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FROM THE ARCHIVE 25th July 2015

When I reblog my posts, I try to leave a decent gap and hope to catch more recent followers who have not seen a piece before or to garner a new audience for a very old post when hardly anyone was following. Sailing to the Moon received a huge amount of likes and comments. I haven’t checked the statistics but I suspect it’s one of the most popular posts on First Night Design — very pleasing. I’m re-blogging it because I love it and I have nothing else to show!

‘What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all th…

Source: First Night Design | Sailing to the Moon #Art | First Night Design

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This is an old book-plate by Ernest Haslehurst of a public house called The Grapes at Limehouse (once The Bunch of Grapes) that I bought from collectors Vintage Views. It would be fun to think this Taylor Walker & Co pub was the inspiration for Dickens and Fagin’s den in Oliver Twist but it certainly makes me think of the narrow cobbled streets of Victorian London where pickpockets and other nefarious persons would ply their trade. It dates from the 16th century but the frontage is Victorian.

Although the original is in good nick, it has a faded quality even though it has not actually faded, so I added a duplicate layer in Overlay to bring out the colour and detail.

Look closely — I can see Nancy on the balcony, and isn’t that Bill Sikes with his Staffy, Bullseye, coming up the ladder? And surely that’s Fagin himself at the curtain. Could this not, in fact, be the very place from which Sikes hanged himself?

The Grapes does have a connection to Dickens, however, since he knew that area of Limehouse well and probably based The Six Jolly Fellowship Porters in Our Mutual Friend on it.

From the research I’ve done, I learn that the lessees are actor Sir Ian McKellen, director Sean Mathias and Evening Standard owner, Evgeny Lebedev, the trio having bought the pub in 2011; it looks as if it’s a charming place to find some excellent beer and food. Let me know if you visit.

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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


The Sports Pavilion uses a photograph from a store called Clark Street Mercantile who have added what I assume to be their brochure photographs to that great free resource, Unsplash.

In the first instance I used Topaz Impressions’ chiaroscuro effect but I wanted something else. To this end I added 2LO Texture Artists 2 in the Multiply mode and enhanced the brightness and contrast. The image now appears to be a charmingly aged print of an old sports pavilion from, say, the 1920s or ’30s. Well, I like to think so!

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Sarah


Clowns of the Sea © Sarah Vernon at Crated

Clowns of the Sea © Sarah Vernon at Crated

2 Lil’ Owls – 2LO~French Script antique papers 2-13.
Puffin – Biodiversity Library.
Flora & Fauna – Biodiversity Library.

A few tidbits from National Geographic:

1. Nicknamed ‘sea parrots‘ – and sometimes ‘clowns of the sea‘! – Atlantic puffins have black and white feathers and a large parrot-like beak. They are small seabirds measuring around 25cm in length.

2. Puffins spend most of their lives out at sea, resting on the waves when not swimming. Their range spans the eastern coast of Canada and the United States to the western coast of Europe.

3. A puffin’s beak (or bill) changes colour during the year. In winter, the beak has a dull grey colour, but in spring it blooms with an outrageous orange! It’s thought that the bright colour helps puffins assess potential mates.

4. Puffins are carnivores and live off small fish such as herring, hake and sand eels.

5. Puffins are fab flyers, flapping their wings up to 400 times a minute and speeding through the air at up to 88km an hour

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Sarah


This adaptation of an autochrome photograph from Wikimedia by Robert Demachy (1859-1936), which was taken some time between 1907 and 1915, took a great deal of work to get just right.

The original image is enchanting but as soon as I saw it, I wanted to turn it into a painting with a hint of the Pre-Raphaelites about it — yes, one of those rare occasions when I knew what I desired and didn’t wait for one of my ‘accidents’!

I used various textures to give it colour and texture before using a detail of the clock from this image to create the top right-hand detail. I duplicated this detail and warped and shaped it to create an art nouveau pattern for the drape. I also removed her left arm as it looked slightly odd!

I had to think carefully when uploading it to my galleries as a lot of the groups (such as on Redbubble) don’t accept nudity. I had to tick boxes about ‘mature content’. I’m not sure I’ll do another nude any time soon!


