Etsy Christmas in July Sale

My Christmas in July Sale begins today in my Etsy shop. Everything is 25% off. Discounted prices are good from July 10th – July 20th. Here’s a breakdown of the discount:

  • $10.00 sketch cards are now $7.50
  • $25.00 prints are now $18.75
  • $30.00 prints are now $22.50
  • $35.00 prints are now $26.25

http://makepeacestudios.etsy.com

Collecting Inspiration

When Pinterest first popped up on the web I had zero interest in signing up for another social site. All I saw was a place to share shopping wishlists, recipes, and fashion trends. Sure, some artists were pinning items from their Etsy shops, but I just didn’t see the value. I’m going to be blatantly honest… I really don’t care much about celebrities lives, fashion trends, DIY home improvement, etc. My wardrobe is proof of this! If I’d left it at that I would have never seen the bigger picture. I wasn’t thinking outside the box. My opinion was changed when I saw author Emma Pass using Pinterest for her writing. She created boards for her books. She pinned covers, character inspiration, places, etc.

I might not be interested in redecorating my living room or finding that perfect outfit, but I’m always inspired by hidden beauty, nature, magical places and dark places. So I began collection inspiration. Here are three of my boards, a general Inspiration Board, Dark Places and History, Myth and Lore. I also have boards for Magical Places, Science, Nature and Magic, Natural History and many more. I don’t use Pinterest in the hopes that what I pin will go viral. I use it like a visual bookmark, so that I can return to it and be inspired. The images I pin can be the starting point for my own painting ideas.

Follow Amanda Makepeace’s board Inspiration Board on Pinterest.

***

Follow Amanda Makepeace’s board Dark Places on Pinterest.

***

Follow Amanda Makepeace’s board History, Myth and Lore on Pinterest.

Pinterest is good for saving all those redecorating ideas and recipes but it can be so much more.

The Seer

The Seer by Amanda Makepeace

 

Her name is Masego, meaning divine favor, but don’t assume that means she is on your side. She is a member of a special council–the Mystics–who oversee the protection of our planet. Humans have been making her job very difficult as of late. I was fortunate to be able to paint her portrait last month.

Limited Edition Prints can be purchased from my Big Cartel Shop and if you’re attending Dragon*Con this summer you’ll have a chance to see her there too.

😉

Taking the Next Step

“Seize The Moment because you never know if that moment will ever come your way again. I know that when I look back at my life, I will see the memories of all the little adventures that I didn’t let pass me by.” – Cody Atencio

Sometimes, even when we don’t think we’re ready, we have to take the next step. That was me four months ago when I finally decided to take the plunge and apply to the Dragon*Con Art Show. The idea, the seed, was planted when I met artist Charles Urbach during the last year’s convention. I’ve talked about our conversation and the encouragement he offered at length, but I was still on the fence as to whether I should apply or not. I decided to take a leap and wouldn’t you know it, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Dragon*Con is a Juried Art Show. It’s not an Artists Alley you see at some typical Fantasy/SciFi conventions. This year’s jurors were Michael C. HayesPatrick J. Jones and Thomas Kuebler. Wow. Wow. Wow. That made me even more nervous but I’d already decided to ‘seize the moment.’ After an excruciating month of waiting, where I’d told only a handful of people what I’d done, I received notification that I’d passed the jury selection. I was in shock. I think a part of me is still in shock. I celebrated with my family two weeks later when I received notice again that I was to be placed on the Art Show Floor.

To think. . . I almost didn’t even apply.

Let’s be honest now. As much as my friends and family lather me with compliments, I know I’m in the infancy of my digital painting skills. Some things I have a strong grasp of and others I’m not quite there yet.

One painting from February 2013 and one from November of the same year.

