Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Story: Fortunate One

Feedback, yada yada...

Fortunate One

Mitsuko closed her front door with a sigh. She had been hoping for fresh air and blue skies, but fortune was not with her. The sky was gray again, and underneath the usual industrial murk was the smell of smoke. Nearby Yahata was still burning from the last bombing raid.

The war was not going well and although nobody dared speak of it, Mitsuko could see in people's eyes the realization that the end was near. Sometimes she secretly wished to hurry the inevitable. She was tired and no longer blindly believed everything she heard on the radio. Her family, like so many others, had given much for the Emperor. Her father was a broken man, one son lost aboard the once-mighty Hiryu and the other still fighting somewhere in Manchuria. If Eiji were still alive.

Mitsuko's husband was a manager for one of the Kokura arms factories across the river. She worried about him because he had been working so hard for so long, and now all for nothing it seemed. These days, it was hard to remember that her entire life hadn't been one of deprivation because of the war. It was hard to recall the happy memories when what was most easily remembered were her lost brothers, her silent father, and her exhausted husband.

There was a sour lump in her throat, bitterness over her life and how it should have been. There were supposed to be children. Living in grimy Kokura was never part of her dreams.

Mitsuko thought of her sister Aiko, who seemed to have all the good fortune in the family. Her husband had been promoted and was now director of a shipyard. Their house overlooked the sea and the breezes swept the air clean. Aiko had recently given birth to a second son. Fortune definitely smiled upon Aiko.

Determined to cheer up, Mitsuko decided that she should visit her sister. Travel was difficult but not impossible. She would ask her husband tonight for a travel permit. If he couldn't arrange it, then Mitsuko would send word to Aiko. Surely *her* husband could manage a travel pass.

Mitsuko's spirits were already lifted at the thought of visiting lucky Aiko in her beautiful home with her new beautiful son.

Yes, she thought, a few days in Nagasaki will do me good.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Funny Brush

Doodling around with a new toy called a "Funny Brush". I think this is going to work really well for running water.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Watercolor. My first experience using masking fluid.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Story: Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned

"Excuse me, Ma'am. Are you trying to cross the street?"

Mildred started, so intently was she peering down the road. She looked around and found the source of the question, a young man in uniform, standing quietly by her side.

"Why, yes I am," she said, a bit of wonder in her voice. "Are you really..." Her voice trailed off, leaving the question unasked.

He smiled. "Yes Ma'am. I am a Boy Scout. And we still help ladies across the street." With that, he offered his arm and she took it. Then each bent forward a bit to carefully examine the length of the street in front of them. First one way, then the other.

They stepped off the curb together. Mildred remarked, "I don't see many Boy Scouts anymore."

"Oh, we're still around Ma'am, but there isn't as much interest." His voice lowered confidentially, "Mr. Larkin - he's our Scoutmaster - says that boys think we're too old fashioned. They'd rather do modern things."

"There's something to be said for the old ways," Mildred replied.

The boy grinned widely, "That's exactly what Mr. Larkin says!"

There was a hollow pop from their right, and suddenly a ragged black hole appeared in the air next to them. Rancid fumes drifted out of the hole, and two greasy tentacles slithered towards them.

Without missing a beat, the Boy Scout did something complicated with his right hand, gesturing towards the hole. With a final flourish, he whispered something that Mildred didn't quite catch. She wasn't even sure if it was English.

The tentacles snapped back inside, just before the hole closed again with a gentle whoof. The only indication that it had happened was a faint lingering odor, and that was rapidly dissapating.

They reached the opposite sidewalk without further incident.

Mildred began, "How did you..."

Proudly pointing to one of the merit badges on his sash, the Boy Scout said, "This is my "Wiccan" badge, Ma'am. Mr. Larkin is very old fashioned."

