entertainment, June 2014

Wildlife by Raoul Vitale

Best Cover Illustration – Paperback

Raoul Vitale, Nebula Awards Showcase 2014 edited by Kij Johnson; Prometheus/Pyr

Diver's Haul by Julie Dillon

Best Cover Illustration – Magazine
Julie Dillon, Analog, April 2014

Ekaterina and the Firebird by Anna Balbusso and Elena Balbusso

Best Interior Illustration
Anna Balbusso and Elena Balbusso, “Ekaterina and the Firebird” by Abra Staffin-Wiebe; Tor.com, January 2014

Alegretto by Michael C. Hayes

Best Color Work – Unpublished

Michael C. Hayes, Alegretto, Oils

Sphynx by Allen Williams

Best Monochrome Work – Unpublished
Allen Williams, “Sphynx” graphite

Mudpuppy by Dan Chudzinski

Best Three-Dimensional Art

Dan Chudzinski, The Mudpuppy, resin & mixed media

Pharika by Peter Mohrbacher

Best Gaming Related Illustration
Peter Mohrbacher, Pharika, God of Affliction Magic card, Journey into Nyx; WotC, May 2014

Song of Fire and Ice Calendar by Donato Giancola

Best Product Illustration
Donato Giancola, George R.R. Martin Song of Ice and Fire 2015 calendar Bantam, 2014

Irene Gallo

Best Art Director

Irene Gallo, Tor & Tor.com

John Harris

Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award

John Harris

Preview – A Door Never Dreamed Of

I’ve begun work on something new.

It’s called A Door Never Dreamed Of.

For the moment, I’ve expelled just about all the dark fiction I can handle.

This new project will be completely different than everything I’ve done before.

  • It’s not an epic novel. Or a short story. Or a philosophy book
  • It’s not part of a series. Just one novella. No spin-offs
  • It’s the book I’ve always wanted to write

Disclaimer: In a serious race against time, I’m trying to finish the first draft of A Door Never Dreamed Of before the NFL football season hits. Once touchdowns start happening and the Chicago Bears start sucking, I’ll be helpless. The local pub with the massive TV will replace my crusty old writing chair. I won’t be able to help myself.

But honestly, I’m cool with the deadline. Because I’m dying to get this story out.

And this is where we fall off the reservation.

If A Door Never Dreamed Of showed up in your local bookstore, you’d probably find it in the Science Fiction section. It’d sit next to books about spaceships, galactic wars, and aliens. You’d look at the awesome Amanda Makepeace cover art and think, ‘Ooooo…spiky space station. Fun!’

JupiterEventTeaser1

A small sliver of the cover art – ‘The Jupiter Event’ by Amanda Makepeace

But genres are limiting. Art is static. And first impressions are usually wrong.

And A Door Never Dreamed Of won’t have space battles, flying spaghetti monsters, or intergalactic alien sex.

So what’s it about?

Two boys who’ve never met

Each given the power to destroy one another

Facing off with all of humanity at stake

With only one little door between them

I truly believe once you read A Door Never Dreamed Of, you’ll come to see things my way. You’ll forget all about genres. You won’t care that it’s a denomination of book you usually wouldn’t read. And what I really hope is that maybe, just maybe, you’ll see a deeper theme at work. You’ll understand where all our modern technology is leading us. You’ll see the scary places we might go if we continue hurtling toward the apex of human advancement. And you’ll shudder for what the future generations of humanity might one day become.

And so…

 Coming in Autumn 2015

A Door Never Dreamed Of

A new novel by J Edward Neill

And seriously, check out Lady Makepeace’s awesome art site. Click around. Buy something.

And when you’re done, check out my terrifying short stories Let the Bodies and The Sleepers.

2015 Artist Progress Report

There are only 4 months and a couple weeks left in this year. Whoa! I can’t believe how fast the year has flown by. I thought it was time for a progress report–a look at what I’ve accomplished, what I still have planned and a peek into 2016. Before 2014 ended, I had already begun thinking about what I wanted out of this year. At the time I was working on the first stages of Renascentia, compiling pages for my sketchbook Daydreams & Wanderings, and I had purchased my Art Show space for Jordan Con 2015. I had also stumbled across this video by Bobby Chiu. His wisdom urged me to take my 2015 goals more seriously than I have in the past.

What I’ve Tackled

  • Harbinger by Amanda MakepeaceI ran my first Kickstarter Campaign and as a result printed my first sketchbook. I’ve sold half of the books printed now. WooHoo! Check out my Flip-Through video for a look inside Daydreams & Wanderings.
  • I was a part of two local art exhibits, one a juried exhibition at the University of North Georgia.
  • I didn’t get into the Dragon Con 2015 Art Show, but Won Judge’s Choice at the Jordan Con Art Show!
  • I’ve completed my first freelance illustration work for Pelgrane Press. I can’t share that work yet–Three of the illustrations have been released! You can see them in my DeviantART Gallery and checkout Hideous Creatures: Wendigos on the Pelgrane Press site.
  • I’ve submitted my art for publication. It’s just a small feature, but I’ve been saying for the last year that my work wasn’t ready. Even after winning Judge’s Choice and working for Pelgrane Press, I was still saying, maybe next year. I finally had to slap myself upside the head.
  • I’ve submitted my art to a large competition. This was another big move for me. Even if my painting isn’t selected, it’s good to get past the fear of rejection.
  • I opened a new shop for selling my art and prints and upgraded my website to Squarespace. There’s also a semi-secret shop on my website called Five Dollars. Check it out!

 What I still Want to Tackle

I’m in the final stages of a large commission and once that’s off my ‘to do’ list I’ll be working on some new paintings for my personal portfolio. I have so many things I want to paint!! These new pieces will come with me to Jordan Con and they’ll be the work I submit for the Dragon Con jury process in March. First up will be finishing this drawing for The Bone Oracle before moving onto the painting.

Bone Oracle Wip

  • In September, I’ll start taking a class through Schoolism on color and light, which I hope will help take my painting skills to the next level. My subscription is from the Kickstarter campaign they ran this year. I can’t wait!!
  • I’m tentatively planning to sell my art at a small horror themed event in December, but that’s not a for sure thing yet.
  • Also, I’m giving some thought to entering and attending my first out-of-state art show for a convention in Tennessee next summer.

There’s have been a few moments this year where I’ve wondered if I’ve been doing enough. It helps to compile it all in one place, to see that I AM moving forward.  The year’s not over yet. Let’s see how much more creativity I can cram into 2015!

Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
amandamakepeace.com

Are you a Daydreamer?

Summer Art Sale!

See what I did there? Admit it. I tricked you just a little. This isn’t a post about daydreaming, but if you use my coupon DAYDREAMER at checkout you can take 30% off your order! I haven’t had a big sale in my new shop yet and with the end of summer on the horizon I thought it was about time.

Art Show Prints you Missed

ArtShowPrints

Original Drawings

Drawings

Limited Edition Prints

LEPrints

Mandalas

MandalaPrints

And of course, I have signed copies of my volume one sketchbook Daydreams and Wanderings. My Summer Art Sale ends September 15th. Don’t miss out!

My First Digital Painting #TBT

In 2010, I created my first digital painting in Photoshop CS4, with only a mouse. The painting began as pencil sketches I meant to refine and then use for a watercolor, but everything was put on hold when I needed surgery to remove my gall bladder. As oftentimes happens, my gall bladder woes were sudden and severe. I went to the doctor in pain on a Thursday and ended up in surgery on Monday. Let me say too, just because it’s a simple surgery doesn’t mean you’re ready to run a marathon afterward. Surgery is mega painful. Maybe more so in my case because I cannot take those wonderful pain medications everyone loves. Hydrocodone and anything similar to it or more strong triggers intense nausea, dizziness and vertigo. The day of my surgery they nearly kept me overnight because I was sick–from the damn pills. I convinced them I was okay, that I could go home and of course they gave me a prescription for the pills. But I didn’t take them. So the day after my surgery and the weeks after were difficult (that’s an understatement if you weren’t sure). I couldn’t take anything but Tylenol. I spent a lot of time in my recliner and that’s where I created this painting for the EBSQ Spam and Trout Show.

Green Eggs and Spam?

 

After a long day of chasing leads, all P.I. Terry Trout wants is his green ham! Did the Seuss Lounge really think they could disguise Spam with a green sauce and nobody would know?

My determination pushed me to finish this painting in time for the online exhibit and that hard work paid off. My painting, Green Eggs and Spam?, won Member’s Choice. Looking at this painting, I can’t help but snicker. I’ve come along way with my digital skills since 2010.

http://amandamakepeace.com

5 Random Reasons to Buy (my) Art

5 Reasons to Buy Art

1. Happiness 2x – Your happiness, owning something that inspires you and the happiness you impart to the artist for loving what they create.

2. Original paintings (and prints too!) make good conversation starters at parties.

3. You can show off to all your friends and they’ll think your rich and cultured.

4. It’s an investment you can pass on to your children and their children.

5. You’ll sleep better at night knowing you’ve helped support a living artist, not a dead one.

*****

http://makepeaceart.storenvy.com

Looking for an original you don’t see in my shop? I don’t always list my large framed paintings online. Get in touch, let me know what you’re interested in buying (payment plans available!).

The Lord of Infinity – A Creative Interview with Dylan Kinnett

This week’s interview is with Dylan Kinnett. He’s a Baltimore denizen and creative writer extraordinaire, and his visit is special for the Tessera Guild. The reason: Dylan is the taller, younger, and better looking brother to J Edward Neill (yep, that’s me.) I was first introduced to Dylan’s fascinating style of writing in his original release of Infinity’s Kitchen. And now that he’s gone global, he’s up next in our ongoing Creative Interview series.

So let’s get started!

* * *

Hey there, latest Tessera victim. Tell us about yourself, where you’re from, and what you love:

Hi, my name is Dylan Kinnett. I’m from Baltimore, Maryland. I’m not originally from Baltimore, but I wonder: after spending 10 years in a place, do you become “from” that place? What does it really mean to be “from” a place, anyway? Does it just mean that you live there, that you’re proud to live there? In any case, the place where you live is part of who you are. Despite whatever repetitive loop you may have seen on cable TV lately, Baltimore is a charming place to be, and I love it here.

In layman’s terms, describe your unique style of writing:

That’s a difficult question because the layman’s terms aren’t particularly accurate for what I’ve been writing lately. If you ask a layman what “poetry” means, they’ll probably describe rhyme, meter, rhythm, and they may go on to say that it’s supposed to be about romantic themes and imagery. I’m trying to avoid all that, and to write something else, something new. I’ve discovered that the laymen are actually quite open to these new things, so long as I don’t use too many confusing old words for those things. Is it poetry? Sure, but I don’t go out of my way to call it that. In general, I’m just trying to do new things. I also like to write short plays, stories, and I dabble in performance art.

Please describe for us your fascinating new release, Litanies and Reiterations:

Litanies and Reiterations is a chapbook, which is a small book of writings. The works within the chapbook got their start as a collection of commonplace phrases. I’d find the phrases in everyday conversation, in song lyrics, blog comments, and catalogs: all over the place, really. Then, I worked the phrases into some writings that are repetitive, reiterative, or chant-like, and that’s what the title is about. One of the pieces, for example, is about how often politicians talk about the world and their work in four-year increments, and about how arbitrary and absurd it is to think about the world that way. Another one makes fun of how many love songs are on the air. It’s a playfully sarcastic little book.

Talk about Infinity’s Kitchen and the interesting things readers might find therein:

Infinity’s Kitchen is a literary journal that I started a few years ago that has grown into a quarterly reading series as well. As the editor, I’m looking to feature works that are somehow the product of an interesting new recipe. In order to contribute to the publication, its website or reading series, authors and artists are asked to answer a question: what is experimental about your creative work or process? The word “experimental” is a difficult one; some examples might help. Some of the interesting things we’ve published include a film and pirate radio project, poems made with Jello letters, and a reading from gigantic broadsheet printings revived from the 18th century.

th

Do you have an ultimate artistic goal you’re pursuing?

Yes, but I don’t know what it is yet. I’ll create something, it doesn’t reach the goal, so I keep creating.

Creatively speaking, what’s next for you?

I’m on vacation this week, but I do hope to finish writing a ten-minute play that I’m working on. The play is a follow-up to a morbid parody about astronauts that was performed a few years ago, but I’m finding that to be a tough act to follow.

* * *

It’s a real treat to have a talent like Dylan stop by, and it’s especially neat to encounter his awesome style of artistic expression. Here’s a few more Dylan-related tidbits and links for you to devour:

Artistic statement: http://seks-ua.blogspot.com/2013/08/dylan-kinnett-artist-statement.html

His latest release, Litanies and Reiterationsavailable in paperback and in e-book formats from Apple and Amazon.

