Dreams & Incarnations Crash Course Unboxing

Dreams & Incarnations is now available!

So…

What’s it all about?

Click the pic below to watch a crash course introduction video!

And click HERE to get your deck tonight!

An all-digital guidebook is here: http://tesseraguild.com/the-dreams-incarnations-oracle-deck-now-available/

Physical guidebooks are here


The Fall of Castle Carrick – A Dark Suspense Novel by J Edward Neill

Alex O’Riley has always tried not to fit in.

In his simple life, at his tiny house, he paints quiet masterpieces while living as a hermit.

But with one phone call from a brash New York lawyer, Alex learns he’s inherited Castle Carrick, the grandest fortress in Northern Ireland.

At Carrick, strange and dark events begin to swirl ever closer to Alex, turning his hoped-for quiet life inside out.

Now he must decide: flee from Ireland and give up his inheritance…or embrace the dark power which compels him to paint wondrous, yet terrifying things.

The Fall of Castle Carrick 

The Dark Art FAQ by Shadow Art Finds

Frequently Asked Questions

Shadow Art Finds


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What mediums do I use for my paintings?

I use mostly acrylic (Liquitex) on cotton canvasses, gesso boards, & wood panels. Every now and then, I’ll work with charcoal & graphite. (They’re not so fun to clean up.) I never use AI programs, NFT’s, or digital tools. They’re just not for me.

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Do I offer tutorials?

Well…sort of. My process is considerably different from most. While I don’t have time-lapse videos just yet, I do have this. 

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To what locations do I ship paintings, prints, and card decks? 

I ship originals to the USA, Canada, UK, and some parts of the EU. For art prints, I ship only to the US and Canada, as shipping costs overseas are pretty outrageous. To balance that, I offer digital downloads for collectors to buy and download local to them. They’re inexpensive, and available here. Alas, I no longer ship prints or decks to Australia or New Zealand. Too many issues with lost packages.

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Where can all my available original canvas, wood panel, & gesso board paintings be found? 

Right here! 

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What about prints? 

Here!

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How do I package prints, decks, and originals, and how quickly do they ship? 

I pride myself on very durable packaging. For lustre prints, I ship rolled in a hard cardboard tube. For giclees, usually a flat padded box. For mounted canvasses and original paintings, I ship in bubble-wrapped, double-layered, heavy-duty boxes. For card decks, I ship in lux boxes packaged in bubble mailers. Most prints and originals ship within 1-2 days of ordering. For mounted canvasses, these are custom made, and require 3-4 days to build and ship.

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My shop has a ton of different print options available. What exactly are lustre, velvet giclee, and mounted canvas prints?

I wrote up a special article just for this question. It’s right here.

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Do I create/license art for book covers, album covers, t-shirts, and other products? What about tattoos? 

I wrote up a special article just to cover these questions. Get all the details here. 

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Do I offer custom/commissioned work? 

Alas, never. I find great joy in creating whatever my personal dreams (or my cat) inspire. The rigors of painting someone else’s ideas just don’t appeal to me.

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Why don’t my oracle and tarot decks ship with guidebooks included? 

Good question. To save myself and buyers a ton of money, I’ve made the guidebooks available as free PDF’s or on Amazon Prime for a low price. If I were to ship the decks with guidebooks firsthand, the price would be much higher, both for book printing and freight. It’s better this way, trust me.

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What else do I do with my time besides make art? 

Before I sank my teeth fully into the painting, I published novels, short stories, philosophy books, and more. I was a full-time author, and I loved it! My books are here.

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Where am I located? 

Usually, Athens, GA. But sometimes, Chicago. And other times, New York. I like to stay on the move!

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Do I do art shows? 

Yes. Sometimes. Mostly local tattoos shops, Pancakes & Booze tours, Art & Chocolate Tours, and DragonCon.

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Where is the best place to see my latest work and get in touch on social media? 

Great question. Right here.

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Still have more questions, or maybe there’s something important I need to add here? 

I’m listening. The best place to reach out is here.

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Now Available – The Haunted Cat Tarot Deck

Haunted Cat Tarot

A Complete Tarot Deck by Heather and J Edward Neill

Now available at Etsy – ShadowArtFinds

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The Haunted Cat Tarot deck contains 78 cards, featuring original artwork by J Edward Neill.

The theme? Surreal, shadowy, moody black cats…with a ton of charm, grace, and attitude…

The deck ships in a labeled lux box.

As with our oracle decks, the guidebook is primarily online. A free PDF is here. For those with e-readers, a guidebook is also available on Amazon Kindle. For those who prefer physical guidebooks, they’re now available at Amazon.