As he turned away, the Boy Scout said, "And you know the Scout's Motto." He smiled again, "Be Prepared!"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Before the World Wakes Up

Watercolor. Based on an exercise from a Jack Reid book.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009



Friday, August 28, 2009

Bondage Poetry

The cage is not a prison,
It's protection for my treasured possession.
The lock doesn't mean I don't trust you,
It's a symbol of my control.
The chains aren't merely to bind you,
They also decorate and enhance your beauty.
My passion for you isn't blind,
My goal is to help you reach beyond yourself,
To explore your ultimate desires,
To guide you when you falter,
To be strong when you might tremble,
To cherish and nurture your spirit,
Until you bloom, a rose among the dandelions.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tropical Sunset

Playing with washes and silhouettes. The "sun" in the sky is something that was stuck to the scanner glass.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bear Bag

Inspired by a photo from the Ultralight Backpacking site.

The idea here is that you hang your food and toiletries (yes, bears consider toothpaste to be food) high enough and far enough out from the trunk to be out of reach, and on a branch thin enough that he can't shimmy out and reach it. It's always a good start to the day to find your bear bag untouched.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Travel Kit

Here's a description of my travel painting kit. It's constantly evolving, if I remember I'll post an update once in a while.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


What they are, how they work, and a look at the ones I use. Follow this link.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Developing My Style

As I practice my painting, I'm coming to prefer the loose and casual style of watercolors. The hardest thing for me to learn is that "loose" doesn't equal "sloppy" or "random".

This first one was an exercise in painting a variegated sky to create a sunset. There are only three colors used here - Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Red and Raw Sienna - mixed in various ways to create what you see here.

This second painting is my first go with masking. I basically painted the lighthouse and base of the rocks with liquid frisket and then painted the sky, rocks and water. After it was dry I rubbed the frisket away, then did the lighthouse.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Inspirations: Tarot for Writers

I mentioned here that I use the Deviant Moon tarot deck for inspiration when writing stories. I also mentioned a book titled Tarot for Writers that was on my wish list.

I did recently pick it up and though I still have no desire to start telling fortunes, I am finding it fascinating reading. It does veer into the spiritual here and there, but for the most part it's a straightforward explanation of what each card traditionally means and includes a detailed description of the incredible amount of symbolism present in each card's rendering. There are short suggestions on things to write about based on each card, and they're not necessarily obvious and trivial.

There's also several sections on various other ways to use the deck to kick-start your creativity, from character generation to plotting.

All in all, it's well worth the money, even if you only write for fun or for yourself.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Another Monochrome

Another exercise in separating value from color. I'm rather pleased with how it came out, despite the crappy scan.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Landscape Study

This is another landscape painted from a watercolor book by David Bellamy.

Eventually, This Was Bound To Happen

This recent painting was inspired by the Phantom of the Opera. I was watching England's Hammer Studios version and they used this shot to play the credits over.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Everything's Better When Wet

So says Steve Miller. I doubt he was talking about watercolor paintings, but it does apply.

One of my painting groups regularly posts photos for us to paint. This is the July challenge, and the first seascape I've ever done.

Separating Tone and Color

This is a second try at this monochrome exercise. The first time I did this one, I used a waterbrush and it came out ok. Using regular brushes, I think it came out much better this time.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


As if anyone is anxiously waiting for my next tale. Hah! I do have a couple in draft form, nearing completion. Sometime soon.

As an aside, my boss is reading Faulkner over his lunch hour's at work, and keeps coming in and pointing out the frequent use of made-up compound words. Our favorite so far is "hollerwhisper". We both agree it's the voice one uses when you hiss at someone else to be quiet.

Landscape - 6/19/2009

Here's a watercolor I did from a photo.

Click on it and it gets all landscape sized.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Reminder to Self

No shadow is black. It always has a color. Nature knows only colors … white and black are not colors. -- Renoir

Lesson: Black paint is boring. Always mix your darks.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Inspirations: Deviant Moon Tarot

You heard that right, I sometimes use a tarot card deck for story inspiration. I don't do readings or anything like that, more like I select a card at random and pick something from that card to kick start my muse.

To that end, I picked up a copy of the Deviant Moon deck from Amazon. Unlike the ubiquitous and familiar Rider/Waite deck imagery, the DM cards don't invoke a desire to devine my life, but to tell a tale. What strikes me in reflection is how that feeling was with me, instantly and with strength, it's almost enough to make me wonder...

