Dragoncon 2018 is over…but the art continues

Whew…

What a ride.

This year’s DragonCon Art Show was epic. A ton of great artists, a TON of great art.

To celebrate, I’m restocking my store with everything I¬†didn’t sell.

AND I’m offering this coupon, which is good for 25% off everything.

YES.

EVERYTHING.

Let’s start with the prints and original paintings I featured at the Art Show. Through the end of this month, use coupon code DRAGONCON to get 25% off the listed prices!

Just click the art you’re interested in and go nuts. ūüôā


Where Dreams Die (Print) – $15

Horned Queen (Print) – $15

Hither the Wind (Print) – $15

Season of Shadows (Print) – $20

Worship (Print) – $15

Underworld King (Print) – $10

Be Silent (Print) – $15

Furiosa (Print) – $15

Summoning Tree (Print) – $20


Also, the coupon (again, it’s DRAGONCON) applies each of the following original canvasses.

Visit my shop to learn more.


The 12 Paintings I’m Showing at DragonCon

I’m headed to DragonCon this year.

It’s my first time appearing in their annual art show.

The show will be loaded with great artists, including all of these talented folks here.

As for me?

I’m bringing twelve canvas paintings.

Here they are, each with a little story included:

‘Serpents of Sorrow’ – A collaborative piece created with sculptor Tahina Morrison. I’d never really painted snakes before this. We tried to capture a tragic Greek pose. Did we succeed? You be the judge.

‘The Spider God’ – Detailing the gears, pipes, and machines took days…and days. Some people have said the mess behind the Spider God is too much, but I loved creating it. This giant piece currently dominates my basement.

‘Pierced’ – I wanted to create something sensual without being overtly sexual. Along came this girl. I poured the watercolors on with reckless abandon…and then inked the girl in with soft, serene colors.

‘Summoning Tree’ – Most of my paintings contain metallic, muted colors. I wanted to bring one LOUD piece to DragonCon just to offset the softer stuff. Along came Summoning Tree, whose reds and yellows burn with the intensity of many suns. This one was pure chaos to create.

‘The Nemesis’ – I’m not really a fan of most video game art. But the Dark Souls series inspires me. I can’t stand the game – it’s too hard. The art…on the other hand. This giant piece, I painted atop another, much older painting. His armor turned out really well, I think.

‘Be Silent’ – My favorite collaborative piece of all time. The girl, her crown, the swirling colors in the background…it all just came together. This one is on prime display in my living room. If she sells, I’ll miss her badly.

‘Underworld King’ – Right back to the dark stuff. I wanted to mix a furious range of colors to complement Tahina’s skull work. Somehow, my violent splash of reds, blacks, and golds came together. This painting is big…and intense. (My kid is terrified of it.)

‘Season of Shadows’ – It’s no secret I like to paint trees. Usually split-color, leafless, tormented branches. This one is among my most favorite. The reds and blacks pretty much exploded onto the canvas.

‘Beauty and the Blade’ – The concept here is an (almost) immortal goddess. In a fit of extreme vanity, she wants to prove nothing can harm her. But her blade strikes home, and she learns even goddesses can die.

‘Charon’ – The Boatman. The Ferryman of the River Styx. I love painting bones and bone textures. This one is based off an actual deer skull I keep on my bookshelf. Zoom in to see the dark sigils on his face.

‘Lucifera’ – She’s loosely based on a Danzig album cover. She’s also one of my oldest paintings, marking the first time I really got into using metallics. I hang her over my stairs, which she watches without ever sleeping. I suppose her scream will never end.

‘Rapture’ – A lone girl, connected to machines which ensure she’ll never die, awakens in a tangle of shadows and snaking tubes. She’s something other than human now. Long after we’re gone, she will remain…

*

Hopefully you enjoyed this sneak peek.¬† Come see the originals at DragonCon 2018.¬† They’re much more impressive than these little thumbnails.¬† They’re also for sale at very reasonable prices.

…mostly because I’m not yet famous. ūüôā

For more of my dark (usually) art, try this.

