Lots of White Space



I’ve been working through Dina Wakley’s Art Journal Freedom. So far, these are the two pages I love the most. The first is using the rule of thirds–dividing your page into thirds and putting the focal point where the lines intersect. The lips are painted on a small vellum envelope, and there is a secret inside.

I used magenta and gray ink in the background. I wanted to blow it around, but didn’t have any straws, so made do with rolled up paper. I accidentally smeared a bit of the magenta, but as often happens, it was serendipitous, giving me the perfect platform for my writing.

The text is from the movie The Prophecy, when the angel Gabriel explains why we have a divot above our lips.

Way back, before you were born, I told you a secret. Then I put my finger there, and said: “Shhh!”



The second exercise is about using lots of white space. I had a bunch of new toys to play with, so I used them liberally. I stamped with the bottom of a mushroom container; used stencils from Stencil Girl; and mixed teal paint with my delicious new fiber paste.

One of the coolest discoveries was made when I used the black napkin with white dots I picked up at the grocery store. The black stayed opaque, but the white became transparent. Neat effect!

I made up the phrase on this one, and found a vintage photo to go with it. It says:

“Nevermind, nevermind,” she said. “I have enough now.”

If you’d like to see more process pics, find me on my daily art progress blog, Skelemingo.

Secret Santa Can Suck It

This year, I am participating in Shadow Manor’s Secret Santa Can Suck It virtual gift exchange. It’s a lovely tradition for which I never seem to be on time, so I was delighted to finally participate.

My giftee is the inevitable Kathy White. Now, I know a Kathi White, and at first, I confused them, but I did realize that my target is, in fact, a complete stranger to me. I know nothing about this person, if, indeed, she exists, and isn’t a fevered hallucination of Jenna’s. That would be diabolical, wouldn’t it? She can’t fake all the names, but she could cleverly sneak a few in for extra booty. She also runs the Secret Pumpkin gift exchange. I’ll have to watch out if she someday assigns me a “stranger.”

I mean, really, “Kathy White?” She may as well have assigned me “John Smith.” She also mentioned that my assignee didn’t have a list of likes or dislikes. THAT WAS EXTRAORDINARILY LAZY, JENNA! If you’re going to make up a person, you could at least put in some of your likes and dislikes. Perhaps she thought that would tip the game? I can understand why she wouldn’t want to slip in some Hello Kitty to throw me off. Next thing you know, she’s getting this for Christmas:

Well, HellOOO Kitty!

Well, HellOOO Kitty!

Okay then, we’ve determined that my giftee is likely fictional; nonetheless, I shall take this as seriously as I normally would, which is not seriously at all. Perhaps there really is a Kathy. It could happen. There are plenty of perfectly real Kathies in the world. Hah, yeah right.

So, on to my gift. When I don’t know someone, I usually get them either fuzzy holiday socks, or a Starbucks gift card. But I have no limits here, so I shall default to the strategy of the truly terrible gifter: giving that which I want to receive.

Congratulations, “Kathy,” you get a GOTH BATHROOM MAKEOVER!  Hope you have plenty of room, because I thought we’d start with something like this:

gothic bathroom 1

Small bathrooms lack drama

This has just the right balance of dreariness and filtered light through stained glass. I’m sure “Kathy” won’t mind if we take out a few walls. It’s worth it for the ultimate bathroom!  Now let’s put a tub right in front of the fireplace. I like this one:


Imagine this big enough to drown in

It’s a bit shiny for our theme, so we might have to rough it up a little. Maybe drag it behind a truck.

For a commode, we have this delightful number:


There’s a small automatic flame under the back of the seat so you can “breath fire”

The lid is nice, but I disapprove strongly of the rest. Black from foot to lid, I say. And a matching bog roll dispenser:

Yes, that's actually a paper towel dispenser. I like big butts and I cannot lie.

Yes, that’s actually a paper towel dispenser. I like big butts and I cannot lie.

For a vanity, this should do:


And hang this behind it, to tie in with the toilet:

Dragon, dragon, on the wall

Where do you get dragon milk? SHORT COWS.

That is my gift to you, “Kathy,” and may it bring you joy this holiday season.

Festival of The Skeletons


Last night was spent wandering the 6th annual Festival of the Skeletons at Bradenton’s Village of the Arts. Each artist in the village created a shrine to someone special. The main shrine was dedicated to Frida Kahlo. There were a couple of other Kahlo shrines, a few Lou Reeds, and many dedicated to family members.