Infinity’s Kitchen

* * *

Thanks again to Dylan for stopping by!

Everyone stay tuned for the next Creative Interview!

J Edward Neill

Author of the brain-tingling Coffee Table Philosophy series.

Painting with Darkness, Part IV

A few weeks ago, I received an encouraging reception for my latest painting, ‘The Emperor’s Vision.

Which made me want to share how this dark canvas came to life.

When I started working on this one at summer’s beginning, I knew I wanted to paint another companion piece to my fantasy series, Down the Dark Path. I wanted something stark, something to fit my mood. And with it being summer, I felt I wanted to paint something anti-seasonal…meaning a canvas I’d usually wait til winter to finish because of its cold, almost bitter tone.

Moreover, this canvas was the last of a big pile given to me by my patron, whose name I dare not utter here. So I figured I’d do something special…something they’d appreciate.

Thus I began:

Darkness 0

In the beginning, indecisiveness claimed me. The 20″ x 30″ canvas sat for three weeks looking like this. See that pale line left of center, it’s from an accidental varnish spill. No big deal, I figured.

Darkness 1

Finally, I started adding shapes. At this stage, I wasn’t sure whether or not to go completely abstract. These weird little darknesses gave me all sorts of ideas. Never mind the sepia tone. That’s just from my shitty camera.

Darkness 2

About one week from finish, I decided to go mega-gloomy. No color. No signs of life. Just a pale river leading to the sea and an ocean of daggerlike towers. Readers of my fantasy series might recognize this place as Morellellus, gathering place for the Emperor’s grand army.

The Emperors Vision

The finished product. My camera is crap, but the colors here are sorta kinda close to the real thing. The pale lights are windows. The shadows are long and lean. It’s no place I’d want to live…what about you?

 I hope you enjoy ‘The Emperor’s Vision.’ For more of my canvas work, nose around over here.

To get into something even darker, check this out:

J Edward Neill

Art Advice to my Younger Self

Me, in KindergartenWe all have our own path to follow, but the rate at which we reach various checkpoints in our lives is influenced by our determination, perseverance, and sometimes events we cannot control. I’ll be honest. I’m not where I’d like to be in my life. I try my best not to dwell on that, instead I focus on pushing forward. But here are the facts:

Cancer at 17 (and the fallout after) was out of my control. The health issues that followed after were and are out of my control. They set me back. When I was a senior in high school I didn’t have time to focus on applying to colleges. I was fighting for my life. With or without those obstacles, there are some pieces of advice I wish I could have told my younger self.

1. Don’t let one bad experience stop you from learning and growing.

I had an awful teacher for art in middle school. This woman should not have been teaching, let alone spreading her ugliness to impressionable minds. The experience soured me to art classes. I loved art, but stayed away from classes till my senior year high school, when I needed an easy class I could take while on chemotherapy. When I graduated, that teacher lectured me on not taking art all 4 years–not what I needed either. But it was my choice to let those experiences stop me from growing as an artist. I did eventually get over that chip on my shoulder.

2. Don’t avoid drawing the things that scare you, tackle them head first.

When I was a kid I loved drawing horses and after that any and all animals. I avoided drawing people like it was the plague. I recall thinking, I’ll never be able to drawing a human face. Never. So I avoided doing it and then I took drawing in college and was faced with a self-portrait a week (on top of our regular assignments). I did it and realized it wasn’t the nightmare I thought it would be. I could have saved myself a lot of stress and anxiety if I’d just given it a try earlier.

Micky and I - 1986/87

3. Don’t paint from just the surface of yourself, but from your entire soul.

I’ve always had a passion for nature, fantasy and horror. I grew up on Star Wars, Labyrinth, The Last Unicorn, The Hobbit (animated) as well as, Alien, Terminator and old Vampire films. I spent a lot of time riding horses and wandering the woods in our neighborhood. I kept snakes, salamanders and toads for a day in my aquarium. I loved all these things but for many years my art rarely touched anything fantastic. I’m still not quite sure why fantasy was not part of the equation, but once it was, I felt complete and my art began to be something more. Don’t limit yourself!

The Young Artist in 1985/864. Don’t listen to people that know nothing about art.

We’ve all come across the person on Facebook who feels they have to inject their unqualified opinion into a conversation. Those people exist offline too. Always be careful who you let sway your path. Are they giving you a valid critique or are they toxic? Good advice from a professional is invaluable, but bad advice you didn’t even ask for can set you back.

5. Don’t ever think it’s too late and don’t make the mistake the comparing yourself to other artists.

Everyone seems to be in a race these days. I’m 39 and there are times when I feel anxious that I’m not farther along. But I know a few artists in their 20’s that feel this way too. We spend too much time comparing our art and our careers to our peers. Don’t fall into this trap. It’s never to late to make art your career. Keep pushing ahead. Keep growing. Keep creating.

amandamakepeace.com

The First Step in Painting

One might think drawing is the first step toward a painting, but for me at least, the first step is a ton of thinking. I’ve always been a thinker. Looking back, I think some of my thinking as a child was misinterpreted as shyness. I wasn’t always quiet because I was shy. I was quiet because I was thinking, observing, mulling, and creating. These days I do have my moments, especially if I’m with family or friends, but for the most part I’m still a quiet person. It may not be best habit in the world, but while other artists are working on a gazillion thumbnails on paper, I’m mapping them out in my head. Like I said, not the best habit.

This week I’ve been getting back to work on a personal piece I’ve had planned for months. I took the reference photo for the painting in February, but I’d been mapping it out in my head months before I finally had my daughter pose for the shot. In March, I created a quick sketch to include in my sketchbook Daydreams & Wanderings. Yesterday, I began work on the drawing I will later scan for the painting.

Refining my sketch for The Bone Oracle

I don’t recall how the idea developed. So many of my painting ideas come from fleeting thoughts or things I’ve seen. I’ll jot down an idea in words first, which seems to lock the image in my head for later. Initially I named this idea Her Bones. What you can’t see in any of these images (because it’s in my head!) are the bones surrounding and laying beneath this young woman.

Beginnings of the new drawingThese bones are her tools of divination. She is The Bone Oracle.

The drawing is still in the early phase. I have a lot to develop before I have her where I want her. Follow me on Instagram to stay up-to-date on her progress!

amandamakepeace.com

 

Whiplash Movie Review

JK2Disclaimer: This review is largely spoiler-free

A few weeks ago I reviewed George Miller’s screamingly loud and bone-crushingly good Mad Max – Fury Road.

