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Mother’s Day in the UK is this Sunday, while tomorrow is International Women’s Day. This is a post I wrote in 2014 which some of you have seen before.

First Night Design

Benedicta Leigh 1922—2000Benedicta Leigh 1922—2000 [photo: David Sim] Born Benedicta Hoskyns in 1922, my mother spent a large part of her childhood on the island of Malta where her father was serving in the Rifle Brigade.

She later spent a year drawing from life at Salisbury School of Art. During World War II, she nursed with the Red Cross in Auxiliary Hospitals and Convalescent Homes throughout the country, also finding time to write, produce and play in several revues for her patients.

The war over, she trained for the stage at RADA where she received commendations from Sybil Thorndike and Laurence Irving and won the George Arliss prize as well as sharing the Dialect prize with Cyril Shaps.

Her subsequent career included repertory at Windsor, Bromley, Sheffield, Coventry and Nottingham, No Other Verdict at the Duchess Theatre in the West End (“stealing all the notices as the maid” she would tell me…

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Original & vintage art © First Night Design [www.firstnightdesign.wordpress.com]

Source: The Little Glass Slipper 1 Postcard | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Give Thanks Tote Bag by Sarah Vernon. The tote bag is machine washable, available in three different sizes, and includes a black strap for easy carrying on your shoulder. All totes are available for worldwide shipping and include a money-back guarantee.

Source: Give Thanks Tote Bag for Sale by Sarah Vernon

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


#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!

Sarah


Heavens to Betsy! My weekend has been totally transformed by an email from Zazzle telling me I’ve sold 25 of these Give Thanks Postcards.

The main image is a photograph of our garden – they’re actually Cretan olive trees in the background – and a couple of textures. I’ve used Photoshop to create a Thanksgiving scene with a pumpkin from The Graphics Fairy and an open book from The Cottage Market.

Are you wondering about the phrase ‘Heavens to Betsy’? I have to acknowledge that it’s one of my favourite sayings. I learn, however, that it’s fallen out of use and considered far too anachronistic. Tough. I shall never stop using it. It seems it originated in America in the late 19th century. No one knows who Betsy was and the etymologist Charles Earle Funk said the origins of the phrase were ‘completely unsolvable’. [#1]

The Oxford English Dictionary gives the first written use as from a short-story collection by Rose Terry Cooke, Huckleberries Gathered From New England Hills published in 1892. [#1; #2]

I’m also very fond of ‘Heavens to Murgatroyd!’ but I’ll leave that lovely for another day.

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

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


#photorehabcovermakeover Week 14; The Incident at Montebello by Patti Moed

#photorehabcovermakeover Week 14; The Incident at Montebello by Patti Moed

It’s Week 14 of the Photo Rehab Cover Makeover run by Desley Jane of Musings of a Frequent Flying Scientist and Lucile of Lucile de Goday. They have chosen another book by a fellow blogger—The Incident at Montebello by Patti Moed of Pilotfish. Ms Moed is an award-winning creative artist who’s worked as a university professor, writer, textbook editor, photographer, corporate trainer, educational consultant, and instructional designer; that’s some CV!

I have used a family photo which you might recognise from my treatment of it for When Worlds Collide. I can’t pretend the vehicles are spot-on for 1930 but I consider them close enough to give a flavour of Patti’s book (which I have already bought for Kindle and am very much looking forward to). The strap line I’ve used is my invention!

The Incident at Montebello is a historical novel based on a true event— In 1930, Italian Premier Benito Mussolini was driving through the Italian countryside with Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr. when his car struck and killed a little girl, Sofia Buonomano. The Buonomano family is torn apart by Sofia’s death and is caught in a political firestorm that spreads from their village to Rome and across America and Europe. One family member, 16-year-old Isolina, witnesses the accident and recognizes Mussolini as the driver.’

