Born in Southern California in 1984 to Mexican immigrants, Emilio Villalba felt his artistic drive early on. Emilio initially studied animation and received his BFA in 2006 from the Art Institute of California and quickly began work in that field in his early 20’s until moving to San Francisco and transitioned to the medium of painting. In San Francisco he received his MFA in Painting in 2012 from the Academy of Art University. Villalba’s work reflects his studies in both abstract and figurative painting. At the core of Emilio’s painting’s there is pure portraiture, but great focus on the disharmony of the self and perception. Pressures from society and the toll it takes on the emotional state of the subject when confronted with benevolence. Raw emotions and the fragility of the soul. Villalba overlaps and repeats human features with a kaleidoscope effect. “Don’t Worry” is the 2018 painting of his that I decided to feature. It pulls you in with a sadness at its core and doesn’t want to let you go. It reminds me of the face we may give to the world, that all is ok, but the eyes tell a different story. I urge you follow the links below and discover his somber and seductive work.
It was a beautiful Spring day in Baltimore, Maryland. Not but a few scattered clouds spotted the azure sky. In the sun it was warm and comforting and in the shade it was cool and refreshing. The air was dry and a pleasant breeze carried the fragrance of flowers and grilled food through Mt. Vernon Place, where Augen sat and longed for his love Elsie.
Buses and cars passed Augen as he sat on the marble wall at the East Park and faced the grand monument to George Washington. Augen missed Elsie and wished she could enjoy this moment with her as they would share their nighttime rendezvous. She was traveling with her family and would not be back for another few months. For Augen it was simple to hide in plain sight - all he needed to do was create a mental hologram so he could blend in. Anyone that saw him would see a thin framed middle-aged man that had gone a tad doughy in the middle and not the fuzzy, pale-blue gangly yet doughy suvian of average height that he was. It was a simple trick that all suvians were able to do to blend in, but Elsie was not a suvian and she was not able to blend in as well. The alabaster skin of her saturnine face had typical human features that many men would find irresistible and many women be envious of, but if sunlight was to ever find her skin, it would combust and quickly leave her as a lifeless lump of cremated remains. She was not human and never had been, unlike those humans she could feed on and turn to a vampire. This was always the way for her and her kind - an ancient breed of vampire that aged very slowly, but never died from old age. The males had four horns and although the females did not, they did have four long and deadly canine teeth that were always in place.
The statue next to Augen reminded him of his place in this world of humans as well as Elsie’s place. Beasts were beneath them and must be controlled to show them their place. The elders knew that if the suvians ever came out of hiding, they would be in the same place as the beast in the sculpture. The alarm on Augen’s phone went off and snapped him out of such depressing thoughts. He pulled out his phone and with a smile on his face dialed Elsie’s number.
She may not be able to sit there with him and enjoy this beautiful day, but her trip overseas planted a wonderful idea in their minds. It was 10pm where she was in Constanța, Romania and the sun had long since set. The call went through and they both tapped the button for FaceTime.
“Hello my dear.” Augen cooed.
“Hello my love.” Elsie replied. In the candle light Augen could almost see the milky skin on her cheeks blush. “It’s so bright there.” She said as she squinted.
“It is beautiful out today and now you just made it even more beautiful.”
“It is beautiful here as well. There is magic in the night air here.” She paused for a moment. “I miss you.”
“I wish I could have come with you.” Augen stopped the rest of his thoughts.
“My dad will come around. Give him time.” Augen could see him look up at her in the background and gave a frown.
Augen faintly heard him grumble “What kind of man has no horns. This is no man for my daughter.”
Elsie turned so her dad was no longer in view. “Ignore him. I love you just the way you are.” This time, she could see a blush rise on Augen’s fuzzy blue cheeks. She smiled at him. “I should go. My cousins are waiting for us.”
They said their good-byes and Augen sat there on the wall with a silly grin on his face. All felt right.
