Welcome to the Cradle of Magic series.
I’m now offering custom canvas paintings created in the color you desire. Each painting will look like one of the fantastical forests seen in the photos below.
How it works:
You pick your color, and I paint your dark, magical tree using iridescent acrylics to match your order. The process takes approx 3-5 days, after which I’ll varnish with a fine matte protective spray and ship immediately. Due to these being custom, each canvas will vary slightly. (But will match the style and flow seen in the photos.)
Color choices are:
These paintings are 12″ x 24″ on heavyweight (1″ thick) gallery-wrapped canvas. I create them individually with acrylic paint and iridescent watercolors. To make the backgrounds, I use a heavy watercolor drip, and after the drip dries I paint them with intense, bright colors and deep blacks for the trees. I’m happy to provide more photos by request. Reach me on Facebook right HERE.
I also offer a premium option, which includes bigger, deep-edge gallery style canvasses (12″ x 30″). The premium option is for the serious collectors out there. Check it out HERE.
Your custom painting will look like:
It all depends on the color you choose!
To get started, go HERE.
I’m not sure how it happened.
A few autumns ago, I bought a new house.
And somehow got it in my head to use one of the rooms as an art studio.
Sure, I’d painted before. Twenty years ago, I owned an airbrush T-shirt company. I made banners for local bands. I dabbled in various art forms. I even spent a few seasons at art school, which ended up being the only education in my life I ever enjoyed.
But nothing like this.
On a brisk, windy day, my son and I left our new house behind, marched into our truck, and sped off to Hobby Lobby. You know Hobby Lobby, right? The bible-thumping craft store…which just so happens to sell gallery-ready canvasses, high-quality paint brushes, and paint…tons of paint.
Being fools, we walked into Hobby Lobby and exited an hour later with armloads (and a truckload) of the hugest canvasses we could find. Along with fifty tubes of acrylic paint, charcoal pencils, graphite powder, brushes, an easel, and…well…you get the point.
I’m not really sure why. It’s just what happened.
That first night, while the rain pummeled suburban Atlanta, and while my kid sat on the floor slathering yellow paint onto a canvas of his own, I stood in a daze in our new ‘painting room.’ Really, it was just a bare-walled empty space; most people would’ve used it as a dining room. You know…the room most families never inhabit?
Black paint hit the canvas hard. Directionless. Not quite Jackson Pollock random, but close.
Something like this came out:
The Emperor’s Vision. It was a scene from one of the fantasy novels I’d written. Somehow…to see it alive on a canvas…I felt an awakening.
All it took was one simple painting. One glance at the strange world I’d accidentally created.
And I was hooked.
Autumn rumbled by. Winter settled atop us. During the long, dark nights, as the never-ending rain drowned our little neighborhood, I found myself wandering each night into the painting room.
At first, I lacked aim. Purpose. Meaning. (not to mention, talent.)
I tried painting people. More dark cities. Corrupted landscapes. Trees. I was nothing if not a bit brooding, a bit dark. I glued all the lessons I barely remembered from art school to my wild imagination, and strange things resulted.
For the next two years, I toiled in the shadows of my new, over-big house. My blank walls, once eggshell white, transformed into a cacophony of colors. Ten paintings became twenty, and twenty become more than one-hundred.
And then I moved. To an apartment. In which the walls offered only about 10% of the space I’d formerly had.
What am I going to do with all this junk? I thought.
I’ve got stacks of paintings…and nowhere to put them.
What if…? Nah…
A few quiet months went by, and another accident happened. A journeywoman artist moved to Atlanta, and we decided to paint cooperatively. No idea why. Once again, no goal existed. We just wanted to ‘art’ for the sake of art itself.
She sculpted. I painted. And I moved again, this time into another house. My new bachelor pad wasn’t nearly as big as my previous house, but the walls offered plenty of space to fill with our new three-dimensional creations.
Many months smoldered by. Summer. Autumn. Winter. Another summer.
