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Airships and Tentacles – my new 140-Page Art Book

Over the past months I have been tapping away at keys, collecting scans of artworks old and new and even a lot of forgotten works, in order to make a very intensive book of my works to date.

At first, it was only going to be the Airships and Tentacles series, but I began to use “lost” artworks for section endings, and decided I should include old paintings from before the series, as well as all of those pieces I have worked on during the series as album covers, book covers, commissions, illustrations, or things I did during the series just to clear my head and work on something different. It even includes a few samplings from my-yet-to-be-published literary works, and some pieces I’ve done relating to the works of others (Voltaire, Clive Barker, Dexter Palmer, Bethalynne Bajema, and others), and collections of doodles and sketches to decorate text pages (such as the Table of Contents, Words from the Artist and other sections)

The book has a cover specially designed by Bethalynne Bajema from my existing artwork, and I *love* what she did with it. Click the image or link below to view as a PDF online, or right click (recommended) to download and view in 2-page side by side book format.

This book is available NOW as a preorder, shipping August 5th. Click here to buy.

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Evolution

In the, wow, nearly 20 years of this site, 10 years at this domain, a lot has changed, and will continue to change.

I’ve been in the middle of another major site overhaul for starters, so you might see some things shift here or there even as you browse.

The store will continue to work as usual, and will continue to carry many, many art prints, art originals, and other things – but I am working hard to get the gallery filled with the 100-some images I have available, in order to make it much easier to see what types and sizes of prints are available for each artwork all in one place… because I realize it can be rather overwhelming to sift through 400 items and feel you are miking the best choice.

I’ve removed eyesores like the facebook feed and the twitter feed, because they took up a lot of space – and it was silly to have them, since you are already here, and most posts over there are about things that are available here.

I’ve also removed them because, well, I am going to use them both a lot less often. Twitter really just seems like a lot of people talking into the wind to imaginary friends, Tumblr and Pinterest seem to be the sport of sharing as many images as possible as quickly as possible, Livejournal is filled with Russian spambots where people once were, and Facebook, since they started promoted posts – well, for 800-some people I see a little “10 people saw this post” at the bottom “insights”, and it all seems pretty pointless.

… as does the internet in general, if all it is to be is a billion people slaving away at sharing things quickly, forgetting moments later for the next sharable thing… not visiting sites, or reading articles, just “liking” them and sharing.

… it isn’t exciting anymore; It isn’t even pleasurable or relaxing anymore – just mind-numbing addictive boredom and a day filled with forgettable moments… click – share – click – share – comment – click – share…

Though I spent a lot of time building up readership on facebook – as have many others with their pages: the best solution seems to be if everyone were to go and start that again elsewhere. I’ll only be there, in the sense that my posts from here will feed into my “fan page”… at least until they make that a paid service too.

On the up-side, this has forced me to get back to what I shouldn’t have stopped doing: updating right here – like I did years ago, finding a few things that well-worth blogging about and putting some effort into sharing as articles and reviews worth typing about, rather than all sorts of things “sort-of ” worth sharing at the click of a button.

I don’t have a mailing list in place yet, one of a hundred things on the slate for these next few days… but if you have a decent browser – there is an rss button at the top.

Please check back often; Aside from posting new artworks and books and such things here, and special offers, I plan to return to posting about music, the art of others, event reviews, and whatever else fits well in this space.

If you came here looking for special offers, well, there are many new prints being added in the process of building the gallery, and many products being marked down until the end of December.

If you would like to see those specials, you can now find many of the newest deals through the gallery.

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Exhibitions

These are just a handful of upcoming and past appearances.

I do have many more appearances in mind this coming year, to be announced – and my mind is so fuzzy on the older ones, so I’ll add them as they come to me.

I’ll also update a lot of this with proper links gradually over the coming weeks.

Current/Upcoming:

“The Low Life” at Ice Cream Gallery and Toys in Grand Rapids, MI. Ongoing.

Steampunk Symposium at the Crowne Plaza Cincinnati North in Cincinnati, OH. April 26th through 28th, 2013.

Past Appearances:

Urban Lights Holiday Market at Ice Cream Gallery and Toys in Grand Rapids, MI. December 8th 2012 from 12PM to 9PM.