Henrik Aarrestad Uldalen is a self-taught artist that was born in South Korea in 1986, grew up in Norway and currently resides in London. Henrik’s oil paintings have been shown in galleries across the globe and range from miniature to gigantic. He even has murals that grace the sides of buildings, and tiny delicate paintings on glass frames that fit in the palm of your hand. Most of his work is somewhere in-between and that seems to be a comfortable place for his subject matter as well. Henrik’s work is more about feeling than form, despite the fact that the human form plays a major part in his paintings. Like the featured painting “Strife”, his paintings typically seem to begin as photorealistic portraits and dissolve into dreamlike forms or expressions of emotional states. This is sometimes achieved using bold chunky glops of fluid oil paint or even light and airy wisps of smoke and fog where once there was a skull or shoulder. Henrik’s paintings are beautiful, captivating and mesmerizing and I urge you to find more of his work on Facebook, Instagram and his website. You will be happy you did.
It was almost time for the trip back home. Information had been gathered and recorded and samples had been sorted, and labeled. The final stop, to gather the last items they had come for, was the Mid Atlantic region of North America in the city of Baltimore. It was a hotbed of Suvian activity, but this was not the reason for their visit. The mushroom princess Auda, lived there and had a gift for them. Her alchemy skills were know across the universe and a gift from her was a prized thing indeed.
The Discomedusae ship hovered silently over the Belvedere while the scouts were sent to explore and study the residents and surface. The Marquis however headed underground for his appointment with the Princess Auda. Through sewers and tunnels and caverns he finally came upon her humble home and she was waiting for him. No guards were in place and the formality of her title had long since dissolved along with her kingdom. Her posture revealed that the centuries had been a burden on her bones, but her regal silk-gown indicated that she was still not completely removed from her title. The Marquis bent his three boneless legs and exposed the jellied dome of his head in a bow.
“Ebb…dear friend, there is no need for that.” Auda said with the hint of a smile as she waved her hand in the air. Brushing away the formality of the gesture. Her smile remained slightly as the memory surfaced of times where this was commonplace and she had a servant for every need.
“So good to see you. It has been an eternity.” Ebb hugged Auda like the close friends they were. They had a bond of friendship that was outside the constraints of time and distance.
“Come in, come in.” Princess Auda motioned for the Marquis to follow her into her home. “I have some things for you, but first some treats.”
The Princess and the Marquis exchanged stories and reminisced over tea and then cordials and snacked on both sweet and savory tarts. Before they knew it, hours had passed and it was time for Ebb to depart. Auda took two boxes from the table in the corner and presented then to Ebb. “These are for you to bring back with you. Some of my most prized fungi.”
The boxes were labeled Lycoperdon Hystrix and Agaricus Forentibus. “I want these protected. I have the only ones of these in existence and they must not become extinct. Help them flourish back home. There are only a few dozen left here and I protect them with my life.” She then picked up a large box from beneath the table and carefully handed it over.
“This is the most important of all my dear friend. Protect the Krelt. They will thrive if you let them, but they are sensitive to toxins. Only a handful of their clan remain and I govern over them.” The box was labeled Calocera Anemonem and there was movement from within. “They are excited for the journey.” Auda smiled. “Be gentle with them. They have feelings and remember everything. There were once rivers of their rainbow tentacles and I hope there will be again on your home.”
“This is very generous. I will care for them all.” Ebb said as he left. “You will need to visit and see. I will protect them as you have.”
The Marquis made his way back to his ship and as the last of the scouts returned, he secured his precious cargo. The craft closed the hangars and as they prepared for departure, Ebb amended his report for this trip. It had been noted that despite the blue and green that covered the planet, Earth was toxic and dying and the case was hopeless. The samples they had collected would perish here. Ebb added - Report From Zone 1 - There is still hope for this planet after all. The mushroom princess Auda, keeper of the fungi, is strong still despite her age and will not permit extinction. She is not alone. The Princess indicates the other keepers are strong as well. We will return to see.
My solo show at the Laughing Pint in the Highlandtown neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland came to a close yesterday morning. I am very happy to say that I sold 12 of my illustrations. It is a delight to send my work off to a home where it will bring the owner happiness.
The digital work of Russian artist Alexandr Kumpan is a paradox. He creates using a color palette that is generally joyful and vibrant, yet the subject focuses on sulking creatures and lifeforms that appear to dwell in depths that the sun has never seen. Often lanky and raw monstrosities, whose forms generally seem to be made of bone and shell and tendon, are caught in some peculiar delight - sometimes whimsical and other times macabre. I featured the painting Red Sushi, because I love the variety of color he uses and the variety of emotion you feel while viewing it. Upon closer look the viewer tends to discover new attention to detail in all his work and although he do not have a personal website, I urge you to find him on Instagram, Facebook, or DeviantArt and discover his other works.