Bouncing Between Bottles – Memoirs of a Tipsy Author

He promises to drain one bottle¬†per chapter. That’s the rule. There’s no breaking it.
And while deep in his cups, J Edward Neill takes readers on a sometimes funny, often poignant journey. Playful yet serious, humorous yet honest,¬†his bounce between bottles delivers readers on a stroll through¬†everything. It’s a lighthearted memoir blended with sharp philosophy. It’s social commentary blended with powerful cocktails.

Dating. Religion. Politics. That one time J Edward and his friend built a dam and met the world’s most relaxed water moccasin…
It’s all here.
One bottle per chapter.
One chapter every night…

*

*

Now available for every e-device worldwide. 

101 Questions for Single Parents

This book is for you if…

…you’re a sleep-deprived single mom who can name at least 50 Pok√©mon but can‚Äôt keep your kids‚Äô names straight or remember where you parked your car at the grocery store.

…you‚Äôre a single father who sits in a morning work meeting, waiting to give a monthly report presentation, when suddenly you realize you forgot to remove the polish your daughter had applied to your finger nails (and half your hand) the night before.

…you ‚Äėre the grandparent who can‚Äôt retire because you‚Äôre raising your young grandson alone. After an eight-hour work day, your nights are filled with homework, constructing cities out of Legos, and answer 2AM calls to chase monsters out from under the bed.

…you are, know, love, or want to get to know a single parent. Here are 101 ways to dig deep into the challenges and the joys of single parenting. The following questions are sometimes fun, sometimes thought-provoking, and always enlightening.

*

7 Questions for Single Parents

7 Questions

For Single Parents

…or really any Parent

* * *

*

*

Timing is Everything

 You’re a single parent, right?

(Even if you’re not, you can still answer this one.)

When dating a new person, how long should a single parent wait before allowing their new lover to meet the kid(s)?

*

Think Fast!

Using one or two-word answers only, describe what you’d do in each of the following scenarios:

  • Your child walks in after visiting your ex and claims they now believe the exact opposite of whatever your religious beliefs are
  • Your ex withholds two months of child support, claiming a financial hardship
  • Your two children (ages 10 and 15) announce they want to live exclusively with your ex-spouse
  • Your one child (age 7) announces they want to live exclusively with you and never, ever see their other parent

*

The Answer is 84

 At what age should a child have the legal right to choose to live solely with one parent?

*

Mecha-Ninja Tech-Savvy Godzilla Mom

From the following, choose one or more descriptions that would best fit your style of single-parenting:

Tiger (High discipline, emphasis on structure and academics)

Free-Spirited (Lower emphasis on structure. Let the kid do almost anything they want…within reason)

Soccer Mom/Dad (Athletics, exercise, and physical activity)

Techie (Video games & devices allowed. Emphasis on computer skills)

Skill Builder (Teach the kids to follow in your footsteps. i.e.; fixing cars, hunting, fishing, cooking, sewing, et cetera)

Culture Warrior (Teach the kids to become highly involved in society.)

*

*

Fight Club!

¬†You’re a single parent of two boys, ages 8 and 10.

You’ve had it with their constant bickering and sibling rivalry.

Your ex-spouse isn’t helping.

How do you handle their disputes?

  • Every time a fight goes down, I break it up and dish out the appropriate punishment.
  • I get involved in the serious conflicts, but let them handle the small stuff.
  • Ignore them. What kids?
  • I hand them each a sword and tell them to fight to the death!

*

All Fridays become National Holidays for Grocery Shopping and Mario Kart

Here’s your chance.

Create a new nationwide law that will apply only to single parents.

Your new law can be beneficial or punitive; it’s up to you.

If your law goes against single parents in any way, describe the penalty for breaking it.

*

Bragging Rights

 Do single parents have the right to be extra-proud?


*

So…

You like answering these kinds of questions? Go here.

Or maybe you’re tired of talking about your kids. In that case, go here.

*

The Cradle of Magic Custom Art Series

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:
Purple
Scarlet Red
Cobalt Blue
Green
Gold

A few of the color choices available.

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:

This…

…or maybe this.

…or maybe even this.

