‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.’ Ernest Hemingway

Source: Hemingway


Here is another in my Hollywood series that takes its inspiration from the famous Edward Steichen portrait of actress Gloria Swanson covered in lace and held by the Museum of Modern Art.  The Greta Garbo photo (Hello-Tuesday), and the vintage wallpaper (MGB-Stock) that I used to create the lace effect, are from Deviantart.

Garbo’s skin in the original shot is so luminous that I was, at first, reluctant to…

Source: First Night Design | The Greta Garbo Tattoo

A riot of red: Edgar Degas’s Combing the Hair (La Coiffure) is part of the Making Colour exhibition

In its latest exhibition [2014], the National Gallery examines how generations of painters have created and used colour. But how do people who are “colour-blind” view art?

Visitors to the Making Colour exhibition, which opened in London this week, can feast their eyes on the rich tones of lapis lazuli, vermilion and verdigris.

In the National Gallery’s colour-themed show, the paintings include a blue room containing Claude Monet’s Lavacourt under Snow (1878-81) and – in the red room – Edgar Degas’s Combing the Hair (La Coiffure) from 1896.

But to anyone who has a colour vision deficiency, commonly known as colour blindness, the bold reds that dominate the Degas work may look very different.

The subject of colour blindness is tackled in an interactive part of the exhibition devoted to the science behind colour vision.

Claude Monet’s Lavacourt under Snow (1878-81) is also part of the exhibition

The retina at the back of eye contains light sensors called cones. The three cone types – red, green and blue – are stimulated by different wavelengths of light.

Most colour-blind people have three types of cone, but they are sensitive to a different part of the spectrum.

By Tim Masters – who has first hand experience of colour blindness
The earliest sign that I was colour-blind was, according to my parents, when I drew a picture of Doctor Who’s Tardis – and made it shocking pink.

When I tell people I’m colour-blind some assume I see the world in black and white.

That’s far from the truth. I can see rainbows. I just don’t see them in the same way as most people…

Source: BBC News: How the colour-blind see art with different eyes.

What could be more restorative when I’ve been feeling rather peevish this week than to learn that I’ve sold 50 greeting cards of this detail of Raphael’s Sistine Madonna! Well, it sure bucked my spirits up considerably.

And I’ve just created my first Christmas stocking with the same image.


Take care and keep laughing!


Church at Twilight © Sarah Vernon

Church at Twilight © Sarah Vernon

To say I was influenced by the atmosphere of Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White — must read it again — would be bending the truth, although I’ve included that sentence in the description boxes at galleries. However, only when I had finished creating it did the book come immediately to mind.


I have used a detail from a photograph by Stefan Ringler which I’ve warped and extended. This I added to Photoshop in Soft Light mode over a texture from 2 Lil’ Owls, Beguiling-5. I made various adjustments to give the roof of the church more definition and provide extra light on the walls. I like it and I hope you do too.

And here comes the promotion bit! If you haven’t read The Woman in White, you have a treat in store. Buy it immediately!


The Woman in White (1859-60) is the first and greatest `Sensation Novel’. Walter Hartright’s mysterious midnight encounter with the woman in white draws him into a vortex of crime, poison, kidnapping, and international intrigue.

The novel is dominated by two of the finest creations in all Victorian fiction – Marion Halcombe, dark, mannish, yet irresistibly fascinating, and Count Fosco, the sinister and flamboyant `Napoleon of Crime’. A masterwork of intricate construction, The Woman in White sets new standards of suspense and excitement, and achieved sales which topped even those of Dickens, Collins’s friend and mentor.’

Apart from being besotted by the story, which bears repeated reading, the second time I read it, I was appearing in The Beaux Stratagem at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley (1978), wherein lies a tale. I remember waiting at the overground station for the train to Bromley with book in hand and trying to paint my fingernails with the palest of pinks. For The Beaux Stratagem, I hear you ask? Alas, yes. I was trying to cover my stress-spotted and ridged nails. The director’s wife spotted it immediately and I was told to remove it. Quite rightly.

Not the most prepossessing of theatres [ Wikimedia]

Not the most prepossessing of theatres [Wikimedia]

Anyway, back to the railway station. The train arrived (early) and in my haste to replace the top on the nail polish, put the book in my bag and board the train, I spilt the polish all over the book and my rather chi-chi wrap-around skirt.  The skirt could never be worn again but the book still graces my bookshelves and always will.

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

Take care and keep laughing!


duras“I’ve forgotten the words with which to tell you. I knew them once, but I’ve forgotten them, and now I’m talking to you without them.”

