Laloux had heard through the grapevine that Oran, The Grand Duke of the Bismuth Mines, had acquired a heliump egg and was looking for someone to sell it to. Since the passing of her beloved Lambchop, Laloux had felt an emptiness that fed a sadness deep within her. Time had passed and those feelings were pushed back to make room for daily activities, new concerns, and urgencies, but still those feeling of loss, loneliness, and heartbreak remained. Nothing would replace Lambchop, but she was now ready to adopt a new heliump. The thought made her smile and she began to consider names as she searched hiding places in her home for enough to pay for the tiny back egg the size of a pea.
Oran was not easy to deal with and as matter of fact he was often in a horrendous mood and took enjoyment on causing discomfort. She knew the best way to seal the deal was to bring him the only thing he truly liked - fear. Over the years she had collected enough fear to fill five viles. As she looked at them, it hardly seemed enough to make Oran interested. Like a living shadow that had been trapped, the fear swirled inside the tiny viles that had been corked.
“Ahh!” Laloux exclaimed as she had an idea.
The beasts that ruled and controlled trade with Inmost preferred the most gruesome offerings and Laloux, as well as other well prepared suvians, kept a few things on hand if need arose. She unpacked her winter coat and scarf and positioned her favorite hat on her head and headed to her desk where she picked out a red-silk ribbon. After tying up the offering from cold-storage in the basement with the ribbon, she set the knobs on the Ingress for a specific spot in Bolivia where it was always cold. She stepped into the swirling ether and in an instant she was no longer in her basement in Baltimore, but instead high up on Mount Illimani and surrounded by snow.
Although she was excited to have the egg, she was also nervous about making Oran unhappy at her. She hoped her barter was sufficient. Laloux stepped into the eerily-quite, bone-strewn cave entrance to the sensation that eyes were upon her. Laloux was being watched but could see no-one.
“I’ve come to see Oran.” she quaked.
“I’ve brought him a gift.”
Nothing - then shifting sand and the subtle hiss of snakes.
“What do you want from me?” Came the deep and cruel voice of Oran.
Laloux swallowed. “I would like to offer you a gift.” Laloux held out the jar full of eyes she had wrapped in the silk ribbon. “These are for you.”
A strong and foul wind met Laloux as Oran, the Grand Duke of the Bismuth Mines lunged from deep within the black depths of the cavern and stopped right before her.
“You know me well.” A glistening yellow-smile sparkled in the face of the dark and gargantuan form before her. He took the jar from her. “You may go now.”
“But, sir I would like to trade these for the heliump egg I hear you have.” She removed the viles from within her coat and held them out.
Oran snatched them from her and studied each vile for a fault. “Hmpf.” He scoffed. “Not quite enough.” He said with a sneer that was hardly visible in the darkness of the cave and on his blackened form. Like floating yellow teeth and the dim reflection from the eyes he was wearing in his sockets.
“But…” She said then stopped.
He then studied her. Olan moved so close to Laloux, she could feel his breath on her. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. A dark and shadowy form was sucked out of her chest and inhaled whole. “How lovely.” He said then left her and made his way with the viles and the jar.
Defeated - a tear fell down her cheek. He had tasted her fear and it felt disgusting. Like he had wormed his way into the private thoughts in her mind and the buried depths of her heart. Somewhere deep inside, she feared she would replace Lambchop and for get all about her and Olan took pleasure in this.
With her head low and tears on her chin, she made her way out of the cave. Just before the light of day touched her skin, she heard a scampering approaching her from behind and turned around. A small pale ghoulish creature was there and held out his hand with the heliump egg in his palm. “He said it’s yours. He never tasted fear so sweet.”
Laloux took the egg and held it. It was so tiny. Smaller even than a pea.