It all depends on the color you choose!

To get started, go HERE. 

Happing art-ing!

 

My Journey to the DragonCon 2018 Art Show

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’ – 2013

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.

‘Summoning Tree’

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 paintingsand 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? 

Nah…couldn’t be.¬†

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.”

“Wait…really?”

“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.

How? 

No idea…

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?

Whatever. 

I plunged in. Did my homework. Bought a boatload of new canvasses. Stayed awake until 3AM painting alone or in the company of others.

I worked.

And waited.

I waited.

And I worked.

‘Rapture’

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.

Impostor syndrome. 

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.

Even so…

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.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

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.

Whatever.

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.

Love,

J Edward Neill

.

Oh…here’s a few snapshots of me laying out my gallery space.

All paintings are originals. J Edward Neill & Tahina Morrison.

Nadya the Deathless – A new short story by J Edward Neill

Mother to a slain child…

Hunted for her power…

Some fear her…

Others adore her…

Those who know her best have named her…

Nadya the Deathless

Episode 8 in the Hollow Empire series

Now available on Amazon.

It’s Etsy’s Birthday, and We’re Discounting ALL Our Art!

June 18 – June 22

Lustrous prints

Original 3D sculpted art

Fantastical & dark paintings

Everything 15% off ALL WEEK LONG!

Visit our shop – ShadowArtFinds – right here.

View a few samples of our latest art right here:

Grinding Away in a Creative Life

It’s sunny outside.

It’s the kind of morning¬†of which I like to¬†dream. Not cold, but not quite warm. No clouds. No wind. I can hear the birds and smell the honeysuckle. It’s perfect.

It’s enough to make me want to freeze time and wander the morning for a few thousand years.

I should be working, but I’m not. I’ve just finished publishing another pair of books, and I find myself slogging through a short story about which I’m only somewhat passionate.

Sometimes, when I hit a lull like this, I pick up my paintbrush and spread out a few shadows. Maybe a colorful tree. A mournful maiden. Or maybe something terrifying.

Not today. I’m not in the mood.

I really just want to hang with the cat.

This is where I’m at:

Eaters of the Light, my sci-fi/romance/thriller series? It’s published.

My goal of finishing thirty canvas paintings at this point in the year? Exceeded.

The latest entry in my ridiculous ‘Reasons to Break Up’ trilogy? Slapped together and shipped.

It’s been a good year so far. But I want more.

Some people talk about creative exhaustion. About writer’s block. About procrastination, lack of direction, and¬†boredom.

Nah. Forget all that.

I’ve got 99 problems, but none of ’em are those.

My cardinal sin? Setting reachable goals.

Yeah. Oops.

It’s like this. Some mountains in life are meant to be climbed.¬†You say you want to save¬†$1000 bucks¬†for a vacation?¬†Boom, you did it; now get in the car and head¬†to the beach. Land a big promotion at work?¬†Achieved. Need to step outside and mow your lawn? Nice, you’re finished…hopefully with a cool glass of bourbon awaiting you inside.

But artistic goals – are those really meant to be conquered? Of this, I’m not so sure. Is there ever a point at which an author sits down and says, ‘You know…I think I’m done. No more books. I’m just gonna drift away into the sunset .’ Do painters, sculptors,¬†and photographers one day¬†just set down their tools and declare their life’s work complete? I mean…maybe. Maybe some people can do it. Maybe the best of the best reach a point of contentedness, and afterward float away in the clouds with a satisfied smile on their faces.

Maybe.

But somehow I doubt it.

My son – the G Man. He’s not impressed.

Last night, for the first time in forever, I didn’t create. My brushes sat in a Mason jar full of water, soaking up nothing. My new short story ‘Nadya the Deathless’ laid untouched on my century-old laptop. I didn’t draw. I didn’t write. I didn’t wander outside beneath the perfect stars¬†to dream up a new and exhilarating story.

I just sat there in the gloom of my basement. With a bowl of Progresso soup. Vaguely watching a movie. Not really thinking, moving, or existing.

