This year for Christmas, I decided to personalize the cards I created for my friends and family with their pets. I spent time scrolling through social media looking for images to model the cards on to create cutiefied version of each pet. In some cases, I had to ask for photos, which probably gave way the theme in advance. The card was a departure from my typical style—especially the cards I have sent in the past, such as my Starry cards and Reindeer cards.
These were mixed media cards, but my primary tool was Posca’s fine point paint markers, which I have come to love for their very opaque colors. I especially liked the glitter pant markers for Christmas cards.
I don’t own any pets myself as I am allergic to dogs and cats, but I enjoy seeing other people’s pets. If the recipient did not own a pet, I sent a corgi card inspired by this lawn decoration.
I also sent festive reindeer cards which I will post separately.
This year I made mostly stary Christmas cards. Nebula, galaxies, and the Milkyway are fun and easy to make utilizing wet on wet watercolor techniques. I find them delightful to view.
I am very fond of the work of Carl Sagan a science communicator best known for the Cosmos: A Personal Voyage documentary series of the early ’80s. One of the first to broadcast on PBS. He is often quoted as saying we are the stuff of stars. The idea being we are made of the atoms born out of supernovas. A supernova explosion occurs out of the death and collapse of certain stars. Many of the heavy atoms found throughout the interstellar medium are formed in Supernova. This is where the atoms that build our bodies come from. So we are literally created out of stars. I find this and the idea that even the stars in the sky are born, live, and die humbling and inspiring. More on this concept can be found at CNet’s article: ‘We are made of star stuff’: A quick lesson on how
For two of my cards I utilized:
“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”
“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”
I designed the cards to look like a nebula inside of a Christmas tree ornament. Two of which have the famous quote around the outside of the ornament with the complete quote on the inside of the card.
I made additional nebula cards in Christmas colors as well. But, without the famous quotes. I am still working on my hand lettering so that is not quite where I would like it to be. But, am happy with the little nebula.
The markers come in quite a few colors in packs of three and twelve. They are a bit bigger than the Wink of Stella brush markers. There is a rather extensive Christmas set with colors like “Rudolph’s nose”. The set I bought had vibrant colors Starry Sky (blue), Red Berry, and Holly Leaf. They create very sparkly marks in person but be sure to shake them well to maximize the effect. My three pack was $17 at Hobby Lobby so they are not cheap. But, they seem to have lots ink and will last a while. They are waterbased so use them over other applications as they will smudge if you try to watercolor on top. However, I was able to write over top of the dry ink with an alcohol-based marker with a fine tip.
They make great brush calligraphy but don’t work very well for painting. It is difficult to get a flat wash with them as you can see with the top image. But, they are meant more for crafts and they fulfill this role well.
Spectrum Noir Sparkles Brush Calligraphy
Spectrum Noir Sparkles Brush Calligraphy
You can squeeze the markers a bit for extra ink on the brush end and spaltter the ink as well.
I did try to add them for details on a couple of small watercolor paintings. I used the red for cardinals and the green and blue for plant details.
Cardinals in Birch Stand with Spectrum Noir Sparkle Glitter Brush and watercolor.
Two Cardinals in Birch Stand with Spectrum Noir Sparkle Glitter Brush and watercolor.
I don’t regret my purchase at all as they did a great job at what I wanted them for red sparkly reindeer holsters. But, I don’t know what to use them for other than Christmas cards.
I have been painting a lot of Reindeer lately with the intent of putting them on watercolor paper Christmas cards. About halfway through my 2nd attempt, I realized I don’t really know what a Reindeer looks like or anything about them at all really. All I know is the classic movie Rudolph and Rudolph is not exactly a documentary. I started researching and realized what I was drawing looked more like the whitetail bucks we have here in upstate New York than reindeer.
Reindeer are less delicate in their appearance than whitetails. The reindeer also have far more impressive horns. But, don’t tell my father the whitetail enthusiast, I said that! 😉 I don’t think a whitetail could pull a sleigh or hold a rider like nomadic reindeer riders of Outer Mongolia. Their color varies more than I thought as well. All though I feel I did not accurately reflect their coloring. They can have a very light value and that is hard to render on watercolor paper.
Reindeer and caribou are the same species Rangifer tarandus. This is one of those moments I wish I had paid more attention in college. I did take biology but did not retain much after the final exam. The difference is that the Caribou of North America have never been domesticated while the Reindeer of Eurasia are. I list some references below if you are curious. While researching Reindeer I stumbled across the blog of Cairngorm Reindeer in Scottland. I highly recommend reading the blog lots of interesting information and lovely photos of the animals themselves. The most recent post about the first snow is very endearing and the photos are beautiful.
Reindeer Christmas card cover.
Reindeer Christmas Card
Cairngorm Reindeer’s site has a really nice Christmas section showing their deer in red harnesses which inspired me to create cards with deer with red harnesses and bells. Who doesn’t smile at the sight or sound of Christmas bells? I wanted red sparkly harnesses so this lead to the purchases of yet another set of brush markers I bought Spectrum Noir Glitter Brush Pen Winter Warmers set. I may have a brush pen problem at this point. I will do a write-up about them later this week.
Here are a few more of the cards I made last weekend.
Christmas Card Mother and Baby Reindeer
Reindeer baby and Mother
PS: Since posting this blog entry I have gotten a couple of messages asking if I was selling my Christmas cards. It was not really my intent to sell these. I really just painted them for my family. However, I didn’t really want to tell people no, because I was very flattered to be asked. Therefore I have posted these to my Rebubble (a print on demand company) profile. I have also enabled prints on my Deviant Art profile they have cards under “Art Gifts”. I really can’t speak to their quality as I have never ordered from them but it is an option if you are interested.