Currently residing in California, the state where he was born, Cam has developed his style from dark and surreal paintings to a what he is currently working on - simple hyperrealistic occult studies. The painting I chose to highlight, The Compact, contains some of my favorite examples of his incredible skill. In the last few years Cam has concentrated his studies on simple still lifes containing skulls or candles, and even combining the two with a draped fabric. He captures light from a candle flame like no other artist I know. At times this light is also shown through the thin layers of bone or hollows and cracks of a skull creating a delicate landscape. Darkness and light play with each other in perfect composition. His work has shown in galleries across the US and attracted buyers from across the glob. Cam has worked with bands, clothing companies, tattoo artist, and skateboard design as well creating a brand of his own. Follow his work on Instagram, FB and visit his website to purchase product, prints and originals.
The totems that occupied the clearing pulsed and wavered in the shimmering vapor that surrounded each of them. It was mid-day back at Alti’s home in Baltimore, but that was not where Alti was. He had teleported with his ship to the lush and mystical planet Remulon in the third quadrant, and the hour was quite early in the morning. Sunrise was still hours away. Things seemed out of balance across all the universe. Not just for Alti personally, but he felt a general misalignment everywhere. Even watching the S.E.B.M.M.I.V.’s (Suvian Energy Balance and Micro Meditation Incremental Videos) weren’t helping much. The way the air spoke to the plants, the way sound would travel, and even the way the stars wound inspire. Alti felt the source of this disharmony was a problem with the totems so he decided to investigate.
After attempting calibration on each totem in accordance to the scriptures and all twelve essential grimoires, Alti came to realize the problem did not lie with any weathering of the totems or movement out of cycle. All was aligned and in accordance. It was Alti’s hope that if he took the time over the next four or five days and studied the subtile cycles of the totems, something may reveal itself. A hint to what was causing such imbalance.
Hours passed and the drones returned with nothing to report. They did however collect some of the his favorite local produce - the syrup-filled conjoined radishes as well as the pompins (which were a crisp round yellow fruit that tasted like lemon and banana).Meals came and went and hours and hours of reviewed footage produced nothing. It was on the third day that Alti noticed something odd occur.
It started with a silence that he didn’t notice until a few minutes had passed. He rose from his armchair where he was taking notes and stepped down from his ship into the clearing. The dirge beetles were not clicking and the forest imps that typically occupied the canopy were either hiding or had left. The breeze withered away into stillness and the creaking trees became motionless. To Alti it seemed the temperature had begun to drop. In his notebook, he jotted all of this down. He stood there waiting for something else to happen. Time passed slowly and it seemed that nothing else would happen. He could see his breath now and he was poised to write anything else down that occurred, but nothing did. The evening just stayed silent and cold and motionless.
Not until Alti sat down and began to think of how long he would wait, did he realize that something was off. He had become distracted in thoughts of his next meal and noticed in his daydream state, there was subtle movement all around the clearing. It was in the air itself and there seemed to be hundreds of them. Spheres of darkness - so dark they were more like tiny back holes. That blackest black and darker than the night that surrounded him. They seemed to be stealing the light that emanated from the totems and a sadness and fear began to settle in. He wrote down what he was witnessing until he could no longer look at the orbs. It was painful and frightening and tears filled his eyes. He remembered how his last party had ended tragically and he also remembered how lonely he was. Pains, sorrows and defeats filled his thoughts until he crumpled onto the ground. Alti felt worthless and hoped that if he lay there long enough, he would simple cease to exist. The dust would settle over him and eventually he would be no more and that would be better. To be forgotten. Erased.
He wasn't sure how long he had been laying on the ground, but he no longer felt cold. The emptiness he felt, had begun filling back up with thoughts of simple pleasures. His armchair, his favorite tea, his friends. Alti sat up and looked around and the orbs were gone. Night creatures were returning and so was the breeze that swayed the gigantic trees.
Alti sat and thought. He had witnessed something horrible. After gathering his instruments and collecting his drones he prepared to head back home. The council must be informed. Perhaps they would know what to do.