For a while, maybe an hour, I floated in the stillness. Near the end, a scary idea¬†crept over¬†me. I thought perhaps I’d made a grave error in setting goals that were too easy to achieve. ‘Aim low, and you’ll hit your target,’ I realized.¬†‘Shoot for the moon, and though you’ll never make it, you’ll get to die trying.’

I opened my eyes. The back door was open, and the moths fluttering inside to get at the room’s only lamp. My cats dozed beside me, savoring my rare moment of inactivity.

It was then I knew my low-goal setting¬†hadn’t been¬†some tragic thing.

I can make a new goal, I realized. Something lofty. Something impossible to reach.

Something I’ll be proud to die¬†trying to do.

So let’s talk goals.

Absurd goals.

Quest to drop the One Ring into Mount Doom kind of goals.

Right now I’ve got thirty-two published books. My new goal – one-hundred.

Right now my painting store is stocked with one-hundred nine original canvas paintings. New goal – three-hundred.

Season one of Hollow Empire is finished. New goal Рfinish three full seasons.

This giant fantasy trilogy, the one I published five years ago, has begun to gather dust. New goal – sell one-thousand new copies…and write a sequel.

And my most ambitious goal, the one that’ll allow me to sniff retirement, is to sell one-million copies of this little tome.¬†(Right now I’m only at thirteen-thousand copies sold.)

Challenges, challenges…

Insurmountable.

Unlikely.

Delusional.

This should be fun.

It’s still sunny outside, although maybe a bit warmer now. And there’s just a few things more I want to share before I¬†wander outside.

My art partner, Tahina Morrison, with whom I’ve created nearly one-hundred sculpted paintings, is leaving town. It was inevitable, this change. It’s¬†humanity’s natural ebb and flow. ¬†As I sit in my little chair and think about the challenges that will arise in her absence, I can’t help but smile.

We did good work together, she and I.

We had a blast.

 

Furiosa

Twilight Shaman

 

Horned Queen

*

These are just a few of my favorite collaborative pieces. In Tahina’s absence, I realize my painting goals will be even more difficult to achieve.

So be it. Challenge accepted.

Now then…

I think it’s probably time.

Time to open the door and step out into the sunlight.

Time to stop talking about goals and start realizing them.

Time to feed my cats.

Thanks to all my readers for sticking with me. Thanks to all the art collectors who’ve invested in me, and who happily stick my canvasses on their walls. And special thanks to Tahina and the G Man, without whom the last two years would’ve been infinitely less rewarding.

Goodbye for now.

I’ll be back.

 * * *

Readers will want to check out this book here.¬†Trust me…you’ll be happy you did.

And dark art lovers might appreciate this piece, which I created based on an actual skull sitting in my living room.

J Edward Neill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tyrants of the Dead – An Epic Fantasy Trilogy

In a far and ancient land, Emperor Chakran dreams of conquest. His desire to resurrect the evil, world-ending Ur casts a dark shadow across an unsuspecting world. But as his army butchers its way across the realm, leaving only a vast, storm-riddled graveyard in its wake, a small band of warriors rises up to oppose him. They know what will become of the world should Chakran succeed. They know the Emperor is but a puppet to the true evil ‚Äď the Tyrants of the Dead.
Follow Rellen Gryphon, Garrett Croft, and Andelusia Anderae on their voyage to stop the darkness.
If they should fail, the sun will die.
…and the night will forever reign.

Tyrants of the Dead ‚Äď The Complete Collection includes all three epic volumes in the series:
Down the Dark Path
Dark Moon Daughter
Nether Kingdom

Eaters of the Light – Coming Soon!

My name is Callista Lightbringer.

Although I’m not human, I am humanity’s last hope.

For a thousand years, I’ve warred against the star-killing Strigoi. I’ve destroyed billions. I’ve snuffed hundreds of their hollow, vampiric planets.

It’s not enough.

Alone, I must find the source of the Strigoi power. I must venture deeper into space than any living creature has dared to go.

And there, in the galaxy known as Hades, I must resurrect the light.

…and defeat the Strigoi forever.

 Eaters of the Light

 Sequel to Darkness Between the Stars & Shadow of Forever

¬†The night is darkest before the dawn…

The first chapter is free to read right here.