I went through a fair amount of research on tarot decks before deciding on one, and a website that I found very helpful was Her review section on dozens of different decks was illuminating, although to be honest I was less concerned with the reading potential of a deck than the illustrations, and her inclusion of a large number of sample cards from each deck (at a size large enough to be useful) was most appreciated. There are several more decks I may pick up in the future.

Amazon also has a book for writers seeking inspiration from the Tarot. I don't own it, but it's on my wish list.

This is the first in a series I'm going to call "Inspirations". It'll be about techniques and things I use to get into a creative frame of mind. Don't expect life-altering concepts here, more like little tricks you may not have considered in your own life. If you have favorite ways of your own, leave 'em in the comments. Thanks.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Paint: Monochrome 1

A little practice with Payne's Gray, from an exercise in David Bellamy's excellent Watercolour Landscape Course.

Click for bigger, as usual.

Paint: Happy Little Trees

I've stashed away some "trees doodles" here (I giggled, oh yes I did, and so did you if you're as easily amused as I).


Click for ex-acorn size.

This is the first post for a new category: "Paint", where I'll share some of my explorations with watercolors.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Story: Manifest Destiny

This one's brand new. Feedback appreciated. Seriously.

Manifest Destiny

He never doubted himself. As he lay in the dark, with the walls and bars of his universe closing in, he thought back.

He thought about the times as a kid when he had gotten into trouble. Each time, he could trace events back to someone. A so-called friend. His "loving" parents. Meddling teachers. It was hard experience, but that's how you learn, he thought. And now, he knew the system.

He also knew that he was smart enough to play the system. He saw himself as someone to be reckoned with. No doubt about it.

His mind drifted inward and back again as he considered his adult life. It was full of unfulfilled dreams and plans gone wrong. He clearly saw the myriad ways, large and small, that the system had conspired to trip him up. To prevent him from achieving his destiny. He was intimate with every detail, because he had spent many a long night in contemplation. He had time, and there was nothing better to do. He saw again and again where things should have gone differently, if not for the system. The system was afraid of him, because of his knowledge and experience and clever mind. Oh yes, he knew the system was afraid.

So he counted down the days of yet another long stretch, thinking and planning and biding his time. His confidence never wavered, for he knew that he could use the system against itself to realize his dreams.

Next time it would be different. He was sure of it.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Story: Paying Dearly (updated)

This is another oldie. I wrote this for a contest at a gonzo film site, and took first prize. The fact that I never received the promised prize makes it ok in my mind to post this now, here at my place.

Update: I supposed I should point out that the object of the contest was to write a scene from a Nazisploitation movie. Told you it was gonzo.

As always, for good or ill, all feedback is greatly appreciated.

Paying Dearly

Weakened and exhausted, Simone hangs from the ceiling, no longer caring that the heavy iron of the manacles cuts into the flesh around her wrists. She's given up hope that her own blood would be lubricant enough to allow her to slip her bonds, even though her only option at this point would be to take her own life.

She will break, she knows she will break, but she prays that she will be strong enough to last just a few more hours.

Behind her, the door opens. She cannot turn enough to see who entered, and she steels herself for more beatings. Her back and thighs are a mass of cuts, bruises and welts, and the stinging of her sweat dripping down her savaged back seems trivial compared to the pain they've already inflicted.

The Nazi officer who enters her field of vision is short and thin, he looks like nothing so much as a meek accountant. Simone has already had direct experience of how deceiving his appearance and demeanor are. She fleetingly wonders at how something as ordinary as wearing gray wool and leather boots can unleash the monster hidden inside. She is also proud of how many of these monsters she has helped to kill over the last eight months.

Not wasting effort on defiance, Simone watches silently as he carefully places a covered tray on a small table against the wall. On the table are arranged various instruments, some medical, some perverted horrors designed to inflict agony. She looks him straight in the eye as he turns to her. His gaze travels slowly up and down her body which is barely covered by the tattered rags that are all that's left of her clothing. Simone feels nothing as the Nazi reaches out with both hands and, almost gently, pushes the halves of her blouse apart to fully expose her breasts. Stepping back again, he regards her a moment before speaking.

"You realize, of course, that you are not going to survive this."

Simone simply returns his gaze.

"You have a pleasing body, and no doubt would be popular as a whore for the collaborators, but even after reeducating you, it would be foolish to think that you weren't still a dangerous animal."

