A flurry of good wishes – 2014 Christmas cards

Since 2008 I’ve been making my own Christmas cards. I find it’s a great way to force myself to do an original piece, to play around with format, and of course to work within the box of trying to come up with a different angle on a seasonal theme each year. Not to mention that it’s immensely gratifying and enjoyable to be able to give something you made yourself to family and friends!

I returned from my Taiwan trip in the middle of November and panicked a bit because I thought I might not be able to come up with a decent idea and actually produce all the cards in time. They’re often a rather labour intensive process! Reality was I had to be a lot more realistic this year in terms of how ambitious I was with complexity and format.

I’d started using Pentel brush pens this year, and absolutely love them. So I decided I’d do a simple postcard format piece inspired by Chinese brush art, going with organic and loose snowflake illustrations.

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These are the first few doodles in my sketchbook as I worked out how I loose I wanted the drawings to be. Somewhere in there I was thinking about composition too … I think … I’m pretty bad at planning things out properly, and composition has always felt like a weak point in my art.

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Here I was practicing my horrible Chinese writing. Trying to decide whether I wanted to go straightforward or attempt something more calligraphic. In the end I went with simple and as neat as I could possibly write it in brush pen.

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The piece on the right was my first test – I decided that two many colours was affecting the impact of the piece by making it overly mottled and complicated. So I redrew it from scratch, and this time stuck with only one colour: Phthalo Blue. I think the end result works a lot better. Finished painting below:

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For production, I’d been wanting to try the short run digital printer CatPrint for a while now, and they had pearlescent (“shimmer”) stock available – too perfect to add that extra bit of sparkle to these pieces!

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Here are the finished cards! I also picked up some silver envelopes at The Paper Place to match. It’s a bit hard to see the shimmer effect of the pearlescent stocks, so here are a few more photos below to try to capture the effect:

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After I finished the cards and started signing them, I started wishing I had put a bit more thought into the text printed on the back to make it even more relevant to the art. So I ended working the word “flurry” into pretty much every handwritten message. Ah, puns … what would we do without you …

May your new year be as unique and beautiful as a snowflake, and may all your hopes and dreams crystallize in 2015!