But I’m learning and I like to think I’m improving, but the message here is stop waiting for your dreams to come true. If you want something, ‘seize the moment,’ go after it with a passion. When I stopped by Charles’ table last year he took a look at a few of my paintings, and asked me, ‘Why aren’t you here?” (Or something close to that.) I’m sure at the time I looked like a deer in headlights. He said, even if you don’t make the cut the experience is valuable. It’s a process all artists have to go through as they are trying to make their way in the world. I know this but I was stuck in thinking I needed to hone my skills more–I was convinced I wasn’t ready. I kept telling myself I needed another year. I was wrong. Even if I had not passed the jury, the experience has helped me grow. The juror comments have helped me grow.

Comment #1:  Nice work! Keep working on your anatomy and you will go far.

Comment #2:  Human facial anatomy needs work. More expression. Even if the subject is in repose more facial definition and distinction would be helpful.

Her Domain by Amanda Makepeace

Her Domain, 2013

So what is the next step?

I’ve made the cut. I’m in the Dragon*Con 2014 Art Show and now that I am, I am pre-approved for future Art Shows. Next year I’m going to have a bazaar table in the Art Show room. That’s my goal. From now until then I’m going to ‘seize the moment’ again and work to improve my human anatomy. I’m going to do whatever it takes, legally, to keep growing.

As for this year’s Art Show. . . I will be attending Dragon*Con all four days. I will be lurking around the show and I will be available to talk art, illustration, Fantasy, etc. To keep up with where I’ll be and when I suggest following me on Twitter. I’m not always super active there but I will be during the convention.

Don’t Fall for the Trap

Charles de Lint quoteIt’s easy to lose sight of our path. It’s easy to paint what everyone else is painting. It’s easy to think I’ll never be as good as “them.” It’s easy to fall into the trap.

If you aren’t painting for you, you’re stifling your own creative voice. This makes you unique, what sets you apart from other artists. There are dozens of artist/illustrators I admire, and there is a small part of me that hopes and wishes I might be as great as them one day. But focusing on that won’t get me anywhere. As much as I admire Todd Lockwood, Cynthia Sheppard, Dan Dos Santos, and Cory Godbey (to name only a few), trying to be them is a trap. Read more

Phoenix in Need of Home, Plays well with Unicorns

 

There once lived a phoenix trapped in the mind of an artist until the day she set him free in fiery waves of sunlight and crimson. While the artist loved the magical bird, she knew he must be set free, to find his own home and heart. She watched him soar over plains and dew frosted pines until she could only see him in her dreams.

 

Where will my little Phoenix find a home? He first traveled to Colorado and then Kansas City, Missouri for Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 3, but no one captured his heart. Now he waits, feeling hopeful that someone will find him and love him.

Adopt a Phoenix Today

New Art: Exploring Space

I’ve always been drawn to nature, wildlife and the fantastical. Those same themes are what show up in my art 95% of the time. The other 5% is reserved for Science Fiction and Horror. I’ve painted space scenes on canvas with acrylics and I’ve painted them with my Intuos in Photoshop. Space is wondrous. Space captures the imagination. I took Astronomy in college, just because I could. Though I’ve never been there I feel I know it, as we all do, through images from the Hubble Space Telescope. Read more

Forest Guardian

Forest Guardian I by Amanda Makepeace

“But he is not always alone. When the long winter nights come on and the wolves follow their meat into the lower valleys, he may be seen running at the head of the pack through the pale moonlight or glimmering borealis, leaping gigantic above his fellows, his great throat a-bellow as he sings a song of the younger world, which is the song of the pack.”

Read more

Things that Have Never Been

Things that Have Never Been

 

I’m a bit superstitious when it comes to discussing big projects, and I have a Big Project planned for 2014. I hope to create many things that have never been, but I also hope to grow as an artist and continue develop my skills. Besides the big mysterious project, I have several paintings already planned, personal works for my portfolio, and I’m hoping to attend my first convention as an artist in an art show. Fingers crossed!

Till then, I will exit right, under an enigmatic veil of smoke…. Poof!