2012 World Steam Expo in Dearborne MI (Vending)

2012 Steampunk Symposium in Cincinnati, Ohio (Guest, Exhibitor, Vendor, and Panelist)

“Steampunk Soiree” at the Revolving Museum in Lowell, MA Feb 7th through March 3rd 2012

Mobilus in Mobili at Wooster Social Club in Soho NY (Exhibitor : filming of steampunk NY Ink Episode)

Artprize 2011 – (Guest and Exhibitor) at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids MI.

Maker Faire 2011 Detroit (Guest and Exhibitor)

2011 World Steam Expo (Guest, Exhibitor, Panelist)

Steampunk Form and Function at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation in Waltham, MA (Exhibitor)

Artprize 2010 (Exhibitor)

Lift Off! at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra CA, January 9, 2010 – February 1, 2010 (Exhibitor)

Horrorfind Weekend 2006 (Exhibitor)

Pittsburgh Comicon 2006 (Vendor/Artist)

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Spirit Boards By Bethalynne Bajema and Myke Amend

Temptation Spirit Board

Bethalynne is still in the hospital – misscarriage/ectopic pregnancy… and we’re hoping she won’t need surgery; Two days of hospital so far, and the drugs don’t yet seem to be doing their trick, but we’re hopeful.

Of course this happened on the day before we were to launch these, so I do not have access to her photographic skills for these boards. Also, we are trying to sell some of these, or some of anything in order to cover prescription and aftercare costs once she is released – as well as to keep me in gas and road food for hospital visits.

Anyway, about the boards:

These boards are designed by Bethalynne Bajema, with woodwork by Myke Amend (me).

The boards measure 15×18?, are made of thick 3/4 inch oak, stained a deep red cherry, and are coated in varnish and then waxed for an easy gliding of the planchette.

Edges are ornately routed for an added decorative touch, and some of these have gold leafed edges as well.

There are only 6 available in each edition – each are sealed to the buyer’s specifications, and can be decorated with added touches. Each are also hand-signed, numbered, and dated on the back by both artists.

Each planchette (optional) is uniquely made by Myke Amend, cut from oak, and stained deep red cherry, accented with hand-shaped brass, and gold leaf – no two planchettes are alike. I am letting the saw guide me for each one, and I also have to pick and shape pieces of brass from my found brass box – so each planchette will be designed to fit the buyer and/or the board (if a board is purchased with the planchettes… planchettes can be bought on their own).

All of these are available here: http://www.mykeamend.com/new/products-page/?ptag=planchette

I realize that not everyone has money for boards of these quality on short notice – so of course these are not the only things I am raising funds with. Anything bought from my store will help us out.

Dead Teddy Bear Picnic limited edition Spirit Board
Dead Teddy Bear Picnic limited edition Spirit Board
Grandville Spirit Board
Grandville Spirit Board
Temptation Spirit Board
Temptation Spirit Board
Hand-Made Planchette by Myke Amend
Hand-Made Planchette by Myke Amend

All of these are available here: http://www.mykeamend.com/new/products-page/?ptag=planchette

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The Edge of Dreams

I did this as a drawing a while back for my free coloring pages I offered here, which is a coloring page not in my for-sale coloring book, and decided that I really wanted to do a color version myself… even though its fitting well into the series would even further-delay the release of my Airships and Tentacles art book, still in the works until the last two commissions are done.

The image is one of a little girl drawing out her surroundings with a magickal piece of chalk… floating fish, airships, men riding sharks, and geometric stars like snowflakes are some of the major scene elements, but like always: there are lots of things hidden within ice formations and other elements.

Though it is incredibly cartoony (from a cartoony sketch that is no surprise), and way more colorful than I tend to do things, I rather like it… enough so that I wish I could better communicate the look online, but you know how web graphics go: never nearly as much can be seen or felt as looking at the original painting, or at least the prints which look dead-on the original painting thanks to giclee printing technology.

And, because of the vivid coloring in this one, and because of my love for metallic prints, especially where blues and reds are concerned, I decided that I wanted to offer something more than just giclees and the original painting on my site. In addition, I am offering 25 metallic full-size (18″ x 12″) printings of this, hand signed and dated.

You can view all of these items in my store, and here is a page that shows only prints of this image.

A view of the painting and details of the painting below.

