Bowen Island Christmas Cards

Christmas 2009

Each illustration was created using watercolour and pen and ink. They were then scanned into the computer where I took the time to fix any little flaws that may have been in the original.

Killarney Lake, Bowen Island - Original Illustration“Killarney Lake Ice Skaters”

Of course now a days the lake doesn’t freeze enough to skate on which is why the skaters in this card are depicted wearing fashions from an earlier time.

Reindeer in Snug Cove, Bowen Island - Original illustration“Reindeer in Snug Cove”

With no predators, you can imagine we have lots of deer on the Island.

It’s a quaint little cove leading from the ferry, with a library, Marina, General store, a few restaurants, a pub (of course), post office, pet store, Dr. office and more. Everything you really need.

Santa's on his way, Bowen Island - Original Illustration“Santa is on his way”

The doll in Santa’s sack was inspired by one that I made to sell at the craft fair. It’s fun to add a little personalization to an illustration, it’s makes them much more original.

We are so lucky to live on the west coast. Close to down town Vancouver, but nuzzled in amongst other Islands. This is the view of Bowen from Cypress mountain, with the sunshine coast in the background.


Before I was an illustrator I spent ten years in the film and television industry as a VFX artist, specifically I was a compositor. Using Shake and Digital fusion to create a CGI (computer generated imagery) composites. However, photoshop works quite nicely for touching up a single image. It can also be used to composite and add to an illustration as you’ll see below. For these three cards I didn’t get too fancy, just a bit of colour correction through the levels and some digital snow, which is much easier to do in the computer than in the original watercolour illustration.

The final result

Killarney Lake, Bowen Island - Final illustration

Reindeer in Snug Cove, Bowen Island - Final illustration

Santa's on his way, Bowen Island - Final illustration

The first year I must have had a lot of time because I printed all the cards by hand on beautiful Schoellershammer German Watercolor paper made from tree free fiber “Spanish” grass

Bowen Island Craft fair 2009

 Using spray glue to adhere them to coloured card stock. They looked beautiful, but it was too much work for a repeat performance.



Since then I have had the cards professionally printed locally in Vancouver . I’m still using tree free paper and soy based inks.

The cards were then packaged in an assortment of 6 cards, two of each design with colour corresponding envelopes.


Christmas 2010

When we moved here 8 years ago the Island didn’t have any bears, coyotes, skunks, or racoons. However, somehow they have arrived over here and the gray squirrel population also rose on the West side of the Island where you very rarely used to see any squirrels.   We also had a couple of bears roaming the Island that year, one with a tag in his ear.

I thought it would be fun to illustrate the bear, and his woodland friends in the 2010 Christmas card. This is the original illustrationWoodland friends, Bowen Island - illustration

Christmas 2011

I felt that my skills had improved since I had painted this card, and there were aspects of it that I wanted to change for the 2011 series of Christmas cards.

Woodland friends, Bowen Island - insert illustration


By painting the foreground Characters and tree as a separate painting, I was able to replace the furry friends that I didn’t like, as well as add a few using Photoshop.


The final result

Woodland friends, Bowen Island - Final illustrationI’m much happier with this final illustration!

Light Up the Cove has become a wonderful Bowen event to open the Christmas season. Lead by the black sheep Morris Dancers, children and families walk down the path with hand made lanterns, through the cove and down to the Bowen Heritage restored 1930s cottage decorated to represent Christmas past.

This is the original illustration

Light up the Cove, Bowen Island - Original Illustrationyou can see I’ve painted the dog separately and composited him in after using photoshop for the final print 

Light up the Cove, Bowen Island - Final Illustration



The colour levels have been corrected to enhance their richness.

Snow was added digitally as well as the glow emanating from the lanterns.





The final print files had a colourful border added to the front. The back was adorned with a small part of the illustration, the title of the card, our local Island name, and my Bluebelle logo.

Like previous years, the cards were packaged in an assortment, this time there were 10 cards, two of each design with colourful corresponding envelopes.

All the labels are hand printed, and scored with information about the printing progress, as well as the Bluebelle logo wrapping around on the the back. The card packages were finished off with a round red sticker.


While Christmas cards are a delight to receive, as well as a good way of staying in touch and wishing warm holiday wishes to friends, they can be bad wasteful for the environment. I insist on keeping my cards GREEN by using tree free paper and soy inks. They are also locally printed to save on the fuel used for shipping .

It’s an amazing amount of work from start to finish. The design process for each new card starts towards the end of September to have enough time for the printing and packaging in order to be in stores by November.

I’ve been wanting to put this post together for a while, but never seemed to be able to find the window of time that it takes to sit down and compose. So … I asked myself why it is I have a blog, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s really just for myself. To look back on the path I took, when I get to where it is I’m going. Not the everyday ups and downs but the main events. However, if you were so kind as to take the time to read this post, then I thank you.


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