Nightmares, Horrors, and Visions

For this year’s annual spooky art post, I decided to feature one artist who’s work I find to be some of the most chilling and inspiring too. Zdzisław Beksiński (1929-2005) was a Polish artist known for this dystopian paintings, though he also worked in photography and digital art too. The artworks below are only a small sample. I encourage you explore more of his paintings on WikiArt.

I wish to paint in such a manner as if I were photographing dreams

– Zdzisław Beksiński

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Need more spooky art? Check out my previous posts: Monsters, Magic and Moonlight and Eerie, Haunting and Beautiful.

Inside one Artist’s Mind

Warning!

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

 

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

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

Not roadkill–found under my bushes.

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

Some of my collection

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

3 ft. Skeleton seen in my Rhuematologist’s Office

 

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

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

www.amandamakepeace.com

Cats in the Studio – Revisited

Life is never boring with cats in the studio…

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

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

Adoration or Plotting?

What should I do next?

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

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

Art 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

Keeping things in Check

I’m one of those people that believes in Karma–cause and effect. I believe that our Dharma plays a huge role in how we confront life’s challenges. I also believe there is a balance to everything. The world around us is always attempting to balance itself, to keep things in check, and when we live as close to this balance as we can life is good to us. I’m using words associated with Hinduism and Buddhism, but I’m not affiliated with either. This is something I’ve believed and thought about for the last 20+ years. It’s my brand of common sense. Is my life always stress free, full of serenity and enlightenment? Ha! I wish.

But there are moments when I see the dominoes falling into place and I know why. My gut tells me this was meant to be.

Last week I received word that I did not pass the DragonCon Art Show Jury. Was I upset? Not at all. I know that may sound crazy, but I had been giving some thought to not applying this year. What????

I’d just finished a painting called Renascentia (Latin for Rebirth). This painting… THIS painting.

Renascentia by Amanda Makepeace

I began working on this painting in 2014. I sketched her out over the course of a week and then set her aside while I worked on a commission. Then the Christmas holiday season hit, my daughter was home from school, and not a whole lot got done. But even so, each time I returned to the first stages of the painting my heart would beat a little faster. It was clear not everyone was as thrilled by this work in progress as I was, but I couldn’t let her go. Before the painting was even finished I had decided she would be on the cover of my sketchbook, Daydreams and Wanderings.

Daydream and Wanderings Funded!

It was in the weeks just before JordanCon, when my Kickstarter funded, that I knew Renascentia was the start of something new in my creative path. She is the beginning. So when the call came from DragonCon, I was not crushed because I’d already begun thinking that I wanted to focus on painting this summer, to follow this new path and see where it takes me. If I’d passed the jury, preparing for the art show would have consumed everything. It’s a lot of work! Plus, I was already going to JordanCon; where I would have to chance to meet some artists I admire, sell some of my own art and make some new connections.

However, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a tiny voice in the back of my head saying, “You suck. You got into DragonCon last year but not this year because you suck.” LOL

And then, Renascentia was awarded Judges’ Choice for JordanCon 2015.

I wrote a blog post on my website about my JordanCon experiences. If you want the full scoop, click through! But I will share the comment Todd Lockwood wrote in response to that post:

The pleasure was all mine, Amanda! I don’t often get the opportunity to influence the choice of “Best in Show” or “Judges’ Choice,” but when I do, it’s the one painting in the show that I most wish -I- might have painted. That was yours. It was unexpected and compelling. Most worthy.

Dominoes falling into place…

10 Things – Cats in the Studio

I’ve lived with a cat in my art studio since 2006 when Shadow was still shy of a year old and we lived near the Dorset coast in England. Initially, I tried to keep her out of the studio, but her cries were relentless. Over the years I’ve come to learn some valuable lessons and hard truths.

1. Cats love to be involved in the creative process.

Hunter inspected my Prismacolor Pencils

Yessss, these are the colors.

2. If you can’t find that certain pad of paper chances are, they are sitting on it.

I haven't seen your watercolor paper.

I haven’t seen your watercolor paper.

3. Never leave works in progress unattended. Remember, they like to be involved.

It needs my special touch.

It needs my special touch.

4. Learn to incorporate cat hair into your paintings. Chances are there are more than a few strands of fur in this painting. It is what it is.

