THE YULE BLOG: The Coming of the Christmas Card

Christmas. 'Tis the season to be Blogging sound advice on how to survive the festive season and which treats to buy the spoonie in your life. BAH HUMBUG! 

Personally I am finding Christmas (with assorted chronic problems) fairly challenging, so my cupboard of useful advice on this topic is as bare as Tiny Tim's cold tootsies. advice other than 'just hang in there', is coming from elephant central.

THIS Yule Blog is the story of how a series of scribbles became one of my favourite Christmas card designs: Mother and Child.

This was the first idea I had: to do a very abstract Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus. I  still really like this design for the real intimacy between parents and child, and I like the way the light shines out of Jesus. I didn't end up using this, as  I realized that it didn't really come across in a print. Not every design will photograph or print well, which I have learnt by bitter experience. Luckily the company who print my cards does a low cost sample service!

An even more abstract version of the one before: here I used a circular motif  to emphasize the intimacy between the family. I used felt tips on very thin paper- I would always advice would-be-artists to buy materials that are cheap but functional. This is because you don't want to feel inhibited by 'wasting' expensive paper as you push ideas around..All my work is done in many versions until I hit what I am satisfied with. I love working on round compositions , which is always a challenge that gets my brain going. 

Again on thin paper, this is almost like a conversation with myself- trying to work out colours and what needs to be in the picture...and how abstract this piece could be and still be a) recognizable, and b) still evoke emotion in the viewer. As you can see, the baby's face was a real problem...and here I am toying with the idea of having the Cross as the baby's face!

Here I am starting to work out a colour scheme based on the golden light from Jesus and the Star, and the blue cloak that Mary traditionally is painted in.  I really like this as it is quite 'gentle' but again would not survive the print process without losing quality.

This was to have been the finished card....but I was not happy about the shapes in the cloak, which I felt were too forced. Looking at it now, I cannot see a huge problem, but often when I am constantly working on something I can be too hyper self-critical. The Star on the top right hand corner was a winner though! 

The finished artwork for Mother and Child ( note the masking tape on the paper)...but I was still not happy. I had intended that the card would- be portrait, but I decided to photograph it landscape as well.  Because of my cropping, both the wrists and the cross, to symbolize the swaddling are edited out of the final printed image. You may notice a little Decoupage of my own painting, which I sometimes do. The colours I use ( being water soluble) are impossible to paint over. so a bit of sneaky collage can save the day!

The printed card with the original artwork in the background.



  1. Sorry, Helen, I can't read the purple side of the text - but the cards are LOVELY!


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