Excerpted from "Andy Lakey's Psychomanteum" by Keith Richardson, published by Ventura Press 1998.

Andy Lakey was not trained to be an artist, nor did he want to be one. He sold cars and used his money to buy drugs. He prided himself on the quality of his cocaine. He didn't care about anyone or anything.

On December 31, 1986, Lakey went to a New Year's Eve party. There he 'free-based' cocaine. As the evening went on, he began to feel worse and worse. He felt as if his head was going to explode and his whole body was shutting down.

He didn't tell his friends how bad he felt. He thought he was too 'cool' to overdose. Quietly leaving the party, he headed for his apartment downstairs. By the time he got there, he was crawling on his hands and knees. He crawled into the shower, turned the cold water on himself, and prayed for the first time since he was eight years old.

"God if you spare my life," he said, "I'll never take drugs again and I'll do something to help humankind."

Feeling something swirling around his feet like a tornado, he looked down, and to his amazement saw seven glowing beings of light circling his body. The beings shone like the sun and looked like they were made of crystal. They came up to his chest and put their arms around him. Suddenly, Lakey felt at peace. He knew he had been saved by angels.

In this near-death experience, Lakey was surrounded by seven angels, saw the light of God, and glimpsed the 'other side.' After he recovered, he stopped taking drugs cold turkey, began helping other people, and became obsessed with drawing what he had seen that night in his shower.

Lakey quit his job, moved out of his apartment, and left all his friends. He found a new job and a new place to live. Instead of taking drugs each night when he came home, he drew pictures of his near-death experience. This continued for three years, by which time Lakey had boxes full of sketches.

In October 1989, Lakey, obsessed by a feeling that he wasn't doing what he was supposed to do, quit his $85,000-a-year sales job, took all his savings out of the bank and bought $6,000 worth of art supplies. He felt compelled to paint the images he had seen in the shower.

He built an art studio, but when he sat down to paint he discovered something terribly wrong. He had no art training and didn't have the slightest idea how to make paint stick to the canvas.

Several discouraging months passed, and then one morning in early 1990, as he entered his studio, a beam of light shone through the wall and touched him on the forehead. He felt a tingling sensation run through his entire body. Lakey felt transported to another dimension--a dimension where time stood still.

Three angels appeared and said, "The reason you were spared is that you have a mission to fulfill."

He asked them what his mission was and they responded, "Your mission is to paint 2,000 individual angel paintings by the year 2000. These paintings will represent each year that has passed since the birth of Christ."

"But I can't do that," Lakey interrupted. "You know I can't paint."

"Don't worry about a thing," they reassured him. "Put it in our hands and we'll take care of everything for you."

Within 24 hours, Lakey experienced a series of coincidences that would forever change his life. First, he accidentally spilled two acrylic paints that, when mixed, dried to a hard puffed surface. This novel mix of materials led Lakey to an art style known as 'sensualism.' As the paintings he created had a textured surface, even blind people could "see" them with their fingers.

In just a few months, Lakey had a full gallery opening. Six hundred people attended and his exhibit sold out. One buyer was a vacationing Italian monsignor. Upon his return home, he spread the word about Lakey's angel paintings and within weeks Lakey got a call from the Vatican. Pope John Paul II wanted a painting. Lakey sent the Pope painting number one in his 2000 series.

Today, Andy Lakey's works hang in museums and art galleries around the world. Noted collectors include Princess Margaret of Great Britain, Prince Albert of Monaco, Presidents Ford and Carter, Stevie Wonder, Shari Belafonte, James Redfield, Kelsey Grammar, Naomi Judd, Arnold Palmer, and Dudley Moore.

Despite his fame, Lakey has remained true to his mission. He donates at least 30% of the money from everything he paints to help others. He supports The Blind Children's Center in Los Angeles and other children's charities throughout the world. Lakey is also a supporter of charities for abused women, AIDS research, and animal welfare.

Andy Lakey's art has touched millions of lives. It continues to help people find faith, hope and spirituality, and to face life's tragedies.

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