Knitting Panda backstory: Card-drawing DIY in 4 steps

I hope you enjoyed a very Happy Christmas. Bitten hard by the making-bug earlier this month, I decided to try my hand at designing my own holiday greeting cards using the Knitting Panda art work I posted just a few days ago.panda-card1-edit-4

Have you ever wanted to draw or design your very own greeting to share with friends and family? If you’re interested, here was my process – a DIY drawing tale in 4 steps, for the curious:

1. Collect and Design. The fun part of this stage is playing around and ‘collecting’ inspiration – ideas, images, and so on, for drawing. I tried to think of the pictures, colours, and themes that might tickle my imagination.

dissident-bear
This hippie bear was drawn at 5. You can tell he means business.

Bears have always been one of my favourite things to draw. I can’t explain why but from the time I took pencil to paper, human-like bears populated my pictures. I grew up in the era of the Berenstein Bears, Care Bears, Paddington, and gummi bears, so this bear-love is probably a product of the 80s.

As you may have also read in past posts, I like to think that the essence of my recent knitting practice lies in expressing care and generosity – towards myself and others – in ordinary ways. Knitting, for me, is a modality of loving; in its form, it can convey the idea that the fabric of life is stitched and held together by the acts of love and generosity we share.

So…. a knitting bear it was. However, I still needed some concrete pictures to make the leap from idea to image. A Google search of “bear knitting” unfortunately gave no direct results. But, when I found the photo below in a 2011 Daily Mail article on how pandas digest bamboo, I knew I had found the reference image I was looking for. To my eyes, this ambidextrous panda was clearly a knitter (and a happy one, at that):

happy holidays 1.jpg

2. Draw. If you’re a drawing amateur, like me, this step is likely to be riven through with all kinds of worries about whether the drawing ‘looks good’ (maybe along with internalized standards about whether it looks ‘real’ or not). When this hits me, I like to think of why children draw, the way they draw, and how I drew as a child: often and copiously, mostly un-selfconsciously, in order to share and tell stories, and out of the simple pleasure of moving messes of lines and colours around. I suspect that the desire to recapture this pleasure is behind the recent interest in adult colouring books (which I haven’t tried yet). When I was 6, my parents also gave me those smelly Mr. Sketch markers. Remember those? These added ‘smell’ to the already long list of reasons to draw.

The true drawing gateway drug.

So, I tried to back-burner my preoccupation with the end product, drew (copying the reference image, but adapting it a little), water-coloured, and inked. It was fun to see Knitting Panda take shape. I’m glad s/he got drawn.

The gist of step 2 is appreciating that your way of drawing and seeing are unique and cannot be produced by anyone else – “that might be a good thing”, you jest, but it can also be an adventure to discover and develop your style and way of seeing things through the materials, colours and subjects that feel right.

3. Copy. I had to outsource this step of the DIY. I scanned my water-colour image, and sent it to the local business-supply store/copier’s. Surprisingly, my batch of greeting cards (single-sided 5 X 7″ matte prints) were ready to take home that very day at little over 50 ¢ per card. The copies aren’t perfect (the colour is less saturated than the original), but they did their job of spreading holiday cheer. There are many copying alternatives; I went with the simplest and most affordable (short of printing them at home).

holiday panda 7.png

4. Share. Off the little pandas went, into the mail slots and taped to presents, (bear)ing their glad tidings. If this panda brings a smile or two, then I’m happy.


There’s nothing like the glee of seeing your design go from daydream, to doodle, to hot-off-the-press copies. I’m excited to try this again for the next occasion.

Happy Holidays!

 

 

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Holiday Horse

Hi again!  It is nice to be back in the blogosphere after an over-month-long hiatus.  I can’t wait to catch up with what I’ve missed.

An overseas move to the U.S. + holidays in Canada + another move within Chicago (in the snow and up 4 flights of stairs, no less!) = not being as creatively productive as I would have liked in these past few weeks.  January, however, is the month of making (and keeping) resolutions. Top of my list: becoming more aware of how I spend my time, and giving regular attention to what I like to call the ‘drawing tree’  🙂  I’m learning that my ability to be productive results from carefully ‘stewarding’ the thing that allows the drawings to happen–tending to something complex, dynamic and living that can wilt or flourish depending on the conditions.

For people who also like to make things: What do you like to call this thing? Do you have a name for it, or an image that conveys the process?  And what things do you do regularly to keep your creativity-tap running?

Speaking of trees and other twiggy things, I thought I’d share some of the holiday greetings I drew over the next few days.  This watercolor wreath was made for a certain little girl in love with horses.  More to come.

horse wreath 1