Edge of Dreams Steampunk Surreal Airship Childrens Painting
Edge Of Dreams Painting and Details
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Steampunk Symposium and coming conventions

So, we’re back from the Steampunk Symposium, cooling our jets for a few weeks (read: working frantically on other things and preparation for coming conventions).

We had a great time; Aloyisius and his team put on one extraordinary event, and did one seriously good job of keeping everything organized and running splendidly. We would *certainly* love to come back next year to see the next and bigger version of this convention. Many triumphs to expand upon, and, as far as I can see… no mistakes to learn from and that is an incredible feat for a first convention.

I had several panels there, and I hope that people enjoyed them as much as I did… even the second one wherein “hungry” influenced my conversation and concentration a bit more than I would have liked it to have. I’ll learn from this and avoid early morning panels in the future if I can at all… but I did somehow manage to fill a whole hour, and keep people there and asking questions.

I had a tall stage, a big screen, and a digital projector… which I of course did not use. I suppose I like things to feel smaller and more intimate- and have always felt a bit out of place on a stage doing anything other than karaoke-ing 80s and 90’s post-punk tunes.

Outside of the panels, we spent most of the days at our tables, selling art prints and speaking with people – and I experimented by bring many large giclee prints on heavyweight fine art rag paper. I came up with this idea so I could add an alternative above our less-expensive and convention-priced prints, and below that of the giclees on canvas and original paintings/engravings.

In that, I learned pretty much what we had established before: To stick to the $5 through $30 range items. I did however establish that it is not the thought of carrying around some huge-sized canvas print that hinders sales there – but that price, is purely the reason.

People at sci-fi/fantasy/subcultural conventions, myself included, are primarily looking for clothing, accessories, gizmos, trinkets and such… and when it comes to art, they are looking for something more in the souvenir range… perhaps as a keepsake reminder of the convention, to have something that is signed, or simply to show some support for the artists they like.

I’d have to say my first thought whenever I arrive at any convention, is that if I make X amount of dollars, I am going to buy myself a cool vest, a nice pair of boots, a well-made pair of gloves, a new shirt, etc… why should other attendees feel any differently?

It is because of this that I had a thought: Next convention, I will focus more on the smaller prints, and otherwise I will bring the originals for the devoted buyers, and I will be bringing some new things as well… hand-crafted works in wood and brass, mechanical or just practical/handy/decorative… and I’ve got a lot of things in mind, all of which I am excited about having the opportunity to show and offer. I’ll have more on that when I have made them… for right now, it is a bit of a secret.

So, I return home with a great amount of fond memories of the convention, and souvenirs in the form of prints – special made for this convention. Each are rather large, printed on 390 GSM (super heavyweight) rag paper in fine pigment inks. Each are signed, and dated “Steampunk Symposium 2012”. These are *all* rather rare, one of a kind for their size… They are 13 inches by up to 24 inches. Most average about 13×20 inches, and are all beautiful and sturdy reproductions on my work.

Our table at Steampunk Symposium 2012

I *thought* about offering them all as a set… and if you make an offer before any of them sell, I would be more than happy to offer them that way), otherwise: I’ll be putting them up for sale over the next few hours. There are some available now, and by morning I’ll have them all up and available, in their own category here:

http://www.mykeamend.com/new/products-page/unique-prints/

There is only one of each, so if you see one you like, this is a good time, the only time to grab it.

So, what is coming up? Well, Jfax in June (Grand Rapids), In October we’ll be at Kokomo-Kon in Kokomo Indiana, and are hoping to be a part of Utopiacon in Cincinnati the week after. We’ll be trying to fill in many more spots as we can, hopefully some more guest spots and panels, but we’ll be looking at conventions to just vend at as well… maybe a few to simply enjoy attending. Please watch this space, and I’ll try to be much better about announcing our future appearances in the future.

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The Hanging Gardens

This is one of my three final commissions for this year, meaning I have two more to go before this series is done and I can finally start lay-out for the “Airships and Tentacles” book.

These have been rather slow-coming – I’ve been chomping off bits of my work list, and well, between home repair, prepping for coming conventions, keeping food on the table (web/programming work), shipping, and *still* catching up on kickstarter stuff… it all feels like ‘nibbling’, though I haven’t slowed down or stopped in nearly a year.