Were we getting better? we wondered. Is all our work resulting in actual skill?
The walls of my newest house filled up. Once again, finished canvasses were stacked on the floor, collecting cobwebs as they slept well out of sight.
And then, a text message arrived:
“I’d like to buy one of your pieces.”
“Yes. I’ll pay shipping, too. Just give me the price.”
An accident. Luck. A door cracked open. A sliver of light shining through. One sold painting. Then five. Then Ten. Thirty. Fifty.
What just happened?
I’m doing this professionally, I said to myself.
An artist friend – Amanda Makepeace – had a booth and gallery at DragonCon that year. Sure, I’d been to D-Con before. No, I never dressed up or really participated in anything. Honestly, I usually went to party and haunt the art show.
The DragonCon art show.
Hundreds of fantasy, sci-fi, and other paintings…all in one place.
Thousands of people.
Look at Amanda’s art. It’s beautiful. I wonder…could I? Nah…right?
One night, while sipping scotch in my house and painting nothing in particular, I asked a few questions. Of my friends. Of Amanda. Of people I knew who’d attended DragonCon.
Ever the impulsive fool, I made a rash decision. I planned to paint seven pieces to submit to D-Con’s art show selection process. Why? I’m not sure. I’d no intention of succeeding. I really just wanted to challenge myself. After all, the three-person jury included three well-known art masters, two of whom I often emulated (Allen Williams & Brom.) How could my small efforts impress long-term professionals?
I plunged in. Did my homework. Bought a boatload of new canvasses. Stayed awake until 3AM painting alone or in the company of others.
And I worked.
On the day DragonCon art show submissions opened, I stood at the ready, my finger poised to submit what I believed in my head-movie were my seven best pieces.
I clicked ‘Submit.’
And I allowed myself to forget what I’d done.
Hundreds of applicants.
Best fantasy artists in the world.
This was a fun ride, but it ends here.
Honestly, I really did forget. There seemed no sense in agonizing over what I’d accidentally fallen into. I told myself I was just a guy goofing around in his kitchen, drinking whiskey, making funny shapes to put on my walls.
And it was true.
A few months later, when the phone call arrived, I awoke as if from a stupor. (No really, I was hungover.) And there it was.
“You’re in,” he said.
I want to tell you the rest of the story. But it hasn’t happened yet.
The DragonCon Art Show hits Atlanta from Aug 30 – Sept 3 this year.
I’ll have 12 original pieces and more than one-hundred prints.
I’ll probably still be there just to party. I don’t have a booth, so really all I’m doing is dropping paintings off for everyone to look at.
I hope you’ll stop by the art show.
And then find me down at Hard Rock Cafe.
Look for me at the bar.
First round is on me.
Oh…here’s a few snapshots of me laying out my gallery space.
All paintings are originals. J Edward Neill & Tahina Morrison.
Creepy gothic cathedrals.
Ancient dark towers.
Fantastical sky-piecing minarets.
Some of these are among my older (and therefore cruder) works.
Others are more recent.
Quality notwithstanding, painting dark towers is among my favorite things to do, second only to drawing attractive women.
For more, go here.
For previous art assaults, go here.
This week I finished a new painting for my Earth Rituals series, Forest Dreams. It’s actually the second painting I’ve finished for this series, but the first can’t be shown due to an NDA (Non-disclosure Act). It’s been a strange experience not being able to share that painting. I feel it shows a progression of where I’m going with my art, leaving this new painting without an anchor. Alas, it is, what it is. After a rough month and a half in my every day life, it felt good to truly dive into this painting. I hope it touches you, as it has me.
Earth and magic,
Roots and stones,
Azure circles sown.
Whispers and wings,
Tendrils and leaves,
Forest dreams weave.
This painting, like Signs and Symbols, is set in the dream forest. But unlike the young man’s journey, which only brought him to the space between the two worlds, here we are fully immersed. The young woman is a fae, dreaming her magic into the earth. Her magic gives rise to a blue fairy circle.