😉

amandamakepeace.com

Deadlines and the Three D’s

Art is Work“There’s nothing an artist needs more—even more than excellent tools and stamina—than a deadline.”   ― Adriana Trigiani

You’ve probably heard someone complain about a deadline at least once in your life. The word itself has evolved to have a negative connotation, but nothing could be further from the truth. Deadlines are vital. They motivate us, keep us moving forward, and further our growth. I think back to the deadlines I had as an art student. I created far more in a week than I do now, but I’ve been working to change that, because deadlines are a good thing!

I’m currently working on a book cover commission, meaning I have a deadline set by my client. But you can create your own deadline even when you’re focused on creating art for your personal portfolio. A deadline doesn’t have to stifle creativity, it’s merely a routine for maximizing your output.

Here are my three D’s for tackling deadlines.

1. Devise a Routine – Decide when and where you’re going to create and for how long, each day.

2. Define your Goals – Decide what you want to create and document your progress each day. Keep yourself accountable.

3. Designate a Reward – There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself for a job well done! Whether it’s knowing your going to be paid the other half for your commission, or going out to celebrate with friends, reinforce all your hard work with something positive.

Okay. I better get back to work on my own deadline!

amandamakepeace.com

Under the Covers

It’s a cold, blustery day in North Georgia, but I’m fine with it. I’ve got something to be excited about.

This:

SoulOrbCoverPaperback

 Yep. For the holidays, I commissioned an alternate cover for Down the Dark Path. Our own Amanda Makepeace painted it. I feel it’s a sharp piece, perhaps grimmer than the previous cover, but closer to my own heart. The image is of the Soul Orb, the world-killing artifact appearing in the second half of the novel. This new version of the book is available for Kindles here:  DownTheDarkPath   The alternate-art softcover version will be available by Dec 22nd. Please check it out, read it, enjoy it, and review it. You’d be my hero.

Ok, so we’re done with that little sales pitch. Let’s move on. Reloading with the new art gives me a chance to talk about the book, and how I came to write it.

It all began during a bitterly cold winter night more than a decade ago. I’d long had the tale of Down the Dark Path locked away in the corner of my mind. Back then I called it Tyrants of the Dead, the title which would eventually become the name of the entire trilogy. That night, alone in my office, I sat down at my keyboard and wrote the prologue. I initially wrote it in first-person perspective, a comfortable mode for me, but ultimately I changed it to common third-person prose. This is gonna be a long, long book, I knew even then. First-person won’t quite cut it, imagery-wise.

And so, for the next six years, I hammered away. I knew where the story was going all along, but I’d yet to flesh out the dialogue, the side characters, the small settings, city names, and all the little intricacies that make a book a place you’d like to call home rather than just a pile of words. Six years. Yes, seriously. I wrote at night, during lunch at work, in the mornings before I went to work, and half of every weekend (whenever I wasn’t playing football, watching movies, or reading.) I was obsessed. I’m pretty sure I wrecked a few friendships and dug a shallow grave for my marriage along the way, but hey, I was writing, and that’s what made (makes) me happy.

And then, when I was finished, I rewrote it. The entire thing. I took 400,000 words and pared them down to 280,000. I killed off characters who previously survived, burned villages that’d somehow gone untouched, and turned what had once been a reasonably sunny fantasy novel into a work of fiction rife with shadows. This agonizing (but rewarding) process consumed another two years. I say consumed in a very literal fashion. The book ate up my life, chewed it up, and made entire swaths of time go away.

When I was done, I wrote two more books: Dark Moon Daughter and Nether Kingdom. I should’ve been searching for a publisher, an agent, or at least a print-on-demand service, but I preferred to write, write, and write. I turned the small stories locked away in my mind into a million-word trilogy, and later chopped it down to about 700,000 words. Dark Moon Daughter suffered a half-dozen title changes, but Nether Kingdom was always Nether Kingdom, by far the grimmest thing I’ve ever put to paper. The longer I wrote, the darker the subject matter turned. I touched on murder, betrayal, war, shattered hearts, suffering, and sacrifice. I went through all the emotions my characters did. I sketched out their clothes, their weapons, and I drew scores of maps detailing their travails. Told you I was obsessed.

