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.

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):

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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. 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).

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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!

 

 

Happy Holidays!

It looks like Christmas is just around the corner. This one really crept up on me (it always does, but I’m usually a little better prepared!). We are leaving today to spend the weekend south of Chicago with A’s relatives. I’m, of course, bringing my latest work-in-progress with me – a purple cartridge belt ribbed scarf for my friend, R.J. Yep. Still working on it (but past the halfway point now). I’m looking forward to catching up with A’s family and getting some more rows on that scarf.

In the meantime,
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Whatever your plans, Knitting Panda and I hope that the next days find you warm, stuffed with treats, and in the presence of your very nearest and dearest.

Season’s Greetings and Merry Christmas!character-8

 

P.S.: I am working on a little backstory post about ‘Knitting Panda’ in the coming days. Stay tuned, and stay warm!

 

Birthday Panda

Just a little panda cub, keepin’ it real.

This was drawn on the occasion of my good friend Daniela’s birthday last year. Daniela has an excellent and quite marvelous French writing blog at http://dumitrasauca.wordpress.com/
where you can read her beautiful poetry and short fiction. She is an extremely talented and up-and-coming young writer!  Happy Friday, folks.birthday panda jpg