Author Archives: Pennie McCracken

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Hey Diddle Diddle, Scandalous History

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Photography PrintsThis is my re-creation of a children’s book PD image by Randolph Caldecott, who was an illustrator and artist from the 19th century. He was a well-known children’s book illustrator and typically his books cost a shilling a piece. The image is based on the nursery rhyme, Hey Diddle Diddle, which I assume most people know. It is called “And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon,” and was produced by George Routledge and Sons in 1882.

My version is modified from the original version, you can see the original version here which also includes the scandalous story behind the nursery rhyme. You should check it out.

Many of the old, well-loved, nursery rhymes were based on historic events. Mary Mary Quite Contrary was actually about the homicidal nature of Queen Mary I of England a.k.a. Bloody Mary. It’s quite fascinating actually and I often wonder if the children knew exactly what they were singing about. Interesting thought!


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Sell Art OnlineWe all know how much technology has changed the way we do things, but the other day I was thinking specifically about the print industry. How e-books, online magazines and news sites have almost taken over from their paper counterparts, if they haven’t done so already!

I enjoy reading an actual paperback myself, however as I was waiting for an appointment the other day, it was wonderful to be able to take out my tablet, purchase an e-book, and at least enjoy this ‘wasted’ time reading. (I bought Proof of Life After Death, by Vanayssa Somers, which is a very interesting read if anyone is interested). I rarely have time to read these days, simply for pleasure that is, so it was actually quite the treat.

It has been years since I have picked up a newspaper and, if I am honest, that’s mostly because I have no desire to read one. However, I always used to enjoy doing the crossword, but even that has changed to playing “Words with Friends” on my phone  So, out of curiosity more than anything, I thought I would do some research on the paper vs. tech trend and stumbled upon a clip about the newspaper industry and how it had changed historically. It was reading about the history that inspired this artwork.

In the late 1880s the majority of all newspapers were sold by newsboys. From street corners to theaters to train stations, anywhere where there were a lot of people ‘newsies’ could be found. Newsboys ranged in age from as young as six to grown men, however the majority were between the ages of 10 -13. It was a very competitive trade and you would hear them calling out the headlines hustling for tips. By 1920, tougher child labour laws and a growing desire for home delivery, ended the newspapers’ reliance on street sales.


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Vintage “distressed” creation of the John Noblet, Tarot de Marseille (c.1650)

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The original version of the Marseille Tarot was published in Paris circa 1650 by master card-maker Jean Noblet. The Noblet deck is known for having the title LAMORT (Death) on the XIII Major Arcana card whereas most of the other Tarot de Marseille decks have the card numbered but unnamed, e.g., Jean Dodal Tarot (circa 1701) and Nicolas Conver Tarot (circa 1761).

The Noblet deck is also known for its Fool card that has graphic attention to detail in the private parts of the Fool. As well, the animal on the Fool card is said by some to resemble a cat more closely than a dog. In other early versions of the Tarot de Marseille, the image of the animal depicted in the Fool card is such that there is less consensus as to whether the animal is either canine or feline.

Another particularity of this deck is its small size.

The deck (shown in the images) is my original 78-card tarot deck, created with a vintage “distressed” look, based on the original Tarot de Marseille. Each one is created by hand so even though I create them all similarly they are not uniform. Made from premium 330 gsm superior quality cardstock with black core (smooth finish) in the usual tarot size cards. They come sealed in a window tuck box. There is NO booklet with this deck. If you are new to reading the Tarot, there are many, many websites on the internet that offer free meanings and instructions on how to read the cards. Plus there are many how-to instruction books available on Amazon.

A love bringing history back to life and for all you tarot readers/psychics who appreciate the history of the tarot, this could be a deck for you. I created my images with a vintage “distressed” look, for two reasons…… a different appearance to other decks and as an acknowledgement of the age of their design. I kept the authenticity of the imagery, down to the minor details, intact; but I created them in the original tarot size of today.

They are for sale on Etsy, if you are interested in purchasing a deck for yourself or as a gift.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Bridge

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Sell Art OnlineConstruction beginning in 1886 with completion in 1894, it took eight years, five contractors and 432 construction workers to build the Tower Bridge. One of the most well-known and visited monuments of Victorian architecture

Two massive piers were sunk into the river bed to support the construction and over 11,000 tons of steel provided the framework for the Towers and Walkways. This framework was clad in Cornish granite and Portland stone to protect the underlying steelwork and to give the Bridge a more pleasing appearance.

This is my contribution for this week’s Photo Challenge to join in the fun click on the link.  See some more contributions below.

WPC – Oops! Holes In The Old Suspension Bridge

Bridge Of Trust

Swing Bridge

 Resource:  for more information see wikipedia.

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Memories of the Marquee Club in London

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I was born and raised in Britain and when I was in my mid teens the punk rock era came to life. Needless to say I jumped in with both feet, from the bondage pants to safety pins and of course I saw many bands play live. I think I impressed my kids the most when I they found out I had seen the Sex Pistols live. The image above and artwork shown below is of the late Sid Vicious, the bassist for the band.

The Marquee Club in London was the place to go as it was cheap and was open every night of the week…if my memory serves me right. All the famous bands of today, like The Rolling Stones, The Who, Police, Boom Town Rats, Jethro Tull, Generation X, The Stranglers, The Pretenders, XTC, The Jam, to name but a few, all played there. The changing room in the Marquee was covered in graffiti and looked more like a cell than anything else, but it was the venue to be at when you were just starting out. I remember one night I went there to see The Police and the supporting band, who I had not heard of at that time, was the Boom Town Rats! Who would’ve thought that their lead singer, Bob Geldoff, would become a “Sir”.