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

#BLOGSHARELEARN LINKY PARTY OCTOBER 16/15

#MidLifeLuv Linky

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


#photorehabcovermakeover Week 13 Golden Valley Silver Flowers

#photorehabcovermakeover Week 13 Golden Valley Silver Flowers

It’s Week 13 of the Photo Rehab Cover Makeover run by Desley Jane of Musings of a Frequent Flying Scientist and Lucile of Lucile de Goday, and I should be in time for the challenge!

I’ve kept it simple and used a marigold image from The Graphics Fairy.

The gals have chosen a book by a fellow blogger, Becky, who is donating 100% of her book royalties to help the refugees arriving in Europe.

In Becky’s own words:

I am a 28 year old PhD student in the field of neurovirology, freelance author and blogger. I’m much more besides that, but those are my professions.

I am a war survivor and former refugee and mostly I write real-life stories that happened to me or my close ones. I’ve seen a lot in my life and want to share my experience, hoping that someone out there might open his eyes and see it all in a different light.

I am a fighter for human rights, peaceful coexisting and a green planet. I’m against war – no matter where it takes place -, against trauma, post-traumatic stress disorders, pain, loss, hunger, injustice.

I dedicate all my stories to those who have suffered and lost and I donate from my author’s salaries to help people who are going through hell.

Feel free to join me and become a soldier of peace by following, liking, sharing or buying my recently published book (“Golden Valley Silver Flowers” by SB Selimovic).

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

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


#photorehabcovermakeover Week 12

#photorehabcovermakeover Week 12

Whoops-a-daisy! I prepared my entry some days ago for Week 12 of the Photo Rehab Cover Makeover run by Desley Jane of Musings of a Frequent Flying Scientist and Lucile of Lucile de Goday, and then promptly forgot about posting it in time. Duh!

The challenge on this occasion was to do a cover for the horror film, The Cabin in the Woods (2012), a frightener if ever there was one.

215px-citwteasersmallI used a photograph taken by Mr FND when he was in the middle of nowhere trying to find the newly built Venice ferry port. I promptly added a lighted window from another photo of ours before doing the title, cast and director. Oh, and I also added one of my textured backgrounds.

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

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


#photorehabcovermakeover Week 10

#photorehabcovermakeover Week 10

It’s already Week 10 of the Photo Rehab Cover Makeover run by Desley Jane of Musings of a Frequent Flying Scientist and Lucile of Lucile de Goday.

I must state that I actively loathe the work of J.R.R. Tolkien so you’ll find no fawning here! No matter how many people exhort me to, I will never again pick up copies of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings and try to read them. Life’s too short.

Walt WhitmanI was so tired of dark colours that my original intention was to create something simple in black and white with the title, author, one of the protagonists, and a ring. I discovered a site that compared the characters to real people. Gandalf, as played by Ian McKellen, was likened to Walt Whitman, which tickled my fancy,  and I took it from there.

Once I’d dismissed the idea of black and white, I searched my designs and decided that the background textures from Turning Windmill might work rather well. I hope you agree.

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

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


#photorehabcovermakeover Week 9

#photorehabcovermakeover Week 9

It’s Week 9 of the Photo Rehab Cover Makeover run by Desley Jane of Musings of a Frequent Flying Scientist and Lucile of Lucile de Goday. Actually, it might not be Week 9 — I seem to have got mixed up as I titled Green Mile #7; that’s what comes of dealing with far too many emails and an explosion of other people’s lovely blog posts!

I do know, however, that this week’s challenge, as you can see above, was to do a cover for George Orwell’s classic, 1984.

I chose to use I Can See What You’re Doing as the background to give the impression of a barricade. I added  the same photo from Unsplash that I used in Cabinet of Curiosities (the whirly window), and a medical drawing of an eyeball from The Graphics Fairy.

The font I’ve used (Bodoni) is not what I would have wished. I lost so many fonts last year when the computer died at the same time as the back-up (of course) and remembering the names and finding them again is proving almost impossible. The one I had in mind was what you might call ‘dirty’ and eaten into. Ah well!

