Painting with Darkness – Part IX

Maybe more than all my previous Painting with Darkness articles, this one has special meaning.

It’s the only piece I’ve done in the last three years that I didn’t work on in my epic painting studio.

And it’s the first I finished in my little shoebox apartment.

No matter…

Presenting my walkthrough of ‘Ghostscape.’

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Ghostscape 1

I hope you’ve got your reading glasses on. This is the soft pencil work I put on the canvas before a single drop of paint ever touched it. I’m not gonna lie; the geometry was challenging. See that circle in the center? It’s dead-on in the middle down to the millimeter. What’s special about it? To trace the circle I used the 60-year old mixer bowl my grandmother many times used to make my pancakes.

Ghostscape 2

Begin the darkness: First I swirled watercolor blacks and sepia tones in the background. Then I used a hard straight-edge to paint in the black ‘towers’ jutting out of the sphere. And then…I added even more sepia and filled in the center sphere to give it depth.

Ghostscape 3

More towers were needed. I realized I hadn’t added enough. Also, I darkened the center sphere. Also also also…I used pale watercolor blacks to slice in distant towers behind the hard, sharp foreground towers.

Ghostscape 4

What can I say? I wanted even MORE towers. In this shot, although it’s hard to see, I used whites to give the towers a reflective quality. Like they’re made out of polished obsidian or some hard, dark otherworldly metal.

Ghostscape 5

Now began the hard part. And by hard I mean TEDIOUS. Using a tiny brush and some titanium white paint, I started adding windows and doors to the towers. I imagined a ghost behind each window…and NOT a friendly one. At the time this picture was taken, I’d spent two hours just dotting in windows and adding texture to the towers.

Ghostscape 6

Ghostscape – the final image. I like how the ring of lower tower lights frames the center of the sphere. It’s kind of a never ending city swirling around a tiny, terrifying planet. So…anyone up for a vacation?

Now…the only question is:

Which way to hang it?

In other words, which towers should point up, and which should point down?


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The original canvas of Ghostscape – Approx 24″ x 24″ – is available for sale for $300.00.  Reach out to me at if you’re an interested buyer.


J Edward Neill

Author of novels A Door Never Dreamed Of and The Hecatomb

Painting with Darkness, Part IV

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

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

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

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

Thus I began:

Darkness 0

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

Darkness 1

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

Darkness 2

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

The Emperors Vision

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

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

To get into something even darker, check this out:

J Edward Neill