Sticking with the theme...

Sticking with the theme…

5. Cats will attempt to sway your creative decisions.

Drusilla

Are you sure you want to draw that?

6. Everything is for climbing. Everything.

Mom, look what I can do!

Mom, look what I can do!

7. A warm lap must be made available at all times, no matter what you’re doing.

Oh, you're painting?

Oh, you’re painting?

8. They are never too young to begin disrupting learning what you do.

I want to try!

I want to try!

9. You may feel like working through lunch, but they won’t. Ever.

Drusilla trying to get my Attention

Are you done working yet?

10. All of the above rules apply both inside and outside the studio.

I'm going to sit on your art till you pay attention to me.

I’m going to sit on your art till you pay attention to me.

It’s the Little Things

Hunter and DrusillaLife in the Makepeace clan is better than where it was a month ago, but not where I’d like it yet. This means I’m still following Hunter to the litter box room, just not quite as often, to ensure things are going smoothly (<- worse pun ever). It also means life is slowly returning to normal. Hunter has begun playing with Drusilla. He hasn’t felt like playing for over a month. Our frisky, lovable boy is making a comeback.

This is when reality taps me on the shoulder. It’s November. Two months have passed since Dragon Con. On the outside, I’m pushing forward, getting things done. On the inside, I’m slightly panicked and a little weary. What have been doing all this time besides caring for Hunter?

  • Working on a big commission (it’s in the final stages)
  • I put together a GoFundMe campaign to help with Hunter’s Vet bills.
  • I’ve been sketching pets as part of the GoFundMe campaign.
  • Helped my daughter put together a portfolio and helped her prepare for an interview for the Governor’s Honors Program.
  • I helped reseed our backyard and then managed the daily watering of baby grass.
  • I blogged for Tessera weekly.
  • I blogged twice weekly here.
  • I tried to blog weekly here.
  • I blogged monthly here.
  • Posting daily here.
  • I create the exhibit banners each month here.
  • Shipping orders from my Etsy shop.
  • Photographing my framed originals from Dragon Con.
  • Planning next year’s conventions. I’m going to be the Jordan Con Art Show!
  • Planning my next painting projects.
  • Revamping my website because it wouldn’t behave.
  • Catching up on every episode of One Fantastic Week.
  • I escaped from a room with a zombie. Seriously.

Should I go on? I could probably add more to this list… You get the idea. Some of these things are stress relievers and others are a bit draining. One turned out to be just what I needed. My creative friend Jane Gould was one of the generous contributors to my GoFundMe Campaign. Jane doesn’t have a pet, so she let me have free reign. However, she did plant a seed–dragon eye.

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Thanks for lifting my spirits, Jane! The little things are often the best remedy.

A Day in the Life (GIF Edition)

My fellow guild mates thought a look into my typical day would make for an interesting blog post. Maybe. I wasn’t convinced. What if I put you all to sleep with my boring life? So I decided to spice things up, just a bit.

06:00 – I’m not a morning person. My alarm clock, a.k.a. my iPhone, sounds like an alarm you might hear if a nuclear reactor was in danger of meltdown. It’s the only digital alarm capable of wrenching me out of my slumber into the land of the living, but even then I’m not a happy camper.

Destroy Everything

By this time cats are already at the door in danger of becoming feral if I don’t heed their need for sustenance. Since adopting Drusilla I’ve had to shut my door at night if I want sleep. If I leave it open she pesters me almost nonstop. Her favorite ways to pester include, pawing my face, biting my nose, biting my toes, and burrowing under the blankets to attack my legs. Since she and Hunter have become best friends I don’t feel bad shutting her out and she doesn’t seem to hold it against me (she follows me everywhere).

Demon Cat

06:10 – Coffee is the only thing on my mind. The cats have been fed. The dog has been fed and put outside. Now is Coffee Time – Phase 1. I love coffee and I drink a ton of it, but I wouldn’t say I’m addicted. My coffee intake during Dragon Con was almost nonexistent and I functioned just as as well. On a typical day I drink my coffee out of a large travel mug and I drink 2-4 of those. I like to leisurely drink it throughout the morning, oftentimes when I’m painting or writing blog posts. During Phase 1 I usually check my emails and read the news headlines.