Anyway, I painted this one at 18×12 inches on Oak panel… you can see a few details below, but certainly not all of them. As per usual… tiny, tiny brush strokes and figures about the size of a grain of rice…

I have it imaged at 600DPI, to ensure that these details show as well as the original in printed form, and those prints are now available HERE.

There are only 10 available, they are printed on canvas at the exact same size as the original painting. As an early buyer incentive, the first two to sell are available for only $190; They’ll go back up after those two have sold.

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For the Kids in You

So, Valentine’s Day is over, and this is my belated Valentines gift to you, your young ones, your students…

A coloring page – something to confuse the little ones in a good way, and promote a bit of thinking outside of the box, while introducing them to some elements of classic artworks as well.

(DOWNLOAD HERE)

Enjoy.

– Myke

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Hendrick’s Gin Giveaway

Recently, being some several months ago or less, as “recently” tends to go for me, Hendrick’s Gin contacted me to participate in their “Curate a Box” contest give away.

Though I have been rather up to my neck in getting out the rewards for the Infernal Device Kickstarter (which when done I plan to celebrate by logging all the ins and outs of the experience into a seriously detailed tutorial), I really hate to pass up good opportunities for promotion, especially when it involves interesting new challenges.

So, in between bonding prints to wooden constructs, waiting for layers of decoupage glue to dry, refining screens for printing, and wrestling with packages, I’ve been hopping into the basement workshop and doing some work on this wooden box they sent me – the box and contents to be given away by Hendricks Gin when done, through their fascinating newsletter and blog at Unusual Times.

My plan, as with all things I do, is to make an heirloom quality and long-lasting piece, so I felt I should do a bit of added reinforcement to the original box with some fine bits of oak, birch, mahogany, maple, and/or cherry, which are the sorts of wood I prefer to make my constructs of and paint my paintings onto.

The wooden box, straight out of the package
The wooden box, straight out of the package

The very first step, of course, was to remove the box from the package. There was a wonderful promotional book from Hendrick’s Gin in there as well, but Insects and Angels Author and Editor Bethalynne Bajema so-loved the little book and all the artwork within, that well… she was still thumbing through the book, and I might have lost a finger if I tried to reclaim it. Anyway.. the box, above.

Basic Box opened
Basic Box opened

Another shot of the box, it’s insides just the perfect size for a number of unique 8.5×11 printings of some of my select artworks.

I plan to fill this box with:

1) At least 6 hand-signed fine art prints on a special paper and of a special size to make them one of a kind.
2) A Magickal Bag of Holding
3) A polar bear
4) A bunch of Arctic Salmon for the polar bear
5) Bethalynne says that Magickal Bags of Holding are not available anywhere around here, and are quite likely mythical.
6) An original painting, as the inside top of the box, which fits snugly but can be removed and framed.
7) Tacos! Everyone loves tacos!
8) Apparently the above is also a violation of postal code.
9) Some sort of sea monster… though a rather tiny one, made of clay and hand-painted.
10) I don’t know yet… it seems like a lot so far, so I’ll have to see what else the box can hold…. maybe some stickers and patches.

Stage One: Cut a piece of oak to serve as a sturdy top to the box.
Stage One: Cut a piece of oak to serve as a sturdy top to the box.

The first thing I did was to cut some pieces of oak – two for the insides of the box (one to reinforce the bottom, one to be painted and inserted into the box later), one to make for a hard and sturdy plate for top of the box.

Box Top
Box Top
Panel for Painting
Panel for Painting
panel for the bottom of box insert
panel for the bottom of box insert

Work Space: YeGads!! …

Ground Zero
Ground Zero - dust, wheels, pulleys, cogs, a half-repaired bandsaw, and more dust
Ground Zero 2
brass bits, metal fittings, brass switchplates, knobs, more pulleys...
Ground Zero 3
Ground Zero 3 - saved bits of cherry, walnut, heartwood pine, oak, and mahogany. I use every little bit of wood, down to tooth-pick-sized bits, for everything from furniture, boxes, painting, down to using the smallest bits for fine details and decorative touches.
Ground Zero 4
Ground Zero 4 - animatronic bat machine - in pieces and on hold for a little while more.