He pauses to light a cigarette, "And I am no fool." With a wistful sigh, he continues, "and there are other... intriguing... methods that I could employ to entertain myself. For instance, I believe you know Giselle?"

Giving a sharp whistle, the Nazi is joined by a naked girl crawling on all fours. Her head is shaved bald and there is a bristly tail protruding from the thick plug inserted into her anus. As the girl cowers at his feet like a cringing dog, Simone fights to hide her revulsion as the Nazi commands Giselle to "sit up" and face Simone. Simone did indeed know Giselle, or at least the woman who used to be Giselle. She had been arrested by the Gestapo a month ago. There was no recognition in her eyes, or even evidence of higher thought. Surgical scars at her throat provided evidence that her vocal cords had been removed. The Nazi pats her head and Giselle gives a happy whimper.

Suddenly the officer draws his luger and without hesitation fires directly into the head of the kneeling Giselle. As her body collapses he continues to pull the trigger, shooting again and again into her lifeless form. Staring straight into Simone's shocked eyes he lays the overheated pistol barrel against her nipple, pressing hard against her chest as she screams and writhes against the chains.

As she collapses again in her bonds, panting and moaning, the Nazi methodically reloads his Luger and carefully replaces it into his holster. He remarks, "the hounds in the kennel will miss Giselle, I will have to train a new bitch to take care of their needs."

Turning his full attention to Simone, he says, "I know that you are part of the Resistance. In fact, today is like a reunion for you! Look, another friend!" With that, the Nazi picks up the covered tray from table and, lifting the lid, presents the platter to his captive.

Simone gags as her stunned mind comprehends what she sees. A tattered sausage of flesh attached to a torn scrap of skin, barely identifiable as male. Also arranged on the tray are two jelly-like eyeballs and a finger. She almost vomits as she recognizes the ring on the finger. Paul wore that ring.

Placing the platter back onto the table, the Nazi leaves it uncovered so that she can see it. Rubbing his hands briskly together, he says, "all this excitement has given me an appetite! I'm sorry that I can't invite you to join me for lunch, but I will send in a "technician" to keep you company while I dine."

Moving out of her range of vision, he continues, "We have a very special guest coming to visit this evening, a General from Berlin. I think he will be very interested in seeing our techniques for persuasion, and you, my dear, will be the star exhibit!"

As he leaves the room, he doesn't see the faint smile on Simone's bruised lips. A General! Perhaps on the troop train scheduled to arrive tonight. The train that will, if all goes well, plunge into the river when the Resistance blows up the bridge.

Please, a few hours. Let me last a few hours more.

Behind her, she hears the technician enter the room.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Story: Clowns

Just a little warm up here, a story I posted on an old blog in July of 2008. Like it? Hate it? Either way, I'd appreciate feedback.


Fucking clowns.

Merry looks out the window, and that’s what she sees – fucking clowns. Looks like about 5 of ‘em, although the way they’re bouncing and scampering around, it’s hard to count for certain. There’s some kind of spooky-goofy music blaring from the speakers on top of their stupid pumpkin colored van, and it’s annoying as hell. It's way too early on Halloween to start this crap.

Thank god the kiddo's already at school. Merry can imagine being driven nuts over the clowns, as if the kiddo needed something more besides trick or treating tonight to go hyper.

Apparently they just arrived, and started doing what clowns always do, just piling out of the van and looking stupid doing it. Merry audibly groans when she sees her mom standing on the sidewalk out front. Mom must have been on her way over for coffee when the clowns showed up, and she looks delighted as one presents her with a huge balloon with a jack o’lantern face on it.

Shit. Merry had just found one of Roger's notes too. She'd come downstairs and there it was, an envelope on the chair. She'd begun to read it when the commotion outside started. After work tonight, after trick or treating, Roger wants to play. Roger wants to play kinky. Knees weak, Merry could hardly wait.

Merry's mom walks in the door, being careful not to pop her balloon, and three of those fucking clowns bound in behind her. She’s laughing at them, but Merry is just pissed about them coming in like that. Before she can order them out of the house, one steps forward and, with a comical floor sweeping bow and tip of the hat, presents Merry with an orange envelope.

