Friday, November 20, 2009

christmas cards

Time passes very quickly for me these days, but never so fast as when I notice that it's time to make my holiday greeting cards. I try to get Christmas cards posted before the end of November, because at this time of the year, even air mail delivery to overseas addresses can be delayed beyond belief.

The etegami pictured here is the one I drew for Christmas 2007. It depicts the berries of the mountain ash (rowan) tree, each berry covered with a cap of snow. Mountain ash is one of my favorite trees, and while they grow profusely in the mountains of Hokkaido, they are also a favorite for planting along city streets. The berries start out pale and yellow, hardly noticeable in the green foliage, but by the end of fall, when the leaves have dropped off the branches and it begins to snow, the berries are bright, bright red.

Snow is a tricky thing to depict on a white card. I added blue shadows to make the snow more distinct, but this didn't show up very well in digital form. Nevertheless, it remains one of my favorite etegami. In my next post, I want to write about nengajou, the New Year cards that are traditionally exchanged in Japan. All the mail art I do now has its roots in the tradition of nengajou. Stay tuned!


  1. Lovely idea for Christmas cards. Do you make one etegami and then color copy them for multiple cards?

  2. Debbie, I Love the Mountain Ash etegami! I think it is my favorite so far :)

  3. You're right, snow is hard to depict in watercolor type paint, which means you have to make the areas around it dark enough for the negative space to stand out. I have also used gray or gray-blue shadows sparingly within the snow. You're inspiring me to paint my cards this year!

  4. @Anu-- Although I try to avoid copying etegami in general, I do color-copy Christmas Cards and New Year's cards because of the huge numbers I send out.

    @Deb, It's one of my favorites too; but it's from two years ago, and I'm having a hard time coming up with a Christmas card for this year that equals it. :(

    @Linda, Yeah, one problem with etegami stock cards is that they don't come in colors-- but colored cards would make it very difficult, if not impossible, for the paint to come out right. I've been able to get cards that are light brown, but they are suited only to a very narrow range of colored paint (brown paint, mostly). Get to work, girl, and send me an original etegami Christmas card!