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.
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.
Hope to see you all there!
Saturday, March 3, 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:
Born in Denmark in 1978, where he still lives and works, John Kenn Mortensen works in Children’s Television as a Writer and Director and also has a few credits as an Actor and even credits as an Animator, Editor, and Production Designer. None of these jobs are how I came to discover Mortensen’s work though. In what little spare time he has, John carves out time to create detailed illustrations in ink, of monsters and children on yellow Post-It notes. It is impossible to look at his work without seeing the strong influence Edward Gorey has on his style and creations. A dark sense of dread and even fear and sorrow that still manages to hold a powerful humor within the little illustrated terrors. Being a fan of Death Metal and dark experimental music, while still working in children’s television and being a father of fraternal twin’s (a boy and a girl), creates the perfect fodder for imagining the horrible situations his illustrated characters find themselves in. Mortensen has also worked in larger format illustrations, sculptures, and has his work in books that highlight some of his best MonsterDrawings. As usual is is difficult for me to find one piece from an artist to highlight, but I ended up picking one of his Post-It masterpieces titled There Is No Need To Stay Here. Creepy and grim with hint of humor. This also happens to be one of the few that seem to have been given a name. John’s larger illustrations are names, but It is difficult to find the name of any of his Post-It MonsterDrawings - perhaps because of the sheer number of those he has created, most end up nameless. John Kenn Mortensen is on a variety of social media, but he is the most active on Instagram (link below). Follow his work and fall in love. I am also linking his Bigcartel shop where he will post works for sale on occasion. I also suggest looking for his books for a wonderful treat!
The snow had melted from the dusting a few days ago and the battered concrete of the Baltimore sidewalk had dried from the unseasonable warmth. It was in the 60’s and it felt as though Spring had had enough of the bitter winter and was vying for an early entrance. Laloux's peony had even poked a bud from the soil. Laoux and her good friend Augen sat on the bench waiting for the bus, and although she knew the temperature would not last though the end of the week, she enjoyed it while it was here.
“Are you nervous?” Augen asked. Although he didn’t know what she had done, he knew Laloux had done something against the rules, and the counsel was not pleased. She would have to meet with them this evening.
“No.” The word drifted from her lips with such little conviction that it hardly seemed to even have been uttered.
Augen watched a bird on the opposite side of the street attempt to pry loose a morsel from a small mass fused to the asphalt. A string of cars that had been let loose by the green light, forced the sparrow onto the safety of the sidewalk for a minute, until the coast was clear once more. The bird froze for a moment and took flight. Perhaps the effort was not worth the reward.
“Torkel will hear all the counsel has to say before making a decision.” Laoux heard him, but said nothing. “You can come over for tea afterwards if you would like. I have some Malawi White tea I have been saving. I’d love to share. Perhaps even some walnut liqueur.” Augen knew Laloux had a weakness for a cordial.
“That would be nice.” She said. Again, the words hardly felt genuine. They had been strung together from secondary thoughts. Her mind was far away. She softly smiled at Augen, but the effect only made her seem more pathetic.
Augen’s bus approached and he placed his hand on her shoulder. “Oh, dear. It will be ok. I am here for you.” By the time those words registered for Laloux, Augen was boarding the bus and waving good-bye. “Call me.” He mouthed through the window as the bus pulled away. She was all alone.
She studied the mass the bird had been pecking at and realized it was a rat that had not been as luck as the bird in escaping the unforgiving tires of a car. It was flatter than a pancake. Just the way heliumps like them. Her heliump still had not hatched yet, so she left the rat where it was. She began to separate from her thoughts and pay more attention to her surroundings. A couple was screaming at each other a block away, but that sound was faint. The air felt thick. Like she was being squeezed into a smaller space and there was hardly room for her to be comfortable on that empty bench.