Another note? Things click into place. More Roger games.

As Merry begins to open the envelope, two clowns rush up and begin to dress her. One produces a huge old brown jacket, and helps Merry into it despite her protests. Mom is laughing to see her daughter getting costumed whether she likes it or not, and these guys are not taking ‘no’ for an answer. Another clown takes the orange envelope and puts it between Merry's teeth, and then she's helped into a big baggy pair of black pants. Someone else lifts her arms and slides a thick wooden pole through the jacket, holding Merry's arms out like a crucifix.

Nope. Like a scarecrow, Merry sees as another begins stuffing straw into the sleeves around her wrists. Dammit, now she's definitely going to have to dust and vacuum again. There are at least four clowns dancing around and dressing Merry, constantly getting in each others way. The pole across her shoulders is uncomfortable, and as she flexes her arms she realizes that somewhere in the confusion her wrists were fastened to the pole.

Merry parts her lips to protest, and someone pops a set of fake teeth into her mouth. In an instant, a bladder behind the plastic grin inflates, filling her mouth and effectively gagging her. When she turns to look at mom again, Merry almost loses her balance because her feet are no longer free, they’re hitched to another pole – this one running down her back. Mom’s not paying attention anyway, one of the clowns is entertaining her with balloon animal tricks.

A band of some sort is slipped over Merry's forehead and around the bar behind her, and when it’s tightened her head is held still. Someone places and adjusts a wig to hide the band, followed by a floppy brown hat. A pair of dark, oversized glasses is set over her nose, and a little quick stage-makeup to rosy up her cheeks finishes the transformation.

A clown on either flank holds Merry upright and turns her towards mom as they all holler “ta-dahhhh” and gesture towards her with flourishes. Merry tries to struggle, to show her mom that something is wrong here, but she doesn’t suspect any problems and actually applauds the scarecrow ‘costume’.

Right before mom's eyes, Merry is lifted up and carried out to the van. The doors are opened and she's laid inside among trunks and cases and bags. The last thing Merry sees is mom giving one of the clowns a kiss on the cheek, and his exaggerated ‘aw shucks’ reaction.

Ok, the envelope means that this is obviously one of Roger’s games, so Merry's not too worried about it. In fact, she thinks she knows which clown might be Roger, even through the costumes, confusion, and amazing makeup.

Only two clowns climb into the van, and as one starts the engine and begins to drive, the other comes into the back with Merry. She relaxes because yep, it’s the one she'd already figured out was Roger.

He squats next to Merry, reaches inside her jacket, and gives her breast a firm squeeze. Merry's nipple instantly hardens against his palm as he massages her.

Suddenly, with an almost-funny ‘oh shit, I forgot!’ gesture, Roger/Clown magically produces that orange envelope. With more of those stupid hand flourishes, he finishes opening it and extracts the paper inside. He expresses surprise as he ‘reads’ the note, and then holds the paper in front of Merry for her to read.

The paper is blank.

That happy grin gazing down on Merry doesn’t look so harmless anymore. Looking closer, she sees a million tiny differences in the features under the greasepaint, and she's suddenly convinced that this isn’t Roger.

He reaches down and begins mauling her breasts again. Merry struggles as much as she can (not much), and wonders what the fuck is going on. What the fuck is going to happen to her?

Getting right in her face, the clown starts talking to Merry. All she can do is stare back, wide eyed, as he speaks. “I’m going to remove your gag now. If you speak, I’ll hit you. If you yell, I’ll break your jaw. If you disobey in any way, I will choke you unconscious, then revive you, and I will keep doing that over and over and over until I get tired of hurting you, at which point you die. Blink twice if you understand.”

Carefully and deliberately, Merry blinks twice.

He settles back a little and fiddles with the gag. The bladder deflates, and he pops it out of her mouth. Merry licks dry lips with a drier tongue, and breathes deeply. He speaks again, “There is no reason for you to get hurt, IF you do everything you are told to do.”

Two blinks.

He grins that hideous clown smile at Merry and cruelly pinches a nipple. “I knew you were a fast learner.”

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pens, Pencils, Paper and Pain

Oops, I meant "Paint", of course.

Let's see where this takes us, eh?