Christmas Card

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Christmas 2006, Fairhaven Massachusetts

Silence as snowflakes drift alight

Illuminated by homes with candle light

A church bell tolls, with soft clear sound

The hope of Christmas night

Completed in 1894, this large French gothic building was a gift to the Town of Fairhaven by oil magnate and town benefactor Henry Huttleston Rogers in honor of his first wife, Abbie. The building features magnificent stained-glass windows and ornate woodwork, along with extraordinary terra cotta sculptures and detailing on the exterior. Author Mark Twain spoke at the 1894 dedication. Since it’s dedication the town has had a tradition of gathering for caroling on the steps of the town hall each Christmas season, then gathering inside for hot chocolate.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Christmas 2005: Edgartown, Massachusetts

Each year we try to go somewhere or do something special for Christmas. This year Cheryl and I took the Fast Ferry out from New Bedford for a holiday weekend on Martha's Vineyard. It was an absolutely wonderful weekend. We arrived on Saturday afternoon, with the streets and shops bustling with Edgartown's Holiday Weekend. The Edgartown town hall was decked out with wreathing, wreaths and lights. Christmas trees dotted the streets, all lit in the evening. Always a very beautiful town, Edgartown took on a special holiday glow that season.

Christmas 2004, Tiverton Rhode Island

This view of the saltmarsh overlooks Narragansett Bay in Tiverton Rhode Island. The marsh is covered in ice, as is the bay beyond the stand of trees. This is an image close to a friends home, one that I had driven by for years before I decided to make an illustration of it. I'm pleased with the way the composition leads the eye from the foreground to the distant hills across the bay. There is a tranquility to this image, and it reminds me of the quite of a winter scene, the air still, the sound of the ice cracking in the cold.

Christmas 2003, Princeton, Massachusetts

This pen and ink drawing was of a farm on the hillside of Mount Wachusett, in Princeton Massachusetts. My friends Lee and JoAnn were visiting me the winter I lived in Leominster, MA. We went for a drive after a heavy spring snowfall, and ended up driving along the snowcovered hills of Princeton. It was a late snowfall, one of the last of the year. We had great fun driving the back roads, and seeing such beautiful vistas. This is a late afternoon image, the shadows fall off to the left, as the sun begins its decline. What I likes most about this is it is such a pure New England image. It could be Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine or Massachusetts, but it is very New England.

Christmas 2002: Fairhaven, Massachusetts

Finally, a pen and ink of my own, newly renovated home. After over twenty years of waiting, the home that had been my Grandmothers was renovated and expanded. This is the family room, with a bank of windows that overlook Buzzards Bay. This was also the first year of again having my Christmas Tree decorating party. This party had started back when I was in high school, with friends coming over to help me string popcorn. And so in 2002 the tradition was continued, with friends from church coming to help me string popcorn, and restart a wonderful celebration of the holiday season.

Christmas 2001: Christmas Bells, New Bedford Massachusetts

This is an image of one of the mansions of New Bedford. It was built in the mid 1800's. It has an air of age about it, with the formal tree and piano. This was the first Christmas after September 11th, and everyone had a tougher holiday season this year. And so we all learned of the horrors of September 11th. It hung in the air as I visited Dublin that December. Irish firefighters collected relief money for their comerades in New York City. I fell upon an older drawing that I had never finished, and a compelling poem of loss at Christmas-time, as Longfellow learns of the death of his Son in the Civil War. The poem Christmas Bells by Longfellow in featured inside this finished 2001 Christmas card.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Christmas 2000, Church of San Frediano, Lucca Italy

San Frediano was one of those sights. I was with Marjorie Werner and Fosco Picchi in Lucca Italy. Cheryl Jess and I had traveled there to visit my old high school art teachers. Fosco was giving us a tour of this incredibly beautiful medieval town, when we turned down an alley way, which opened up on a courtyard. In the center of the steps to the church was a simply decorated Christmas tree, caught just as the fading afternoon light skimmed out of site. It was an image that a minute later was gone. Powerful and stately, this is my Christmas image from my month in Italy, which was capped of by the celebration of the year 2000 in downtown Rome. A memorable way to bring in the new millenia.