This week’s movie, Whiplash, breaks only a few bones, but is almost as loud, and is definitely as good.

I’ll start with an admission: I’m late to the party. Very late. 2014’s Whiplash, directed by Damien Chazelle, has already earned three Oscar wins and numerous other accolades. That said, it’s my opinion that not enough people have been exposed to it. So if this review convinces even one person to check Whiplash out, I’ll claim success.

So…

Like Jazz music much? Maybe? Maybe not so much? It’s ok. While planted on my couch during a 1AM Redbox DVD screening of Whiplash, my first worries were: ‘This is a jazz movie. What was I thinking?? I should’ve picked something else. Or maybe just watched some porn.” And yet, two minutes in, any fears of drowning in discordant jazz and wonky music vanished. Into. Thin. Air.

Early on, we see a different J.K. Simmons than we’re used to. Gone is the friendly guy from the Farmers Insurance commercials. Gone is the affable, calm dude from J.K.’s previous films. Instead we get a badass. And I’m serious. As Fletcher, the leanest, meanest jazz instructor ever, J.K. is shredded. He’s an all-black-wearing, door-slamming, fist-shaking maniac. He’s a force of f’ing nature.

And it’s apparent he’s made it his mission in life to mold Andrew (played to perfection by young and talented Miles Teller) into the planet’s best drummer…or kill him in the process.

JK3

“Faster!”

As an interesting aside, it should be noted that Miles Teller played ALL his drum pieces. He had a head start, being born of a musical family, but even so. His dedication to learning some of Whiplash’s more extreme rhythms is admirable, and adds tons to the movie’s realism.

So what’s it really about?

Whiplash is primarily a struggle between two men. Fletcher’s win-at-all-costs mentality are at permanent odds with AndrewFletcher wants perfection, nothing less, from his musicians. And perhaps no instrument requires perfection more than drums. Andrew’s willing to bleed to become the best, but still manages to be overwhelmed by Fletcher’s never-ending stream of F bombs and insults. As the movie drums on, literally, the questions become: “Is greatness only achievable under enormous pressure?” and “Is there a such thing as going too far to win?” I know what MY answer is. If you watch or have already watched Whiplash, I want to know YOURS. Because therein lies Whiplash’s soul. It’s Pain versus Reward. Sacrifice versus Greatness. Living a full life versus Having a Singular Dedication. The movie puts us in the proxy position of asking how far we’d go to be the best at something.

Would you bleed? Would you suffer? Would you give up every comfort? Most of us wouldn’t. But perhaps Andrew might.

The supporting cast is small, but more than capable. Veteran Paul Reiser plays Andrew’s concerned but ultimately powerless father. Beautiful Melissa Benoist charms as Andrew’s unfortunate love interest, Nicole. Austin Stowell and Nate Lang are formidable rivals in the studio for Andrew to wage war against. They’re all very good, but reduced to mere pawns in the Fletcher v Andrew struggle. And that’s ok. This isn’t their film. It’s J.K.’s and Miles’.

As another aside, if you like drums of any kind, you’ll love Whiplash’s talent, if nothing else. The speed and excellence demanded in the film transcend genres. It’s obvious this isn’t a movie about jazz at all. It’s about power, skill, and using means to justify the ends. But even if you don’t care about all of that, the drums…are…epic.

Let’s be clear. I Redboxed Whiplash on a hunch. I’d never heard of it prior to plugging it into my DVD player, and I’d no idea what to expect.

…which made it all the better when it turned out to be fucking awesome.

Rent it. Watch it. In the dark. Preferably alone.

And when you’re done, check out my latest philosophy title here.

Love,

J Edward Neill

Look to the sky, lest you doubt…

The end is near. After so many years of studying, of waiting for a sign, it becomes apparent to me that the return of darkness is a planned event, a spoke in the universal clock waiting to be ticked.  Heed me well, my friends. The Sleeper walks among us. His presence in our world, long-awaited, is a grave warning that the Ur will soon assail us. He may come to us in any guise, be it a man, a woman, even a child.

It matters not. He must be found. 

If we do nothing, if we lie on our laurels and ignore him, he will draw the curtain of night forever down upon us.

Final “Letter to the Lords of Grae” by the warlock Dank

* * *

In other words, the Kindle Edition of Nether Kingdom is here.

Click Lady Makepeace’s dark, dark cover to check it out.

Devourer of Stars by Amanda Makepeace

Tyrants of the Dead.

The world’s end.

J Edward Neill

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time…

I had an idea to take my sketches and drawings and create a new work of art, a small book of ideas and creative visions. Several months were spent bringing this little work of art to life. I created a cover that would mimic an old, worn sketchbook. I scanned pencil sketches and collected my favorite digital drawings, then arranged them inside pages that looked as aged as the cover.

It’s an amazing feeling when you finally get to hold that creation in your hand.

Daydreams & Wanderings

Thank you all for helping me make a little magic!

http://amandamakepeace.com

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Ex Machina Movie Review

Ex-machina-uk-posterDisclaimer: This is a mostly spoiler-free review

In the modern realm of wide-release films, it’s rare to see science-fiction movies that are:

A. Unabashedly intellectual

and

B. Not reliant on hyper-violent technological advances

Ex Machina is both of these.

I saw this movie in a cozy, nearly empty theater.  I felt torn about the empty part, because I worried it might mean not enough people were interested in the kind of movie I’d like to see a whole lot more of. Apparently that’s not the case, since to date it’s netted a cool $18.7M. That’s good news. Great news, actually. Meanwhile, the experience was almost ruined by a few stereotypical loud-ass movie talkers. But the offending parties managed to shut up long enough for the rest of us to focus.

Thank goodness for that.

At first, Ex Machina comes off as boy-meets-girl completely flipped on its head. Caleb (played to nerd-fection by Domhnall Gleeson) is an apparent coding whiz for a huge computer search engine company. When he’s selected to travel to a mysterious, almost CIA-like black box facility, he does so with glee. And who wouldn’t? For an opportunity to meet Ava, the world’s most advanced android, most of us would leap in headfirst. And the setting in Ex Machina is so realistic, one begins to believe something like this can…and will…happen someday soon. Go Caleb. Get some.