Source: Marguerite Duras says:

“I hate writing, I love having written.” ― Dorothy Parker, American, poet, short story writer, critic, satirist

Source: “I hate writing, I love having written.”

This a Christmas design from 2008. Have a glorious week!

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

Take care and keep laughing!


Portrait of Antonia Zarate, about 1805

Francisco Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) ranks with Velasquez at the pinnacle of Spanish painting. Best known today for his compelling depictions of the brutality of war and the disturbing intensity of his images of witches, he was also a prolific portrait picture. It is these portraits which are the subject of this large and expansive exhibition.

Goya came to portrait painting in his 30s but quickly established a reputation which…

Source: Goya, The Portraits at the National Gallery

Bicycling Through Paris

Bicycling Through Paris © Sarah Vernon

The events in Paris are frightening and heartbreaking. My heart goes out to everyone.

Take care and keep laughing!


Colette, 1900s via theredlist.com

Source: Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (1900s)

Christmas Emporium © Sarah Vernon

Christmas Emporium © Sarah Vernon

The original photograph is a marvellous shot of the Art Nouveau building designed by Paul Hankar for a late 19th century  florists in Brussels. I downloaded it a couple of years ago from Wikimedia. I’d always wanted to do something with it but the resolution was low. I looked for it again recently, having lost the image during the computer saga of this time last year, and downloaded it once more. I resized it with Perfect Photo Suite and while it would not have passed muster on its own, I knew that a duplicate in Overlay mode, would enable me to transform it into a high-resolution Christmas treat.

Everything Christmassy that has been added, such as the angel and baby top left, the Father Christmas bottom right, the holly over the door, the ‘Compliments of the Season’ etching top right and so forth, is from The Graphics Fairy, apart from a painting by Eloise Harriet Stannard (1829–1915) called Christmas Still Life, also from Wikimedia, which is bottom right behind Santa. The eagle-eyed will realise it’s the same still life I used a detail from to create the most recent book cover makeover.

A goose never voted for an early Christmas.  Irish Saying

At Christmas play and make good cheer,
For Christmas comes but once a year.
Thomas Tusser “The Farmer’s Daily Diet”


Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone. Charles Schulz


“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder


“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”
Bob Hope


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

Take care and keep laughing!


#photorehabcovermakeover Week 19 The Romantic Manifesto © First Night Design

#photorehabcovermakeover Week 19 The Romantic Manifesto © Sarah Vernon

Another week and another challenge. It’s week 19 of the Photo Rehab Cover Makeover run by Desley Jane of Musings of a Frequent Flying Scientist and Lucile of Lucile de Goday!

The Romantic Manifesto: In this collection, Ayn Rand explains the indispensable function of art in man’s life, the source of man’s deeply personal, emotional response to art, and how an artist’s fundamental, often unstated view of man and of the world shapes his creations. In a chapter that includes an extended discussion of music, Rand explores the valid forms of art.

Is this me cheating? You may well think so. I have used a detail from a painting by Eloise Harriet Stannard (1829–1915) called Christmas Still Life. So that was easy! The title font is my old favourite, Zapfino Regular, while the author and ‘centenary edition’ are in Skia Regular. This painting epitomizes the art of good conversation to my mind. Gather your guests, set the table with good food and excellent wine and you’re off!

I don’t know about you but I loathe the cover (above) for the 100th centenary edition! It looks like it’s been thrown together by the office boy or girl who has no idea about good design.

Click here for instructions if you would like to take part in future challenges.

Take care and keep laughing!



Prints & Greeting Cards available – click through to original post for the link to buy.

FOR THE FALLEN by Laurence Binyon

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against…

Source: First Night Design | At the Going Down of the Sun

Well, I never! I knew none of this. Or if I did, I’d long forgotten.

It’s been a while since I last posted due to work and other commitments, so I’ll be offering a series of shorter posts dedicated to the etymology of crime in general, interspersed with the occasional longer post about other things. It’s always been curious to me how many words and phrases have crept into common usage courtesy of the underworld. A great many of them are used by that perfectly honest, law-abiding people who probably haven’t the slightest idea of their original meaning. So, for openers, I’ll start off with the dreaded Tyburn, Tyburn being roughly where Marble Arch now stands and once the site of London’s premier public entertainment. That entertainment being public executions.

Condemned prisoners were held at the old Newgate Prison, now long-demolished and where the Central Criminal Court…

Source: The Etymology Of Crime – Tyburn.

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Sarah Vernon

Sarah Vernon

Artist, Actress, Writer

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