Since the whole thing began, I’ve been asked a thousand times, “So what’s the trilogy all about?”

Well…  

Down the Dark Path is the story of a world-consuming medieval-era war told from the perspective of six different people. It’s non-high fantasy, meaning no elves, no dwarves, no dragons, through I do sprinkle in quite a bit of black magic. I stray from politics, and focus largely on actions and emotions. Some of the characters, particularly two of the protagonists and one of the villains, consume the lion’s share of the action, but the other three get plenty of screen time. One of the characters, the young woman Andelusia, ended up being my favorite. (Who knew I liked writing women so much? Not I.) In Dark Moon Daughter, I cut the main character roster down to four (actually more like 3.5.) One of their stories I tell exclusively via first-person journal entries, so the character is heard from but rarely seen. I thoroughly enjoyed the change of pace, and continued the journal tactic well into Nether Kingdom, the darkest entry in the series and by far my favorite.

Combined, these three titles have consumed nearly twelve years and countless nights in my man-cave. It’s been one hell of a ride, and now that I’ve committed to a prequel, it seems the end isn’t quite at hand. I’m currently in the final stages of publishing the second two books, and I’m thrilled. Commercial success isn’t really the aim. It’s a labor of love. To all writers everywhere, I suggest a similar outlook. Love the words first. Let all other considerations be secondary. I’m convinced finishing a book or sometimes even a chapter is like an orgasm, except it lasts longer and there’s less cleanup (sometimes.)

And finally, throughout the years I’ve posted tons of images online for the series. Here are my favorites:

Dead trees (2)

A pencil sketch I did a while back. It’s supposed to be the dread fortress Malog as viewed from a distance. Thank goodness I hired professionals to clean up my mess.

Very Dark Buildings

The dark city of Illyoc, hub of Furyon commerce. It’s here our heroes must venture to reach Malog. Art by Eileen Herron.

Furyon Orig

Eileen Herron’s first image of a Furyon knight standing beneath the Emperor’s storm. His armor is Dageni steel, and is nigh indestructible.

Soul Orb Small Image

Amanda Makepeace’s first imagining of the Soul Orb. Notice the subtle runes on the Orb. The language of the Ur becomes a focus of the second two novels in the series.

Ande Best Cover 600x800 for Kindle

Eileen Herron’s original cover. I have the painting in my man-cave. That’s Garrett Croft riding with the blue-flamed sword. The Soul Orb looks angrier here, its thorns reaching to claim Andelusia.

Dark Moon Daughter – Due out early 2014

Nether Kingdom – Due out late 2014

Until next time…

J Edward Neill

 

10 Questions plus a Giveaway!

I invited fans of my Facebook page to ask me anything. Here’s what they wanted to know!

Fly Fast by Amanda Makepeace1. Your art is eclectic…space scenes, fantasy, fractals, people, Loki, nature etc…do you have a favourite genre to paint?

I do enjoy exploring different genres! My interests are diverse as well, so it’s not surprising they bleed over into my art, but if I had to pick one it would be fantasy. Fantasy is a broad genre. It can have elements of Myth, nature and wildlife, people but all with the elements of Fantasy. I particularly love animals and creatures but also portraits. You can expect to see more of a focus in those areas.

2. If you didn’t paint or write, what do you think you would be doing instead?

As I mentioned in the previous answer, I have diverse interests. If I didn’t have any health issues I would love to work in archaeology/geology. See. Even now I can’t pick one! While at university I took Geology, Zooarchaeology, and The Geology of Archaeology. I could see myself digging up the remains of the past.