If Arnold Schwarzenegger was the perfect person to play the original Terminator, Alicia Vikander (who plays the aforementioned android) is perfect-er. She’s eerie. She’s beautiful. And she nails every little tic you’d expect from a woman-robot. It’s clear from the beginning who owns the dialogue between Ava and Caleb. And it ain’t Caleb. I have to believe Lady Vikander will score big based on her performance here. She echoes the strength of Game of Thrones’ super-heroine (Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen) and frosts it with the sort of intelligence you’d like to see Hollywood give more of its female roles.

Very quickly, the boy-meets-girl vibe melts away.

For those who aren’t aware of what the Turing Test is, I recommend you study the concept. It’s the frontline premise of Ex Machina, and quite possibly (in part due to this year’s epic The Imitation Game) a new piece of vernacular everyone will soon become familiar with. Essentially, the Turing Test is the methodology for determining whether or not an A.I. can behave human enough to trick us into no longer knowing it’s a computer. If the computer fools the human, it passes.

Turns out the one inviting Caleb to perform the world’s most important Turing Test (on Ava) is the buff yet emotionally FUBAR Nathan (played to frat-brother genius levels by Oscar Isaac.) Nathan is like a chessmaster working both sides of the board. He’s got tech game like no one’s business, and a penchant for working off his hangovers by pumping iron and intimidating the slim, non-alpha Caleb. Nathan’s motivation is the question of the hour. It’s clear he wants more than just a Turing Test. And it’s obvious he gets his rocks off by head-fucking people. But the lines between antagonist and protagonist are blurred, just as they should be.

Where Ex Machina really succeeds is in its pace, its dialogue, and its atmosphere. Caleb’s encounters with Ava are blocked off into seven sessions, each of them growing in intensity. Conversations between Caleb and Ava have a permanent shadow lying overhead, a subtle reminder that she’s smarter, quicker in her learning curve, and possibly deadlier. And the hyper-realistic, we-could-picture-these-moments-actually-happening, verbal sparring between Caleb and Nathan leave one needing to know what comes next. Even once our suspicions of dread become tense enough to snap.

Not to be underestimated is the melodic yet somewhat dark soundtrack. Composers Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow blend their music so well into the film I knew halfway through I needed to buy it and play it…over and over again. Which I did end up doing.

untitledAnd then there’s the end sequence. It’ll be hard to watch without wanting to see it again and then immediately becoming a part of the growing online discussion. I’ve read many takes on the path of evolution Ava takes. Some speak of sweetness, others of liberation, but I saw something darker. Watch it twice, I say. And tell me you don’t sense one possibility for how the world might end.

 

So if you crave MORE than robots with laser guns, spaceships doing things that are impossible in space, and over-the-top future battles, go see Ex Machina.  It’s a solid A, and the best sci-fi movie to hit theaters in a long, long time. And if I have a special love for it, it’s also because the director, Alex Garland, is also an author and screenwriter. Would that I were so talented.

From time to time, I’ll review more movies.

Sorry ’bout that.

Get into my coffee table philosophy series here.

J Edward Neill

 

Magical May Art and Print Sale

Magical May Sale

I thought it was about time I had a sale to celebrate my new shop. I’ve been slowly moving away from Etsy in favor of a shop through Storenvy. Etsy has been great over the years, but my needs have changed. Here are a few things I love about Storenvy:

  1. I have a theme I edited to mimic the look of my website.
  2. There are no upfront fees. I only pay a small fee when something sells and my listings never expire.
  3. I can have ‘Coming Soon’ and ‘Pre-order’ items in my shop.

Ultimately, I wanted a shop that cost me less money and less time. I’m more focused on selling art offline than online, but for those that can’t buy from me direct my shop is the next best thing. For the entire month of May everything is 20% off when you use the code MagicalMay at checkout.

Did you miss out on my Kickstarter? My first sketchbook is bring printed now. You can pre-order a book in my shop!

Pre-order Daydreams & Wanderings

Didn’t have a chance to buy my art at JordanCon this year? I have a section just for Art Show prints!

Art Show Prints

Next week, prints of Renascentia will be available to order!

Renascentia Prints Coming Soon

http://makepeaceart.storenvy.com/

 

Jordan Con – April 17-19

JordanCon

Tomorrow is the start of JordanCon 7, a fantasy convention founded in honor of Robert Jordan, author of the Wheel of Time series. I’m excited to be a part of this year’s Art Show and I hope it’s the start of many more to come. As you might suspect, Jordan Con features many Wheel of Time panels and events, but it’s not solely focused on Jordan’s fantasy world. If you love Fantasy Fiction, Art, Cosplay and Gaming you should come and join the fun!

I have large gallery space in the Art Show, with original art and limited edition matted prints for sale. I’m also going to have a small spot in this year’s first Print Shop! Here’s a taste of what I’m bringing to the Art Show.

I will be attending JordanCon, so if you see me and want to chat come say, hi! Since this is my first year, I decided not to lead a panel or have a dealer table. I’m there to have fun, meet some other artists and make some new friends.

Interview: Cosplayer and Makeup Artist Bekah Shambrook

Bekah ShambrookI’ve been looking forward to this interview for the last several weeks. Bekah Shambrook, daughter of author (and friend) Lisa Shambrook, is an amazing artist. AMAZING. Often times, she is her own canvas.

Tell us about yourself, where you’re from and what you love.

I’m Bekah from Carmarthen, West Wales and I love art, I always have. In school I was the art nerd, you could find me in the art rooms in every spare moment. I loved it. It was only natural for that to follow into my life, I now work part time as a freelance make up artist and spend every spare moment making cosplay costumes.

How did you get started in makeup artistry and cosplay?

I always loved art but it took a while for me to work out what aspect of it was truly me. Throughout school I tried photography, pencil drawing, digital art, sculpture… I enjoyed them all but they were never quite me. When I started my GSCE’s at the age of fifteen I decided to recreate Salvador Dali’s Mae West on my own face (I’m afraid I don’t have the photo any more), and that was the beginning. I branched out in the same course and used my family to recreate the amazing looks from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and, for the first time, tried my hand at prosthetics turning my sister into a zombie in the name of art. Much to her dismay, I had never actually learned what to use, and used PVA glue and tissue paper (don’t try that a home). Once I left school, I started a face painting business (www.masterpiecefacepainting.co.uk) which I still run and love, but I quickly decided to expand into makeup artistry and I’ve worked with photographers to create wonderful pieces of work.

Masterpiece MUA Sample

The cosplay is more recent but it all ties in. I didn’t take fashion or textiles at school, I didn’t know how to sew, I wasn’t great at sculpture, but I’m nothing if not ambitious! A few of the models I know through the makeup work also did cosplay, and I love watching the cosplay music videos on youtube so I thought, why not? My first cosplay was November 2014, I decided to cosplay Thranduil from The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. I had no idea where to start, but I managed it!

