Adventures in Greeting Cards

I'll admit, I can be a bit old-fashioned.

Example: In this era of email and texting (both of which I use regularly), I love getting tangible mail, with the exception of bills. Those I could happily without.

Anyway, I admittedly don't get a lot of mail, but I also don't send out much myself. Since getting mail is a two-person tango rather than a solitary jig, I've amended my lax behavior this year by making holiday cards.

I started out with a sketch of magpies. I became fascinated with these coy, intelligent birds while I was in Wyoming, and I hope to do a larger project with them someday. For this card though, I scaled back my ambitions, simplifying my birds into curvilinear forms with a slightly Art Nouveau feel. Since I love the iridescence of magpie feathers, I used green and blue in the sketch instead of plain black. For the actual card, I decided to use just green and black, partly to save time, but also to give the cards a stronger holiday quality.

The cards I'd ordered weren't ideal for intaglio, so I opted to make a linocut. Taking my sketch, I drew this design:

After two nights of carving, my block was ready:

So far, my design had adhered closely to the original sketch, but that all quickly changed once I got to the studio.

Knowing I wouldn't have time to carve a separate block for each color, I had only carved one. To work more efficiently and creatively, I tossed aside the idea of naturalistic shading, and rolled the black and green inks in a devil-may-care fashion. I then painted in the red ribbon by hand.

The result ended up being pretty different from my original idea. Instead of a uniform set of cards, each piece became unique, with significant variety in color, saturation, and texture.

Next year I'll actually plan ahead and get my cards ready before December, but it's not a bad start to what could become an annual tradition with me.

In the meantime, here's to hoping I get more mail.