The Marquee originated on Oxford Street as a Jazz and skiffle club, but from 1964 – 1988 it’s new location was Wardour St., in Soho and it became a rock and punk club. After that it moved to Charing Cross Road and eventually closed in 1996. Truly defining the end of an era.

Photography Prints

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Friend

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It has been a very long time since I have added a post, never mind contributed to the Weekly Photo Challenge, so today I am delighted to introduce you to my friend Lucy, my Saint Bernard which is my contribution for the challenge this week.  Lucy weighs-in at 147 lbs and has a very loud bark, but she is so soft and gentle and such an affectionate dog. Yes…she sheds a lot, she eats a lot and takes up a lot of space, but she is such a special and loved part of the family.

Art Prints

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Joan of Arc, or should I say Saint Joan, was also known as The Maid of Orleans for her role in helping King Charles II liberate France from British rule. She truly is the epitome of resiliencewhich is this week’s photo challenge.

She received visions from Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine of Alexandria instructing her to help King Charles II release France from British domination. She attained many swift victories in battle which boosted the moral of France and which led the way to final victory for the French.

In 1430 she was captured by the Burgundian faction who were still under British Rule, tried for various crimes and burned at the stake. She was only 19 years old.

26 years later, the evidence against Joan was reviewed and she was proclaimed innocent and declared a martyr. In 1803 she was declared a symbol of France by Napoleon Bonaparte and canonized in 1920.

Art Prints

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Weekly Photo Challenge – New Horizon

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I love being outside when it’s warm, feeling the sun or breeze on my face, smelling the flowers or the ocean depending on where I happen to be. However, in the winter time, I am exactly the opposite, I hate being outside. I don’t care for the cold or snow and choose to spend my time snuggled up indoors, preferably in my pyjamas with a glass of wine cup of hot tea.

Anyway, it was being outside in the above-mentioned cold and snow which inspired the artwork below, which is my contribution to this week’s challenge. I was taking Lucy (my Saint Bernard) outside for her evening constitution and the wind was so biting I ducked under the branches of a big old tree for shelter. I leaned against its trunk while she was sniffing around looking for heaven know’s what; and in that moment I was reminded of how much I missed being immersed in and connected to nature. As cold as I was, it felt really good.

So what’s on the horizon for me in the future?  Just that, to visit that big tree, Lucy in tow of course, whenever I feel the need to connect to Mother Earth. I won’t be staying there long, because I still hate the cold, but it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to feel grounded and to appreciate being alive. Even though I now have a solution to feed my nature fix during the long cold winter, I’m still thinking….roll on Spring :).

Photography Prints

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In The Trenches

I cannot imagine what it must have been like to have been on the front lines during either of the World Wars. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to have simply lived during that time for that matter.

The ‘Battle of Britain’ in 1940, when the German and British air forces battled it out in the skies, was a significant turning point in World War II. The Royal Air Force, despite having their air bases and military posts targeted for months by Germany’s Luftwaffe, gained control of the skies; which was a decisive victory for Britain. Saving the country from ground invasion and possible occupation of German forces; they proved that air battle alone could win a major war.

Hence on August 20, 1940 Winston Churchill said “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”; never was a truer word spoken.

Art Prints

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Narrow

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My daughter took this photo as the Snowbirds flew overhead at the end of their show, which was held in St. Thomas, Ontario about a month ago now. There aren’t any smoke trails in the shot, because they were heading back to the local base to land.

I thought this image was perfect for this week’s challenge because the distance between each Snowbird jet, in many of the formations, is about 1.2 metres (4 feet). When flying at speeds of 600 km/hr a large amount of skill is required by the pilot to maintain this narrow distance throughout the performance.

Here are some other great posts:

Photo Challenge: Narrow Path, Yours or Fate
Electric Picnic, Painting no. 79 by Swav
A Celebration of Fenestration
Vineyard Views – Weekly Photo Challenge: Narrow

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Opposites

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you-choose-pennie-mccrackenI find some people respond more strongly to a visual representation of something as opposed to a verbal or written variation. In this image I wanted to create a simple picture of why one may want to give up smoking by using the reflection of the smoking woman to create her opposite the non-smoker.

My intention of replacing the cigarette with a flower was to subtly imply how much nicer the woman looked holding the flower as opposed to a burning, smelly cigarette. Plus it also indicated that when you give up smoking your sense of smell becomes more enhanced, or so I have been told.

Someone also mentioned to me that it reminded them of the saying “wake up and smell the roses”, as it’s your choice if you really want to quit!

Anyway, that’s my take on this week’s challenge, plus I have included some other great ideas below:

The Reluctant Photographer Opposites
Do Not Annoy The Writer The Gondolier and the iPhone

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Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above

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The photo challenge for this week was to find a subject and instead of taking a picture from the usual angles, take it directly from above.

This is my contribution (image cropped for blog layout), the top of my head. I literally held the camera as far as I could reach above my head and took the shot. As I couldn’t see the image in the viewfinder I was actually thrilled with the way this turned out. I loved the point of view so much that I often use this photo of myself on my art gallery and website as it is way more artsy than a straight shot.

This is another version of the same photo created into an abstract painting called “Lost in Thought”.
Sell Art Online

I also found this photo, which I felt was very apt for the theme. It was was taken on a flight from Toronto and Vancouver, so I thought I would include it. This photograph is free to download at my Morguefiles account.

above the clouds_web


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