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

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


#photorehabcovermakeover Week 7
It’s Week 7 of the Photo Rehab Cover Makeover run by Desley Jane of Musings of a Frequent Flying Scientist and Lucile of Lucile de Goday. This week, as you can see, we’ve been asked to re-imagine a cover for either the book or film version of Stephen King’s Green Mile. I’ve seen the film a few times but not read the book. Actually, I’ve never read any of King’s work.

I didn’t think I was going to get this ready in time, as I said yesterday to Joanne of Coffee Fuels My Photography. At that point, I had loathed everything I’d tried. A short while ago, unable to sleep, I replaced one of my photos of some museum gates with a photograph of some prison gates from Wikimedia and blended it with a texture from 2 Lil’ Owls. I was more than happy with the result. I hope you like it too.

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

And now I’m going back to bed: it’s ten to six in the morning here in Crete!

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


John Lee Taggart of Storytime with John makes me laugh. A lot. He also manages to nail the gritty truth about many subjects, some trivial, some serious.

awkwardoyster

I have just bought his book, The Awkward Oyster: Real life comedy travel tales from across the globe!

‘This is a short collection of travel tales, and comedy capers from this odd little place we call our home! Each humorous tale is laden with belly laughs, and cringe-worthy moments!

All proceeds will go towards Macmillan Cancer Research – so you can have a giggle, whilst also helping towards a fantastic cause!’

Humour and a good cause — what are you waiting for? Click the image or the title to buy!

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Originally posted on Culture and Anarchy.

As the review of this book in the Guardian points out, Ian McEwan is fascinated by roles and institutions of authority, and how the playing of such a role affects his protagonists. In The Children Act, (which is a novella, really – I read it in an evening) we are invited to consider the intricacies of the life of a high court judge, both professional and personal. Fiona Maye is in her fifties, a distinctly-delineated character whose devotion to her work is only paralleled by her lack-lustre marriage to Jack, who wants to have an affair. Specialising in family law and with a history of difficult cases, she is haunted by the children who might have suffered from her decisions, and overwhelmed by the need to make the ‘right’ decision in the interests of children – whatever ‘right’ is. And this is the central question of the book: who gets to decide? Who knows what ‘right’ is? And ‘right’ in what sense?

The law collides with faith in Fiona’s next case, where a Jehovah’s Witness boy refuses a blood transfusion which will save his life. After meeting him, talking to him and agonising over her decision, she concludes that he is not old enough to make this decision, perhaps being unduly pressured by his family and church. I won’t spoil the novel by detailing what happens next, but the novel asks, ultimately, serious questions about what is important in life: relationships, art, career, faith? Are they reliable enough the build a life around? What happens when you lose one of the pillars which…

via Book Review: The Children Act | Culture and Anarchy.


You could have knocked me down with a feather, and all the other clichés, but I’ve read my first vampire novel and loved every minute of it!

L E Turner was looking for blog followers to read a proof copy of her book and, even though it was not my cup of tea, I offered myself up on the strength of the flash fiction on her blog.

About the Nature of the Creature is a compelling tale, written from the vantage point of Constance, whose human life is cut short during her Edwardian childhood in Bristol. After a back story the author doesn’t reveal fully until further on, we find her a century later settled in Egypt, at which point some unknown urge prompts her to return to the city of her birth.

She is faced with the changes wrought by a hundred years and the danger of a religious sect determined to eradicate her kind. There are rivalries and jealousies amongst her tribe and Constance realises it is she who has to find a way to overcome the dangers in the hope of survival.

One of the reasons I was drawn into this story is the humanity, if one can call it that, of the creatures – the good and the bad. For example, the last thing Constance desires is the death of another but the need for blood is how she is made; if she can therefore acquire blood without killing a human she will always choose thus. Turner manages to give her heroine human and vampiric qualities which don’t seem at odds. I started caring about Constance and urging her forward. I wanted her to be happy!