Christmas 1999, Little Bay, Fairhaven Massachusetts

This is my second winter landscape from Little Bay in Fairhaven. The cedars and seagrass are typical of this coastal region. In the winter there are many birds still about, but mostly land birds such as sparrows and chickadees. Gone are the seagulls, osprey and oystercatcher who search for food in this harbor during the summer. In the winter you will find Bufflehead ducks who come down from the north to winter over. In recent years we have also seen seals, which is amazing, since there is no easy access from Buzzards Bay to the northern waters they frequent. I saw one once swimming through the Cape Cod canal, so I know they do it.

This drawing continues in the stipple pen and ink style that I have developed. The stipple style gives me great control of the grays, and also allows me the ability to create a variety of intricate textures.

Christmas 1998, Little Bay, Fairhaven Massaachusetts

With this card I had been home in Fairhaven for over a year. This is the image from my backyard, overlooking Little Bay in Fairhaven. Fresh after a winter snow, clumps of snow cling to the cedar tree. Some stalks of sea grass stand tall in silhouette, with Girl Scout Island in the distance. I try to use the darkened foreground to create a perspective on the landscape. It is a heavy winter sky. This was the first winter since my Mother's death. The image of Little Bay is appropriate, it was her favorite view.

Christmas 1997: Shipyard Park, Mattapoisett Massachusetts

This Christmas card was of Mattapoisett's Shipyard Park. I caught an image of the park the day of a snowfall, with heavy laden clouds and snow. This image is as the storm begins to break, with the sky clearing. Shipyard Park was originally the location of a boat yard, where whaling ships were built. At the turn of the century a group of local citizens purchased the land and donated it to the town for the purpose of creating a park. Atop the gazebo sits a wind vane in the shape of a whale, recalling the town's seagoing heritage. It is now a location where people stroll the waterfront, watching the parade of boats in the summer. In winter it is a bit more deserted, but beautiful in its quite. Winter sticks dot the harbor, as memories of summer past. The Christmas tree is lit, and stands sentinel to the harbor.

Christmas 1996, Winter scene, Walpole New Hampshire

This is my final card from my time in New Hampshire. By the time it was published I was back to work in Massachusetts. It took me until the spring to move back to my home state. This was inspired by a drive through Walpole, New Hampshire. The town is quaint, with rolling hills and stunning vistas. I had friends there, and had a day off. A big snowstorm had hit the day before, so I was relying on four good snow tires to navigate through the snow packed streets. I pulled off the road to have a look, and there in the middle of a field were two fir trees, covered in snow. The remains of the winter storm were still in the air, with storm clouds scooting by. This card was actually triple panelled, so that it opened. The first image was daylight, the next panel a night scene. The evening reveals Venus as bright as a spotlight next to a rising quarter moon. I tried to accentuate the beauty of an illuminated partial moon, which was the view of the evening sky on Christmas eve of that year.

Christmas 1995, Fairhaven Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church

The Parish Hall of the Fairhaven Memorial Church is a magnificent building that is attached to the church. It is full of leaded glass windows, carved oak figurines, and fresco murals. This picture was created in New Hampshire, while I was still living in Keene. I am still refining the stipple style of pen and ink, using a variety of textures in the carpet and the floor. I have managed to work a few sailboats into the Christmas tree.

