Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Christmas Card Art

Last year I saw this Christmas card that almost made me cry.  I don’t know why it affected me so strongly – it’s a cartoon for god’s sake – but somehow it evokes an incredibly strong sense of beauty, peace, and quiet joy.  

The enchanting Central Park Holiday Card depicts a magical scene of a horse-drawn carriage ride in New York City’s snow-covered Central Park. The original gouache on paper was executed in 1968 by Eyvind Earl (sic) (American, 1916–2000), a Disney animator whose work is included in the Museum’s collection. Without greeting.

Produced in cooperation with American Artists Group. (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The image was created by Eyvind Earle (1916-2000), a prolific graphic artist and painter who worked in all media, sculpted, and wrote poetry. Read his incredible Christmas Card Art story in his own words.  It did not surprise me that he worked for Disney sometime during his career.

Clearly, I’m not the only one who loves this image. When we went to NYC last year, I tried to find the card it on sale (being that it was so close to Christmas) but the salesperson told me, “No. We sold out of those right away.”  The Metropolitan Museum of Art online store is selling them again this year and I’m going to get a set.  But in the meantime, I tried my hand at recreating the scene in Photoshop for fun.

In trying to capture the essence of the inspirational piece, I clearly missed: there is nothing restful about this image.  Since I decided that an integral part of the beauty of the image is the backdrop of the city, I started there. But my buildings look war-torn.  The water is too frenetic, and the people, so artfully suggested in the original are front and center in my attempted recreation (well – it is my family Christmas card and that is my family –minus one son, whom I plan to Photoshop-in as the sleigh driver, later).  

I chose to go with a muted green tone instead of the muddy purples for Christmas, but it leaves me with a colder, disconnected sense rather than a peaceful one.  The trees, free stock images, don’t have that 1950s style and in combining photographs with graphic images, the entire image lacks that fabulous feel.   So I get happiness, but no beauty and peace.

Because I adore trying to isolate and recreate the essential elements that fed my emotional reaction to the original, I’ll keep working on it.

If you’re interested in the work of Eyvind Earle, go to Gallery 21 to view some of his excellent images of barns and trees in winter.  If you like that sort of thing, which I do, you won’t be disappointed.


HaynesBE said...

I first encountered Earle's work at the gallery in Carmel. Just stumbled on to it during a get-away weekend that my husband and I spent in Carmel, one day of which we devoted to aimless gallery wandering.
The originals are stunning: colors brilliant;lines elegant; moods serene. So many of the painting invite you to step into them...and given the large size of many, you almost think you can.
A wonderful addition to the paintings was talking with the woman who ran the gallery. She personally knew and worked with Earle before his death and was passionate both about the man and his art.
If you ever come to the West Coast, I'd gladly take you there.
Thanks for the wonderful reminder.

Lynne said...

That's very cool!

We need to figure out how to get the West Coast for an extended vacation at some point and I'll take you up on your offer.

I've been wanting to go to Napa Valley for a long time now, too. We plan to stop by Quent Cordair's gallery while we're out there.

Lynne said...

And I forgot to mention that when I was looking through his work regarding the California coast, I was thinking about the lovely bird videos you posted yesterday! I'll go comment there.

Stephen Bourque said...

Lynne, your design may not be quite as stunning as Earle's, but I think it is really beautiful. For me, it evokes a rush of very pleasant and benevolent feelings of holiday cheer.

Lynne said...

Is that because you're in it?

Stephen Bourque said...

No. It's because you're in it!