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The Scribe of Siena

by Melodie Winawer


Historical time-travel fiction set in the picturesque Tuscan city of Siena, Italy. Beatrice Trovato, a modern day surgeon, is cast into fourteenth-century Siena by the death of her brother. His unfinished research about the secret history of Siena and the mystery he left behind cause Beatrice to travel to Tuscany to take care of his estate. In his notes she stumbles upon the journal of a fourteenth-century fresco artist whose paintings contain the impossible image of her own face.

After uncovering the journal and paintings of Gabriele Accorsi, the fourteenth-century artist, she is suddenly transported to Siena in the year 1347. She awakens in the city on the eve of the arrival of the Plague. The story of her medieval life in Siena is described in detail, from the food she eats, what she wears, the making of a fresco, her job as a scribe, the historic horse race on the square, the strange legal system that prevailed at that time with Giovanni de’Medici, and the 700 year old conspiracy to annihilate the city of Siena. Artist Gabriele’s dialogue about his experience with creating a fresco, “I feel the brush move in my hand as if a force other than my own propels it. This is the moment I live for.”

The author says that she wants her readers to feel transported and believe that it is possible to move from one time and place to another and the invented people are real. “I want to provide a bridge into a living, breathing past — a past that might even coexist simultaneously with the present,” I found this book an interesting, exciting read, worthy of late night  attention...history, romance, science fiction, excitement, art. I recommend it...5 stars.

Review of book by Sylvia Westgard

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The Secret Lives of Color

by Kassia St. Clair


The Secret Lives of Color tells the unusual stories of seventy-five fascinating shades, dyes, and hues. From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso’s blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux, acid yellow to kelly green, and from scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history.

In this book, Kassia St. Clair has turned her lifelong obsession with colors and where they come from (whether Van Gogh’s chrome yellow sunflowers or punk’s fluorescent pink) into a unique study of human civilization. Across fashion and politics, art and war, the secret lives of color tell the vivid story of our culture.
She delivers a mix of science, humor, and art history in this collection of bite-size essays on the cultural and social lore of colors based on her column in British Elle Decoration.

(2019) The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair. Goodread. Avialable at:

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Thank You For Being Late

by Thomas L Friedman


Here is an excerpt from the book "Thank You for Being Late", a work by Thomas Friedman. I changed a few words such as “opinion writer” to “artist” and from “opinion columnist” to “artist” and from “a column” to “artwork”. I found the text interesting and it explains some of what inspires my thought process while I am drawing. — Judith Shepelak


Creating artwork is an act of chemistry precisely because you must conjure it up yourself. A piece of art doesn’t draw itself, it has to be created. This act of chemistry usually involves mixing three basic ingredients: your own values, priorities, and aspirations; how you think the biggest forces, the world’s biggest gears and pulleys, are shaping events; and what you’ve learned about people and culture - how they react or don’t - when the big forces impact them. When I say your own values, priorities and aspirations, I mean the things that you care about most and aspire to see implemented most intensely. That value set helps you determine what is important and worth opining about, as well as what you will say in your art. It is okay to change your mind as an artist, what is not okay is to have no mind - to stand for nothing, or for everything, or only for easy and safe things. An artist has to emerge from some framework of values that shapes his or her thinking about what should be supported or opposed.

Art Journey Animals: A Collection of Inspiring Contemporary Masterworks

edited by Jamie Markle


Art Journey Animals is a compendium of the most soulful and inspiring animal and wildlife artworks culled from selected North Light books. More than 207 hand-selected drawings and paintings by a wide variety of top contemporary artists have been carefully curated to capture the wonder of nature. I am honored to be a contributing artist. This book is available at North Light Books. -- Sylvia Westgard 

Giotto's Hand

by Ian Pears

General Bottando of Rome's Art Theft Squad is in trouble: his theory that a single master criminal, dubbed 'Giotto', is behind a series of major fine art thefts. Bottando thinks he sees a pattern in the thefts, but a recent arrest means he may be wrong. The clever and complex plot keeps the reader occupied right up to the closing pages.