Coffee

06:53 – Coffee Time Phase 1 ends. I go downstairs at this point to make lunch for both my daughter and my mother. Yes. I make my mother’s lunch. I’m a good daughter. But I’ll be honest, it’s not my favorite task of the day especially before I’ve had my full caffeine intake.

Cooking before I've had enough caffeine.

07:45 By now my daughter is on her way to school and my mother has left for her job. I’m still in my pajamas, drinking coffee (Coffee Time Phase 2), and updating various social media sites. It’s a necessary evil but nonetheless draining.

Tumblr

08:30 – 15:00 My creative time is a mixed bag of nuts. Every day is an adventure.

I can paint anything!

I can paint anything.

This isn't working how I imagined.

This isn’t turning out how I imagined it in my head…

Everything I paint is crap!

Everything I paint is crap!

I don't let those negative thoughts stop me.

I don’t let this stop me. Paint, paint, paint!

PerfectMy masterpiece. Muahaha!

Doubt

An hour later…

15:00 I try to switch gears around this time. I have an hour before my daughter arrives home, so I do some typical domestic chores.

Cleaning

18:00 – Before I know it, it’s time for dinner.

khaleesi

20:00 My evenings are spent watching a couple television shows we’ve DVR’d and then I head to bed to read, usually for far too long.

Reading

If you’ve made it this far I salute you!

amandamakepeace.com

A Few of my Favorite Things (in the Studio)

We all have a favorites. How many times in the span of your life have you been asked, what’s your favorite color? Or favorite season? I love coffee, lattes are my favorite. That doesn’t mean I only drink lattes. But creative individuals take it a step further, especially when it comes to the tools we use to create. I think we tend to have favorites for life, favorites so tied to our process they cannot be substituted. For example, if I’m drawing in pencil I only use these:

Derwent Pencils

I’ve been tempted by others and then cringed as the graphite scratched across the surface of my paper. No. No. No. Derwent pencils are perfect. I know exactly how much pressure to apply to make them glide and become one with the paper. They are my zen. Seriously.

Now you might think I use Derwent for everything then. Nope. When it comes to colored pencils I only use these:

Prismacolor

My love of Prismacolor Colored Pencils was the result of supply and demand. I required specific colors and their pencils were the only one in my art supply shop that could be purchased individually. And what a range of colors they supply!

I’m also particular about the brushes I use, the paper, and my brands of paint (Holbein Watercolors and Golden Acrylics). Often times I’ve stumbled into using a new tool and then I become hooked.  Once upon a time I used Staedtler pens for drawing in ink. They come in a range of sizes–good pens. Then I discovered Sakura Micron pens and the heavens opened up with tears of joy.

Sakura Micron Pens

I can’t fathom using any other pen for drawing now. They are available in black and sepia. Sepia! If I’m going on a trip and I want to bring something to sketch with, I usually grab these pens and lightweight pad of Strathmore drawing paper. So what are your favorites? I’m positive I’m not alone when it comes to special favorites in the studio. I imagine even writers are particular about their setup and musicians too.

Leave a comment, let me know!

amandamakepeace.com

Time to Put the Brush Down

Follow the smell of oil paints, the trail of art frames and pencil shavings–that’s where you’ll find me. It’s non-stop right now. I’ve been busy embellishing prints for Dragon*Con, working on a oil painting (what was I thinking??), and amassing a collection of frames for the art show. I love it! But every artist must venture forth from the studio to the real world. What keeps me sane amidst the rush of creativity?

1. Walking – I started a new routine of walking the circle of our neighborhood. It’s just shy of 2 miles. Unfortunately, I had to put that on hold when I took a small tumble down our stairs. No broken bones, but I do have a bruised tailbone that is still causing me pain two weeks later. I’m hoping to get back to my walking routine next week.

2. Longmire is back. – Wait. Did you think I only watched Science Fiction/Fantasy type shows? I do have other loves and this is one of them. You can’t go wrong with me if you put together a crime show, set in the west, with a strong Native American cast (not that you can tell from the photo below). Katee Sackhoff is in the show too. She’s been a favorite since BSG. The big guy there, who plays Walt Longmire, he was an agent in the first Matrix film. Seriously! And of course there’s Lou Diamond Philips. When Longmire isn’t on I’ve been re-watching Fringe from the beginning. How I miss that show!