Coming in March 2018

Win a free sci-fi book – Darkness Between the Stars – No Strings Attached

Hey you.

Do you like sci-fi or fantasy books?

Cool.

Click this link for your chance to win a Kindle version of Darkness Between the Stars.

If you like the book, please review it.

Thanks!

2 Great Atlanta Art Shows You’ll Want to Attend

Hi there everyone.

This March, I’ll be featuring original paintings by myself and Tahina Morrison at two amazing events in Atlanta.

These will be our first public art shows ever. We’ll be revealing several of our darkest, sexiest, and wildest pieces yet.

Two dates you need to remember – March 9th & March 16th

Two art shows you should commit to memory – Atlanta Pancakes & Booze Art Show / Chocolate & Art Show Atlanta

Pancakes & Booze – Friday, March 9th

And…

Chocolate & Art – Friday, March 16


We’ll have a featured gallery and prints at each show.

You’ll probably see something along the lines of…

…and more!

 


We really hope to see you! If for no other reason than free pancakes and conversation.

For updates, follow me on Facebook.

Get into our art here.

J Edward Neill

A Scary Short Story Collection

In the old world city of Ellerae, one person goes missing every day.
Poor little Mia doesn’t stand a chance.
Or does she?

Let the Bodies – A creepy¬†follow-up to¬†chilling tale, Old Man of Tessera –¬†appears in¬†anthology¬†book UnCommon Evil – Release date Feb 20th, 2018.

Preorder Uncommon Evil right here.

Why Must I Art?

 


It’s 11:30 PM on a Monday night. The wind howls against my glass-paneled door. The branches of an old oak scrape against the roof.¬†A little black cat named Bacon makes figure-eights around my ankles.

My concentration never breaks.

I’m in a zone, and nothing in the world can touch me.

It’s on nights like these, with a glass of scotch in hand and a Hans Zimmer soundtrack thrumming, I’m happiest.¬†My rickety wooden easel stands before me, and my paintbrush flies.¬†I can’t quite remember the exact moment I decided to start making art again. As a kid and¬†a teenager, I’d done the same, but many years have passed since then. I’d almost forgotten what it feels like to shut the world out and make pictures.

What am I doing here?

Recapturing my youth?

Striving to be the next Van Gogh or modern-day Michelangelo?

Gunning for likes on Facebook?

Nope. None of these.

The music drops off into a somber violin piece. It’s something by Olafur Arnalds. I’ve just messed up while drawing the curve of a woman’s¬†lower lip, and my eraser is on the move. Lower lips are hard sometimes, especially when drawing them¬†from a side-view perspective. But I’ll get it right. Another sip of Balvenie, and I’ve fixed it.¬†Instead of pouty, she looks¬†deadly serious. Just wait til I¬†add¬†her horns:

Princess Oblivia

I don’t have to do art. I want to.¬†I do it because I love it, I think. But sometimes, just sometimes, I feel like an imposter. I’m not classically trained. I don’t have a specific job in the field. No one will ever ask me to illustrate their comic book, draw their company logo, or paint a portrait of their dog. It’s a good thing, too. Commissions can mean big money for some artists, but I just can’t do it. I can’t. I paint what I want to paint. If that’s not good enough,¬†so be it.

And I definitely don’t want to paint someone’s dog.

It’s late now. Late, late. My kid, the G Man, has curled up on the couch and fallen asleep with his favorite book in hand. It’s a Calvin & Hobbes anthology. Everyone’s kid should read it. The art is neat, Calvin is hilarious, and there’s a bit of philosophy¬†paired with¬†every little panel. Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes’ creator) is pretty much a genius. With a few pen strokes and splash of philosophy, he’s made his art come alive.¬†He fills a need we didn’t even know we had.

And maybe that’s why I’m painting. To satisfy¬†some philosophical need. To ponder¬†my existence while I paint. To separate myself from the world¬†so completely that nothing else exists besides¬†my tiny atmosphere of music, liquor, and art.

