There is so much aggression and hate! I wrote about this before in my blogpost on the pandemic and on how artists stay well balanced in a world that seems to resort to aggression and depression. Stop the hating and dwelling on disagreeable occurrences. Let us celebrate Valentine’s Day joyously despite the fact that we easily dismiss Valentine’s Day as a bit silly, commercially driven, and only for the young.
This year Valentine’s Day is different. We have not seen our best friends for ages and there is nothing wrong with sending Valentine’s cards to more than your best friend, your crush, or your lover. Why not spread Valentine’s cards like Christmas cards? By sending a card you are saying so much; you are saying that you thought about somebody. That thought made you buy a card. You sat down to add a text to the card and an address on its envelope. But even without a splendid text, you show somebody that you took some time apart for making this person realize how special he/she is to you.
‘Oh, that is nice!’
‘Oh, look at the card from …’
Everybody’s heart makes a little jump when receiving a bit of kindness. Especially in pandemic times when people, collectively, suffer from anxiety, cabin-fever, stir-craziness, and easily lose their equilibrium.
There is nothing wrong with a bit of extra attention and love. And the beautiful thing about mandarin ducks is that they symbolize love and friendship, just like doves and swans although ornithologists have observed occasional adultery among doves and swans (just ignore that).
Mandarin ducks melt our hearts because of their stories on life long partnerships, their cute colours and shapes, and their adorable ducklings.
With much pleasure I have designed and drawn a Christmas card that looks like a Medieval illuminated manuscript. After buying and leafing through a wonderful book on Dutch artists painting Italy in the 17th century, I felt inspired by Pieter Monickx and Karel Dujardin’s artwork to create a border in which Josef and Maria travel on a donkey through a pastoral landscape.
For its centre, I drew Noah’s dove holding an olive branch. My wish for Christmas 2020 is hope and peace, symbolized by Noah’s dove and pregnant Maria. On the back of the postcard there are Christmas wishes in five languages as well as my name. There is enough room for a short Christmas wish.
This is an A5 card that comes with a creamy coloured envelope. It was a long time ago that I drew a Christmas card. I have done pagan Yule cards and bible based Christmas cards. It is always a pleasure to send a card that is made from start to end. Please, support local artists, small shops or Etsy sellers this year. They need you.
Holly has a strong cultural resonance. We use it as a Christmas decoration since the Victorian times. In pagan times, it was customary to bring holly boughs in to decorate the house. Holly was a powerful fertility symbol and was supposed to protect a family against ill-fortunes. Holly planted near a home was regarded as a safe guard against poisoning. It also provided protection from lightening. During Yule, we bring holly in our homes to remind us that green foliage will return when the darker days grow shorter.
Every year I send so many Yule or Christmas cards and every year less are returning seasonal wishes. On the one hand I understand; sending cards costs time, energy, and paper. On the other hand, this tradition that dates back to Victorian times, reminds us that in the middle of the long North-European winter, when winter brought hardship, we would send each other well wishes. It was to let people know that you were thinking about them, that you were keeping a person in the light, that you would pray for his/her well-being, or that you wanted to give a sign of life and hoped to receive a sign of life in return. It is a lovely tradition that has many variations. There were messengers bridging long distances with a message of hope or well being, there were powerful musical instruments being able to be heard miles away that informed villagers miles away of a message depending on which melodies were used, there were postal doves, and now there is email. A dressed up card never loses its charm and although I am too scaling back my list, I hope this tradition will survive text-messages and email.
Do you remember that I designed a Postage Stamp with two swans, a lotus flower, and a dragonfly? I used them on my correspondence. I added one on a postcard from Oxford to my father in the Netherlands. It received a Royal Mail cancellation mark, which feels like its design has been approved by Royal Mail standards. (I know, cancellation stamps are automated, but let us pretend it was done by a stereotype old man sitting at a wooden desk, carefully inspecting all letters one-by-one).