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Jo Quigley Demo/Workshop
Christmas Card Making: 11 Oct 2013

Visit her at www.quigleyarts.co.uk or call 01984 641028

Jo had two topics to cover:
how to produce the image for a Christmas card
how to make the card itself.

These are different, depending on whether you want to give your friends original artwork or to print numerous copies.

Original artwork

If she's making her own, Jo is more interested in 'fine art' cards than 'craft' ones with lots of glued-on cut-out bits.

She finds watercolour most suitable.
A heavy-grade watercolour paper (260 or 300 lb, 356 or 638 gsm) is needed, cut to the appropriate size and folded.

It is difficult to fold such thick paper cleanly so she uses a special scoring board. If you want to save a tenner by making one yourself, use a wooden board. Add a lip at one end and cut grooves to suit your card sizes. Score each fold with a blunt edged blade (commercial ones are made of bone) guided by the groove.
Jo wouldn't want to spend much over 15 minutes on each hand-made card, unless the design included more complex bits: like holly. So it must be simple and use a time-saving formula.

Examples?
For baubles use the inside of rolls of sticky tape to draw circles. Shape the open end.
Be consistent about where the highlight is. Start by painting outside the white spot with thin paint. Gradually add stronger, darker paint and modify the colour, wet into wet, as you move out.
Don't forget the end closure and loop - a brownish grey when the rest is dry. Use the same method for fairy lights (connected by a token 'wire').
. Make a template to speed up repetitive outlines.
For Christmas, it is better for colour to be interesting than strictly realistic.

Take decorative trees for example. Jo has already mastered the general shape of Christmas trees, so she can go straight in with paint. The advice here is to use the brightest colours you have, but to put them strictly in the order they happen in the colour wheel, from tree-top to base, so no complementary colours become mixed (which would make grey). The same applied for the baubles, of course.

You can also make very effective cards of almost monochrome paintings.
Jo showed this by painting a very simple landscape with a zigzag of blue and white shadows and snow, a few very soft vertical lines (wet-in-wet) for distant trees and a mass of tiny brightly-coloured people playing in the snow.

Reproduction

If you have painted a custom card, no reproduction is necessary, although there is no reason why you can't print copies it for wider distribution.

You can get a more sophisticated card by printing a reduced version of a larger painting. Jo had several examples - all nearly monochrome with just Ultramarine and a touch of Burnt Sienna. These were of different complexities: from simple snowy mountains to quite complicated tree and/or river-scapes. Convert a scene to winter simply by using cool winter colours.
Many people print their cards at home but this is not a very significant saving if you count the cost of the paper, ink and envelopes and of your time.

There are many card-printing companies on the Internet, each slightly different (e.g. available sizes, single or double-sided printing, inclusion of envelopes or plastic sleeves). Jo uses one called Moo which doesn't force you to have the same picture on each card, so you can see which ones print or sell best without having to invest in printing a large number of one design.

She offered a big pile of paintings and photos to inspire us, and spent the rest of the evening encouraging us to play around with what we had been learned.

Note: Jo complained that she couldn't get square cards printed. A quick search shows that Centreprint offers several sizes and shapes including square. I've not tried them.
It proved to be a most enjoyable and relaxing evening with some valuable ideas. Thanks, Jo.

This collage is of snaps taken at various times during the evening.

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