Author Archives: Pennie McCracken

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Being our Authentic Selves

We all wear masks at some time in our lives!

Being an artist naturally makes me a very visual person. I relate better to images than words for most things in my life, like for learning, but then maybe that’s the norm, I don’t know.

Anyway…when I am working on some pieces of art, I feel that it is telling a story. I feel the story, the words, come together in my head, quite spontaneously as I am working on bringing the image to life. There are a few images that I have created though that inspired poetry, so I thought I would share how one of these came together.

I created an image of a Venetian mask a few years ago (shown above), which made me think about being ‘your true self’. The history of mask wearing in Italy, prior to the Venetian Carnival, was to disguise your identity while participating in promiscuous or decadent events.

The mandatory wearing of masks for Covid-19 aside, a lot of us wear invisible masks everyday, quite unknowingly, not wanting to expose ourselves to the world. There are many reasons we are reluctant to reveal our authentic selves, it could be for something simple like trying to keep the peace, or on a more deeper level, it could be because we are trying to fit in with society somehow.

It was these thoughts that bought the following short poem to mind, which is truly based on who I am.

BE YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF

Who am I
I ask myself
As I am not so sure these days

Who am I
I ask myself
As I think in different ways

Who am I
I ask myself
As I brush my crazy hair,

Who am I
I ask myself
As I choose what clothes to wear

Who am I
I ask myself
As I speak with words I understand

Who am I
I ask myself
As I lend a helping hand

Who am I,
I ask myself
As I wonder what others see

Who am I
I remember now
I am who I’m meant to be.

I decided to put this poem together with a new image I created just recently which you can see below.

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Back In Time, Vintage Clothes And Highwaymen

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On my travels in England I came across this wonderful store in Bromyard, Teagowns and Textiles, which sells vintage clothes and accessories. Some of their items even date back to the Edwardian times. They have some lovely things, but a lot of their clothes are only available in the smaller sizes; relative to the times I assume. If you are getting married and would like to wear a genuine vintage wedding dress this would definitely be the place to go.

They do have a website and online store and as I was browsing around I found a gorgeous wedding dress that made me wish I was still in England so I could try it on. It says it’s a size 12, but it looks a little smaller than that to me; perhaps the sizing was different back then. Or it could be european sizing of course.

Unlike Canada, England is a very old country so they have lots of small towns and villages filled with history and buildings that date back to the 1700’s and even older. I remember I used to frequent a pub in London, I think it was called the Frog and Nightgown, which was so old the highwaymen used to drink there. I should do some research and see if it is still there as we are talking over thirty years ago!

I am sure most people know what a highwayman is, or should I say was, but if you have not heard the name before it refers to a thief who rode on horseback and stole from travellers. They were also called knights or gentlemen of the road, but as romantic as that sounds, I am sure I would not like to be held up by one.

They coined the phrase “stand and deliver” and “your money or your life” according to the records of proceedings from the Old Bailey. Dick Turpin and his horse Black Bess was the highwayman that I learned about when I was a kid. He was made famous by a Victorian novelist, William Ainsworth, 100 years after his death.

I really did feel like I had gone back in time when I took this photograph, so naturally it had to be black and white with a sepia filter. The black and white version is available for sale in my art gallery.

September 23, 2020 Update – Unfortunately it looks like Teagowns and Textiles no longer has an online store or a presence on FaceBook. Maybe due to COVID-19 they are no longer in business. It will be such a shame if that is the case.


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Why don’t we treat art like we do our wardrobe?

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How do you choose the art you want on your walls? Is it fair to say that you see something that catches your eye, invokes emotion, resonates with you personally, or simply makes you smile? Well that’s the way I select my art, but that’s maybe because I am artist. Either way we choose artwork to hang on our walls so we can enjoy it every day. But don’t you find that after a while you really don’t notice it anymore. It’s part of the decor, end of story.

What would you do if you saw a piece of art that you fell in love with but realized you didn’t have any wall space left where you could display it. Would you just walk away and forget about it. Maybe! This got me to thinking. Why don’t we treat our art like we treat our wardrobe. Most people have an abundance of clothes, so to utilize their wardrobe space efficiently they keep their Spring/Summer clothes in the wardrobe for six months and then switch them out for their Fall/Winter clothes. Makes perfect sense. So why don’t we do that with our art?

Think how refreshing it would feel to see different artwork, that you love, hanging on your walls. It could be like a fresh coat of paint. You could do it every six months, every quarter or whenever you felt like a change. You could choose to do this with one piece of art, for one room, or for your entire house. My point being is change can be uplifting. Rotating your artwork allows you to enjoy all the art you have fallen in love with and to renew feelings of enjoyment and connection to any of those pieces that you just didn’t notice any more.

Let me know your thoughts!


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New Lenormand Deck – Silhouette Design

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This is my newest Lenormand style deck, created in a Silhouette Design. It gives it a clean modern look with the predominant colours being black and white of course. However I have used other colours in the images to give it more interest.

If you are reader and are interested in this deck you can find more information including a gallery of all the cards here.

To purchase this deck click here.


