Saturday, February 15, 2020

Friday, February 14, 2020

Winterfest Pottery

Fresh from the kiln to warm Winterfest

I really do prefer wheel-throwing, but hand-building can be fun, too. These were made last semester. I think my pottery prof is accepting the inevitability that everything I want to make is related to "that show" one way or another... If she hasn't yet, I'll wear her down eventually!

We all know Vincent is a dish, so I thought he ought to be on one!😃

I'm trying a variety of techniques lately

Works in Progress - 
Not quite ready to for Winterfest, but why not share them anyway?

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The Plot Bunny Project - Conzine 2019

The title graphic, a sketch of a brown and white bunny in front of a partial drawing of a woman, with drawing pencils

During Winterfest Online in 2018, the conversation turned to how people often propose some story idea or another during our chats or email threads. Sometimes someone will ask if there’s ever been a story written about this subject or that idea. Unfortunately though, we seldom seem to follow up on those story possibilities. There always seem to be hordes of these feral plot bunnies bouncing about our Tunnels, multiplying like...well, like rabbits!  

As a result of those discussions, it was decided that there really ought to be some kind of an idea bank–a place to corral all those stray plot bunnies where they could wait for some fanfic writer to come along, become inspired, tackle them, tame them, and give them good homes. And thus, the Warren for Stray Plot Bunnies was born at: 

One of the many ideas submitted to the Warren for Stray Plot Bunnies by Pat Lurvey was: 

If Vincent draws, surely there are a number of pictures of Catherine he drew to look at when alone! It looks like he drew the picture of the man who bought children from Ridley Hall in A Children’s Story.
Inspired by Pat’s idea, a few of us put our heads together and decided to adopt that particular plot bunny. We thank Pat for the inspiration, along with everything else that she did to enrich our lives and fandom. 

Worth a Thousand Words title graphic - A close up of Vincent's left hand holding a stub of graphite as he sketches Catherine

“Today was wonderful, Vincent. Beyond wonderful.” Catherine coiled her arm around his and hugged it to her side as they strolled down the tunnel. “It was so nice of everyone to welcome me here to spend the whole day Below.  I don’t know when I’ve enjoyed anything more. But I have to admit that I feel a little self-conscious with everybody making such a fuss over me.” 

“Catherine, you just saved our world from certain destruction. The very least we could do was invite you to a dinner in your honor.”

“It does make me feel good that even Father truly wanted me here today. I hope this will be the beginning of a better relationship between him and me.”

“Father is extremely grateful to you, just as we all are.” He walked along in silence for a long minute, his lush bottom lip trapped between his teeth. “Had the Burch Tower been allowed to go forward...and it would have, Catherine, if you had not—” 

Catherine could so easily hear the words that choked in his throat: offered to sacrifice yourself for us. She had noticed him trying to say something at least three other times today, beginning this morning when they’d met at her threshold. Each time she could see his jaw clench as he fought to say the words. She rescued him–again–by picking up the thread of the conversation and taking it in a direction that she thought would make him more comfortable. 

“If he wanted to, William could make a fortune selling that bread of his Above,” she said. “It was perfect with that chicken corn chowder. And this card from Samantha and the kids; it just might be the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.”

She unfolded the pink construction paper card with its hand-drawn bouquet of flowers. Her gaze traced the dozens of children’s names scrawled in pencil, crayon, marker, finger paint, and one that looked like it just might be lipstick. 

Vincent placed his palm into the small of her back and guided her into the short tunnel that led into his chamber. He gracefully removed his cloak and draped it over the tall gothic armchair by the arched doorway. 

“Catherine,” he began as he led her to the table. When she sat down, he kneeled in front of her and she watched his hand move towards hers where they sat in her lap, but the last moment, it veered off to rest on the edge of the table. He closed his eyes and inhaled slowly–oh, so slowly. 

I hate that he’s so uncomfortable and struggling this much, she thought during that long breath, but how beautiful he is. And what a gift it is that he lets me see him this way.   

“Catherine,” he repeated as he finally exhaled and opened his eyes, “all day–no, all this last week–I’ve been searching all the words I’ve ever learned...all the books I’ve ever read...trying to find some way to tell you— to thank you— to say—”

“Vincent, please,” she took his hand in hers as she shook her head. “You don’t need to say a thing. You would have done the same to save me. You already have saved me, so many times and in so many ways that I’ve lost track of the number. You don’t need to search any books to find a way to say anything; I can read it all in your eyes each time you look at me. Every moment we have together says all that I could ever hope for.”

“Nonetheless,” he insisted, “you deserve to hear the words. Your strength, your goodness, your selflessness–you saved us all. You saved my home; the only home I can ever have. Without you...Without you, Catherine, I would truly lose everything.”