Blake Neubert was born in 1981 in Wyoming and graduated with a bachelors degree in Art Education before eventually moving to Colorado. Recognized at a young age for his contemporary and traditional western paintings, his work has been included in galleries and private collections across the globe. Although I find those works of Neuberts to be quite remarkable, the work of his that caught my attention is what he has done since - the dark, horrific, and comical portraits that reveal alternate personalities and true forms, as well as bloody and charred flesh and bone. Some of my favorite of his paintings are his scrape off paintings, where he reveals hidden truths in an underpainting of his with a simple blade. For my artist highlight I chose “Black Headed Demon (13)” (one of his dark demonic portraits), because I found these simple scorched nightmarish figures to have a freedom from pretense. They flaunt their frightening truths and often bring with them a dark humor. Check out all of Blake Neubert’s work via some of the links below.
Ola needed clarity. Her thoughts were muddled and the messages she was receiving were conflicting. This rarely happened and when it did, she found that meditating outdoors helped make sense of things. She was the Council Mystic and her direction was required - it was crucial she interpreted her thoughts correctly to prevent any misinformation. It could lead to a disaster.
It was a pleasant August evening and the residence of Mount Vernon were completely unaware she was even there. Ola did not need to disguise herself from the humans like most suvians did; as an elder mystic she was able to exist just outside range of human sight. Only on the periphery of vision would humans be able to see her, and only then would she appear as a ripple in the air or indesernable shape of mist. This allowed her to be fully present and concentrate.
Energy cycled from the ground beneath her feet, through her, and then out in the air and back to the ground to repeat again while messages from this plane (as well as others) came filtering through her mind.
She knew trouble was coming from below. The messages were very clear. Ola also knew that they were running quite low on essentials from Inmost, the subterranean origin of the Suvian race. The grootslang and the yaoguai that controlled the trade between Inmost and Surface were unhappy. Their barter was no longer considered sufficient for the ghastly hordes from beneath. They demanded living goods for trade from now on. It had been centuries since the suvians that had migrated to Surface had decided living barter would be forbidden and barbaric. Until now the fiends from Inmost were satisfied with this, but now, without trade to supply them with their essentials they would become ill on Surface and eventually perish. In order to appease the grootslang and yaoguai, they would have to break their code that allowed them to live among the humans with no conflict. The council was frantic and uncertain as to what to do and Ola was expected to provide an answer.
After hours of meditation, Ola returned home with the difficult decision decided. Even her beloved giant ring-necked snake Diad could not comfort her. He coiled in her lap and hissed a soothing tune that normally would have relaxed her.
“Thank you.” She said as she smiled down at Diad. Even though it didn’t work, it was a thoughtful gesture. She sipped her kratom tea and drifted off into her thoughts. The council would meet tomorrow and she would give them her answer. They would break their code and barter with living goods for their supplies.
“Oh Diad.” She sighed. “This is just terrible.” Diad continued to hiss his tune while Ola dreamily stroked his blue and orange skin.
“Terrible terrible terrible.”
California native and current NYC resident, 41 year old Tara McPherson has amassed an incredible following with work in a wide variety of mediums. Her work can be found in video games, magazines, murals, T-shirts, prints, toys, sculptures, illustrations, paintings, serigraphs, posters, band art, comics, and books. Through all of these mediums and years of creating, her style has been consistent and instantly recognizable. I think of her work as science fiction dreams of timeless cycles of emotion. Vivid pop surrealism - where Tara’s characters seem fragile yet indomitable and enlightened. Some playful and happy and others somber and reflective, but all are created with a simple yet bold color pallet where many of the images involve the heart and the eyes as focal points that rivers flow from or emit mist and lasers. I selected the above 2014 painting Umibozu Lake for its tranquil and meditative qualities and also because I love the little Umibozu spirits. I suggest you visit her website (link below) and explore the worlds she has created.
Upon returning to their home, the triplets buoyant and jovial mood quickly deflated as Wyn checked the text from Councilwoman Phena.
Wyn, Wul, and Woo knew very well that it was frowned upon by the council to appear in public without using some sort of disguise or cloaking spell. They also knew that the three of them had been under council observation since the gefilte fish prank last month, and they were on thin ice. The residents of Mount Vernon never were able to find out who dropped jars down the chimneys of two dozen homes in the neighborhood, but the council knew better and gave the triplets a stern warning. So here they were, the three of them, knowingly testing the authorities by creeping off in the middle of the day and playing Sneaky-Spot.
