First Night Design:

My niece flew back to London and university yesterday and I miss her beautiful and savvy countenance. Needless to say, I have a lot of catching up to do! In this reblog, Serena Trowbridge casts her eye upon our (UK) political leaders’ choice of ‘favourite’ poems. Interesting!

Originally posted on Culture and Anarchy:

In yesterday’s Sunday Times, Andrew Motion, in his role as head of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, writes about party leaders’ reluctance to commit to protecting greenbelt land. He also asks them for their favourite poems about the countryside. (You can read more about Motion’s interviews with the party leaders here). Their responses were:

David Cameron: Gray’s ‘Elegy

Nigel Farage: George Meredith, ‘The Lark Ascending

Natalie Bennett: Aemilia Lanyer, ‘Ode to Cooke-ham

Ed Miliband: Blake’s ‘Jerusalem

Nick Clegg: Blake, ‘Eternity

20130722-095212-PM.jpgCameron’s choice of Gray’s poem is not remarkable; he commented that it is a ‘magical’ poem which was a leaving present from his school – not surprisingly, since both were Eton men. The poem was once voted the UK’s most popular poem, and was also Gordon Brown’s favourite poem, though he more perceptively commented that the poem…

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Originally posted on First Night Design:

I have had a relaxing Sunday morning creating new cushions for my store and enjoying every moment of it. There are certain products available at Zazzle to which I enjoy adding my art more  than others.  Cushions — or pillows, I understand, if you’re from the US — are one such. This may be because my life depends on cushions if I am to avoid serious pain and discomfort. It may also be because cushions do so much to alter a room. After all, it’s cheaper than painting or decorating if you long for a change!

Girl on a Bicycle
Girl on a Bicycle

The Smoking Concert 
The Smoking Concert

Take care and keep laughing!

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First Night Design:

One from the archive while I continue to enjoy the company of my beautiful niece.
Take care and keep laughing!

Originally posted on First Night Design:

Welcome to followers old and new and thank you for all your lovely ‘likes’!

Take the Cow by the HornsTake the Cow by the Horns © First Night Design

As soon as I saw this cow among the archives at The Library of Congress, I was smitten.  Wouldn’t you be?  Look at her eyes.  There’s an animal you wouldn’t dream of messing with but the expression is so direct that she holds you in her gaze without allowing you to look away.  I may have called the piece Take the Cow by the Horns but I would not recommend it!


I created the setting by adding a background from Asunder Ephemera and used Photoshop to adjust the colours and tones until I felt I had done her justice.

The cow has an interesting provenance, coming as she does from a scrapbook of illustrations that were collated by Hans Christian Andersen and A L Drewsen…

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First Night Design:

I’m still enjoying a high old time with my niece so here’s a reblog from Acton Books which happens to mention First Night Design!
Take care and keep laughing!

Originally posted on Actonbooks:

We are on a journey to find out why the word ‘interesting’ took on a special meaning for a short time between about 1800 and 1850 — and a meaning never yet defined in any dictionary.

The epithet ‘interesting’  was used a lot during those years. It seems, in context, to describe a characteristic of children of both sexes up to adulthood. Grown-ups may be many things, but they are not classed as ‘interesting’. When the word is used in newspaper reports it is left unexplained, though probably about personality; sometimes other words such as ‘pretty’, ‘intelligent’ and so on are also used. If anything, ‘interesting’ has a positive tone, though often a melancholy one, describing as it did remembrance of a dead child.

Take as an example the death in 1830 of Edward Turner Mercer, “an interesting boy, aged about six”. First he was thought to have been stolen…

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Originally posted on stuartshieldgardendesign:

918rexwhistlerAN12636718pgs-146147-HILL-Sitem1.rendition.slideshowVertical.rex-whistler-exhibition-2NPG x40681; Rex Whistler; Gerald Tyrwhitt-Wilson, 14th Baron Berners; Oliver Hilary Sambourne Messel; Cecil Beaton by Cecil Beatonpreview_Fitzroystudio

Reginald John “Rex” Whistler (24 June 1905 – 18 July 1944) was a British artist, designer and illustrator.


Reginald John Whistler was born in Britain on 24 June 1905, at Eltham, Kent, the son of Harry and Helen Frances Mary Whistler. In May 1919 he was sent to boarding school at Haileybury, where he showed a precocious talent for art, providing set designs for play productions and giving away sketches to prefects in lieu of “dates” (a punishment at Haileybury, similar to “lines” whereby offenders are required to write out set lists of historical dates).