She rose and he stood with her. She stepped closer and snaked her arms around his waist, pulling him to her, resting her face against his chest just above the pouch where he kept the rose she’d given him. His cheek rubbed the crown of her head and he sighed deeply.  

“That will never happen, Vincent. Never. You could never lose me.”

She could feel his head slowly shake no, and she wondered, Does that mean he knows that nothing could take me from him? Or is he thinking no, he could lose me?

When she raised her face to look at his, she saw him smiling down on her. 

“I have a surprise for you,” he whispered. 

I love it when he looks at me like that! 

“You do?”

“Mmmm hmmm.” He nodded.

“Well?” Her heart soared to see that the clouds seemed to have cleared from his somber mood. “What is it? Tell me.”

“I can’t tell you,” he answered with an enigmatic smile. “I’ll have to show you. You’ll have to wait here while I go get it, though. It’s a secret, you see.”

“Good things are worth waiting for, Vincent.” Does he even know how many levels of meaning there are to that? 

The tilt of his head told her that he just might.

“I’ll be back in a few minutes, Catherine. Make yourself at home.”


While she waited for his return, Catherine moved around his chamber, picking up this object and that, enjoying the eclectic mix of books and items he collected. On the bureau opposite the doorway, right near where she’d found that broken headlight more than a year ago, there was a large leather sketchbook laying open to a drawing of some of the paintings that she’d seen just a few days ago on the walls of the Painted Tunnels: Jackie Robinson in his Brooklyn Dodgers uniform and a big blue car from the 1950’s. 

Is that a supposed to be a Chevy? Dad would know. He’d be able to tell me what year, make and model it’s supposed to be, and probably what features came standard on it, too. How I wish I could introduce him to Vincent! Maybe someday...

The next pages of the book were empty, so she flipped to the previous page. There was the portrait of a young Father–nary a gray hair to be seen–with a baby Vincent in his arms. Actually, there was just a hint of the little Vincent that Elizabeth had painted; this drawing was unfinished. There was only the most basic outline of the toddler he was holding. 

She turned back another page to see the historical paintings of Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, the city’s old skyline. Flipping back page after page, she found the joggers behind Kipper’s smiling face, the people sitting on the stoop of some building, Central Park in winter. These were all among the paintings Vincent had just shown her.

 Flipping back, there were more drawings. Some were parts of the murals she’d seen in the Painted Tunnels. Others–clearly more copies of Elizabeth’s work; the style was unmistakable–were scenes she hadn’t seen yet. Vincent had mentioned that there many more stories recorded on those walls by the tiny artist’s tireless and talented paintbrush, but they’d abandoned their visit there when the tremors from the Burch Tower explosions were felt. 

Here was a handsome little Black boy seated at a piano, his expression so solemn and serious as he concentrated on the sheet music in front of him. There was Mary sitting next to a cradle, her knitting needles flying. 

The next page showed a huge chamber somewhere Below with a curving stair, tapestries on one wall, and long tables covered with candles and food. People were dancing at some celebration and Catherine could almost hear the song the musicians were playing.  

Another page turned, and there were half a dozen Tunnel children on the carousel. A boy with a bandaged face who could only be Devin stood behind the rows of horses. I wonder why Elizabeth didn’t paint Vincent at the carousel. He told me he rode the white horse. The horse in question was present but riderless in this image. That’s odd, since Vincent being able to ride the merry-go-round was the whole reason for sneaking Above that night.
Page after page revealed story after story, some of which Catherine understood and others that were as mysterious as they were beautiful. A young Narcissa opening her arms to welcome a lovely dark-eyed woman with a sad smile. Mouse and Jaime laughing at a baby Arthur who was climbing on top Mouse’s head. A teenage girl she didn’t recognize in ballet pointe shoes posed in relevĂ©, her arms held gracefully aloft. A group of boys playing marbles. A little girl dragging a floppy-eared stuffed rabbit down a tunnel. She was following a boy who must be Vincent, though she couldn’t see his face since his back was turned to the viewer. 

The drawings of the murals ended when she turned to a page with a diagram of some plans to run piping to a bathing chamber.

Where’s the one of Vincent as a teenager? He was standing in front of the park threshold. I must have missed it. She sat down on Vincent’s bed and went back through all the drawings again. No, that one’s missing

The baby Vincent in Father’s arms was only hinted at, and in the one at the carousel, he was absent there, too. Not one of these actually shows Vincent

Catherine went now to the first sheets of the book, thinking that surely she’d find some drawings of Vincent if she started at the beginning and went forward page by page. 

She gasped. The sketchbook nearly fell from her hands and she scrambled to keep it from hitting the floor. She held the book shut for several long seconds and then opened it again to the first page.

