Friday, December 10, 2010

'Tis the season

"The Multitude of the Heavenly Host" Pencil Drawing. Copyright 2011 Jessica Boehman
Every year for the past eleven years I've drawn my family's Christmas card.  Because the cards represented the entire family, we always kept the subject, generally proposed by my mother, religious in nature. This year, newly married and so no longer drawing for the family, I was able to go secular, but my friends will have to wait until they get theirs in the mail, the old-fashioned way. Above is a card I made a few years ago. We'd done nativities but never the Annunciation to the Shepherds.  From Luke 2:13-15:
"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will. And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath shewed to us."

What would a multitude of angels look like? I tried to capture the entire sky filled with angels, their wings composing the very fabric of the sky, astonishing those humble shepherds.

"Madonna of the Pears" Pencil Drawing. Copyright 2011 Jessica Boehman

For another card, I decided to dedicate the image to my mother. Re-imagining the traditional depiction of the Madonna and Child, I rendered Mary as a new mother taking pride in her child.  Renaissance images of Mary always show her with a hint of sadness, suggesting she had knowledge of her son's future martyrdom. It robs Mary of her pleasure in her baby, which I am sure she had.  I surrounded the pair with borders of holly and the pear tree.  The partridge in the pear tree seems to be a symbol of Jesus, while the berries and sharp leaves of the holly represent the Passion of Christ.  I based the image off an old photo of my mother with my oldest brother when he was a small baby.
"Angel Annunciate" Pencil Drawing. Copyright 2011 Jessica Boehman

Last year I was given very short notice for the card.  Hard on the heels of teaching a full semester of Renaissance and Baroque art, I decided to give a nod to the most devout Renaissance artist, Fra Angelico.  This angel is a feminine reimagination of the Angel Gabriel at the moment of the Annunciation.  I kept this card very simple and linear in order to print cleanly, but the simplicity also allowed me to play up the patterns I've been toying around with since living in Rome.  There, I was inspired by the intricate mosaic work on the floors, fa├žades, and columns of churches.   

Wishing everyone a beautiful holiday season!


  1. The Madonna of the Pears piece is so lovely. I'm a sucker for a good garland of fruit.

  2. Thanks! It's one of my favorites, too. I want to add some garlands to my new images to make into holiday cards. You'll see them after the new year!

  3. i remember all these cards well, and have saved them all (somewhere). i should have asked you more often for the stories behind them! i won't forget now. ;)