Painting with Darkness

Used to be, the term ‘starving artist’ implied romanticism. Just hearing it, one can imagine an eccentric painter in a room full of wet canvasses, a poor poet reading by candlelight in a downtown dive bar, or a writer surrounded by unbound manuscripts after forty gallons of coffee and seven sleepless nights.

Used to be. Not anymore.

A long time ago, I woke up to the idea that I’ve never fit this bill. I’m neither starving nor a particularly eccentric artist. My writing quarters are neat and quiet. My painting studio’s walls are barren except for one antique lithograph of a sinking ship. And I’ve never been to a poetry reading in my life. Nor am I likely to. Unless she’s cute.

Fast forward to now. I’m still not starving, but I’ve recently taken up painting again. Acrylic painting on big canvasses. Way outside of my airbrush and a t-shirt comfort zone. It all started when a friend gifted me an old easel, a bundle of brushes, and a box of paint. Remember Javier Bardem from the movie Vicki Cristina Barcelona? He’s the brooding painter with an epic studio, mad talent, and armies of gorgeous girls at his beck and call?

Yeah…well. That’s not me. Not even close.

These are my early painting results.

Disclaimer: Painting is hard.

Cold Tree

I call this one ‘Cold Tree.’ It’s actually the only thing I’ve painted thus far I don’t hate or wish could be a lot better. It’s a tiny little painting, only 8″ x 10″.

New Moon Wolf

In ‘New Moon Werewolf’ I blatantly stole the idea from a bottle of wine a girl gave me. Only I took out the moon. Because werewolves deserve more than one night a month.

Fire World

Took me two canvasses to get ‘Fire Planet’ close to the way I dreamed it. My kid is the only one who likes it. According to him, it’s the planet Metroids come from. SR388 or somesuch. He painted his own version on a paper plate, but as it sold for $100,000 at an auction, the buyer won’t let us post it here. (That last part is a total fabrication.)


Ur Underhollows

The Underhollows took me a week to finish. This photo makes it look washed out, but in reality it’s dark and gloomy. It’s my first full-size canvas effort. It’s supposed to be a companion piece for my upcoming dark fantasy novel, Nether Kingdom. I’m trying to convince my boss to let me hang it up in my office. Wish me luck.

Come to think of it, I really, really like painting. It satisfies creative urges at a much faster pace than writing epic novels, and it’s kid-friendly in that junior and I can paint together (he’s not really into half-million word long books yet.) So for now, during the little spaces between working, writing, cooking, and getting tackled by a three year-old, I’ll keep kicking out art for everyone to make fun of. Despite the fact that I’m not starving (yet) or Javier Bardem.

Buy these to support my habit.


J Edward Neill

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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