It was she. There she lay in Vincent’s bed, her bandaged face an image she’d imagined but never seen. The glow from his window cast shadows on one side of her face. 

On the next page, even though her eyes were hidden from sight, the portrait was rendered so exquisitely that she knew somehow that she’d been sleeping when he drew her. 

Another page and she was sipping tea. The first time he brought me that herbal blend. She was somehow sure it had to be that moment because there was the merest hint of the smile she’d had when she tasted it. The nuance was so detailed it was almost unnatural. 

The next page showed a spoonful of William’s “good soup” being brought to her lips, her hand coming up to cup Vincent’s barely-sketched fingers holding the spoon. 

Anther page and now she was sitting forlorn on the settle, just before he returned her clothes to her and led her back Above. And then on the next page, she was on her balcony, Great Expectations in her lap as she read the final chapter to him. 

There were a dozen more pages of her face from that first time he’d come to her balcony. Every angle imaginable, the full array of expressions from happy to somber to sad. 

How did he—? I knew he could draw. That portrait he drew of Noj while we were searching for Ellie was spot-on, but this—

She didn’t know what she heard, but something–a footstep? the sound of his breath?–alerted her to the fact that she was no longer alone. She looked up to see Vincent standing in the doorway, a small bowl one hand, the other griping the tunnel wall. 

“Oh, Vincent! I’m sorry! I never meant to spy. I saw your drawings of Elizabeth’s paintings and I was admiring them so. Then I kept looking through the book, and— Oh, please forgive me.” 

He looked at the drawing currently showing in the book–one of her as he walked her back to the threshold beneath her building for the first time–and he seemed to gather himself back together. He placed a shallow bowl of chocolate-covered strawberries on the table next to his little jukebox and sat beside her on the bed. 

“No, Catherine, you have nothing to apologize for. I told you to make yourself at home, and I did leave the book open.  I’d been recreating Elizabeth’s paintings, just in case something did happen the Painted Tunnels. I didn’t want all her work to be lost forever if the worst should occur.

“As to the others, the earlier drawings of you,” he took the book from her with a sigh and turned to its first pages, “I thought I’d never see you again, Catherine. I was trying to hold on to anything of you that I could. I drew these so that I’d be able to have at least some small piece of you here with me once you returned to your world.”

Catherine pointed to the drawing of him feeding her. “Good soup,” she quoted herself and they shared a smile. She looked at it a long minute, noting how his hand in the drawing lacked his claw-like fingernails and the thick hair on the back of his hands; her smile faded as she thought. “But this one’s not finished. There’s only an outline of your hand, and this doesn’t even look like your hand. I recognize the sweater, but if I didn’t know that you were the one feeding me, this could be anybody’s hand. Vincent, why isn’t this your hand?”

He gave her a look that said, You know why. 

“The nice thing about art, Catherine, is that we can create things the way we want them to be. The way they ought to be. We needn’t be limited to the way things really are.”

“You know, artists see things more the way they really are than most of us can. They see their true essence, things hidden from our shallow senses. Van Gogh saw skies in a way that we couldn’t have before he showed us how, but I wish everyone could see them the way he did. I wish—” She laced her fingers with his, sighing at how deliciously warm his hand was. 
Van Gogh painting

“Tell me what you wish,” he whispered, not looking at her.

“I wish could draw you, Vincent, the way I really see you. If I could, you’d know how beautiful you are.” She realized that his other hand was holding the next page down, anxious. There was a slight pressure as he tried to pull the book away from her. She closed the book and pressed it toward him.

“You don’t have to show me any other drawings, Vincent. If there’s something in there that you want to keep to yourself, you have every right to keep your private thoughts private. I trust you completely.” Time to change the subject and lighten the mood for him again. She gestured to the little bowl. “Now, if I’m not mistaken, you’ve brought us dessert? I love chocolate-covered strawberries.”

“I know you do,” he said. “You told me that, remember?”

In truth, she didn’t remember; she had no recollection of mentioning that to him, but it didn’t surprise her at all that he’d never forgotten anything she’d ever told him. He made no move to get the strawberries. 

He doesn’t want to change the subject after all. This is progress. 

“It’s not that I don’t trust you to see them, Catherine. It’s just that— I’ve seen you in so many ways, the way I wish things were, too. Like van Gogh, I’ve dreamed my drawings, and drawn what I’ve dreamed.” He paused for a space of two breaths and opened the sketchbook, searching out the next drawing.

She was wearing a gown she’d never owned, some pale color with a deep dĂ©colletage. Her hair was styled elaborately, swept back from her face, baring her throat. A hint of the city’s night sky–the view seen from her balcony–spanned the background.

