Monday, June 26, 2017


by SS Hampton Sr.

What is a Muse to a photographer, painter, sculptor, writer, or poet? By the way, I use the generic term “artist” though I am a writer and photographer (and if I find my well-hidden skills, someday I will paint and sculpt). A Muse is a person who has the innate ability to spur the artist on to greater heights of creativity. A Muse cannot be hired or made, she just is. Looking for a Muse is no good either; she will appear in her own time when you least expect it.

Why is a Muse important to the supposedly creative soul? There is something special to the Muse. She inspires the artist. Maybe it is her form, the way she moves, her eyes, her smile, or the sound of her voice. The Muse understands what the artist is trying to accomplish, she encourages him, makes suggestions, and even provides criticism. The Muse becomes part of the creative process.

Of course, one wonders if the Muse can be important to the human heart as well. Of course! And why not? After all, at some inner level there is already a connection between the Muse and the artist. It may take no more than a whisper of a breeze for them to become intimate for a little while, a long time, or even to marry. Or go their separate ways.

I have been fortunate to encounter several Muses in my life. Each brought something special to my photography (sometimes even my writing), and each, in her own way, encouraged me to create. The first Muse was willing to wander around the Pikes Peak Region (we lived in Colorado Springs), the high and wide mountain basin of South Park, and even make a trip to southern Colorado’s Sand Dunes. It was through her that I learned the importance of a Muse. A little over a year ago I encountered a young lady who has become the second Muse of some note. Beautiful, easy to work with, and patient (such as the time we were close to Death Valley where we were going to photograph, and I discovered that I forgot to pack the camera), she has reminded me of the importance of the Muse to the artist.

So, what compels me to address this subject again?

I recently met a young lady when I studied for a semester in France. When I stepped off the plane and saw her, I knew I had to photograph her. If my painting or drawing skills had been sufficient, I would have painted and drawn her as well. Everything about her was compelling, like a siren’s song. She was perfection. When I finally broached the subject of photographing her, she readily agreed. She even suggested, based on my photographic vision, a suitable location that would draw all of the elements together. Immediate planning began.

Alas, circumstance intervened, and this “Muse who almost was” receded into the distance like a beautiful spirit fading into a Camargue morning fog.

My creativity is not ended for I remember everything about her, especially her eyes and smile, even the sound of her voice.

To read more about artists and muses, consider these links The 10 Most Iconic Muses in the Art World - The 30 Most Famous Muses in Art - Famous Muses

Here is a brief introduction to my latest release for your reading pleasure.

Sergeant Jerry Stanton is a young soldier serving in the War in Iraq. He is a gunner on a gun truck nicknamed “Lucky Bear,” one of those tireless workhorses that escort supply convoys from camps in Kuwait to destinations scattered throughout the war-torn country. In the early morning hours before a scheduled mission, a dust storm howls across his camp and threatens to bring convoy operations to a halt. Worse, the camp receives word that a gunner from his company was killed by an IED while on a convoy mission.

Unlike most soldiers, Jerry doesn’t carry a lucky charm, but upon receiving news of the death of the gunner, he begins to mull over/ponder the merit/virtue of a good luck charm—only, what would work for him? Perhaps mail call will provide the answer.

“People like a happy ending.”

Sergeant Jerry Stanton, an M4 Carbine slung across his chest, glanced at the dark form that trudged alongside him in the hot, early morning darkness. It was all the darker for the dust storm howling across the small camp, a dusty and sandy convoy support center, CSC, a mile south of the Iraqi border. He placed his hand over the tall Styrofoam coffee cup from the messhall that was open at all hours to serve those about to head out on a mission. He felt the itchy dust filtering down his back, along his arms, and coating his fingers.

In spite of his short time deployed to Kuwait, he had learned that dust storms were worse than sand storms; they were hot and itchy while the sand storms stung exposed skin and chilled the air. Breakfast was good but tasted flat, more due to the question of whether their mission would be a go or no-go because of the storm that roared out of the midnight darkness hours before.


“People like a happy ending,” the soldier repeated. He was a gunner from another gun truck as the squat, venerable M1114 HMMWVs, which were never meant to be combat vehicles, were called. He held up a rabbit foot that spun frantically in the wind and added, “I like a happy ending. Especially now.” They rounded the corner of a small building, actually a renovated mobile home trailer with a covered wooden porch lit by a bare electric bulb. The gunner pointed to a small black flag, suspended from a log overhang, flapping furiously in the wind.

“Oh shit.” Jerry sighed as a cold chill raced through him.

“It’s been there for an hour or so,” the soldier said as he enclosed the rabbit’s foot within both hands and brought it up to his lips as if to kiss it. He glanced at Jerry. “I’m not superstitious, but still, I mean, there’s nothing wrong with having a lucky charm. You know?”

“Yeah.” Jerry nodded as he watched the twisting flag. “I know.”

MuseItUp Publishing - Amazon

See more books by S.S. Hampton Sr. on Amazon.

SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren. He is a published photographer and photojournalist. Hampton retired from the Nevada Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army, the Army Individual Ready Reserve and was mobilized for the Persian Gulf War. He enlisted in the Nevada Army National Guard after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. He is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle and Iraqi Freedom with deployment to northern Kuwait and several convoy security missions into Iraq.

Hampton has had two solo photographic exhibitions and curated a multi-media exhibit. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.

He graduated from the College of Southern Nevada with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis. He has been studying at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas with in a double major in Art and English. However, he is presently spending a cold, rainy Spring 2017 semester studying at a university in southwestern France in the shadow of the Pyrenees Mountains.

Hampton can be found at:
Dark Opus Press - Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing - Melange Books - MuseItUp Publishing - Goodreads Author Page - Amazon Author Page - Amazon UK


  1. Anonymous9:14 PM


    Thank you for this opportunity. I appreciate it. Have a great week!