If you’re going to Dragon Con this summer, you can see her in the Art Show. I’ll also have limited edition prints available to order starting next week in my shop.
Two years ago, around this same time, I was preparing for my first convention as an artist. I’m doing the same now, for the same convention–Dragon Con. Genre art (fantasy, science fiction, horror) for me at the time was still a relatively new venture. I grew up on late 70’s and 80’s genre films. As a teenager I was consumed by Stephen King and other speculative fiction authors. You’d think this would be reflected in my art, but it wasn’t until 2012 that I began letting myself explore. A wall in my psyche came down and my art evolved. Two years later I was at Dragon Con and now another two years later I’m returning. In that time, I’ve continued to explore, evolve and learn.
I began thinking about what I truly wanted. What did I want to create with my art? What did I want to say? Did I need to say anything? That introspection gave birth to Renascentia. She is the first painting I felt connected to on a deeper level and I realized I need that connection. It reminds me of this quote I heard recently:
If you don’t feel anything for the painting your working on, your viewers won’t either.
When I brought Renascentia to Jordan Con in 2015, I realized the truth of these words. However, I still hadn’t figured out what I wanted. The vision in my head was still veiled in mist. It took nearly another year for me to begin piecing together what I now call Earth Rituals. I’m creating a body of work around this idea of connecting with the earth, but it’s not the only art I plan to make. I will continue to make purely nature art, delve into Sci-Fi, and whatever else catches my fancy.
But what have I done and learned over the last two years?
- I learned how to create art from direction.
- I ran a successful kickstarter and printed a book.
- I won Judge’s Choice from Todd Lockwood. O_O
- I signed my first contract with a small games publisher.
- I knew this already, but it was reaffirmed–true friends are invaluable.
- I will break my no dancing rule if you give me mixed drinks.
- I learned I don’t really enjoy game illustration.
- I learned you can be a part of a large community and still feel utterly alone.
- I learned there’s an art to using Instagram.
- I enjoy licensing art for book covers more than custom commissions.
- I learned I just want to create my own art, on my own terms.
- I guided my daughter through her last year of high school and into her first year of college.
- I was invited to be a member of Changeling Artist Collective.
- I launched a Patreon campaign that’s still going.
- I rediscovered my love of graphite and drawing.
- I’ve had a taste of being an art director (large project in progress now).
Ultimately, I’ve realized I’m not an illustrator, nor do I really want to be. Sure, there may be some overlap occasionally. If a project fits my vision and my style I might jump on board. But at the end of the day, I’m an artist. I think my art will always hover between fine art and the fantastic. In some cases it will sway back and forth between the two. That’s okay.
We all have favorites. Favorite movies, books, authors, etc. But does everyone have favorite artists? If they don’t, they should. The worlds of the imaginary and mythic are sometimes the most inspiring of all. They are dreams brought to life. Here’s a few of my favorites from living artists you can support now–today.
Who are your favorite artists?
a child believed to have been secretly substituted by fairies for the parents’ real child in infancy.
Changeling. The word itself conjures fantastical visions and now it’s also the name of a new Artist Collective founded by Rachel Quinlan. I’m honored to be a part of an extraordinary group of fantasy artists. Each month we’ll be hosting themed auctions on our Facebook Page. The first auction, Bugs and Beasties, launches July 13th! You can also follow updates on Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr.
And now for what matters most–the Artists behind the Changeling Artist Collective! If you’re following our Facebook Page you’ll be introduced to these artists, one by one, in the coming weeks.
Rovina Cai, Kristina Carroll, Iris Compiet, Collette J Ellis, Tiffany England, Sam Guay, Emily Hare, Jana Heidersdorf, Jayde Hilliard-Simpson, Maggie Ivy, Heather Hitchman Lambert, Emma Lazauski, Amanda Makepeace, Serena Malyon, Belinda Jane Morris, Fergal O’Connor, Rachel Quinlan, Angela Rachelle Sasser,
Anna K. Szalas, Tiffany Turrill, Anja Uhren, Jabari Weathers, Ren Willows
You were with me till I mentioned bugs, right? Hear me out! These are three fun art challenges happening in June. Like #mermay and #inktober, artists will be sketching/drawing/painting daily based on one or a combination of these themes. You’ll be able to follow these hashtags on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook:
#JuneFae – All things Fae: Fairies, Pixies, Brownies, Hobgoblins, etc.