A few dozen cars drove by and the street was silent again. She pulled her purse closer to her. For no reason at all, she did not feel safe. The corner was empty, the steps and windows were clear - no one was around but her, but she felt like she was being watched. She spotted her bus approaching and felt relief. Perhaps she was letting the counsel meeting this evening play with her head. The heliump egg was hers even if they did not approve of the trade she had made to get it. You can’t undo a trade - can you? Her stomach sank and she flattened the fold on her dress and composed herself as the bus pulled up. It felt so comforting to be wearing her dress in January. A small reprieve, but she knew the cold would return. The ice and snow would smother her peony bud that had emerged, but perhaps it would survive once Spring had finally taken over, even though that seemed far away. For now though, it was pleasant out.
Margot King is a self taught artist that grew up in Brooklyn Heights, NYC and studied Chinese Philosophy at a progressive high school. She continued her study of philosophy in college for three years, until dropping out to care for her mother. At the age of 22 Margot lost her mother to suicide which put her on an introspective path alone. Later as an adult King tried to recapture her childhood, which was lost in a home fire, by surrounding herself with toys and animals that had been lost. These lost treasures gave her the creative voice in her paintings. After woking for a some major advertising and marketing agencies in NYC, she moved to Baltimore, Maryland with her boyfriend in the early 1980's. Fueled by a few jobs that put her in "Me Too" situations, she decided to work for herself and opened Retro, a vintage clothing and fantastic oddities store which she later shared ownership with, with her ex-boyfriend. Always driven by her father's mantra "Discipline equals freedom" and his words of encouragement - to pursue what you are passionate about with conviction, Margot reconnected with her artistic drive, and began to paint in a room above Retro on her days off. Long had she studied the detail and paint strokes of the masters like Sargent, Rembrandt, and Whistler at the MMOA while growing up in NYC, she now began to create her own work. King, honed her skills with weekend classes in life drawing and oil painting. She has been going strong since and her work reflects the skills of the masters she studied as well as the joys and sorrows that create the tapestry of life. Sometimes surreal and fantastic and other times solemn, serene, and introspective. Animals have always been an important part of her life and it reflects in her exquisite paintings. It was quite difficult to choose one painting to use for the post, because I love all of her work for different reasons, especially the animals she paints that are dressed and posed like humans. I ended up picking the above painting entitled Witness, because of how it highlights the drama and cycle of life, inside a small corner of a garden, with the oil skill of the masters that she so perfectly executes. A superb example of what she is all about. Margot has lived in Chestertown, MD for 14 years where she paints full time and lives with her husband and four rescued ex-feral cats.
Follow Margot King on Facebook and Instagram, and discover more about her wide range of work and what is available to purchase (at a very accessible price range) on her websites.
Website - Margotkingstudio.com
Purchase - margotkingart.bigcartel.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/margotking.studio
Instagram - www.instagram.com/margot_king_studio
What a sensitive and difficult year things have been for the suvians. Their relationship with the grootslang and the yaoguai of the Inmost had become strained and quite fragile in the last year. The counsel decided that their usual year-end gift of the best of their morel crop was not enough. Perhaps it was fate or perhaps it was bad judgement, but the wisest of the counsel appointed the task, of choosing the three best morels, to the triplets. Their assumption was partially based on the correlation between there being three of them and choosing to offer three mushrooms.
The counsel scrambled to remedy the disaster created by the triplets Wyn, Wul, and Woo, but there was no magic that could remedy their mistake. The gift had been placed and the damage had been done. The tradition of this offering had dated back thousands of years, even inspiring the vikings to offer up an evergreen to the sun god Balder and pagans and Christians to decorate a tree. All in one simple mistake, the relationship that balanced on the edge, would plummet into the void.
The intent of the yearly gift is to show respect to the keepers of the Inmost and provide them with the prize of the morel crop from that season - marked with a traditional red (indicating prosperity) star at it’s top. To show even more respect in times of their fragile and crumbling relationship, they would offer their best three morels. The triplets made two additional stars and restored the original star as well so they would have three this year. They used a natural red dye from the pedals of the vampire flower and that was their undoing. The dye poisoned the prized mushrooms and created a decomposed mess.
The insult to the grootslang and yaoguai was extreme and now their good graces had been undone. Things were not looking good for the suvians. Conflict would be upon them and they did not do well with contention.
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.
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.