In the slideshow at about 1 minute in, you’ll see some work by Tim Cuervo of Time Traveler Incognito. I want the skull with the hat.

2013 Yard

The yard was a little lame this year, but I’m okay with that. We spent the last several years in apartments, so all my yard props were long gone. I’ll do better next year.

This was all for one family with three kids. But to their credit, everyone was dressed up–even the dog!

Next year I’m hoping for a graveyard to go with the scarecrows, and I need to hack those clowns so they are no longer sound activated. Sound activated is stupid.

Around St. Pete

The Sarasota/Bradenton area is sadly lacking in yard displays. We went up to St. Petersburg this weekend for lizard stuff, and I was thrilled to find a full cemetery. Naturally, we had to tool around the neighborhood. Thank you, St. Pete, for making my Halloweeniac heart sing!



Click for large view

Click for large view





I love home haunts. They were rare in Oregon, but Florida is a little more Wild West about these things, so you get more home-grown spook shows.

We arrived at Cemeterror an hour after they opened. They only let in about four people at a time, so there was a wait, but it wasn’t onerous. The line was entertained by belly dancers set in a circus-themed yard. It was apparent right away that the proprietors were more builders than buyers. While there were store-bought items mixed in, it was obvious that Donald Spera likes to make things.

Themed after a burned out circus, the star of the show is Zelda the fortune teller, and you’ll meet her right away. And that’s all I’m gonna say about the inside of the haunt, except: whoa, fog! The actors and costumes were great, and the set pieces were very good. Absolutely a top-notch home haunt. I wish I had time to go to all the local home haunts this year, but I’ll get a few more in next year.

I definitely recommend getting out to Cemeterror if you can! Admission is free, but donations for Juvenile Diabetes are encouraged. Be careful where you park, as the neighbors are understandably touchy about having their driveway blocked.

The Haunted Ranch

The Haunted Ranch

The Haunted Ranch

It’s exciting to have a whole new set of haunts to explore in my new home. Our first stop was the closest, The Haunted Ranch, in Bradenton. The picture is of the ticket booth and surrounds. The Ranch has food, an outdoor movie theater (plus a smaller one for kids), face painting, and a long haunted trail.

I think in a few years, when they’ve had a chance to build a stock of props and buy more lighting, this will be a great home haunt. Right now, the trail takes about 45 minutes to walk, and much of it is dead space. If they cut the trail in half, they could concentrate their props and actors for some great scares.  Most of the lighting is provided by the occasional tiki torch. It’s very dark, and the ground is uneven, so it pays to move very carefully.  Lighting was my biggest beef with the haunt. There were props, but no lighting to see them by. They used a couple of strobes, which is a big no-no in such an environment.  The place is popular, so I hope they’ll be able to invest some of their ticket sales into next year’s event.

The actors were teenagers, and obviously having a great time, though a few were disappointed they couldn’t scare me. Hardly their fault, as they were well made up and doing a great job.  They did give the Spousal Unit a few startles. There were some great bits–a cemetery with graves lit from underneath, and a nice spiderweb walk through. The haunt has the potential to shine eventually, and I’m looking forward to seeing it grow.

Fascination, The Innkeepers, Moth Diaries, Absentia

Yep, still watching movies.

Director: So our dream cast is Julian Sands, Brigitte Bardot, and Joan Collins.

Producer: That’s fantastic! Did you get them?

Director: Oh, hell no. They wouldn’t get near this crap. I went to the corner cafe and picked up some people who look kinda like ‘em.

Producer: Can they act?

Director: Is that a trick question?

Producer: Okay, what about the story?

Director: Well, people do things for no reason, and there is a moat, and there are boobs, and a gun!

Producer: Let’s go!

There are a few kinds of horror I don’t get into. This covers two of them: the so-bad-it-must-be-on-purpose, and the avant-garde. Fascination starts out with a thief taking shelter in a chateau. Wait, no, there was a slaughterhouse, but I’m going to try to blank that out with therapy. Anyway, the house is abandoned but for two hot chicks wearing too much makeup. He ineptly threatens them with his tiny gun (no entendre, it’s a ridiculously nonthreatening gun), followed by some seriously unarousing girl-on-girl, followed by, oh hell, I have no idea. Knives and robes and things. I couldn’t stand much more. Boobs.


“Charming” isn’t a word I usually use to describe horror movies, but it fits The Inkeepers, at least in the beginning. Luke and Claire are working the desk at The Yankee Pedlar Inn, during its last weekend. With few guests to bother with (and they don’t bother much, anyway), they are spending their time looking for the ghost of Madeline O’Malley, who hanged herself after being jilted on her wedding day.