#Junicorn – That’s right, a month full of unicorns!
#JuneBug – Bugs!!! Bugs aren’t your thing? Are you sure… The insect world is full of beautiful creatures like moths and butterflies.
These daily art challenges are open to everyone and it’s up to you whether you post daily or maybe weekly. Tag your posts with one or all of the challenge hashtags. Invite others to join in! Art challenges are a great way to explore new mediums, improve upon a skill or break out of a creative funk.
I’m going to use the challenge as part meditation and part art experiment. Much of my art tends to be detailed and leans more toward realism. For #JuneFae I’ll be creating spontaneous little tree sprite doodles with Walnut Ink (and occasionally with a little gold pigment added). These mini paint sketches will be a fun departure from my usual work! Below is a test sprite I doodled this week in preparation.
Here are some of my artist friends who will be participating too.
It’s time once again for JordanCon! I’ve been consumed lately preparing for the Art Show. Consumed. I got behind earlier in the year when I was working on a painting for a secret project. I still can’t share that painting and it’s slowly killing me inside. Ha! But attendees at JordanCon will get a sneak peek if they buy one of my prints or an original from my bay. A crop of the painting is on the backside of my new business cards! I will be carrying some business cards on me too, if you’re brave enough to come up to me.
This year is a little different than last. I’m officially a Guest of the convention. Just a small guest, but a guest. Yay!! Saturday morning, attendees should head to the Washington room, across from the Art Show. At 11:30 a.m. four artists, including myself, will be playing Win, Lose or Draw. I promise you it will be hilarious.
You can see almost all of the art I’m bringing to JordanCon in this public Facebook Gallery – JordanCon Art Show. I’ve pointed out which pieces will have prints in the print shop too. As always, I’m open to talking about my pieces if anyone is curious about my process and inspiration.
I’m heading out today around 5 p.m. for Atlanta. See you soon JordanCon!
It was long and difficult journey to publish my first three fantasy books.
I spent ten years writing them…then another two years in rewrites.
Along the way, I created and commissioned a ton of art for the series. Some of it was inspirational. Other pieces were meant as cover art, and still others for marketing.
Today I’ve brought a ton of it together. Think of this as a unified sketchbook. It includes pieces by the elegant Amanda Makepeace, the gifted Eileen Herron, and the super savvy Damonza.
Please enjoy the art of my Tyrants of the Dead series, which includes the novels Down the Dark Path, Dark Moon Daughter, and Nether Kingdom:
Let’s start with a dirty little sketch I did. I sent it to Amanda Makepeace to aid her creation of Nether Kingdom’s cover art. You’ll see in the next pic how she took my humble idea and made it grand.
Lady Makepeace’s full cover art for Nether Kingdom. This demonic dude is one of the Ur, the primary villains in the series. His skin is shadow, and his insides glow with starlight.
Here’s another bad, bad creature. This full-color piece was Eileen Herron’s vision of a Sarcophage (undead knight) who plagues the pages of book two in the series, Dark Moon Daughter. It’s one of my favorites.
What’s this? Why, it’s the original Eileen Herron cover art for Dark Moon Daughter. I commissioned a full-scale painting, which still hangs in my bedroom to this day. Ultimately we went with something edgier and darker for the final cover, but I still love this piece.
This guy (in the lower right of the full painting above) is the only existing image of the malevolent Warlock. Ironically he was modeled after Eileen’s husband, who’s pretty much the opposite of evil.
Here’s a painting I did in 2015. I named it the Underhollows. It doesn’t appear in the books, but is meant to show what the world would look like if the villains won.
