Born in Jennings, Louisiana and now living in Austin, Texas, the self-taught artist known online as Ugly Shyla, has been making bizarre and macabre dolls for the last 21 years. Beginning at the age of 16 in 1996, her beautiful, unique, and creepy creations have found their way across the world. At an early age, Ugly Shyla aspired to become a nun, and although she ended up following a different path, religion is still a strong theme in her work. The wigs, outfits, and even shoes for her dolls are all crafted by Shyla with fine detail, bringing the dolls a sense that they may have had a miniature life of their own. Besides being a doll maker, Ugly Shyla also makes jewlery and ornaments and is an Alt Model and the caretaker of two handicap squirrels named Winkelhimer and Mr. Man. The doll I have highlighted in this blog, is one of the Pastel Angels and is in my private collection. She sits among my books and collection of oddities and even makes her way to our tree every December. You can find Ugly Shyle on Facebook, Instagram, and Etsy (via the links) below and discover all the creations she has to offer.
One of the most rare and beautiful flowers to ever be discovered is the Tricyrtis Sanguis, which few humans have ever even laid eyes upon. The rarity of this flower partially comes from the unique conditions that are required for it to grow and maintain it’s bloom. Two alternating sets for four deep-red petals surround the powder-blue center of this remarkable flower. From that center extend the long and delicate stamen that resemble antenna. The deep-emerald colored stalk is often times very vine like, but quite sturdy.
Typically found around the dens of hordlings - the large amounts of mammals they consume in their lair provide an ample supply of blood to nourish the quick growing plant from seed to a mature flowering plant. The seed of the Tricyrtis Sanguis is the size of a grain of sand and is covered in tiny barbs which easily get caught in the fur of hordlings. These fiends from Inmost typically have the seeds begin their growth cycle on their fur until the plant becomes too heavy and then falls to the ground. Without a constant source of blood the plant and flower will shrivel and die within a days time. If, however, the plant lands on a fresh corpse or a fresh supply is provided, the plant can live indefenately. A cut flower is even more rare, because it must be immediately placed into a vase with mammal blood. New blood must be added every week to keep the bloom alive.
The final peculiarity of the Tricyrtis Sanguis is that it does not cast a reflection which is where its common name (nickname) derives, the Vampire Flower.
Living in Irvine California, and working for Blizzard Entertainment, Dominic Qwek has created some of the most macabre, outlandish, elegant, and stylish monsters I have ever scene. A sculpture at heart, Qwek primarily works in a digital space, but actual sculptures as well as kits have been made from his digital creations. I highlight his sculpture Drone, which was the piece that first drew me to his sculptures. Dominic has indicated he has plans to take on his sculpting in clay and I look forward to see how that translates in his work. I highly suggest exploring his incredible creations on his website listed below.
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 purse 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.
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.