This is a card that I made my nephew on Saturday for his baptism. I’m not nearly as happy with the way that this one turned out, but it served it’s purpose as an experiment in hopping out of the old comfort zone.
Most importantly both this and the last ‘husband and wife’ piece that I posted Friday were done in a single day. That, for me, is incredible progress. I’m a notoriously slow (meticulous, but admittedly slow) worker -- or at least I always have been. Keeping up with a house, a husband and 3 kids (not to mention a baptism, family portraits and two birthday parties this weekend!) while finishing two pieces in a single day is like wild improvement. I'm not saying you need to call me a supermom for that, I'm just saying I won't stop you...
I’m also happy because the last card that I made for my niece’s 1st birthday printed very poorly from Staples -- and I wasn’t sure why. But Ralphie’s card came out picture perfect. There wasn’t even any pixilation when the man at the print station accidentally filled the entire page of cardstock with the image first instead of fitting it into a greeting card style format.
I have to admit, the anniversary card was kind of a personal home-run. Even though it was experimental for me, it came together almost effortlessly and the end result was pretty dead-on to what I’d envisioned. Even though I had a photo reference for the anniversary card, I ended up only needing to briefly peek in on it from time to time. It helped that in college about 185% of what we did were self-portraits, so painting myself was cake. But when it came to Spencer, I was very surprised at how naturally he kind of just fell together. In the past (I’m talking before we had kids, past), when I’ve used him as the subject of portraits, he’s almost always ended up looking a bit off. I guess four years experience of looking at the same face day in and day out really makes a difference. The only real challenge in the anniversary card was playing with textures and off-setting the patches of color to stylize the end result -- something that took me out of my comfort zone, and ended up turning out pretty cool.
Plus, really? I mean does it not just make you want to lay a smooch on that man, or what?
Ralphie wasn’t terribly difficult to draw or paint, but the strokes definitely did not come to me intuitively. Babies change so much so rapidly at this stage that unless they’re your own, it’s difficult to have a natural feel for the way that they’re features come together. He’s already new to begin with, so I’ve only ever held him a handful of times, and each time I had, his looks had noticeably shifted with age from the time before. The best reference photo I had to use was one in which the sun was beating down on him pretty hard. It was the best for lighting up his features, but terrible for the expression on his face. Not that it isn’t adorable -- it just ended up making the card feel very somber in the end.
I knew that I wanted to try the same stylized portrait idea for Ralphie’s card, but maybe soften and pull it a little more together. I envisioned this great marble-y texture in the background with color-boosted highlights similar to what I used in my hair for the first card -- But it never really materialized that way. I just had to laugh a few times because no matter what I did, the card seemed to feel so gravely serious that it kept reminding me of a funeral portrait! Not the kind of feeling you want to portray in a card meant to celebrate a special day in a baby’s life. I ended up relying a lot on the text to liven it up, which then made it difficult to coordinate so that the words didn’t look out of place on the image.
I think this was one of those instances where it would have just ended up overworked if I kept chiseling away at it so I’m glad I kind of had to call it quits in order to have it done in time. Better to take what I learned from this experience and put it toward the next one.
Btw: when I post art on here, I am always, always open to both ideas and criticisms. Always. Always, always. This is one instance I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the end result -- if you’ve got a helpful tip or design idea (even if you aren’t an artist) you’re only helping me by letting me in on it! I love to get feedback.