This time every year a balance would occur. As Winter diminishes and Ēostre comes forth to herald in Spring, both light and dark are equals. This year Alti felt a special need for balance. It was a brooding feeling he had, that was compounded by bitter cold and darkness of winter, a feeling that something bad was coming and perhaps winter would not end this year. That the daylight hours would never surpass or even match that of the night. This felt especially true upon waking to dropping temperatures and sleet. He sat in bed looking out of the window, happy for this day of balance, but disappointed the winter was holding on. Alti decided he would not let the weather effect his mood and would still go for a long walk around the neighborhood to usher in the first official day of Spring and celebrate Ēostre and all she brings.
“Come on Gyoza. Wake up. We’re going for walkies.” Alti shook the spiny pumpkin-sized lump that was snoring beneath the covers. “Wakie wakie.”
Gyoza stretched and yawned while still under the covers and then crawled off the bed dragging the sheet and comforter with him as Alti changed out of his pajamas and into jeans and a sweater. Podgolins are notorious for their small bladders and their need to pee within minutes of waking, so Alti left the sheets on the floor and hurried down to his shoes and jacket by the front door and grabbed the leash off the hook. Alti jingled the leash, which prompted Gyoza to quicken his gait and wag his tail in excitement.
It was a blessing that podgolins love the rain and snow. Alti had other pets in the past that would hate to be out in such weather and would relieve themselves indoors even after having come in from a long walk with no success. Gyoza slipped and slid down the side walk, sniffing every tree and step along the way to Howard’s Dog Park. Few people were out in this weather and even fewer sense some schools had been canceled due to slippery conditions. The only person Alti saw was a tall man at the light rail stop at the base of the dog park. Time passed as Gyoza frolicked and explored and the light rail came and went, but the man never boarded.
No dogs ever came to play so Alti gathered Gyoza and continued their walk around the neighborhood. They had made it a block when Gyoza stopped and turned around. His back arched in a defensive posture and made a low and guttural sound. Alti turned just as two tall and shadowy forms took flight and disappeared from sight.
“Come on buddy.” Alti told Gyoza as he urged them to continue. “Good boy.” He said and Gyoza wagged his tail knowing he had done well.
As they made their way around Mount Vernon Place, Alti felt like he was being watched. Shadows seem to move, just as he would look away and if he looked back there would be nothing. It did not feel like it was the first day of Spring and definitely did not feel like there was a balance between light and dark on this day. He closed his eyes and thought of Ēostre waking through a field as the ice beneath her feet melted and crocuses would push through the soil and bloom. Gyoza snarled and Alti opened his eyes to see the tall figure from the light rail stop standing in front of him and staring at him with cold and murderous eyes. Sleet bounded from his shoulders and hat as two shadowy forms hung in the air high above him. Their eyes were cold and empty and seemed to feed on the fear that Alti felt.
“Here boy.” Alti pulled Gyoza closer to keep him as far from the man as possible. “Good day sir. Happy Spring.” He said as a little joke and moved to walk around the motionless man staring at him. The man spoke which startled Alti and glued him to the spot. His voice was not human and at first sounded as if it was feedback from a poor radio signal.
“Tell the counsel they have been warned. If you see me again, and you have not set them on the right path, we will have trouble.”
“Okay.” Alti stuttered, and the man floated off with the other forms into dreary sky, leaving Alti and Gyoza in the drizzle which was somewhere between sleet and freezing rain. “Lets go home boy.” He muttered. “It’s too cold for me.”
I have been hard at work preparing for my upcoming show entitled "Unearthed Neighbors" at the Laughing Pint in Baltimore, Maryland. This is an exciting show for me because it will feature a variety of my illustrated work - some a little older and some quite new! Lots of Baltimore landmarks can be found in my illustrations as well as plenty of Baltimore monsters. Check out past Blog posts to find some matching stories for some of my art. Make it to the opening to see my work in person. Those that attend may even end up with a little take home gift. The Laughing Pint is a wonderful neighborhood spot that is a favorite haunt of some of Baltimores talented artists and writers.