After Haileybury the young Whistler was accepted at the Royal Academy, but disliked the regime there and was “sacked for incompetence”. He then proceeded to study at the Slade School of Art, where he met Stephen Tennant, soon to become one of his best friends and a model for some of the figures in his…

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First Night Design:

I’m having a sublime time with my eldest niece who is over here from England. In the meanwhile, here’s a reblog of my punctuation post. Take care and keep laughing!

Originally posted on First Night Design:

‘Shell-like’ refers to a person’s ear. It has been in use since the late 19th century when the shape of an ear was deemed to be like a sea shell.

When we are tired, under pressure or emotional, it is all too easy to make glaring mistakes in our writing. I’m as guilty as anyone and have appalled myself on occasion with errors that must have prompted my mother, an ardent member of the ‘grammar police’, to spin in her grave!

Having said that, there is little excuse on a computer when there are multifarious tools for proof-reading, whether it’s spelling or grammar. True, these tools are not infallible — I say this as WP  has just accepted ‘iff’ on another post I’m writing — but it is the least we…

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Simple Terracotta Orange Gradient Business Card Business Cards
Simple Terracotta Orange Gradient Business Cards

Who’s ‘Peggy Babcock’ when she’s at home? Peggy Babcock will be well-known to those who dabble in tongue twisters and very familiar to any actor who has had to improve their diction with its use its use. I’ve always thought that if she were a character in a play, she would be one of those hearty, middle-aged games mistress at a 1950s boarding school!

Peggy Babcock, Peggy Babcock, Peggy Babcock…

Can you say the above in quick succession without tripping over the words? Try this one and see how you go!

Roy’s employed in Droitwich
At the choicest oyster bar.
Moira coyly loiters
As she sips her Noilly Prat.
How pointedly adroit he is
When he disjoints an oyster,
And Moira deploys lemon juice
To make his oyster moister.

Simple Apple Green Gradient Pack Of Standard Business Cards
Simple Apple Green Gradient Pack Of Standard Business Cards

Take care and keep laughing!


When I was a little girl I longed for an old-fashioned rocking horse. I got a doll’s house, a blackboard easel and books but never a rocking horse. I feel the lack to this day!

Rocking Horse
Rocking Horse iPad Mini covers

The above collage was one of my earliest efforts and contains several artefacts relating to mine and my parents’ childhoods including a doll called Suza that belonged to my mother and my father’s baptism certificate! The rocking horse is a miniature bought eight or so years ago from a local charity shop when we were still living in London.

Ride on a Rocking Horse
Ride on a Rocking Horse Mousepads

Ride on a Rocking Horse was created with the illustration of a boy and his horse from Wikimedia to which I added this little ditty:

A ride on a rocking horse now
Forward and backward we go
With a hand on the mane, a grip
On the rein,
A frightening speed,
To and fro again.
Gee up, gee up, gee whoaooh
Gee up, gee up, gee whoah.

I’m in the mood to do another rocking horse and am considering what I can do with this image, also via Wikimedia, taken at the Beamish Museum, County Durham, England.  Textures are in order. Watch this space!


I may not be around much in the next week as my eldest niece is coming to stay. Have a good one.

Take care and keep laughing!


First Night Design:

I can’t believe it’s a year since I did Café Royal Rose!

Originally posted on First Night Design:

Cafe Royal Rose © First Night DesignCafe Royal Rose © First Night Design

I took a photograph of this yellow rose some months ago and have played with it ever since to little effect. Until, that is, someone posted a link on Facebook — in the Texture Artists group — to the British artist Sarah Gardner who also sells beautiful textures. Registering with her site gives you a free download of four textures. I added the one pictured below and I was off and running!

ARTISAN Ink by Sarah GardnerARTISAN Ink by Sarah Gardner

The typography elements are from a vintage advert for the Café Royal in London’s Regent Street from one of my theatre periodicals dated  late 19th and early 20th century, Play Pictorial.

Café Royal, Regent StreetCafé Royal, Regent Street

Related articles

Take care and keep laughing!


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Originally posted on method two madness:

cottleston pie s

This is an assignment done for an Illustrator class many years ago that I found in a file when I was looking for something else.  Pooh’s song seems perfect for the end of a week in April when once again spring can’t seem to decide to stay.

Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie,
A fly can’t bird, but a bird can fly.
Ask me a riddle and I reply
Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie.

Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie,
Why does a chicken? I don’t know why.
Ask me a riddle and I reply
Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie.

Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie,
A fish can’t whistle and neither can I.
Ask me a riddle and I reply
Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie.

I’ll be away for a few days…enjoy the weekend, see you next week.

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Originally posted on The Art of Quotation:

shubert by klimt

“I try to decorate my imagination as much as I can.”