Above 4 photos: Ground Zero… I have been working from one thing into another for way too long. The workshop is piled in bits of brass and unsorted wood… and I am pretty sure there are some clamps and other important tools under there somewhere. I should clean up beforehand to make all of this go easier…

… ohhh… maybe after one more cut.

Balls!
Balls! ... made of cherry, flattened on the tops, drilled, and dowels glued into them.
Holes drilled for the "feet" of the box.
Holes drilled for the "feet" of the box.
Feet Attached
Feet Attached - Outdoor quality wood glue on each dowel, pushed into snug holes in the bottom of the box.
Box, Standing
Box, Standing, feet attached
Clamps
Clamps - not the best for the job. I have lots of ones perfect for ths task... which I am sure I will find when I clean the basement.
Stained - top view
Stained - top view - a mixture of red cherry and deep mahogany
Stained-bottom view
Stained-bottom view
Varnished
Varnished - partially... many more steps to go.

A thin coat of poly completes the night’s work. Tomorrow I’ll sand this down with fine paper, varnish it again, wait another day, sand it down with steel wool, varnish again, wait another day, sand with steel wool again, wax, buff, wax, buff, wax, and buff… until the box is looking very nice.

During that time, I’ll also be working on the painting to go int this box, 3 other painting commissions, shipping, and kickstarter rewards… the good thing about all these projects, is that they each have steps that involve waiting for things to dry or to set… the trick is managing that time so there is always something to do on the next while waiting on the other.

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Black Ships Ate the Sky

I started this, thinking I was going to take an 8×10 pencil sketch and make a neat water-colory looking piece of it, or maybe just smooth it out and make some edits.

I began by making it 16×20 at 400 DPI, and then took to smoothing out all of my pencil grainy-ness. I chose this size, because I like my works to be high resolution, and my prints to be perfect – I also always consider that I might finish a piece, and then wish I had made it available much bigger.

The downside to working digital for me, is that can I zoom in to where I can see the individual pixels when it comes to detail… I begin just doing this for one part, then realize that the entirety of the work now needs to be in this ultra-high resolution – and set off on a journey of exploring a miles-square map of pixels for.. as long as it takes… in this case, over 300 hours I really did not have to spare. I think I spent nearly two weeks planning on being done “tomorrow”.

It was certainly a way to indulge though – as an artist these days, I don’t always get the chance to put so much work into one piece – though I do put a tremendous amount of work into every one comparatively.

From pencil sketch, to over 2 gigs of file size, hundreds of layers of painted elements, plus all the modification layers for overlay, lightening, darkening, color, multiplication, saturation, etcetera…

About a day or two in, I decided it would be a great idea to actually log the process for this one… and I saved a lot of progress pics.  Below, you can actually see the details of the finished piece. One thing with all of my paintings and other images: Web resolution will never let you see how packed with detail every inch is, or all of the interesting scenes, items, and mini-artworks semi-hidden throughout the painting.

Below that, I’ve added my progress pics – for people who are interested by such things.

Oh… if you would like to buy printings of this: There are giclees available in my store – There are also poster prints and photographic prints available at our Redbubble shop – Also in my DeviantArt account.

Image and details:


Progress Pics:


A rather rough sketch… these were quickies done for $25 a pop for bus fare a year or so back. The paper type really did not allow for erasing, so they were one-shot deals. I liked the concept and base layout enough, I thought I would do some digital work on it to make it print-ready.


A lot of steps went by before I realized it was going to be a much bigger project than I planned. It was the point where I was fleshing out this airship where I decided some screen caps would be good. I had started on the girl, switched to the airship, cut my pencil work out to its own layer, and placed other airships where I wanted them, as placeholders for the sake of layout.

I blacked out the girl for this stage, I didn’t want its pencily quality drawing my focus from the background I was working on.


head/face. This part took all of my night – so not much else has changed.


boots and leggy things… I put a lot of base work into this, then decided I would need to enlarge the feet, and widen and lengthen the lower legs. I write notes to myself whenever there is something important I want to hit first thing the next day… you’ll see these notes in other screen caps below.


The very beginnings of the holster and belt… I would later go in further, and further, sharpening up these details, then making details within these details… and sharpening those up. Oh, you can also see the base/beginning brushings of her stripey-pants.

… and done.