The object of Sneaky-Spot is simple, but it’s execution can be quite difficult in the city. The three of them would try to sneak around the neighborhood without any sort of camouflage, and avoid being spotted humans. Should a human catch a glimpse, they’d use the Fire and Ice snap-pops to become invisible. The last one that isn’t spotted wins.
Woo followed Wyn and Wul out the window and down the fire escape and carefully shut the window behind him. With stealth and precision, they ducked into shadowy nooks of rank and littered alleys and scuttled through untended courtyards.
They found it easier and easier play this game as the years progressed. Few humans even looked up to notice the world around them and many city dwellers tended to mind their own business and ignore most comings and goings. Up a tree here, down a storm drain there, behind a trash can or bush, and under a parked car. Before they knew it, they were at their favorite haunt, First and Franklin Presbyterian Church, and Wyn was climbing her way up the New Brunswick Freestone towards the towering steeple.
After swinging about, posing like grotesques, and leaping from one peak to another, the triplets eventually gave into their thirst and hunger, and headed back home to fix an early supper.
“None of us got spotted even once!” Wul exclaimed as they made their way up the fire escape and into the window of their home.
“I know! That’s never happened” Said Woo.
“Let’s play again tomorr…” Wyn said, but her statement trailed off as she read the text from Phena with an accompanying photo. “Uh oh.”
Wyn showed her phone to the other two and reviled a photo of the three of them playing around on the roof of the church. She turned the phone back around and read the text.
“You three have been warned. You can make up for your misconduct with a trip to see Oran for more supplies. As additional punishment, you three will provide the trade for the goods. He is expecting you in five days.” Her expression went sour. “I guess we are headed to Bolivia.”
The three of them exchanged unpleasant looks as they processed their punishment. The Grand Duke of the Bismuth Mines was frightening, extremely unpleasant, and very difficult to please.
“I think I lost my appetite.” Uttered Woo. The others agreed with slow and reflective nods.
Award winning Israeli artist, Ronit Baranga, was born in 1973 and began to pursue her career as a sculptress after studying literature and psychology. Her work has been shown in galleries around the world and she was also given the unique opportunity to be one of the select forty artists invited to exhibit at Banksy’s international exhibition Dismaland. It was very difficult for me to pick a single piece that represents her work because each of her sculptures, although they have a definitive connection, are so different from each other. Additionally, the interpretation of Ronit’s dramatic and contradicting sculptures become even more complex within her exhibitions. String connects one piece to another revealing strength, sorrow, dependency, tension, and nurturing within an ominous fantasy. The first sculpture by Ronit that I saw was titled Embraced and it features a beautifully crafted porcelain tea set consisting of the teapot, cup, and creamer with sprouted human fingers that cling to each other. After looking into her work I discovered her contrary Grave Watchers which are needy infants that bear hungry and off-putting fangs that have tree-like horns and pointed ears. One of Baranga’s more recent sculptures is titled Blossom (featured here) and perfectly depicts opposition through the entangled and complicated yet serene red-haired beauty. Looking at her I feel like I am either observing a lush garden through a locked and barbed gate or a poisonous garden through an open and inviting entrance. I suggest you follow the link below to see all of her amazing work and follow her on Instagram. I hope you will be as awestruck as I am by her creations.
With an affinity toward concocting brews and potions, developing cutting-edge spells, and honing his culinary talents, Alti spent much of his free time in his modest kitchen. Tonight would be a first for him - he would host a mixed group that consisted of both humans and Suvians like himself. This event was especially tricky to navigate, because the humans coming were unaware their host was not human, let alone a species that originated from the depths of the earth, and more so because he would not be in disguise this evening. All of those sticky details had been avoided in the past with a clever spell that permitted Alti to visibly blend in with other humans, but he was going to try something different this time since he had recently acquired a favorable amount of the hallucinogenic mushroom Galerina Ateglichi. Although these fungi have very little hallucinogenic effects on Suvians, they are quite effective for humans.