My phone is¬†silent. I don’t want to hear it ring…or even vibrate. The world can go ahead and¬†end.¬†I’ll be happy if I’m the last to know.

I don’t have cable TV, satellite, or Netflix. I don’t want to consume everyone else’s creativity. I need to embrace my own.

I’m tired. I’m tipsy. The bones in my hands sing with pain from pounding on a punching bag earlier in the day.

But my paintbrush is steady.

…and the table beside me is a mess.

Truth is, when I decided to start creating again, art wasn’t my first choice. Some thousand years ago – or maybe it was only fifteen – I decided the best way to escape was to write books. Long books. Sloppy existential fantasy books no one would actually want to read. If I’m honest, I did it to escape my marriage. My life. My responsibilities. Everything.

But writing¬†didn’t bring me peace. Turns out, while making words is great for the mind, it tends to injure the soul. Long stretches of solitude tucked away in a black room can unsettle even the most steadfast heart. And the time commitment, often several months for even the most pedestrian-length book, is all-consuming. It hurts. Sometimes a lot.

Art, on the other hand…

In a few hours, one can draw something beautiful. And one can be at utter peace while doing so.

Given a full night, an artist can conceive a surreal world and splash it onto a canvas. While sipping wine, listening to music, and carrying on a rich conversation with anyone in the room.

And in a week…well…

Art can be whatever its maker desires.¬†It’s a quick commitment, short and satisfying. It’s a month-long project, with each session bringing a creator visibly closer to the ecstasy of completion. It’s a study of pencil strokes, the movement of watercolor across paper, or the feel of broad lashes of a brush thick with scarlet paint.

I’m no fan of poetry. At least not the kind that uses words. But perhaps art is poetry of another kind. The poetry of motion. The passion of turning shapeless blobs of paint into visible, touchable emotion.

…or sometimes just pretty girls with demon horns surrounded by coins.

Lately I’ve been co-painting. I’ve paired with a fellow artist to create things I’d have never thought of on my own. It’s just another reason¬†making art is sometimes a more powerful elixir for one’s self than¬†writing literature. Writing or painting by oneself can be self-restricting. It can lead one to fall into a creative vacuum.

But art made¬†in the company of¬†other artists…it’s like a conversation in a crowded room. It’s fluid. It allows¬†ideas to flow uninhibited. She sculpts something, and I give it color. I draw a tree, a woman, or a¬†demon, and she makes it real.

If you’ve never tried it, invite your friends over to paint with you. Pour something delicious into a glass,¬†silence¬†your phones, set Spotify to random, and fall into your art together. Doesn’t matter how seriously you take it. Chances are, you’ll feel all your stresses melt away.

Maybe that’s the reason. Maybe…

Melting the world, escaping into a 16″ x 20″ piece of stretched canvas, forgetting about your pain, your job, your mortgage. Maybe it’s not about the actual art, but the catharsis. The quick creation of worlds more appealing than our own. Or the exorcism of our fears by painting something terrifying…and realizing our imaginations¬†are more powerful than reality.

My co-artist, Tahina. Her smile is divine. Her hat is…questionable.

It’s morning now. I’m crawling out of bed, and I’m slow to greet the world. My head hurts, my knuckles are sore, and it’s cold in here.

I don’t really want to wake up.

But I know if I do, there’s a canvas downstairs awaiting me. It’s blank and ready to be filled with shadows.

Once I pick up my favorite brush,¬†I’ll be hooked. The sun will rise, the music will play, and I’ll fall away from this world.

…and into my own.

*

J Edward Neill

Art Collection – Dem Bones by J Edward Neill & Tahina Morrison

Over the years, we’ve sculpted¬†and¬†painted more skulls, skeletons, and bones than we can recall.

Some might say Tahina Morrison and I are obsessed with the macabre.

Maybe not.

Maybe so…

Here’s some of our favorites:

 

Find more skeletal art right here.

Originals

Prints

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Selling the Last of my Shadows

This gallery contains 14 photos.

¬†The ORIGINAL canvas art for¬†J Edward’s most popular paintings are now available. The paintings are here. Interested buyers should reach‚Ķ Read more