Look in my face; my name is Might-have-been;
I am also call’d No-more, Too-late, Farewell — Dante Gabriel Rossetti, (The House of Life: 97. A Superscription, 1-2)


Not as she is, but as she fills his dream — Christina Rossetti, In An Artist’s Studio


The term ‘Pre-Raphaelite’ is in danger of becoming one of the most misused tags in art history — Christopher Wood, Author of The Pre-Raphaelites


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Sarah


FROM THE ARCHIVE 30th September 2013

I confess I get increasingly sick of flower photographs — not paintings, whether digital, acrylic or oil — just photographs.  Rarely do I find them exceptional and yet even the mundane sell in thei…

Source: Valley Rose: Playing with Flowers


Texture TanEphemeraKitchenLabels via Design Cuts.
Photo from Unsplash by Ales Krivec.
Photo from Unsplash by Padurariu Alexandru.
Own scrapbook image.


“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero


Windows to the Soul Pillow
Windows to the Soul Pillow by FirstNightDesign at Zazzle


“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”
Aristotle


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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Great Easter offer from Redbubble with 20% off everything!
Use code BUNNY20.

HAPPY EASTER MONDAY!

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


HAPPY EASTER!

FROM THE ARCHIVE 31st March 2014 & 2015 because another year has gone and I still haven’t created a new Easter image!
May Easter Joy Attend You © First Night Design

May Easter Joy Attend You © First Night Design

I’m never quite sure how to categorise creations like May Easter Joy Attend You. Is it a collage? Is it digital art, a term that applies to everything I do? Why do I concern myself? Sites like Saatchi Art and Fine Art America need  you to add this information when you upload an image. It drives me nuts, partly because I loathe categories.

The method I use is collage in that I prepare a background and then bring in elements around a particular theme and blend to a seamless whole, rather than what is strictly known as collage where elements are arranged seemingly haphazardly such as in Indian Glories.

In this instance, I prepped a background by doctoring one of Kerstin Frank’s textures, the same one I used for Alice’s Adventures.

Some of the Easter elements I brought in were discarded and replaced but not before I’d worked on them quite substantially — all good experience and not a waste of time!

These rabbits looked best in the Darken mode. But this meant the egg was far from clear. I used the Lasso Tool to select it (the Magnetic Tool is never accurate enough unless you are working with sharply defined objects) and created a new layer for the egg alone. This layer I left in its Normal state and placed it on top of the original egg. It needed touching up with the Brush and Clone Stamp Tools before I was satisfied.

The Darken mode also meant that the lower part of the right-hand rabbit had taken on the green of the background. This needed adjustment which I did by tracing the exact shape of the offending part with the Lasso Tool.  I moved to the background image and chose a lighter area in the ‘sky’ to create a new layer of the rabbit-leg shape. I left it in a Normal state and placed it behind the rabbit. Several colour adjustments were needed until the rabbit’s nether regions matched the rest of his body!

The Multiply mode was ideal for the hot air balloon but left the chicks in the basket more green than yellow. Mind you, one could argue that would be appropriate as surely the poor little blighters would be air sick! I used the same technique on them as I did on the egg to bring their yellow feathers back to life.

This left me with the bottom half of the balloon which, like the chicks and the rabbit, had taken on too much of the background to match up with the rest of the balloon. I used the same procedure as with the rabbit’s nether regions to bring it up to scratch.

I had originally planned to use the Easter greeting on the hot air balloon graphic at the top of the image but it failed to make the impact I had envisaged so I made a type layer instead with a font called Great Vibes.

The last touch was using the graphic [left] by removing its border and background and applying a ‘drop shadow’ and ‘bevel and emboss’ effect.

 

 

 

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Sarah


I was profoundly moved recently to read about the carbon ‘imprint’ of a man who had been sitting on the stone steps outside the Sumitomo bank in Hiroshima when the bomb fell at 8.15am on 6th August 1945.

The ‘shadow’ left by his body was visible for many years until time and weather all but erased it. “Receiving the rays directly, the victim must have died on the spot from massive burns. The surface of the surrounding stone steps was turned whitish by the intense heat rays. The place where the person was sitting became dark like a shadow.” Google Cultural Institute

When the new bank was built, the steps were taken to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and an etching of the ‘shadow’ was created in memory of that fateful day when so many lives were ruined or — depending on your point of view — many more were potentially saved.

Whether this happenstance was in my subconscious when I decided to do something with Paul Earle’s photograph of deer in Bushy Park, Hampton (near London), I cannot say. If you like to ‘read’ things into other people’s work, you might say it’s my stand against the destruction of nature and wildlife where the planet will soon be a world of just such shadows.

My tongue is slightly in my cheek because I’m always amused by the things the critics read into the work they’re discussing and the ideas they attribute to the creator. I can just imagine the said artist or writer looking down from above and pooh-poohing the symbolism being expounded. “Oh, don’t be ridiculous — I wasn’t thinking anything of the kind!”