Longmire Cast

3. Comics – I’ve been devouring them lately. It’s what I find most relaxing before I shut my eyes at night. Here’s a peek at what I’ve read and what I’m still reading. I’ve read so much lately that I couldn’t easily post them all.

Digital:

The Gilded Age by John McGuire  Saga Vol 1  Latverian Prometheus

Paper:

 

 

Journey into Mystery: The Complete Collection Vol 1  Loki: Agent of Asgard  Trees  The Wicked + The Divine

 

Walking, a little TV, reading comics and of course studio time–that’s my life right now. 🙂

Inspiring Young Creatives

I’m in the zone right now. The one where I don’t want to stop painting. I don’t want to do anything that will disrupt my rhythm. I imagine all creative people experience it and the torture when they do have to stop. That drive to create is always there, even when I’m tired. Last night, after clearing a couple TV shows off our DVR, I headed back upstairs to paint just a bit more before bed. But that never happened. Instead, at ten o’clock in the evening I gave my daughter a drawing lesson. In the last year she’s begun drawing more and more and showing signs that she’s inherited the artist gene from her mother and grandmother. I always try to make the time to show her how I do things not because I’m her mother, but because it’s the right thing to do for any young creative person. So when she asked me last night if I’d show her how I draw a tiger, I said of course.

Beginnings of a Tiger Read more

Makepeace Really is my Name

Hi there. Welcome to Tessera! I’m the artist of this creative guild, the one with the really cool last name. Makepeace isn’t my birth name, but it is by far the best surname I’ve ever had and let’s face it, I should have been born with this name. A week doesn’t go by when I haven’t received a comment about it’s validity or origin. I’ve almost got the spiel down: “Yes, that really is my name. It’s great isn’t it? I can’t take credit though, it was my ex’s name. It’s an old Quaker name. No, I’d never change it!” In all seriousness, it does suit me. I’ve had a passion for art and nature for as long as I can remember. Many of my fondest memories involve the outdoors–one of them is the photo to the right. You can still find me wandering the woods today, collecting feathers, stones and other odd bits of nature. My studio is full of a my collection.

Quite often, bits of my collection end up in my art, but once my imagination has a say you never know what you’re going to get. I am an avid reader of Science Fiction and Fantasy, with some horror on the side. Movies? Same genres. Television? Same genres. I do read (and watch) outside of those realms, but anything from the Avengers to Middle Earth will take precedent over a thriller. Don’t get me started on music. You probably wouldn’t believe how far my tastes swing (Classical to Linkin Park).

I’m also, as was pointed out earlier in the week, a Web-Warrior Princess. Technology doesn’t scare me. If you were to look at the testing they do in schools, my highest ranked subjects were the Humanities and Science. My favorite courses at university were Comparative Literature and Human Osteology. I love both, just another example of my broad interests and skills. I can create with a paint brush (both digital and physical) and I can create with HTML, CSS, and PHP.

I guess all of this combined makes me a tree-hugging geek with a wild imagination. I’m cool with that.

What does this mean for you readers of Tessera? Well. I’ll be sharing a lot of art, some of my process as it applies to creating art for a story, things that inspire me, photos from conventions (I’m going to one this weekend!), books on my nightstand (and comics too), and so much more. I’ll even share a story or two of my own. I don’t think of myself as a writer–I think about art and painting far more–but I do write the occasional piece of flash fiction. I might also occasionally share a flashback from the movies, stories, images and events of my childhood that shaped who I am today. The possibilities are endless.

 

Five Random Facts

1. My favorite things to draw as a young teen? Horses and Xenomorphs. Not together, but that would have been cool too!

2. My favorite things to paint nowadays? Birds and Faces.

Xenomorph by Amanda MakepeaceFirst Light Detail by Amanda Makepeace

3. Artists I listen to the most on my iPod? Bon Iver, Florence + The Machine, The Glitch Mob, Cry Monster Cry, Imagine Dragons, Of Monsters and Men and Lindsey Stirling.

4. What did I want to be when I grew up? It changed quite a few times. High on the list: Geologist, Marine Biologist, Forensic Anthropologist, and of course an artist and writer.

5. First and last comic I bought? First was Aliens: Earth War (Dark Horse) and the last I bought was Infinity: Part Three (Marvel).

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