Haunted Cat Tarot is available at Etsy – ShadowArtFinds. Individual decks, as well as discounted reseller bundles, are available. Be careful not to confuse Haunted Cat Tarot with the already available Haunted Cat Playing Card Deck. These are two separate, unrelated decks. 

Also…a series of six special edition prints is available (including full tarot card text) to celebrate the deck release. These prints are here.

Questions? Contact J Edward at his Facebook art page here.

For a complete video discussing the cards, click the cat pic below!

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Coffee Table Cats – A Mini Art Book

Black cats aren’t unlucky….

Charming, sensitive, and wily, these enchanted felines bring love to every heart they touch.

In this artsy book by J Edward Neill, enjoy numerous illustrations of our black cat friends, each paired with a loving tribute.

Each piece of cat art is based on one of J Edward’s original paintings, and appears in full-color.

Now available in paperback and hardcover!!


Exclusive Oracle Deck/Bracelet/Art Print Bundles – Dreams & Incarnations

To celebrate the release of the Dreams & Incarnations oracle deck, we’ve created an exclusive set of special bundles.

Only 16 of these bundles are available, four in each theme…

Each bundle includes:

  • 1 Dreams & Incarnations Oracle Deck

  • 1 Handmade Bead Bracelet (Woman’s Wrist Size 7.25″) Matching the Color Scheme of the Bundle

  • 1 Art Print in the Bundle Theme

The bundles are Guardian, Betrayal, The Phoenix, and Falling.

Click each pic below to see the details of each bundle.

Get yours tonight!

How I Create Surreal Backgrounds for my Paintings

Hi there, art lovers.

Over the last few years, I’ve fielded a ton of great questions from artists, collectors, and generally curious folk. The conversations have been awesome and engaging, and I’m truly grateful to take part in any conversation about my art…or really anyone’s art, at all.

But…

There is one question I’ve long struggled to answer.

Just one…

“How do you create your backgrounds?”

So…yeah. It’s a solid question, and it’s something I’ve not done a terrific job of answering. Until now, my answers have usually been, “It’s complicated,” or, “I’ll get around to making a process video someday,” or something entirely too brief, such as, “I use wet brushes. Lots and lots of wet brushes.

Yep.

It’s likely, after all these years, people are beginning to suspect I’m hiding some big, dark secret. Or that I don’t want to share some proprietary artistic discovery. Or maybe that I’m just a jerkface who avoids direct questions.

Nope.

None of those. I hope.

About a month ago, I decided to try something to answer this question once and for all. “Okay,” I told myself. “I’m going to make a time-lapse video. It’s time to show the process. A video will tell the whole story.” 

I started the video. And after much cursing, several awkward angles, and the worst lighting setup ever, I fell prey to frustration and gave it up. Between you and me…it was a total fail. My camera setup was weak, my video skills frail, and my process…well…it’s even more of a beast than I already knew it to be.

So…

Here’s what I’ve decided.

I’m going to do my best to describe, step-by-step, how I create the swirly, surreal, and often strange backgrounds featured in most of my artwork.

Swirls, whirls, and surreal madness…

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Okay then.

Let’s jump right in.

Step one, and it’s very important, is to start with a high-quality canvas stretched on sturdy wooden-panels. I typically get mine from Blick Art’s premium canvas collection, but I’ve also scoured Michael’s and a handful of local art supply stores, including JoAnn’s. Now, there are several keys to a canvas being ‘high-quality.’ No nicks or scuffs in the canvas. No flimsy panels. But the number one most important quality for this particular process is that the canvasses are flat. As in, very flat. No warping. No bends in the wood. No dips or loose, flappy canvas stretches.

Flat. Flat. Flat. 

Why? We’ll get to that later.

Step two. Acrylic paint. Lots and lots of acrylic paint. Especially white, black, unbleached titanium, and Payne’s grey. These are your most important weapons. I use Liquitex Basics, never the heavy-bodied stuff. You can use any brand you want, but whatever you do, don’t use different brands of paint while working on the same painting. The varied consistencies will cause awkward color blends, and the varied dry times will wreck your process.

Step three. A big, flat table. The flatter, the better. For your first several (or several hundred, in my experience) attempts, you’ll probably make a mess. So maybe choose a table you like, but don’t love. I use two different tables. A heavy Home Depot workbench and…perhaps surprisingly…the granite countertop in my kitchen.

Step four. Brushes. For these kinds of backgrounds, you’re going to need several sizes of brushes. Big (1″ wide) trim brushes. Fat-bottomed brushes that can hold a bit of water. Slim, knife-like brushes for detail work. Itty bitty pointy brushes for blending in tight spots. For background work, I don’t use anything fancy. Save your best brushes for the post-background subject work. Just buy a ton and keep extras on hand (I mostly use these.)