The deer in Earle’s original photograph are already in silhouette but putting the image in Linear Burn mode over the Ancient times 20 texture by 2 Lil’ Owls has increased the effect and given the image a rich, vibrant hue that you could say portends future atomic destruction!

Shadow Deer Flasks
Shadow Deer Flasks by FirstNightDesign

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Sarah


I’ve been nosing around the autochrome photographs on Wikimedia again and on this occasion I turned up the slightly-dull-but-full-of-possibility ‘Still Life with Ornate Chinese Vase’ by Frederick S Dellenbaugh, an American photographer. There’s no date attached to the image (it’s part of the Google Art Project) but autochromes were patented by the Lumière brothers in 1903 and marketed in 1907; it was the only colour process until superseded by colour film in the 1930s.

Although I haven’t added any painterly textures, the result of adding a texture from Kerstin Frank and another from 2 Lil’ Owls has made it look like a still life painting where the detail is immense, so great that you’re not sure whether it might not be a photograph. I’m thinking particularly of the Christmas Still Life by Eloise Harriet Standard that I put up for sale at Christmas.

People often ask if my work is really ‘accidental’ but I can assure you it is. I didn’t start The Chinese Vase off with the idea of a ’painted’ still life. As ever, I experimented with various textures and modes (‘overlay’, ‘burn’ and so forth) until an effect grabbed my aesthetic eye.

I would never have imagined the two textures above would have brought out the colour of the flowers and the brush strokes of the vase in the way they have nor, indeed, made the background recede to black as it has. It’s all very satisfying.

Available at the following galleries:
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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


It’s amazing what you can do with just one vintage theatre curtain. I’m at it again, only this time I’ve made the curtain a sepia pinky green overlaying a tremendous photograph by Didier B of the astronomical clock at the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg in France from Wikimedia. Another Wikimedia photograph of arches at the Sonargaon Folk Arts and Craft Museum, Bangladesh, lies over one of my grainy blue textures.


‘There are two kinds of clocks. There is the clock that is always wrong, and that knows it is wrong, and glories in it; and there is the clock that is always right — except when you rely upon it, and then it is more wrong than you would think a clock could be in a civilized country.’ — Jerome K. Jerome


 

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Sarah


EGRET: ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French aigrette, from Provençal aigreta, from the Germanic base of heron.

Oh, the utter joy of finding the right texture for the right photograph and creating something entirely other. I didn’t have to go far since one of the textures I’ve used for Reflecting Egret is one I created myself. The other is from Kerstin Frank. The photograph I’ve sandwiched between the two is by Laitche and from WikimediaI discovered it when I was looking for a pelican for the most recent Cover Makeover.

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Sarah


I fell in love a couple of weeks ago. The object of my affection was an autochromatic print of roses from a family garden in New South Wales dated 1909. I knew that I didn’t want to muck about with it in my usual fashion but only to clean up the dust and scratches and enhance the dusty pink with a peach overlay.


“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince


“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”
Alphonse Karr, A Tour Round My Garden


Available at the following galleries:
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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Buy a framed print of The New Look © Sarah Vernon at Fine Art England
Buy a framed print of The New Look © Sarah Vernon at Fine Art England

First take a blue texture for the background and put it in Photoshop’s Normal mode. Next take a vintage theatre curtain from EKDuncan and adjust the colour balance until you achieve exactly the kind of green you love. Make sure the curtain is in Linear Burn mode. Top it off with Girl in a Large Hat by Caesar Boëtius van Everdingen (c. 1645 – c. 1650) from the Rijksmuseum. Put the latter in Multiply mode and you’ll find you’ve turned a 17th century girl into a lady from the 1940s modelling Christian Dior’s famous New Look. Who’d have thunk! Don’t you just love the hat? Incidentally, the French for New Look is ‘Le New Look’!

‘Despite a short career, Christian Dior dominated the world of fashion during the late 1940s and 1950s, with the hourglass silhouette of his voluptuous New Look.’ The Design Museum. ‘The New Look brought me heavy mail. Letters arrived by the thousands––mostly enthusiastic but some indignant. A garage owner from Los Angeles wrote and told me that he had sworn to “tear me apart” on his next visit to Paris. According to him, it was my fault that his wife looked like a stuffed doll of the time of the Civil War.’ — Christian Dior Enjoy Your Style.


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Available at the following galleries:
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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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