Two Eileen Herron sketches of Andelusia, the series’ heroine.
Here’s a huge canvas painting I did called ‘Illyoc.’ It’s a bit abstract, I admit. It’s a view of the dark stronghold Malog, as seen from a balcony.
A conceptual piece Amanda Makepeace did. You can see how it’s the beginning of the Nether Kingdom cover. Pretty ghostly, yeah?
Kinda looks like the killer from the Scream movies, yeah? It’s actually the first ever sketch of the Ur. Another Eileen Herron piece. Nice and creepy.
These are shots of Eileen Herron’s original cover art for Down the Dark Path. Once again, she painted a large canvas for me which still hangs on my wall. The redhead is pre-darkness Andelusia. The guy with the flaming sword is Garrett Croft. The big red spiky ball was the concept for the evil Soul Orb. I love this painting. But as it turns out, it didn’t photograph well for the final cover. Check out the lone black lock of Ande’s hair. Hint…hint…
Another Eileen Herron sketch of Andelusia. This is our heroine gliding out of the shadows. It’s a simple little drawing, but I’ve always been in love with it.
Early sketches of Andelusia by me (top left) Amanda Makepeace (top right) and Eileen Herron (bottom.)
A promo digital painting of Andelusia by Amanda Makepeace.
Here’s what the Soul Orb ended up becoming. This is just a sliver of Lady Makepeace’s cover work for Book I. And yes…those are bones!
You’ve probably seen these before. I post them all the time. Book I is Amanda’s full cover art. The other three are paintings I did in 2015. The original canvas for Book II (Ghost Tree) ended up being a Christmas gift for a family member. The other two still hang on my wall at home. The painting for Book IV (Ocean of Knives) is epic-level huge, measuring in at 36″ x 48″. It took a month to paint!
This one was done by online professional, Damonza. He custom-did the entire thing based on a photograph of a woman I was dating at the time. That’s post-darkness Andelusia, and the eyes in the background belong to the Ur. This one is a fan favorite, probably because it’s so damn sexy.
Eileen Herron’s art for Down the Dark Path…the bookmark. That’s a Furyon knight, fully armored and standing in a storm. It’s a badass piece. I wish I could’ve found a way to make it work for a book cover. Maybe someday…
This was the original back cover for Dark Moon Daughter, which I nixed after Damonza finished his sexy cover. This was my first ever attempt at making a back cover by myself. It’s not horrible (but not good, either.)
Here’s The Emperor’s Vision, a painting I did in 2015. You can probably see the similarity to Book IV’s cover art. This is meant to be the dark city of Morellellus, in which the very first passages of Down the Dark Path open. It’s still one of my favorites. It was among the very first things I painted for the series.
Finally, I did a piece called Ocean of Knives. It’s an expansion of The Emperor’s Vision. Same city, same concept, but four times the canvas space. This painting would quickly become the cover art for Down the Dark Path – Book IV in the mini-series.
Also, here’s a bunch of sketches I did wayyyyy back in the day.
* * *
I hope you enjoyed this glimpse behind the scenes.
Through a forest of ash and mist he journeys to seek the truth.
Ever since I completed Renascentia in January of this year, I’ve been mulling over the next step. For the first time in several years I felt as if I’d tapped into something inside me–something powerful. I knew it was the beginning of a new series of paintings, but my vision was still incomplete. It took most of this year for me to unravel the ideas behind what I’m now calling Earth Rituals. I’m not ready to reveal all, but simply put it’s a series of two types of paintings: 1. People communing with the Earth (like Renascentia) and 2. People communing with animals (like Signs and Symbols above). Later next month, I’ll delve deeper into how the idea for Earth Rituals developed. For now, I’ll say that the symbolism in the paintings is sometimes based in mythology and old religions; while other times, it may be a blending or creation of my own.
In Signs and Symbols, a young man has entered a dream forest seeking the answer to a question. I leave the question up to you. He seeks a crow in the forest that will give him his answer.