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New Harmonious Tarot Deck

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For anyone who is interested in the Tarot, I have just created four more decks, one of which is the Harmonious Tarot shown above. This deck is based on the illustrations by Walter Crane, who was better known for his innovative illustrations in children’s book in the Victorian era. The images in this deck are based on nature and were modified slightly at a later date by Ernest Fitzpatrick to better fit the structure of the Tarot.

I created this deck in a ‘Muted-Vintage’ style for two reasons, firstly to give it a new distinctive look and secondly as acknowledgement of the age of the original design c.1870. However, I may also create a more vibrant version in the near future. I created a back cover that I felt was complimentary to the design, but you are welcome to select a custom back cover of your choice from a selection of designs that I offer.

To see a gallery of this deck click here.

To see the choice of custom back cover designs click here.

I have created many original Tarot, Lenormand, Minchiate Fiorentine and Oracle decks, to see the full selection click here.

 


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Poppy Field

Poppies….in remembrance

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As we all know poppies are the symbol of remembrance of the First World War. In 1921 artificial poppies were first sold in Britain to raise funds for ex-servicemen and the families of those who had died serving their country. It became so popular that in 1922 the British Legion founded a factory to make it’s own poppies, staffed by disabled ex-servicemen, which it still continues to do to this day.

The poppy factory, based in Richmond, London, England produces 6 million poppies a year, all made by hand. Why is the poppy worm to commemorate the sacrifices of the armed forces? Because once the war was over, after all the destruction to the land, the poppy was one of the only plants to grow on the otherwise barren battlefields.

Available as a Sherpa Fleece Blanket 50″ x 60″ or 60″ x 80″

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Carol Singing – A Lost Tradition

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Carol singing is definitely not as popular today as it used to be. In the way that it used to be done that is, singing in the street, collecting money for a good cause. If you are lucky to experience it today, it is usually an organized event on a grander scale.

Art PrintsIt became popular in the 19th century when people would go door-to-door singing carols for either food or money. Some say it was done to celebrate the joy of the season, others say it was way for the poor to sing for food, “singing for your supper” as the saying goes. Either way, it is a tradition that I remember fondly as a little girl when I lived in England. We always heard carol singers out in the street, usually on Christmas Eve.

I wonder why it is not as popular now? Is it because it’s too cold, or because there are quicker and easier ways to raise money, or because there are so many mixed religious beliefs in our communities. Or perhaps people see it more as disturbing the peace, instead of a way of celebrating this festive time of year. Whatever the reason, I guess carol singing is one of those traditions that just belonged in a simpler time


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The Wonders of Nature

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It’s funny how nature can come together to create interesting images. This tree, which was already leaning over the water, after a storm with high winds, ended up splitting and falling in, creating a beautiful bridge for the local wildlife.

Photography Prints

 

 

 

 


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Punting In Oxford, UK

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Photography Prints The Head of the River is a very popular Inn in St. Aldate’s, Oxford in England. Beside the Inn you can hire a punt, for up to 6 people and enjoy a trip down the river Thames for ÂŁ22 an hour. If you would rather have someone do the ‘punting’ for you, it’s ÂŁ60 an hour. It’s a great seasonal business, run by the local students and provides summer fun for many tourists and Brits alike.

In the background you can see the Folly Bridge, which is listed as a Grade II historical building. If you appreciate historical architecture that’s another good reason to visit the Old Blighty as well!


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David Bowie – British Icon

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David Bowie will always be remembered. He is a British Icon, whom I grew up listening to and idolizing as a teenager. His passing, is a definite loss to the music industry, and he is missed by adoring fans of all ages.

His birthday was January 8, mine is January 10 and he released his 25th and last studio album, Blackstar on his last birthday January 8, 2016…..and sadly he died on mine. Not the greatest birthday present.

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Neuschwanstein Castle

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Sell Art OnlineNeuschwanstein Castle (“New Swanstone Castle” in English), was built by Ludwig II, but he only got to spend 11 nights in the castle before he died. Built in Hohenschwangau, Germany, construction started in September, 1869 and it was finally completed in 1886. Today the Castle receives over 1.3 million tourists every year, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in not only Germany, but the whole of Europe. This iconic Castle is definitely a work of architectural art.

 

 

 

 


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The Tank

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Art PrintsIn Britain, William Foster & Co created the first prototype of the British Mark 1 tank, in the Fall of 1915, nicknamed Little Willie. Initially the tanks were going to be called Landships, but they were called tanks to help keep the project a secret. The word ‘Tank’ was chosen as the factory workers at William Foster referred to it as “the tank” because of its resemblance to a steel water tank.

Even though the British were the first to create the ‘tank’, the French were quick to follow introducing their tanks in 1917; they produced more thanks than the other countries at war, combined.

The Germans started to produce their tanks only as a response to the allied tanks on the battlefield. Several thousand tanks were manufactured during the world, but the Germans only deployed twenty of their own!

This image is not of Little Willie it is a semi-abstract painting of latter-day model tank!

(Source: Tanks in World War 1 – wikipedia)

 


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