Smiles, Sunshine and Light

Almost all the Christmas cards finally got addressed and taken to the post office yesterday, so I’m ready to post our card online. I’ll share some of the background details of the design process later, but here’s the final result for this year:

Christmas, 2011

I’ve mentioned before that I’m always late in getting my annual Christmas card design done, and that I never get anything done without deadlines. One reason is that I’m always looking for just the right text to express what I’m feeling, or to go with other things that I want to share on the card. Because I was struggling with my feelings this year, I was having a hard time picking the text, until I found this little poem.

According to that highly reliable source, The Internet, these are “words on a church wall in Upwaltham, England,” though my attempts to track them down did not locate any Upwaltham source that acknowledges their existence there. But they still spoke to me, and as soon as I found them, I felt they were the words I needed this year. Anita put her finger on the reason as she wrote our Christmas newsletter to go with the card. She said that my mother had been a person who spread smiles, sunshine, and light all along her path in life, and I knew immediately that she was right.

So after finally finding a text last weekend, I felt ready to design the card, and it came together relatively quickly, at least relative to how such things usually go for me.┬áThe angel on the card (Mom loved angels) is from a photo I took at St. Vitus Cathedral, in Prague, during our visit there in 2009. She was a metal sculpture, hanging suspended in the air; unfortunately, I don’t know who the artist was. I’ll show the original photo in my follow-on post. I extracted her from her surroundings using various Photoshop tools, and turned her into more of a sketch appearance, which I often prefer when combining photography and calligraphy. I created the background night sky and “heavenly light” painting from scratch, and overlaid the photo and my scanned calligraphy, adjusting the blending of the layers to get the overall mood right, preserving the dark of the night sky while bringing out some of the detail of the misty clouds. I re-did the calligraphy a couple of times before I was satisfied with how the image and calligraphy worked together.

I still have a few more cards left to send to calligraphy colleagues. I have hundreds of “Internet friends” in calligraphy through Cyberscribes, as well as calligraphy friends I know much better through intensive workshops we’ve attended together. It’s not feasible to mail physical cards to all of them, of course, so I usually try to pick a dozen or so names not-quite-at-random to share a card by “real” mail. For the rest,sharing the card here and on the Cyberscribes graphics board will have to do. I hope ┬áthis greeting finds you all well, and that you, too, may find and spread smiles, sunshine, and light wherever your path may lead you in the coming year.

Please click on the image above, so that you can see the card closer to actual size.