What is a dream forest? – It’s a place where this world and the unseen one coexist.
What is on his hands/arms? – It’s a mixture of charcoal, earth and water. The symbol was drawn on top of the paint with talc.
What is that symbol? What does it mean? – The symbol comes from a stone I have in my personal collection. It’s one of my favorites and reminds me of an eye. In the painting, it allow’s the young man to see the spirit crow in the dream forest and to communicate with her.
What do you think he’s asking her?
If you’re going to JordanCon 2016 you’ll be able to see a framed, one of a kind embellished print in the art show! I should also have limited edition prints available in my shop in a few weeks.
“Some of my kin look just like trees now, and need something great to rouse them; and they speak only in whispers. But some of my trees are limb-lithe, and many can talk to me.”
Tolkien’s Ents have always been a favorite of mine. I suppose that’s not too surprising if you know me well enough. If given the opportunity I’d spend an entire day roaming the woods. I only wish our forests were protected by such magnificent beings.
I created this shepherd specifically for the EBSQ Inspired by Tolkien exhibit. If you like him, click the LIKE button here: http://www.ebsqart.com/Art-Shows/Exhibits/Tolkien/429/1/
Beneath the skin, beneath the ground, beneath the ______
October is full of art challenges. I’ve been having a blast with my Inktober adventure, but there was one other challenge I hoped I might tackle. Month of Fear is a weekly challenge in October. Each week has a different theme/prompt. The event has official artists participating, but anyone is free to participate. I knew I had no hope of creating a painting each week, so I decided on one.
The devil hath power to assume a pleasing shape.
– William Shakespeare
Supporters of my Patreon campaign has access to a Resource Pack that includes a GIF image of the painting’s progression, the Photoshop brushes I used, textures and reference. Now I better go catch up on my Inktober drawings!
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:
Best Cover Illustration / Hardcover
Julie Dillon, Shadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses Anthology edited by Brandon Sanderson; Dragonsteel Entertainment, June 2014
Best Cover Illustration – Paperback
Raoul Vitale, Nebula Awards Showcase 2014 edited by Kij Johnson; Prometheus/Pyr
Best Cover Illustration – Magazine
Julie Dillon, Analog, April 2014
Best Interior Illustration
Anna Balbusso and Elena Balbusso, “Ekaterina and the Firebird” by Abra Staffin-Wiebe; Tor.com, January 2014
Best Color Work – Unpublished
Michael C. Hayes, Alegretto, Oils
Best Monochrome Work – Unpublished
Allen Williams, “Sphynx” graphite
Best Three-Dimensional Art
Dan Chudzinski, The Mudpuppy, resin & mixed media
Best Gaming Related Illustration
Peter Mohrbacher, Pharika, God of Affliction Magic card, Journey into Nyx; WotC, May 2014
Best Product Illustration
Donato Giancola, George R.R. Martin Song of Ice and Fire 2015 calendar Bantam, 2014
Best Art Director
Irene Gallo, Tor & Tor.com
Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award
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
Limited Edition Prints
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!
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.
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!).
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:
- I have a theme I edited to mimic the look of my website.
- There are no upfront fees. I only pay a small fee when something sells and my listings never expire.
- 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!
Didn’t have a chance to buy my art at JordanCon this year? I have a section just for Art Show prints!
Next week, prints of Renascentia will be available to order!
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.
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.
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:
Dominoes falling into place…
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I think having a style is not something you discover, it’s more about being true to your self when you paint.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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…
Rebecca Guay, an amazing artist and inspiring woman, began a movement on Facebook to highlight to extraordinary talent of women in the arts. Equal > Art is about all women and all genres of art, but I do feel women artists of the fantastic art (fantasy, scifi, horror) are often overlooked. Chances are, one (or more!) of the fantasy or science fiction books on your shelf was painted by woman. Have you ever looked? The point is we should all be equal in art but there is a tendency to only hear about the amazing men in illustration–there are many! Since March is Women’s History Month I thought I’d share art from my Equal > Art posts on Facebook.