In a few hours, Alti would be dealing with the disastrous effects of his failed party attempt, but for now he was a dervish in the kitchen; creating a variety of delicious and quite literally, magical finger-foods. Because all of his human guests were lactose intolerant, Alti could specially design the dairy laden hors d’oeuvres for his Suvian guests. His spice shelves would need a restock when this event was over, but for now all he could think of was how he wanted to create a memorable evening that would have people talking about how spectacular the event was.
The plan was that the human guests (which he had met at other events while in disguise), would receive their first morsel of food (that would contain the Galerina Ateglichi mushroom), at the front steps before they even entered the house. The hired help (who was human) would give the mushroom crostini to everyone as they entered and by the time they reached the end of the hall, they would be under its psychedelic effects before they met any of the Suvian guests, which were due to arrive fifteen minutes later.
Surprisingly, all of that coordination went well. All of the guests had been informed that the event would be a psychedelic experience and indeed it was. Some people saw the Suvian’s in their true form, some saw walls talking, and others saw drinks drinking back, but everyone rolled with it. Conversation turned to laughing, laughing turned to dancing, and dancing turned to exploring the outlandish visions.
In truth, some of the food had actual magical properties, which only pushed the hallucinations into even more extreme directions, but no-one cared. It was all a great trip.
Pickled Parisian pear pockets (they would change colors and sparkle).
Lumenicent leek dumplings (they glow in the dark and give you clairvoyance for 30 seconds).
Airy hazelnut-rosemary brittle (you become translucent for fifteen seconds after eating them).
One thing Alti failed to consider, was that under the influence of the mushrooms, and other magical confections, his human guests ended up throwing their dietary restrictions to the wind and ate from the trays that were meant for the Suvians. All the human guests were lactose intolerant so Alti felt it would be safe to add arsenic, (an ingredient Suvians needed for survival but also found to be delicious), to the finger-food that was labeled with dairy.
A few hours in, the human guests began to collapse and perish in an ugly and swift death. Alti was horrified and not a single spell in his creative little head could bring them back to life. In a short amount of time he went from having the most successful mixed party a Suvian ever had, to the biggest disaster one could imagine. The triplets giggled and slipped out the front door while Augen continued to play with a ghost pepper popover that was floating around the room. The council mumbled to each other attempting to construct a plan of disposing the bodies. In a fog, Alti wandered past befuddled guests and back to his modest kitchen where Laloux had collected empty plates and glasses. With a tear in his eye, he sat on an empty stool and stared at the spice shelves. He would have to restock soon he thought, and maybe he would avoid a mixed party in the future.
Born in 1973 in Taft, California, and currently residing in Anaheim (after living throughout southern California), Clinton Neuhaus has not only made a name for himself in the L.A. area, but his mesmerizing Pop Surrealist style has found it’s followers across the globe. He developed his style as a self-taught artist from his love of movies and their concept art techniques. Clinton turns people into monuments or buildings (some that feel lived in and others in states of decay) and surrounds them with Eden-like gardens, snowy or sandy wastelands, and even bustling neon-soaked cities. The more you study his work, the calmness that he taps into and the spiritual journey he takes to create each piece is evident. Hidden details and subtle humor emerges. It was hard to pick a favorite of his paintings, but the above featured “Solstice” I felt captured a variety of what he puts into his art. It shows his love for his work and his attention to the finest detail. Clinton doesn’t have a website, but you should find him on Facebook (link below) and follow him - watch his paintings unfold and even at times take entirely new and unexpected directions.
FB - https://www.facebook.com/clinton.neuhaus
As of October 2016, I intend to use this blog as an accompaniment to my Facebook page and Instagram page. On this blog I will post information and updates about my work as well as once a month I will highlight an artist whose work I like. Additionally, as of March 2017, I will begin posting a monthly Story Entry with an accompanying illustration of mine.