Author Archives: Pennie McCracken

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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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Weekly Photo Challenge – Curve

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I created this image from an original photograph of the Three Muses, Drama (Calliope), Comedy (Thalia) and Tragedy (Melpomene), who represent and adorn the entrance of the National Drama Theatre in Vilnius, Lithuania. Located on Gediminas Ave, the theatre is considered a landmark of Vilnius city and is one of Lithuania’s most prominent publicly funded art venues and cultural establishments.

When I was creating this image I thought about how ornate and curvaceous the architecture was, which really added to the attractiveness and presence of the theatre. It reminded me of waves for some unknown reason, but I thought it was a perfect fit for this week’s photo challenge.

I have included a photo of the front the theatre below as well, so you can see just how stunning this sculpture, by sculptor Stanislovas Kuzma, really is.


Sell Art Online








Here are some other great posts for this week’s challenge:

WPC: curve
Curve | Weekly Photo Challenge | 06-17-16
Curve | The Daily Post
Jaipur Kachori / WPC-Curves

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Billie Holiday a Jazz Legend

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billie-holiday-pennie-mccrackenBillie Holiday, born over a century ago, was one of the best jazz singers of all time. Even with her limited vocal range she used her unique timing and framing to create an amazing mellow sound with the ability to move her listeners.

“I don’t think I ever sing the same way twice. The blues is sort of a mixed-up thing. You just have to feel it. Anything I do sing is part of my life.” was the way she described her approach to performing. (

Born Eleanora Fagan Gough, Billie was raised in poverty and was sent to a facility for troubled girls when she was 9 years old. They say she dropped out of school in the fifth grade and found a job running errands in a brothel, but later was arrested for prostitution.

When she was 18 years old she was discovered by producer John Hammond and in 1933 she made her first record, which was followed later by a commercial recording session with Benny Goodman. Five years later she paired with Artie Shaw a clarinetist, composer and bandleader, becoming the first black woman to work with a white orchestra.

Billie sang her most controversial song about the lynching of a black man, Strange Fruit, at the Cafe Society in 1939, which was New York’s first integrated nightclub. Being banned by some radio stations because of its subject matter, only made it more popular. Strange Fruit was honored by the Library of Congress in 2002 as one of the 50 songs to be added to the National Recording Registry.

Unfortunately in 1947 she was arrested for possession of narcotics and was sentenced to a year and a day in a federal rehabilitation facility. Because of her time in prison Billie could no longer obtain a license to play in cabarets and clubs which were the most fitting venues for her music style.

She did eventually get to play in Club Ebony in New York, thanks to the help of the owner, John Levy, who became her boyfriend and manager. She would wear white gardenia in her hair and would often sing with her head tilted back, both of which became her trademarks.

In 1948 she sang to a sold-out audience in Carnegie Hall and received three curtain calls. Her final performance was in New York City in 1959 as she died later that year of a drug and alcohol related heart attack at the young age of 44. Even though she was considered one of the highest paid performers of her era, when she died her life savings were only $750, most of her earnings going towards supporting her addiction.

Billie Holiday was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2011.

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The Iris – Inspiration for the Fleur-de-lis

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message-of-peace-pennie-mccrackenThe name Iris relates back to the Greek Goddess Iris, who was the messenger of the Gods. She personified a rainbow acting as a link between heaven and earth. The Greeks would plant a purple Iris on the graves of women, in hope that the Goddess would escort their souls safely on their journey to heaven.

In its earliest history the Iris was used as a medicinal remedy, using the root with vinegar, wine or honey for indigestion, coughs and sciatica. The root was also used to make perfume and potpourri.

Throughout history the three upright petals of the Iris were known to represent, faith, wisdom and valor. During the 5th Century it was used in art by the King of the Franks to illustrate Royalty to his subjects and by Indian and Egyptian cultures to depict life and resurrection.

In the middle ages the Iris become associated with Royalty once again and was the inspiration for the fleur-de-lis as the symbol for the French Monarchy. If you have read the book by Alexandre Dumas or seen the movie The Three Musketeers, you would be familiar with the fleur-de-lis as it was the emblem they wore on their capes as defenders of the monarchy. It was also used to brand felons for life, as seen on the shoulder of Milady, Countess de Winter!

Today the Iris, made famous by Vincent Van Gogh in his 1889 painting Irises, is also the 25th anniversary flower and the state flower of Tennessee. The fleur-de-lis is the emblem for the city of New Orleans, as well as the Boy Scouts.

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