Since losing Andy seven years ago, I find that the New Year doesn't really start until after the anniversary - for want of a better word - of his death. So today marks the finishing of my little batch of cards that I began painting a few weeks ago. It's also the first set of hand made cards I've made since then, intended for a few friends, especially those I don't have much contact with.
I'm very aware that I have a tendency to drag these things out, so last year, when I had an idea for a design (and knew I wasn't going to do it then), I scribbled it down in a sketchbook.
When I came back to it, I redrew it slightly - just a biro scribble to give me a traceable image.
And an even rougher draft, taking away the loosely shaped 'pond'. I should add that the original plan was to make a lino cut, but the front room, where my press is set up, is unheated and freezing at this time of year. I decided to hand paint them all.
I had in mind very rich, seasonal colours, but I couldn't make it work. Now I was starting to get myself in a bit of a knot about 'The Card'.
So I lightened the colours up and removed the background. It all went a bit pastel, but that was OK as it was a New Year card after all.
I printed the inner greeting out. In a perfect world I would have letter pressed it, but I couldn't face the cold print room and a need to just get it done led me to my trusty computer printer. Then I made a classic 'me' mistake and painted the first one up on the wrong side. Ho hum.
But I took a deep breath and carried on. Not just painting, but adding coloured pencil and then not one but two grades of graphite pencil detail. Just to make it more of an effort, because I do have a tendency to make a meal of things.
And now it is the time of year that I dread the most. Some years are better, some worse. But today I have finished my final 2020 card and feel some small sense of achievement. My desk is clear and ready for my own personal New Year. I will make a pie for my lovely Joe and be thankful that I not only survived the worst time of my life, but somehow found the courage to love again.
From the three 'Fish Kings', Joe and myself, I wish everyone reading this a belated Happy New Year. Here's to all our tomorrows.