– Franz Schubert. composer (painting by Gustav Klimt)

See related Art of Quotation post: Gustav Klimt

This painting entitled “Schubert at the Piano” by Gustav Klimt (1899) was destroyed in World War II.

We can’t see Schubert at the Piano in any museum.  This and the other Klimt paintings collected by Lederer, were destroyed in 1945 when retreating Nazis set Schloss Immendorf on fire.  The paintings from the Lederer collection had been placed at the residence of Baron Rudolf Freudenthan, an officer in the Wehrmacht (German armed forces), for safekeeping in 1943.  O’Connor recounts that the Lederer Klimt collection of “as many as fourteen spectacular Klimt paintings” included Golden Apple Tree, Philosophy and Jurisprudence (which the Lederers had purchased when the University of Vienna rejected them), Girl Friends and Music II (“The precise number of paintings burned…

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It was an original painting of a ‘cabinet of curiosities’  on Wikimedia that inspired me to create this image. These ‘cabinets’ contained collections of objects around a theme whether it be art, theatre or archaeology, antiquities, religious icons or geology, or anything else for that matter.

One might even refer to them as miniature museums. If you have ever gathered objects of a certain type, as I have done, on a small table or in a room, for instance, then you have created a ‘cabinet of curiosities’.  I should point out that ‘cabinet’ in this case refers to a room and not, as Wikipedia tells us, a piece of furniture.

I used the following image from Wikimedia as my starting point.

A corner of a cabinet, painted by Frans II Francken in 1636 reveals the range of connoisseurship a Baroque-era virtuoso might evince

A corner of a cabinet, painted by Frans II Francken in 1636 reveals the range of connoisseurship a Baroque-era virtuoso might evince [Wikimedia]

I continued by making small versions of some of my own images and placing them on top and within the frames of paintings before blending and merging. Look carefully and you can see The Lynx has Landed in the bottom left corner and Earthly Delights top left. Scrutinise the next to last image bottom right and you might see that I have merged a part of Romantic Meeting with the original Tudor-looking man to create what looks — to me — like Danny La Rue in his glad rags drag!

The finishing touches were done with a texture from 2 Lil’ Owls, a layer of yellow in Photoshop’s Overlay mode, and a black & white photograph by Len dela Cruz from Unsplash.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Available at the following galleries:
Zazzle US tba
Zazzle UK tba
Fine Art America
Fine Art England
Saatchi Art tba

Take care and keep laughing!


Shop for posters, greeting cards, postcards & wrapped canvas: US | UK

There is no getting away from the fact that while this image may be used on far too many chocolate boxes, Vermeer’s painting is truly exquisite.

‘The Girl with a Pearl Earring is a painting of immense simplicity. In terms of both composition and colour, this work of art displays nothing extraordinary. However, it is through this simplicity that Vermeer allows us to examine the wonderful delicacy of his subject. We can appreciate the smallest details of the painting, from the wet edges of the girl’s half-opened lips to how her skin appears alight against the dark background  – features which in a more chaotic composition would be missed. With every new detail you notice, the Girl with a Pearl Earring is enlivened more and more. For instance, her head is turned as if she has just looked round and seen us (rather than that she is being painted side on). By permitting us to appreciate these small details, Vermeer creates an intimacy and an….’
The Squirrel Review.

Available at the following galleries:
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK

Take care and keep laughing!


What could be better than a party to herald the Spring and nurture the hope in our hearts? Freedom is a precious commodity these days. Rousseau’s famous words – “Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains” have never been more apt than they are today. The élite is forcing upon us a world in which we have no say and little means of survival. But we have to keep hope in our hearts or we are lost.

Available at the following galleries:
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America
Fine Art England
Saatchi Art tba

Take care and keep laughing!


Originally posted on The Genealogy of Style:

Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo shared living quarters on the Left Bank of Paris at 27 rue de Fleurus from 1903 until 1914, when they dissolved their common household. Their residence, located near the Luxembourg Gardens, was a two-story building with adjacent studio. It was here they accumulated the works of art into a collection that would become renowned for its prescience and historical importance.

The joint collection of Gertrude and Leo Stein began in late 1904 when Michael Stein announced that their trust account had accumulated a balance of 8,000 francs. They spent this at Vollard’s Gallery, buying Paul Gauguin‘s Sunflowers and Three Tahitians, Paul Cézanne‘s Bathers, and two Renoirs.

Leo Stein cultivated important art world connections, enabling the Stein holdings to grow over time. Bernard Berenson hosted Gertrude and Leo in his English country house in 1902, facilitating their introduction to Paul Cézanne…

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Sarah Vernon

Sarah Vernon

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