3. If/when you get “artist’s block”, how do you handle it?

I do sometimes get stuck and I’ve found that most of the time it’s because I’ve lost the inspiration for the painting. Forcing myself to keep painting only makes it worse. I’ve found walking to be the best solution. It helps to get outside, clear my head, enjoy the little things. Then I go back to the painting and think why isn’t this working for me? What needs to change? It usually works!

The Path

4. What has had the biggest influence on your work? Is it a particular artist? a genre? some personal insight?

I paint what I love. It’s that simple. As a child I spent an enormous amount of time outside, wandering the woods, drawing, collecting rocks and bits of nature, drawing, riding horses every weekend, dreaming up imaginary worlds and people based on the movies and stories I read. And of course, drawing. Not much has changed!

There are also a few artists that stick out who definitely left seeds of inspiration in my mind. Georgia O’Keeffe is the first artist I consciously remember. My mother kept a book of her art on our coffee table. John Waterhouse’s iconic images weave history, mythology and fantasy into rich worlds. Last, Michael Parkes. I saw a framed print of his painting Gargoyles back in the mid 90’s (in a print shop I’d later work at) and instantly fell in love with the magic.

Michael Parkes Gargoyles

5. What are your own personal artistic goals?

My main goal is to become a professional illustrator. I’d love to be painting covers for science fiction and fantasy novels,  middle grade books, maybe even picture books. I’d also love to create art for card and board games. I’m determined to get there!

ImagineFX6. What are some of the best resources you used to learn and still use to create your digital art??

ImagineFX and deviantART. Digital painting involves most of the same skills as traditional painting but I did have to learn how the brushes function and how they can be manipulated in Photoshop. Those two resources were and still are invaluable.

7. Are you ever going to come north for a craft show or the like??

Yes! When? No clue. But it will happen.

8. Some artists (Not me) Say that Digital art.. isn’t “real” art.. What is your response to that?

I laugh. Because nowadays painting in Photoshop and Painter is incredible. It’s just another medium. If you can’t paint/draw with traditional mediums, then it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to in those programs. You use all the same skills and more.

9. Were you artistic as a child and what training have you received as an artist? Were you classically trained or only trained in digital arts?

Yes, I was artistic as a child. I have a creative mother and she was the first person to inspire me to draw. I’ve had a passion for drawing and art since I was at least 9 years old. My training as been less exact.

Middle School Drawing, 1989

Middle School Drawing, 1989

When I was in middle school I unfortunately had an art teacher who demeaned students without any artistic ability. She also used those with ability as an example to belittle other students. I didn’t like being used and it angered me that a teacher could be so cruel. I avoided art classes for a while.

I was an art student at university for a year. I took two drawing classes, a sculpture class, and several art history classes. But I didn’t stick with it out of fear. I kept drawing and painting but finished my Bachelors in another field.

Later, after moving to the United Kingdom, I took a year long course in Creative Painting and Drawing at Kensington & Chelsea College. It was the first time I had to attend a portfolio review as a part of my application. I was accepted and it was one of the best courses ever!

Study drawing from National Gallery in London

Study drawing from National Gallery in London, 2006

I only began digital painting about a year ago.

10. Matisse said: “Creativity takes courage.” What has been your greatest struggle re: your art?

Painting what I want to paint and not what I think will sell or what’s expected of me.

 The Giveaway!

To enter leave a comment on this blog post and be sure to leave a way for me to contact you if you’re the winner. This time around I can only ship to the US, sorry international fans!

What will you win? I’ve made a fancy collage of four paintings below. You can choose one of those paintings and I’ll send you a 5×7 inch print! You can get a better look at the paintings choices in my deviantART Gallery.

Giveaway Print Choices

I will pick the winner on Monday, November 25th while I’m drinking my coffee.