Turner is adept at pacing and knows exactly where to place her twists and turns of plot. Even in the best books, one can predict certain events. Not in this case. The author kept me on the edge of my seat to the extent that when my computer went down and had to be rushed to hospital where it stayed for a month, all I could think about was getting back to the story on my Kindle app!

The other characters, human or not, are as well-drawn as Constance, giving the story an edge that I suspect — generalisation warning — many bandwagon books do not. Turner’s knowledge of Bristolian history is lightly interwoven, giving a lovely Gothic depth to the piece.

Will my enjoyment make me pick up another novel about vampires? Probably not. It will, however, make me buy and read the sequel to About the Nature of the Creature, which Turner is currently writing.

The only criticism I have is that there were a number of typos and some erratic punctuation but I’m sure these were ironed out before publication.

Thank you, L E Turner, for sending me a copy!

Related

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah



The Self-Portrait: A Cultural History

Description on Amazon

In this broad cultural survey, James Hall brilliantly maps the history of self-portraiture, from the earliest myths of Narcissus and the Christian tradition of bearing witness to the prolific self-image-making of todays contemporary artists. Along the way he reveals the importance of the medieval mirror craze; the confessional self-portraits of Titian and Michelangelo; the role of biography for serial self-portraitists such as Courbet and van Gogh; themes of sex and genius in works by Munch and Bonnard; and the latest developments in our globalized age. Hall covers the full range of self-portraits, from comic and caricature self-portraits to invented or imaginary ones, and looks deeply into the worlds and mindsets of the artists who have created them. Offering a rich and lively history, this is an essential read for all those interested in this most enduringly popular and humane of art forms.


detail from Boccaccio’s On Famous Women (1402)

Detail from Boccaccio’s On Famous Women (1402)


Reviews

We live in an age of addictive self-portraiture  except that the selfies who so unstoppably document the busy banality of their lives aren’t really making portraits, and it’s unclear whether there is a distinct individual self behind their lookalike grins. A digital camera’s gaze is skin-deep, and can hardly compete with the almost surgical penetration of a painted self-portrait. Photographs are instantaneous and ephemeral; it takes time to represent the advance of sagging, wrinkled mortality, as Rembrandt does when scrutinising his own face.

‘The images James Hall discusses in his enthralling book are therefore exercises in self-appraisal, not self-celebrations like the happy snaps on Facebook. Unusually, Hall’s history begins in the middle ages, because for him self-portraiture emerges as a reflex of Christian conscience, a homage to Christ’s imprinting of his agonised face on the Turin shroud. But the imitation of Christ takes courage, and it usually ends in the artist’s self-castigation. Previewing the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo actually flays himself: St Bartholomew grips the painter’s empty epidermis, which has been painfully peeled off with a butcher’s knife.’ Peter Conrad, The Observer 


The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck (1434)

The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck (1434)


‘There is never a dull passage in this book: the detail is crisply imparted; the content richly arcane at times, but more usually profoundly human; the ideas come freshly coined. Hall manages to retain the intellectual high ground while writing with verve and enthusiasm. It is a creditable achievement, and, like all the best gifts, comes beautifully wrapped, in book  production of the highest quality.’ Frances Spalding,
The Guardian


‘Hall’s range of references is polymathic and his writing often pithy, but the democratically even tone – in which geniuses and nonentities are accorded the same level of interest – can feel monotonous. The book gives a good account of the role of the self-portrait in the elevation of the artist from craftsman to cultural hero. Yet Hall is so keen to avoid aggrandising the better known figures that you’re left yearning for a contrast between what’s of historical interest and what’s genuinely extraordinary. Occasionally you wish he’d let his dispassionate scholarly mask drop and scream out, “This is a freaking masterpiece!”’ Mark Hudson, Daily Telegraph


‘Topical it might be, but modish this book is not. Ranging from Akhenaten’s chief sculptor to Tracey Emin and drawing on art-historical, historical, philosophical and literary sources covering the three-and-a-half millennia of the intervening period, this is a stimulating and demanding book that requires an equally serious engagement from any reader.’ Honor Clark, The Spectator


Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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