Bekah Shambrook as Thranduil

My second, and most recent, was this March. I decided to cosplay Maleficent from the recent Angelina Jolie film, but I didn’t want to cosplay her later costumes, the leather and staff… Oh no, I wanted to cosplay her Queen of the Moors costume, y’know, the one with the wings! So off I went, and 100 hours later I had made her dress, horns, armour, and fully articulated wings! (I even won Cardiff Film and Comic Con’s open Masquerade!)

Bekah Shambrook at MaleficentAre there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again?

When it comes to makeup I love to create extreme looks, I love to challenge myself. My favourite looks are the ones where I have complete freedom, when there are no constraints.

As for cosplay, I have a list as long as my arm of cosplays I want to make! Although there are characters I love that have simple costumes I tend to steer away from them for cosplaying, as I said earlier, I love a good challenge. Cosplay is a learning tool for me, I will never know it all. I learn something new every costume I make. So I guess to answer your question, I’d have to say, anything with a challenge.

What are your goals and aspirations?

My goals are small ones, in terms of cosplay I would be honoured to be invited to guest at a convention. Big, small, anything, I think that would be wonderful. I also aspire to have the confidence to enter a big cosplay contest like London Super Comic Convention’s Championship. At the moment, the goal isn’t to place, but just to have the confidence to enter.

One day I’d love to visit San Diego Comic Con too…

What are you working on now? Can you give us a peek?

Right now, I’m working on Toothless from How to Train your Dragon, but with a twist. I’m making it a humanoid, armoured Toothless. I’m hoping to have it ready by London MCM Comic Con in May, but I have only just started so wish me luck!

Toothless Plans

You can see all my making of photos on my facebook page linked below, but for now, here’s a sneak peak of the armour design.

Links:

Arkhdrauth Cosplay Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ArkhdrauthCosplay
Masterpiece MUA Website: www.masterpiecemua.co.uk
Blog: https://www.bekahcat.wordpress.com
Twitter: @BekahCat
Instagram: @Arkhdrauth

Five Things I Don’t Paint or Draw

All artists have a list like this right? It’s a list comprised of things they just don’t care for, have no innate ability to create, or something they feel strongly about–in my case the representation of women. These are my big five. Sorry (not sorry) if you were planning to ask me to paint one of these. 😉

1. Manga/Anime – I love the style, but it’s just not in my bones. Can’t do it. Not going to try. But like said, I do love the style and much to the horror of a few of my friends I love Anime. Yes, I’m one of those Studio Ghibli fans and I passed this love onto my daughter.

Howls Moving Castle

Howls Moving Castle

2. Caricatures – I don’t like them. Some people find caricatures amusing. I’ve always found them disturbing and in some cases scary. They make my insides cringe. However, I can acknowledge the skill behind them. Artists who can pull this off are amazing. I’m not one of them.

George Lucas by Jason Seiler

George Lucas by Jason Seiler

3. Women with enormous breasts and slender figures. – Need I elaborate? Add sexy armor to this too, because it’s ridiculous. If that’s your thing then there are other artists who will fulfill your warped dream. Damn… Did I just type that? Yeah. I did.

Imagine an image here….. You all know what I’m talking about.

4. Your favorite superhero. – Sorry. Not going to happen. Sure, I might draw and paint my favorite Marvel villain occasionally, when the urge hits, but that’s something I do for me. Good or bad, it’s fan art. Now, if you’re an art director or just someone with a lot of money that wants to commission a painting from me, that’s a different story. 😉

5. Space Ships, Cars, Mechanized Vehicles – Really not my thing. I could paint them (with a ton of practice) but I prefer focusing on fauna, flora, faces– flesh and bone. The clouds are so much cooler than the airship in this painting, don’t you think?

Sunward Bound by Amanda Makepeace

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What shapes your creativity?

We’ve all been shaped by our experiences in life, our past and our present. We probably don’t think about it enough, but as creative individuals those experiences play an important role in what we create. Though I’m conscious of this fact, I’m not sure how closely I’ve ever explored the little bits that have shaped me. Artist Meredith Dillman invited me and other artists to create an Influence Map. If you’re a member of deviantART, you’ve probably seen one of these:


Influence Map Template by fox-orian on DeviantArt

The creator mentions in his description that, you might discover some things about yourself doing this, and he’s right! I’ve decided I’m going to make two Influence Maps. This first map (below) contains my pre-2006 (when I turned 30 years old) influences that clearly still play a role.

Influence Map 1Art Inspired by Fantasy, Nature and Myth — that’s what I have printed on my business cards and it’s no lie. If I had to add anything I’d say there’s also a touch of darkness.

From the top (left to right):

Ram’s Head, Blue Morning Glory by Georgia O’Keeffe

O’Keeffe is the first artist I remember from childhood. My mother kept a book of her art on our coffee table. The cover of the book features one of her skull paintings. Skulls. I don’t think I need elaborate any further.

American Crow

I decided to feature the crow, but let’s just say he represents all birds and nature.

The Crystal Ball by John William Waterhouse

Again, let’s just assume all the Pre-Raphaelite painters. Magic, Fantasy, Nature…. But also the tone of the paintings, the introspection, the colors.

H.R. Giger

Everyone close to me knows my quiet obsession with his xenomorphs, but all of his art was (and still is) mesmerizing. The darkness!

The Black Unicorn by Michael Parkes

I’ve been a fan of Parkes’ paintings since my early 20’s and I have a few prints rolled up in my closet still. His dream worlds infused with myths and fairy tales are a delight.

The Unicorn Tapestries

I’ve loved these for a long time, longer than I even realized. It wasn’t until last year, when I saw a special screening of  Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn did it become clear. When I traveled to Paris in 2004 seeing the tapestries was on my list, but the museum was closed for maintenance.

Beauty and the Beast (with Laura Hamilton and Ron Perlman)

I’m not embarrassed at all to say I was obsessed with this tv show. There were many teenage tears shed when this show came to an end. I’ve been consumed with many television characters over the years, but only a few brought me a tears when the networks cancelled them. But hysterical fangirling aside, I loved the underground world in this story and the rich costumes. I wanted to live there!

Natural History 

That’s a photo of just a few things in my collection today. I’ve always loved collecting feathers, nests, rocks, bones, shells, etc. I had an impressive collection as a child and it’s still something I do today and incorporate into my art.