The Winner!Giveaway Winner

There were seven entries, but only one could be a winner today. I assigned everyone a number, from the first person to leave a comment to the last. The winner, according to Random.org is number 2, Sherry Key!

Sherry, get in touch with me via Facebook or email and let me know which print you’d like from the choices above.

Thank you all for entering!

 

The spark, the idea, the execution

Over the weekend I met up with fellow guild members J Edward Neill and John McGuire to discuss a project. During the course of our lunch meeting J Edward asked me how I’d developed the idea for my latest work in progress, Her Domain. I believe my initial response was a small snicker. My imagination can be a bit chaotic, at least from where I stand. It always begins with a spark, then the idea grows like a film in my mind and last the most difficult part of all must happen–the execution. Nearly all of my personal paintings develop this way, but let’s take a closer look at Her Domain.

Here’s my current progress:

Her Domain WIP by Amanda Makepeace

The Spark

The spark is often something I’ve seen. It’s like a trigger. The seed takes root and from that seed the idea grows. The spark for Her Domain was this photograph by Mark Walton featuring deviantART artist TheRedBamboo:

Underwater_10_by_TheRedBamboosm

I was immediately entranced by this image. I envisioned her submerged in a small pond or river, the bones of her victims beneath her body. <– That’s how my mind works. I see more than what anyone might see at first glance. It’s like a domino effect. The story grows in my mind like a dream. I do not only see the painting, I feel the painting.

The Idea

Ideas like this one are a never ending stream in my world. I found the above photograph in April of this year. I rotated the image, made a quick sketch, and then refocused on whatever I was painting at the time. When I returned to the sketch early this month the idea was still fresh, but now it needed to be developed. I began working on a more detailed sketch:

Her Domain Sketch No. 1

As I hope you can see, the original photograph was only a starting point–the spark–the idea involved more elements to be added. The basis of any good painting begins with a good drawing. Because I was expanding out from the initial image I was going to need more reference shots. I needed to know what the shoulders would look like when I angled the arm and hand in front of the figure. Guessing would only create something that looked wrong. So, I held a mini photo shoot in my studio.

I took these photos with my iPhone, leaning back in my office chair. Yes, I did feel a bit silly, but my muse demanded I get this right. At this stage I’m still in the Idea phase. I went back to my sketch with my new reference shots to work out the kinks.

Final Sketch

The Execution

The final phase is where the real work begins–taking the idea in my mind and giving it life. When I begin painting I have just a sketch, but when I look at the sketch I already see colors, tones, shadows, ripples of light, etc. The execution is making those a reality. When you compare the final painting to the spark, you may only see an echo of the original photograph. Through the idea and the execution I’ve created something different, something of my own.

How long does it take me to finish a painting? It depends on the complexity but usually it’s anywhere from 1 week to 4 weeks.

Here are a few more before’s and after’s, the spark and the execution:

The Price of Magic

First Light

Fly Fast

 

Happy Hallowe’en

Shadow by Amanda Makepeace

Shadow, 2013 by Amanda Makepeace

This year’s Halloween painting is a portrait of my studio cat Shadow, a.k.a. Attack Cat, who passed away suddenly in June. I still miss her terribly, but when I began thinking of what to paint for Halloween all I could see was her. She loved sitting with me while I painted and often followed me where ever I went, but she wasn’t very friendly with anyone else. Attack Cat wasn’t a misnomer. If a dog, three times the size of the cat, is afraid then you know you’re trouble. But from Shadow’s perspective she was only protecting her mother. The depth of her love for me was amazing.

Black Cats have received a lot of flack over the years, but it wouldn’t be Halloween without them. Their bad reputation dates back to medieval Europe when they were thought to be witches familiars and agents of Satan. Poor kitties! Though opinions on black cats have improved over the centuries, they still face discrimination. They are far less likely to get adopted from shelters and they are far more likely to get euthanized than other cats. Please consider adopting a black cat this Halloween!

Adopt a Black Cat!