I'm out of Christmas cards. After 2005 I started sending photographs. But I found this. It isn't exactly a Christmas card, but a comics story (written about ten years ago) that ends with a Christmas wish. Merry Christmas to flight attendants everywhere... and to the rest of you, too.
And now a giant leap to the next Christmassy card in 2013.
Here are two cards: one in my good old mosaic-sky style...
... and this one's a spin-off from my 2005 painting show "The Brothers: Portraits of the Rock Central Family Band."
Last one is coming up tomorrow... and it's not what you'd expect!
Follow along to the next post, which isn't exactly a Christmas card, but more of a Christmas comic strip.
From a photo of my brother in about 1978. When I painted this, I thought: "At last, a painting with broad appeal. Any Canadian parent would be able to relate to this image... hopefully I'll be able to SELL IT!" Then I showed it to my mom and she liked it so much that I had to give it to her. Ah well, it's better to be a starving artist with a happy mother... right? Anyway, at least I was able to use it for a Christmas card.
And now we have Christmas cards from 2004 and 2005 coming up next.
The above excerpt from a mini-comic called "The Floor" tells the story of how my family house was sold. 2002 was spent packing up thirty years of stuff. For my Christmas card, I thought I'd paint a picture of the house. It had been a gathering spot for friends, relatives and all sorts of local folks, for many years. It was a place people remembered.
I remember coming home from a year away, aged seventeen, and discovering that the whole house (previously a greyish-brownish kinda colour) had been painted emerald green. That was startling, but I got used to it.
After it was sold, it was hard to get used to not having it there. I remember one time diverting a drive with a friend who had to make a bathroom stop, saying, "we can just stop at the house." We were almost there before I remembered we didn't live there anymore.
Anyway, in the Christmas of 2002, I had a photograph of the house that had been taken in the daytime, but I thought it would look more wintery and Christmas-y to paint it at night. So I made the sky and the house dark. Then I made a whole bunch of Christmas cards and gave them to all sorts of people. At last I gave a card to a friend of mine on a visit to London. She was an objective observer who looked at it with the critical eye of a friend and an artist. And right away she pronounced that it was the saddest painting she'd seen for a long time.
As soon as she said it I knew it was true. There I had been trying to commemorate the happy home of my youth, but what I'd painted was a cold, dark, empty building. It didn't look welcoming... it looked deserted. But maybe that portrait showed the real situation more accurately than what I'd had in mind.
Ten years later, my three-year-old son refers to this house of legend as "the frog house" because it was green. That's the legacy... for now!
Contine on to the next Christmas card from 2003...
What I like about this Christmas card are all the background images of pictures that were on the walls of my apartment. These include: a picture of my long-haired brother John; my tennis-playing ex-boyfriend executing a wicked serve; my mysterious Hanseatic ship; toque-wearing current boyfriend's pic; painting of a wooden Swiss cow; map of the prairie provinces illustrating the route of an arctic voyage; a model ship acquired in Paris; Bob Dylan show poster; painting of my brother Matt; and a big poster of a Feininger painting. (When I lived in that apartment, a visitor told me my place was "media-hot" - a term I'd never heard before. Yes, I guess that was the case.)
And now for the Christmas card from 2002.
Everyone's talking about the end of the world (tomorrow, perhaps) and it reminded me that I drew some end-of-the-world scenarios in the Drawing Book back in about 1999. Here they are. But now that it's 2012 I don't actually think I'd do a single one of the things on this list. Well, about three of them are possibilities, I guess. But that's all I'm saying. If you're really curious, feel free to ask me (if you're still around after midnight).
2000's Christmas card was an image from an oil painting I'd painted earlier that year. It's my dad, Christmas carolling a long time before. You can't go wrong with a hat like that.
2001's Christmas card is coming up next - keep going!
Well, this one's kind of a weird one, but here's the story. While I was at art school, I was given the following assignment: take some kind of artwork/logo/image and put it in a new context so it has a new meaning. To make a long story short, I found this image (think it was a medieval woodcut) of the meeting of Mary & Elizabeth. (From the Bible. You know, when they told each other the good news that Jesus & John the Baptist were on the way.) So these happy cousins embraced (I think they were cousins, am I right?). I put those dark archways over them (reminds me of Richard Thompson's "At the dark end of the street" - song about some illicit lovers) and hoped it would now look like a picture of two medieval lady lovers hiding in the shadows.
I can't remember how the assignment turned out (although I do remember doing the artwork while working on the midnight shift at the Trinity College Library - which is exactly why I liked working those mostly-dead shifts), but what happened later was that I made a bunch of copies of the image on different coloured papers and used them for this year's Christmas card. The other reason I made copies of the image was to use it for a gift for my mom. At that time, we were both trying to wean ourselves off coffee (good luck... 14 years later!!!!!). So I thought of concocting a half-&-half coffee mix using regular coffee and decaffeinated beans. I put these mixtures into bags and labelled them with these pictures, dubbing it the "Mary & Elizabeth blend" (my mom & I each have another name... hers is Mary & mine is Elizabeth). It wasn't long before the bags were empty we were both back to the buzz of the real stuff.
Follow along to see the 2000 Christmas card - one of my favourites!
But now here's the funny part. In 2006 there was a big art show called "Masters of American Comics" which included Feininger as one of the, well, masters of American comics. I should mention that he drew comics, like these ones about the "Kin-der-Kids." But I didn't really think they were a big deal, or that anyone else much cared. (I'd never met anyone in Canada who'd even heard of Feininger, all those times I raved about his paintings.) Well, so it turns out he's a famous comics guy, too. Who knew! Meanwhile, those North Sea landscapes are still the paintings I like better than any others. Merry Christmas.
The next Christmas card is from 1999... keep on going!
When I finished school, though, and found myself back in my hometown of Calgary, I did make some cards. This '95 image shows how Calgary seemed to me then, after living in downtown Toronto for three years: cold, clear, clean and quiet. An anomalous urban presence in the middle of nowhere. I think this card, sent to friends in Germany and Toronto (among other places) was kind of a plea for sympathy: "This is where I am! Yikes!" Oh well. I wasn't ready to fall in love with Calgary back then. That happened later.
I'm a line-drawing person. Black and white outlines are what it's all about for me. So this next Christmas card is a bit out of my usual zone. I blame it on the fact that it was the same year I spent at an art school. (OCAD, whence I escaped from Calgary.) All this messy red paint just shows that I was trying to push my artistic limits. Luckily this (like art school) was just a phase.
This isn't a very Christmas-y image - a medieval clinker-built North Sea ship with a stern rudder - but it's what was most on my mind at that particular time. That's another story which I assure you will be told another day (if this blog keeps on blogging, it's bound to come out sometime). For now, it's just the Christmas card I sent out to folks far and wide from my then-home base in Hamilton, Ontario, of all places.
Continue on to the next Christmas card from 1997.
Graphic recorder based in Calgary. I like local stories. I write comics when I have free time. And I leave eraser shavings everywhere I go.
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Some nice things people said about my work:
“If Breitkreuz and Foong [founders of the Calgary Comics & Entertainment Expo] represent the Type-A side of Calgary's self-publishing community, Hester may be the community's right brain.” – Tom Babin, FFWD Magazine
“…A strong graphic style similar to other autobiographically-inclined Canadian cartoonists like Chester Brown and Julie Doucet.” – Gilbert Bouchard, Edmonton Journal
The 23rd Story: an indie comics creator's tales of life in Calgary