Luke and Claire are great characters, clearly drawn through their interaction. There’s an attention to detail in the direction and performances that tells without over-telling. I love that. Luke is a skeptic, not really believing even though he’d like to make some cash from a website about the hotel’s ghosts. Claire wants very much to believe, but she’s also scared witless by the whole thing. You can only laugh when they get drunk and do the thing you never do in horror movies: go in the basement.

Where The Inkeepers misses is in the conclusion. I don’t mind some mystery, but this was a case that needed explanation. The teasers were set up, but little came from it. I still enjoyed the movie, but it didn’t satisfy my need for closure. Definitely interested in seeing other movies by the director, Ti West.


The Moth Diaries was adapted from the book by Rachel Klein. The trick with adapting a book to film is to create a visual story that can stand on its own, no homework required. I was left baffled by this film because we never really find out what’s going on. There are more loose ends than not. Inexplicable actions, scenes, emotional setups. All of this was no doubt covered in Klein’s novel, but it never made it to this pretty but disappointing film. The synopsis intimates that the “villain”, Ernessa, is a vampire. The movie treats her more like a ghost. We see bits of the ghost’s history through–what–hallucinations on the part of the protagonist, Rebecca? I found the whole thing unconvincing.


Daniel has been missing for seven years. His wife, Tricia, is declaring him dead in absentia.  Her sister, Callie, stays with her to help her cope and move to a new place. But is Daniel really dead? A mysterious tunnel, and a history of neighborhood disappearances convince Callie something else is going on.

Absentia was a pleasant surprise. Set in LA, the casting passed on the glitz and went nicely real. The film looks good on an indie budget, but don’t expect special effects. This is about the visceral scare–the thing lurking in the dark.

Two glitches: the writer doesn’t know what a “lucid dream” is (it’s when you’re aware you’re dreaming), and it’s painfully obvious they couldn’t afford a composer for the music. Despite that, this is one I would definitely recommend. The writing is tight, the performances good, and the direction and photography tell the story with art, but without gimmickry.

What I’ve Been Watching

Slacking on the entries! Yikes! Let me catch you up on what I’ve been doing…which is watching stuff.

The Awakening is a good old-fashioned ghost story. Set in the 1920s, it is the tale of Florence Cathcart, author, debunker, and educated woman in a time when that was a remarkable thing. She is asked to investigate a possible ghost at a boys’ school, and interesting hijinks ensue. It’s a great story, told in sepia tones, with props I wish I had in my house. I would especially like to have a seance like the one that opens the film–lots of atmosphere and sneaky tricks. I enjoyed the whole thing, from the tone, to the acting, to the rather hot Dominic West, to the unexpected and well-done conclusion. Highly recommended if you like them quietly spooky.

Genre: Catholic Horror; Subgenre: Exorcism. I love a good Catholic horror movie, and I seem to be drawn to the exorcism stories. Exorcismus is a good addition to the genre. Somewhat quiet, and easy on the special effects, it’s the story of 15-year-old Emma, who finds herself blacking out and hurting those she loves. A little levitation finally involves the priest, her uncle Chris, who has a troubled past with a prior exorcism.  Solidly written, acted, and paced, it ends up not being about quite what you think it was about. A few cliches (because really, who can resist the crucifixion float?) didn’t ruin the film, and as long as you can handle Emma being very 15, it’s a good watch.

Now, I like a quiet ghost story well enough. But not too quiet. The Last Kind Word left me trapped in a 90-minute Mazzy Star video. It wasn’t horrible, and Brad Dourif turns in a good performance, but the pacing had me checking facebook while I watched. It’s the story of a family who moves back to Kentucky to take a job on a friend’s farm. Dad is a violent alcoholic, so Eli, his son, spends a lot of time wandering in the nearby woods.  The script was reasonably tight until the end, when corpses show up in odd places for no reason, and the protagonist makes an emotionally nonsensical decision. Someone didn’t think something through. Unless you’re rabid for Dourif, I’d give this one a pass.


Duke Skellington

Duke Skellington

Saturday is Adventure Day, but I was home long enough to add a little to the outdoor decor. It isn’t going to be much this year, since we not only moved, but I gave away my yard stuff years ago when we went from a house to an apartment. I do hope to make at least one tombstone. Went garage saling a little today, and found a fantastic sleeping angel that needs to go on a tombstone. Plus, I accidentally broke off one of Duke’s forearms, so it can be popping out of the ground.