Step five. A jar (or jars) for holding water. As you likely know, acrylics dry fast. And your biggest enemy in this process will be time. You need to keep your brushes mildly wet (but not soaking) at all times. If the paint dries, the artist cries.

So…

You’ve got a canvas, a flat space to work, brushes, acrylic paints, and water.

Now it’s time to work.

Step six is key. This is the underpainting, the core of your color base, the background to the background. With a un-wetted brush, using un-watered acrylics, apply your various acrylic colors to the canvas in a single not-too-thick layer. Use whites and unbleached titanium in the areas of your painting which will be light, and darker tones in areas of shadow. Between these, you’ll use the actual non-neutral colors you want your painting to contain.

Here’s an example. This is my painting ‘Born of Fire,’ in which I used about ten different color hues to create the background. Ignore the tree and moon on this piece. Focus on the general layout of the background colors beneath.

 

What you want to do is apply the colors in roughly (it doesn’t need to be precise) the areas in which they’ll appear in the finished background. It’s just an underpainting at this stage. Precision isn’t as important as general location.

Step seven. Wait for the underpainting to dry completely. One or two hours should be enough. If you’re in a rush, run a fan nearby to whisk fresh air across the canvas surface. In any case, do not begin the next step until the underpainting is finished drying. Else you’ll get weird pops and textures you might not want. (Although, for advanced painters, you can actually time this to create the textures and pops on purpose.)

Step eight. The background. This is where the magic happens. You’ll need your brushes, your water, and patience all on hand. What you’ll want to do here sounds complex, but it’s really not. I’ll break it down in a bulleted list:

  • Starting with your lightest color, and ending with your darkest, use a larger water-wetted brush (1/2″ – 3/4″ wide) to apply your colors in the precise areas you want them to appear in the background. Remember…light to dark.
  • When applying each color, continue dipping your brushes into the jar of water between each brush stroke. The key: only a little bit of wetness. Too much will make the colors run wild across the canvas.
  • Work quickly. While the water will slow the drying of the acrylics somewhat, it’ll still start drying after about 15-20 minutes.
  • In any area where two or more colors meet, use wetted knife-edge brushes to apply narrow lines of water. The colors will begin to blend. The smaller the brush you use, the more control you’ll have. If you want your colors to be a bit unpredictable (which is just fine, by the way!) use larger brushes with a bit more water. More water will make the colors run wild.
  • If you want to smooth out brush strokes or make them disappear altogether, pat down the area using the flat side of a mildly wet brush. Or…for a cool stippled effect, very lightly pat the area with a dry paper tower.
  • Third reminder: Always work light to dark. If you jump back from a dark area to a light area using the same brush, you’ll lose the explosive lighting effect.
  • The reason using a flat surface and a flat canvas is key? If your workspace and canvas aren’t flat, your colors will tend to run downhill…literally. Colors you didn’t intend to combine will tend to mix, and murky patches could form. Flat, flat, flat!

Step nine. Now your painting, plenty damp and crazy looking, will begin to dry. But your work continues. You’ll need to babysit your painting at this stage, using smaller, mildly wet brushes to carefully blend areas of color you may have missed the first time. Also, sometimes tiny pools of water will form, which can tend to make patches of your background look murky. In these cases, use the corner of a paper towel to gently soak up any excess water. Or…carefully use smaller brushes to manipulate the wet paint for a better color-blend.

Step nine is usually the most challenging part of this process. Depending on the size of the painting, you may need to hover over your painting for ten minutes…or several hours, correcting murky patches, refining color blends, and building up your background to look exactly how you want. Patience is key here. Attentiveness to detail can make all the difference between creating a swirly, colorful landscape…or a murky, too-wet swamp.

Step tenonly if needed. Often, with larger backgrounds, doing step nine just once isn’t enough. Acrylics can be cranky, and sometimes, even with underpainting and a full second layer of paint on top of the underpainting, pale patches can emerge. In this case, what I do is wait for the canvas to completely dry…and complete step nine again. Sounds tedious, right? But in truth, adding another layer can result in a truly deep, vibrantly colorful background. Powerful colors are your friend, and often the best way to achieve it is in layers.

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For fun, here’s three before and after photos. The first photo is after the backgrounds are applied, but before drying. The second is the completed painting with full details.

‘Let Us Be Shadow’

‘Dark Desperation’

‘Bridge of the Broken Moon’

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With your background complete, your paints dried, and your brushes cleaned, you’re all ready for the fun part. Step eleven is all yours. Paint atop your background as you would any other acrylic piece, paying attention to the light and dark areas, and you’re sure to create something spectacular.

And most importantly, have fun!

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For a closer look at all my crazy backgrounds and completed works, head here.

Thanks for stopping by.

J Edward Neill