As many of you know, there was a delay in the opening, due to high winds collapsing a section of a building behind the Laughing Pint. The building has since been secured and the new opening date is this Saturday, March 10th from 6pm-8pm. With the extra week I began a new illustration to commemorate the event that caused the delay. The true cause could only have been some hungry Baltimore Monsters!
Hope to see you all there!
Saturday, March 10th, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Show runs March 3 - April 5, 2018
3531 Gough Street | Baltimore, MD 21224 410-342-6544
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 3:00 pm - 1:00 am
Link to Press Kit:
Omar Rayyan was born in Jordan, but grew up “all over” and eventually ended up going to school at the Rhode Island School of Design in the United States of America. Right after graduation in 1990, he and his wife ended up settling down in Marthas Vineyard, Massachusetts by accident. His work was accepted into a show there and they never left after going to deliver the work for that show. Omar’s work has been shown in galleries, conventions, and on his own through his website and Etsy store. Rayyan’s work has been featured in literature, games (most notable Magic: The Gathering), and even helped create the feel for Narnia in the motion picture The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Although Omar makes a good living through the sales of his work, he recently got paid reprint rights for a small press book cover illustration... with a bottle of scotch, much to his amusement. He attributes much of his decisions about his work habits, career path, etc. to his loving wife Sheila, who is a ceramic artist who also has a fondness for monsters. Omar’s work is shaped by the aesthetics of the great 19th century Renaissance and Romantic painters, but also by his surroundings on his island home. Nature and animals are at the core of his work and tell a story of magic and fantasy that are both curious and endearing. The world he creates with his work in watercolor, are both fantastic yet feel familiar. The painting I chose to highlight, Little Darlings, captures the strength of his work and how he can show a monster as both savage, and a cuddly pet at the same time. Follow the links below to follow him and/or learn more about his work.
Diad, the giant blue and orange ring-necked snake, laid coiled beneath the sofa in Ola’s Mount Vernon condo in Baltimore, Maryland. It was his second favorite spot at home - the first being just outside the kitchen pantry where snacks were accessible and the temperature toasty. Today was different though, Diad was beneath the sofa because he was given an important task - the large sack on the sofa needed to be guarded. The contents were valuable. It didn’t need to be guarded so much against someone stealing it, but more to prevent what was in it from getting out.
Ola’s was expected to speak at the counsel meeting and discuss the proposed course of action. She would only be gone a few hours and knew the sack and its contents would be fine under Diad’s watch, even though he wasn’t poisonous and tended to be quite docile.
Previous counsel meetings determined that Ola’s decision to meet the demands of the guardians of Inmost despite that it would break their code, should be reconsidered. Although the idea of not bartering with the living made Ola pleased, she also knew that this would not sit well with the subterranean fiends that provided them with their vital trades. She had mediated on this and discovered that the grootslang and the yaoguai would settle for nothing less than their demands. Alti had even warned the counsel that there was great danger on the horizon and to tread lightly. War could be upon them if they did not comply. The counsel had their best intentions in mind, but failed to put the proper emphasis on these cautions. It was too big of a leap for them to accommodate. The relationship the suvians had cultivated with the humans could not be so easily broken in the eyes of the counsel.
A compromise was determined. The counsel decided they would not give over a live human as barter for their goods, but with magic, temporarily animate a recently deceased corpse, giving it the appearance of life. The hope would be this may fool the Inmost lords, but at least appease them even if they were not fooled. Perhaps they would consider it more of a gift than a barter, and be pleased with the effort. After all, it had been ages since they were provided with human cadavers as barter and even longer since living humans were given. Road kill of all sorts was what they had become accustomed too for so long now, that it was hard to believe it had even been anything but.
The meeting concluded and Ola and Alti walked each other home. They spoke of their concerns. Ola told what she had discerned from her meditation and Alti described the dread he experienced when calibrating the totems. The freezing gusts of wind felt like bad omens. A foretelling of days to come.
Back at Ola’s home, Diad heard rustling coming from the bag above him. The burlap stretched within its limits and relaxed momentarily. A moan came from within it and Diad sprung to action. He hissed a lullaby - melodious, serene, and full of magic. The corpse drifted back to stillness until Diad would need to sing his song again. The exchange would happen tomorrow, so he would only need to work his magic another time or two.
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.