Jareth, the Goblin King

There are several movies I identify with from my childhood, movies that I would obsessively watch over and over again. Labyrinth is just one, but out of all of those I feel as if it left the most obvious mark. The movie even has a barn owl! Fantasy with a touch of darkness. I really wanted Sarah to stay with Jareth.

I’d been thinking a lot about where I’m going with my personal work, what makes my heart sing, even before making this influence map. I feel as if much of what I’ve been painting the last two years are just starter paintings. I’ve been exploring and learning a new medium, opening up my creativity–giving myself permission to be myself.

Renascentia by Amanda Makepeace

I think having a style is not something you discover, it’s more about being true to your self when you paint.

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amandamakepeace.com

The Junk Press

2015.

AKA: The busiest year ever.

Painting. Writing. Editing. Publishing. Not Sleeping.

Let’s start with the painting. I got it in my big, fat head that I could all-of-the-sudden graduate from creating terrifying landscapes and up my game to painting beautiful women. In a single bound. Bad idea, right? Previously I’ve painted stuff like this. Wish me luck?

So after about two weeks of drawing, brushing, agonizing, and touching up, I’m about 70% finished with my huge canvas, Andelusia. Lots left to be done. I’m terrible. But I figure, to Hell with it. Here’s the breakdown:

AndeP1

About three hours in.

AndeP2

Ridiculously tight corset? Sorry, ladies.

AndeP3

Background mostly complete. Hair undertones finished. Whew.

AndeP4

About seven hours in. Skin undertones started. Hardest part is making it look realistic.

AndeP5

About ten hours in. Hair started. Skirt started. Beginnings of black magic on her fingertips. Exhausting!

I figure 30-40 more hours and I’ll be done. Kidding. 4-5 more hours, tops. And then I’ll spend a lifetime kicking myself for every imperfection.

Such is art.

Next up: 101 Questions for Men – Part II in the Coffee Table Philosophy series, is due to hit bookshelves about 30 seconds from now.  My inspiration to write these evolved from a party I went to during which everyone was nose-deep in their cell phones. I tried to break the ice by asking philosophy questions…and lo, it worked! Just a few questions lasted us the entire night. And now I can’t stop writing them.

101 Questions for Men Cover

Due out in a few days. The cover is bit more aggressive than Book I.

Book III in the series, 101 Questions for Women, is also due out this month. It’s been the hardest to write. And the most fun. If these things keep earning interest, I’ll expand the series even more. 101 Questions for…anything you can think of. So check the series out. Seriously. I think there’s something for everyone in it.

And now for the real meat. The coup de gras. The sword on the world’s throat.

NK Book in Hand

The final proof copy. The culmination of 14 years of candlelit writing, shadow worshipping, and bad, bad dreams.

After a few mild post-production struggles and an overhaul to the ending, the moment is almost here. Nether Kingdom, Book III in the Tyrants of the Dead series, and darkest of all dark fantasy epics, will cover the world in shadows. Any. Day. Now. I hope you’ll love it. Big time.

So…

Thanks for clicking. Thanks for reading. Thanks for being here. If you’ve the time, check out my ever expanding library on Amazon. Come back soon to see the finished Andelusia painting. Stick around to catch the new cover of 101 Questions for Women. And keep your eyes peeled for the press release of my upcoming two-book series, Darkness Between the Stars.

Until next time.

J Edward Neill

 

 

 

Thoughtful Thursday with Chuck Palahniuk

Thoughtful Thursday with Chuck Palahniuk

“The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That’s the only lasting thing you can create.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk

Painting: Midnight Reading, NFS

Whatnot Strikes Again

Whatnot is code for Amanda doesn’t have a blog post today. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Whatnot usually means I’m busy in the studio and that’s a good thing! Here’s a run down of everything keeping me busy inside and outside the studio.

1. Preparing for the Jordan Con Art Show probably counts for at least three slots on this list. I’ll be displaying a mix of original works and matted prints. Yesterday I ordered a bunch of prints for their Print Shop. I’m working on three originals that I want to take with me next month. Here’s a peek at one I finished yesterday–Heart of the Forest in a beautiful frame.

Heart of the Forest Framed

2. There are 12 days left in my Kickstarter campaign for Daydreams and Wanderings. I’ve promoted more online this month than I have for my Etsy shop in the last 6 months. At this point I feel like I’m spamming everyone, but my artists friends say keep doing it! I’m so close at this point. There are 12 days left and I’m 91% funded. I’m terrified I won’t reach my goal.

3. Drusilla. She’s nearly 11 months old now and still a handful. Lately she’s become obsessed with carrots. I kid you not. I can’t open the veggie drawer in the fridge without her getting excited. She loves playing with the end of a baby carrot. She carries it all over the house, batting and playing. She also likes to hide them in boots, pockets and plastic bags. Carrot time is usually in the evenings so I can keep her occupied while we eat dinner. The rest of the day is a mixed bag. Earlier this week I caught her gnawing on Loki’s shoulder. She acts out when she wants attention or food. Here she is looking innocent. Don’t be fooled.

Drusilla and (Cardboard) Loki

4. I’m also in the early stages of a new commission for a book cover. That’s all I can say about that. 😉

5. I’ve also been working on various drawings, sketches and ideas for paintings to come. Some are ideas I’m returning to and rethinking. This has led to me really evaluate my art–where I want to go and what I want to paint. Many of the pieces I’ve created in the last two years were part of a learning journey, but though I tried to branch out and create specific types of fantasy art for my portfolio I kept being pulled to what moves me–the face. I’m not certain where I’m going, but I know it’s no use to fight the current.

Peek at a new drawing you'll see in my sketchbook

6. Reciprocal. It’s a funny story. Over the holidays I met a fiber artist at a UGA alumni event. She talked me into joining OCAF, which is less than a mile from my house. OCAF – Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation – is an arts organization located in downtown Watkinsville, GA. Oconee County is a rural county. I was hesitant to join because I didn’t think my art would be a good fit. I still believe that. Soon after joining there was a call for entries for a juried exhibit at UNG (University of North Georgia) only for OCAF members. There was no entry fee, so I said, what the hell. I entered my painting Electryone. Sixty artists entered and only 15 were selected, including me! I was blown away. The exhibit is on display till April 2nd. Check it out if you’re in the area, it’s only 15 minutes from Athens.

