The Ninth Sphere: Alesha, Brainstorm and Plains Alters, and a Second Look at Amonkhet

At the time of writing this article, we are currently three days away from the release of Amonkhet. Yes, as usual I wrote my article the night before it was due, I’m a procrastinator at heart. (Sorry Editor!) The full set has been spoiled, pre-releases are over, and I’ve finally had the chance to see these Invocations in real life, and can I be honest? They look a lot nicer than I thought they were going to. Has seeing them actually changed anyone else’s perspective, or do you guys still dislike them?

On top of the Invocations, I’ve also been able to check out the rest of the artwork from Amonkhet. I think I only have a couple more I want to talk about (before I exhaust the topic completely), and then we’ll get into some of the alters I’ve been working on from the last little while.

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Compelling Argument, Lucas Graciano

There’s a lot that I like about this painting. I appreciate that this artist uses traditional methods to create his art. I believe all his paintings are oil on masonite. The medium allows him to build up a lot of colour intensity and depth, while at the same time he paints with a fair degree of realism, which adds to the plausibility of the story and its’ characters.

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Vizier of the Menagerie, Victor Adame Minguez

This reminds me a lot of Indestructible Aura. It has a very whimsical feel, at the same time I think the contradictory nature of fantasy/mythical creatures vs the realism and detail in this picture really lends itself well to the story of Amonkhet. Additionally it draws on traditional themes of Egyptian art with the types of animals portrayed. I’m always curious to know more about the characters we see in these images though, how does this Vizier communicate with the other members of the Menagerie? Do they speak Parseltongue or what?

I don’t really have a lot of other things to say about the art of Amonkhet. A lot of the art is really nice, but I’m not sure if any of it really comes across as outstanding to me. I think once I see the rest of the set in person I can make a better assessment.

Moving onto the alters I want to talk about this week, I have a few new things to share. The first one is this Alesha, Who Smiles at Death commission. I’ve never been particularly interested in this as a piece of art, maybe because Alesha’s gender is so ambiguous in this picture, or maybe because the artwork isn’t particularly dynamic. (as I understand it, Alesha is supposed to be a trans woman, but the ambiguity doesn’t seem to lend itself well to that portrayal. Or does it?) I do really like the complementary colour palette though, and it was actually pretty fun to paint.

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The second alter I have to show you guys today is one I did for myself, one of my favourite Euro lands by Mike Ploog. It’s one of my favourite basic lands that a lot of people don’t usually get to see or play with because of its’ general scarcity. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with it, but I play around with floating frames a lot in my basic land extensions, so I thought I’d give this one a shot. Personally I think I’d like it better as a full alter, so I might give another one of these a coat of paint when I’m between commissions.

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If you guys are curious, this basic plains below is my absolute favourite. It’s from the red pack of APAC lands. They’re fairly expensive and hard to come by, but I’d love to paint it.

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The last alter I have to show you guys today is another one I did for myself, since I’ve been experimenting with border altering similar to the Edric, Spymaster of Trest from the last article. If you guys have seen my facebook page you’re probably familiar with this one already. I also incorporated the gold leaf I have, since so many people liked the original Brainstorm I altered with it before. You can see my previous article on gold leafing here.

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I’m experimenting with the colour wheel using existing colour themes in the artwork, and trying to create a cohesive feel between the gold leaf in the symbols to the border frame. I’m not sure how well the modernized border fits with the more traditional image of the card, but it had a lot of positive feedback. Mainly my goal with this experimentation is to create a series of alternative borders, just a little more adventurous than the extensions I’m so familiar with.

That’s all I have for you guys this time, if you have any special requests of something you’d like to see in a future article, leave me a comment and I’ll try to feature it! Next time I’m going to talk about my upcoming trip to GP Vegas (and discuss some of the art I’m going to spend my money on), as well as some of the commissions I’m just finishing up. See you next time!

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