From doodle to done: Happy New Year 2013

sketch - year of the snake

Sunday was the first day of 2013 on lunar calendar, the year of the water snake, and I spent the day printing New Years Cards for friends and family. Here’s a peek into my process for creating the card I’m sending out this week.

A sketchy concept: I expected this year’s design to be a bit of a challenge for me due to my **ahem** healthy fear of snakes. How to make a creature that can appear menacing into a friendly image? After doodling for a few days, I landed on a concept of two intertwined snakes that i really liked (above and here). Now I just needed  a way to incorporate the idea of water. The weather was very wet  and the image of a snake making her way down the sidewalk with an umbrella popped into my head, making me smile. I was already too in love with the semi-symetrical snakes, though, and adding an umbrella was just not working. I didn’t want to add anything that would turn my idea onto a pharmacy symbol. I decided to focus on the snakey love knot and sort the water side of things out later.

A hunt for inspiration: Sometimes the best way to move forward is to just start looking at things. I started collecting images that set the mood I had in mind and doing a little research into the lore of year of the snake.

I learned that people born into the year of the snake are intelligent and excessively bold, great inventors and full of discoveries. They are contemplative, cunning and can be very possessive. Some snakes you might know: Oprah Winfrey, Sara Jessica Parker, Picasso, Martha Stewart and Jackie Kennedy Onassis. For those of us who aren’t snakes, apparently quiet calmness is key to harnessing the good in the snake and avoiding danger. “For all signs during a Snake year, inner growth, spirituality, and discovering the hidden meanings of things come to the forefront.”

Here are a few images that came up as I wandered the web:

in progress - new years 2013
Mood board: A lovely snake; A mysterious water creature; A stormy sea

in progress - new years 2013
Mood board: Chinese Red Paper Designs; Celtic Love Knot
in progress - new years 2013
Mood board: The mystery, adventure and danger of water

Untying the knots: Running out of time, I set to sketching and compiling. I revised the snakes tongues into a love knot and added a mysterious seascape backdrop frankensteined from collected images. After building a collage on the computer, I drew out the final artwork using graphite and layers of tissue, scanned the drawings, and compiled my final artwork to create screen printing negatives and burned my screens. At this point it was February 9th, the day before New Years. Whew! Cutting it close.

year of the snake / love knot
a snakey sketch, but how to turn one tongue knot into two?
year of the snake / love knot
more sketches, trying to work out the knot
in progress - sketch new years 2013
computer reference sketch, ready to draw final art
sketch - New Years 2013 - year of the snake
mock-up of final negatives, ready to burn screens

Getting to the done: And action! It’s New Year’s Day and I’m printing away…green and blue

160 prints (actually 320 counting both colors!) later, my cards are ready to be trimmed, folded and mailed. Yay. The final print isn’t perfect. I think I’m going to do a larger, refined print of this design soon, but there’s something great about having a finished piece of art in-hand ready to share with the world.

Bonus #1: I mixed all the different small pots of blue ink I’d collected over the past year into one new lovely blue for this print. Yay for turning the old into the new.

Bonus #2: The Chinese stamp I included on the back of the print stands for “Double Happiness”. Perfect match for snakey friends on the front, don’t you think? I love when things fall into place like that. Happy New Year!

in progress - 2013 new years card
in progress - 2013 new years card


2 thoughts on “From doodle to done: Happy New Year 2013

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