In the next one, she was sitting at her vanity in a dressing gown brushing her hair, which flowed down her back in lush waves.  It was much longer that it had been since she had known him. 

Note to self, Catherine–no more haircuts until further notice!

The following page showed her laughing on a tire swing beneath a summer sky, wearing short shorts and a tank top, a wood and lake in the distance. 

In the next drawing, she was holding an infant to her breast, gazing down at the child whose tiny fist was grasping her finger. There was a feeling in this drawing of a modern-day Madonna and Child. This baby was the point around which her whole world revolved; it radiated off the page until she sighed with longing. 

Another page and she was in his arms, seen from his point of view, and they seemed to be dancing in the same huge chamber with the stairway and tapestries that she’d seen in the other drawing. 

Catherine turned another page to the sight of her own face with Vincent’s hands completely buried in her hair, her lips parted to receive a kiss. Or maybe we’ve just finished kissing, and I’m sighing with pleasure? 

“I’m happy to share those with you, Catherine. I’d—” He paused to clear his throat. “I’d share everything with you, if I could. If only I could...” 

She sighed and blinked back a tear.

“These are exquisite, Vincent. You are truly gifted. But you’ve left out the most important thing from all of them.” 

“Everyone’s a critic,” he mumbled with a droll grin. 

“The first time I heard your voice, Vincent, I felt something. I woke up and I hurt. I was confused. Frightened. I didn’t know who hurt me or why, but I knew I was safe the instant I heard you speak. It was as if I’d found something that had always been missing, something I was hungering for but never tasted, and an empty space was finally filled.”

She paged back to the drawing of his feeding her soup, back where it all began, and she touched the lines that just hinted at his hand.

“I’ve had a lot of hands touch mine, Vincent. I couldn’t tell you what one of them looked like.”

She turned now to the picture of him embracing her as they danced beneath the tapestries. “A lot of arms have held me. I don’t remember anything at all about what they felt like.

“And kisses?” She went to the drawing of his hands buried deep in her hair. “I’ve had more than my fair share of frogs, but none of them awoke in me what just the sound of your voice did. Their lips may have touched mine, but only you have touched my heart. Only you’ve kissed my soul. 

“I don’t need anyone–I don’t want anyone–to kiss me, not ever again. None but one.”

She picked up both a pencil and a pen from the table. Wordlessly she turned back to the drawing of her hand approaching his as he fed her soup their first day after he rescued her. She turned his hand and placed the pen in it and adjusted his grip until it matched the vague outline of the fingers holding the spoon in the drawing. 

When she had arranged her reference to her satisfaction, she took the pencil and began to shade the sides of his fingers, erasing the blunt edges of his nails and replacing them with his pointed ones, adding the fine fringe of fur that peeked out just beyond the edge of his cuff. She tried to add a hint of the strong thick veins on the back of his hand, where she could see the blood pulsing strong and steady, but she soon shook her head.

“Hmm. No. That looks more like you’re being attacked by earthworms than anything else,” she said with a rueful chuckle. She erased those lines, replacing them with more hair. “That isn’t as good as you could have drawn it, but it’s no longer just some anonymous hand anymore–now it looks like your hand. The only hand I ever want on me. The only one I would allow. The one I long for and dream of. The one I welcome. The one I’ll wait for, forever, if I have to. If you make me...”

“I do not want to make you wait. I want to give you everything you desire, all you deserve.”

“Only you can fill in those missing lines, the highlights and the texture that are missing, Vincent. Only you.”

She handed him the pencil, pressing the book into his hands. He stared down at it in his lap for a long while, until Catherine began to fear that she’d pushed too hard. 

Suddenly he looked up again, his eyes locking onto hers. He flicked the pencil away and the sketchbook fell forgotten to the floor, a soft thump on the thick rug. He raised one hand to the side of her face and the other followed a moment later. She felt the heat of his palms framing her cheeks, his fingers delving into her hair, just as it had been in his drawing. She watched him looking at his own hands as she felt them brush her cheeks, his thumb tracing the swell of her bottom lip. 

For the first time ever, he’s really seeing his own hands touching me. He’s not just trying to memorize what I look right now–he’s memorizing what we look like. He’s truly seeing himself as part of this picture at last.

His mouth crept towards her in slow-motion agony, his breath honeyed and warm, and then...His lips brushed hers...And that was the true work of art.

Busted, a haiku, title graphic. a partial side view of a woman's bust with an abstract background
 Secret drawings found.
Yeah, right. Dream on, Vincent. Like
my boobs are that big.
  Catherine said, “Vincent, don’t dawdle.
The genie’s got out of the bottle.
Those pictures I saw
All prove you can draw
And I think you need a live model.”