Check out this new site on Tumblr too! It’s still a work in progress, but already it features some stellar talent.
After months of tedious, but also fun work, I’m pleased to announce the pages for my first sketchbook volume, Daydreams & Wanderings, are finished and ready for the printer! I’m running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for printing. Supporters of the campaign have the opportunity to purchase the book at a special KS only price of $15. Essentially, you’re pre-ordering the book at a sale price! Outside of Kickstarter the book will be $20, available from my online shop and conventions.
This is only one of the KS Reward Levels. There are several, including budget levels of $5 and $10. Levels $25 and up include a sketch on the inside title page. I hope you’ll help me make this dream a reality!
Art post! Yeah, I couldn’t think up something clever to write this week, so here’s a magical tree I painted for an online art challenge – Colour and Texture ArtOrder Challenge.
The glowing symbol in the middle of the tree comes from the Ogham alphabet. It’s the name for Oak and means Strength. I imagine this to be an old, moss covered tree–the heart of a magical forest. I’ve ordered a cotton rag print that I’ll be embellishing, mounting, and framing. If you’re going to Jordan Con 2015 you’ll see it in the Art Show!
Last week, J Edward Neill shared a History of the Ur, where you had the opportunity to learn about the villain of his fantasy trilogy, Tyrants of the Dead.
They move from star to star, swallowing every planet in darkness, building black towers on every surface, and turning oceans to deathly broth. Once a planet is blanketed in shadow and every living thing smoked out, the Ur eject clouds of star-snuffing darkness from their towers. The darkness consumes the planet’s star, and the Ur move elsewhere.
I had the pleasure of painting one of these diabolical interstellar shadows last year for the cover of the final book in the trilogy. What you see above is only a fraction of the painting Devourer of Stars. You’ll have to wait just a bit longer to experience all of his beautiful darkness. In the meantime, here’s small playlist of some of the songs that inspired me along the way.
I’ve slowly begun work on a new painting, tentatively titled Her Last Breath. When I begin a new painting project there are often keywords and phrases I’ll keep close by while I work. They help me visualize and focus on the idea behind the painting and the mood of the scene. I don’t usually share these thoughts with anyone, but as I’m moving toward a more defined direction with my art, I thought it might help the viewer to understand the unspoken story.
This is what I have tacked to the cork board above my desk:
Last Breath – Transformation – Becoming
She wears an ouroboros. The earth, roots and soil, are accepting her into the fold. Flowers sprout from her hair. She is leaving her human life to become a guardian. Her last breath drifts from her lips, warm against the cold air. Blood seeps from one nostril. Her skin pales but her eyes are vibrant. She is becoming.
The first layers of paint are in place. Now the fun begins! Follow me on Instagram for more progress shots.
It’s time to vote in the Infected by Art Volume 3 Contest! I went back and forth on whether or not I should enter this contest, but in the end I decided, what the hell. What could it hurt? I might be a little bummed if I don’t make the cut, but that will last about a minute and then I’ll be back to painting. There’s always next year. But it’s one of those situations where I decided I need to stop putting things off. I need to stop assuming I’m not ready and just take a chance. Below are there simple steps to take to vote for my entry, Her Domain II.
Step 1: Signup to vote at: http://www.infectedbyart.com/signup.asp
Step 2: Follow this link to my entry: http://www.infectedbyart.com/contestgallery.asp?cid=21&gid=9354
Step 3: Click on my entry and then click on the green Vote button. That’s it! Voting ends Dec 9th. That’s in three days!
This weekend, through Monday night, you can take advantage of some of the best deals of the season in my Etsy shop. Everything is 30% off, including the new Spirit Cards. Plus, if you’ve made a purchase from my Etsy shop in the past every purchase comes with a coupon code. This special thank you coupon will give you an extra $5 off your order. Sale ends late Monday night!