Opening Night of Reciprocal at UNG

7. Women in Fantastical Art. I recently joined a secret group on Facebook for Women in Fantasy Illustration. It goes on a short list of the best things I’ve done. I needed this group and I have a feeling the benefits will continue to follow in the months and I hope years to come. I’ve made new friends and I’ve touched base with another artist in the Jordan Con Art Show. Yay! I’ve gained support that I honestly can’t get from anyone else but artists who can relate. I’ve gained knowledge! And I’ve been included in an amazing gallery, the one I linked to at the start–Women in Fantastical Art:

The best contemporary female illustrators & concept artists working in fantasy & science fiction

Wow… Yeah. My art is included in this new website built by Leesha Hannigan. To top things off, 24 hours after we made our debut to the world, the web gallery was featured on Tor.com. Wowsers!!

Women in Fantastical Art

I could probably add a few more things to this Whatnot post, but I think I’ll stop here. March has been an incredible month. INCREDIBLE. I really I hope I haven’t jinxed April…

Creative Interview with Filmmaker/ Screenwriter Gabrielle Aliké Hawkins

I’m going to be straight up with you guys and gals, I’m kind of biased on how much I respect the subject of today’s creator interview. She’s talented, driven, and she’s my lil’ cousin.

Who I’m unabashedly proud of. 😀

Gabrielle Aliké Hawkins has studied the craft of film making internationally in London, on our own shores in the great NYC, and has honed her craft working on such indie productions such as “Alto” and “Global Tides”.  In addition to being an accomplished photographer, Gabrielle is currently conducting an Indiegogo campaign for a sci-fi dystopian short film she’s written and will direct called “Criminals”.

The filmmaker recently took the time to speak with the Tessera Guild about her career, the campaign, and indie film.

Can you start by telling us a little about yourself, your background in film, and just being a creator overall?

I became drawn to the arts at a young age, focusing on dance. After suffering a severe dance injury, I decided to continue my passion for arts and focus on filmmaking. I have always been drawn to films and when I was about 12 years old, I used to write stories that I wanted to see on the big screen. At that time, I wanted someone else to direct them. Then, I realized I could direct the stories I wanted to see.

I have a B.A in Film Production from Brooklyn College and a Certificate of Completion from the Met Film School in London where I studied film producing. I started working as a Production Assistant on music videos and feature films. I recently worked as an Assistant Director on a wonderful feature film called “Alto” directed by Mikki Del Monico.

What drew you to filmmaking? What about the medium drives you to create film?

Filmmaking is such a beautiful and powerful medium. It influences our society. As a teenager, I didn’t realize how much film and media influenced me. How I saw myself on screen or if I didn’t. What I watched influenced how I interacted with people without me even knowing.

That is one of the reasons that I became a filmmaker because I would like to see more diversity on screen. Not just in terms of race but also telling unique stories. I feel that watching a great film is like watching a painting come to life.

Talk to our readers about your short film “Criminals”, and the Indiegogo campaign. What about the science fiction/ dystopian future arena appeals to you as a filmmaker/ screenwriter in terms of storytelling?

I have always been drawn to abandoned buildings and characters that are seen as outcasts from society. There is great beauty in darkness if you can see the light.

The film takes place in 2040. Our characters, Ian and Ariana, are the last surviving members of an underground movement called the E.G.O. A massive manhunt for their capture takes place, in response to their infiltration of the notorious officer program and stealing confidential government files. They escape into the woods fighting to reach their last hope for survival. Will they make it to Nuevo Acuerdo, a society untouched by the government?

 I have always been drawn to science fiction/dystopian future films and novels. Octavia E. Butler is one of my Criminals Movie Posterfavorite authors and her work has greatly influenced me. For this particular film, I wanted to write within this genre because in some ways I feel  as a society this is where we are moving towards, unless we experience a serious wake up call. Climate change, violence and so much more is something that shouldn’t be ignored by the masses.

We currently have an Indiegogo campaign running to raise money for this film. All of the money raised will go to the making of the film. There is a breakdown on the site, and the campaign ends on April 2. Check out the link for more info here.

Is science fiction a particular favorite in terms of film genre’s to create in, or does this include a variety of other genre’s?

Science fiction is one of my favorite genres to watch and write but I am also heavily influenced by other genres, such as film noir and even comedy. So depending on the story, I like to combine genres.

“Criminals” is definitely science fiction but with a film noir touch. I have a super random taste in movies so I think that helps a lot. My goal is to write a film in every genre.

Once I write a story and create the characters then I come up with the genre. I always have an idea of where I want it to go but usually the characters tell me what type of film it should be. For example, “Criminals” started off as a modern drama, but once I knew the characters and developed the story further, the genre had to change.

 A common saying nowadays is that the field of independent filmmaking has become more level, with the advent of new technologies, greater access to information etc. Do you feel that this is the case? Why or why not?

I think there are two ways to answer this question. I think in terms of making an independent film, you do have greater access thanks to digital filmmaking. There are also so many ways for people to watch films now. You can upload to websites, like youtube or vimeo and people can view your work. Also there are so many festivals, that accept many different genres and stories.

However, if you want to have your film in theaters, I think that is still pretty tough for indie filmmakers. Not that it’s not possible, because it definitely is, but it’s harder for an indie film to get wide release in theaters than a Hollywood film. 

Are there any filmmakers, or films that you feel have been an influence on you as a creator? What about those creators, or works speaks to you?

Tom Tykwer is an incredible filmmaker and his film “Run Lola Run”, is one of my favorites. The story is just so different and the moment I saw it I was in love with it.

 Gina Prince-Bythewood directed “Love and Basketball” and most recently “Beyond the Lights”. I love her work because you become so emotionally attached to the characters. I love how naturally she writes and directs human interaction.

 The television series “Breaking Bad” to me was just pure brilliance. The writing, the acting, the direction, just everything. I was blown away by this series and needed a support group when it ended.

 There are so many other films, television shows and filmmakers that I can go on and on about because there really are so many. I love the classics like “All About Eve”, “Alien” to comedies like “Friday”. I love films that make me think and sometimes I just need a good laugh. I am all over the place with the types of films and TV shows that I watch.

 All of these artists work speaks to me simply because it makes me feel something and makes me think outside of the box.

What can fans look for from you in the future, and where can they find your current work?

After this short I plan on working on a web series, and then work on a feature film that I wrote. This would be my first short that I directed so the current work I have has been on some great projects where I worked in other departments. I am also a photographer and my work can be viewed on my website.

photo

Gabrielle Aliké Hawkins​​​​​​ as Assistant Director on the feature film “Alto”