Wintermoon Manor – An Artistic Walkthrough

Hi everyone.

I’m J Edward.

I usually paint surreal, shadowy creatures and dark landscapes.

But over the last week, I’ve painted my annual wintry mansion. It’s been a theme for four years running. I paint one per year, and I hope to continue the tradition forever.

So then…

For Wintermoon Manor (this year’s painting) I photographed the canvas several times along the way.

And now I’d like to share…

It began with a swirly, color-saturated background. Most important here was the snow. I needed it to appear stark beneath the sky. I wasn’t particularly careful with every detail in the sky. I knew the house would block much of it out. The outline sketch above, I made using a soft-tipped charcoal pencil. (Easily painted over. Easy to erase any mistakes.)

The very first portion of the house. Note the snowdrifts collecting on the eaves and in the windows. I aimed for a rustic, medieval feel. Small windows. Big doors.

Now we’re getting somewhere. I caught my palette in this photo. It’s an absolute mess, coated with about a hundred paintings worth of acrylic. In any event, the moonlight is just barely kissing the rooftops here.

When painting this one, I imagined myself living in the house. Preferably with several cats, otherwise alone. Here we can see a big, moon-touched roof. It took about 300-400 brushstrokes just to get the lighting and texture where I wanted them.

At this stage, I still hadn’t added the actual moon. Perhaps it was hidden behind the clouds. See those big circular windows? I imagine they’d be hard to clean, but during sunny days would allow the light to invade the house in a very interesting way.


The right-side tower…complete. While painting this one, I listened to a variety of instrumental soundtracks, particularly Ludwig Goransson’s Oppenheimer. It evoked the kind of stark, lonely mood this painting seemed to require.

The house is almost complete here. Only a few touches of snow and shadow (the fine details) remained. Obviously the foreground needed more texture, and of course the distant background. When I reached this stage, I couldn’t help but wonder how many people would live here. Truthfully, I could live here with just my cat. But then again, cleaning everything would be impossible. 🙂

It may seem hard to believe, but I only used two brushes for the entire painting. The big one (my most trusty companion) for the background, and the knife-edge wedge brush for everything else. I like to keep it simple.

My color selection for Wintermoon Manor was quite simple. A base of grey and titanium, a few touches of soft blue and sienna in the sky, and umber undertones for the house. The key was not to use too much black or white. I wanted those two to show up for deep shadows and bright snowdrifts only.

And now at last…the final painting. The moon, I wanted off-center to break up the relative symmetry of the house. The trees here feel stark and distant. I imagine it was juuuuust about to being snowing. Note the subtle yet important foreground textures. Somewhere under the shallow snowdrifts, ancient stairs lay unused.

On the easel before varnishing. I snapped this photo just after sunrise. Who can sleep when there’s art to be done??

Wintermoon Manor is now available in my shop. It’s the fourth in the series, and my favorite thus far.

Below I’ve included last year’s winterscape (Of Snow and Shadow) for a nice comparison.

Please enjoy…

Of Snow and Shadow


About grimwain

J Edward Neill is a surreal artist and author. He lives in a cavern in North GA, where the sun shines too much, but the bourbon is fantastic.
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