Christmas 1994: Jaun Silva putting a gift under the tree

What a change in a year. In the fall of 1994 I gave up glass cutting on Cape Cod, and moved to New Hampshire to work back in the software industry. It was a big move for me, leaving behind friends, my church and all things familiar. That was also a very bad winter, with lots of snow. It was a special treat that my Venezuelan friends Juan and Arminda Silva had returned to Harvard University to do research. This year I visited them a great deal. A few weeks before Christmas we drove out Route 2 one weekend, where we purchased a pretty little Christmas tree from a roadside stand. I borrowed many of my families old ornaments, and brought them in to decorate the tree with. It was a special Christmas, with my Mother and my Sister's family all coming to visit the Silvas for a very special evening. We had spent many years with the Silvas when they attended Harvard, so this was a wonderful gift of Christmas Past.

It was a wonderful to have all of these family and extended family there for this Christmas.

Christmas 1993, New York City

This was quite a Christmas trip for me. I took a bus to Manhattan with a friend who had gone to school in New York City. We had a wonderful day of walking the city. We went to Katz Deli to start, and walked our way back through Little Italy and Chinatown. The day ended at Rockefeller Center. What a glorious Christmas tree it was. So brilliant with millions of white and colored lights. I had never seen such a tree. The crowds were thick, but it was a real celebration to share the atmosphere with so many. I was enchanted, and so made this my Christmas card for 1993. Great memories of a wonderful city during the holiday season.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Christmas Illustration 1992, Fairhaven Memorial Church: Parsonage

This image is of a Christmas tree in the Harrop Center. This building was once the home of the minister for the Fairhaven Memorial Unitarian Church. It is an old home, built at the turn of the century, and is beatifully done in English oak, quarter sawn and carved in intricate detail along the stairway and bannister. The light comes from the open door of another room, illuminating the tree and casting shadows across the stairway. The reflection in the floor provides depth to the image. Of note is the framing of the picture, which is illustrated from the wood parquet in the floor. This intricate design winds its way around the edges of the floor. This is one of my favorite early drawings. I spent many hours in this home, it is a building of incredible elegance and beauty. Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate the original since my move from Fairhaven to Keene so many years ago.

Christmas 1991, Marion, Massachusetts

This was my third Christmas Card illustration. It was done from another Holiday House Tour, this one in Marion Massachusetts. The framing borrows heavily from the glass engraving that I was doing at the time for Pairpoint. The details include an array of toy rocking horses on the bookshelf, along with an angel tree top. Interestingly, this picture was done while I was spending a month in Venezuela, so I have memories of both the winter, and working on this in the tropical sun. Included amongst the tree decorations are a number of sailboats, along with an hour glass, teddy bears and candy canes. I wanted to make the easy chair look inviting, and worked a lot with the lighting to provide the chair with an inviting, casual appearance.

Christmas Illustration 1990: Quissett, Massachusetts

This was my second Christmas Card illustration. This image was taken from a Holiday House tour on Cape Cod. This particular home was overlooking Quissett Harbor, a place that I had sailed often with friend Dave Perry. It was a classic old Cape Cod home, complete with many antiques, such as the bureau and ships model in the background. The ornaments were all imported from Germany, handmade and quite exquisite. It is an afternoon image, before the sun starts to set. There are wreaths on the windows, and presents hidden under the tree. The original drawing is now lost, and there are very few copies of this print left.

Christmas Illustration 1989

Whaling Captain's Home, New Bedford, Massachusetts 1988
This was my first Christmas Card pen and ink illustration. I had
graduated from college some ten years earlier, but career challenges had
kept me from being able to paint. Christmas was and is a very special
time of year for me. The holiday celebrations and the decorations have
always inspired me.
For many years there was a glass museum in New Bedford, and each year
they hosted a holiday tour of the mansions in New Bedford, that is how I
was how I was able to capture this image.
This particular drawing is of a Whaling Captain's home in New Bedford, decorated for the holiday
season. I'm very pleased with this illustration, the use of perspective
on the stairs adds a great deal to the composition. There are
lights reflected in the windows, and beautiful large glass decorations
on the tree. There is a stillness to this first pen and ink.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Christmas Images

I work in pen and ink, and each Christmas card drawing takes months.