Normally, my theme each year is based off of something we have done together as a family, some notable occasion, some adventure we went on. Thinking back over the last year, though, nothing really stood out. At least, nothing that I could turn into a card (some graduations, an Eagle project, that sort of thing). We didn’t get out on any big hikes, didn’t camp as a family, didn’t kayak, didn’t ski together as a family. I took the boys to The Happy Place (the beach our family has gone to since my dad was born), but my wife was always stuck at home for those trips.
One thing that has been overly prevalent, however, is just how much everyone stares at screens, and I know it’s not just my household. Living kind of remotely the way we do, and coming out of 2 years of lockdown due to the pandemic, and just in general the shift towards texting and social media apps for social activity, I try to have a reasonable perspective on the issue. However, it would still be nice to see more physical activity, more analogue book reading (I need to make time to do that myself), more time spent outdoors, more time engaging with the actual world around oneself.
Originally, the image didn’t include the text balloons, but I thought that may have read as too harsh a criticism of our kids. Adding them gives the impression that they are at least thinking about their mother, rather than being completely absorbed into their phones. I debated whether or not to have the balloon tails pointing to them, but went with the standard look of a text screen instead. Our youngest child (dragon in the middle) loves cats, hence the cat emoji. I thought about giving each of them a somewhat identifying emoji based on their personalities and what they tend to text us, but all I could come up with was poop emojis and the word “bruh”.
I’m pretty happy with the way this one turned out. I like the way their likenesses look, and they’re all wearing things they actually wear for the most part. I debated how strong to go with the light emanating from the phones and how to tone the background to make it pop, I’m pretty happy with the artistic choices I made.
I enjoy making these cards, though I do get a little stressed each year about what my theme is going to be, and there’s always a little anxiety at each step (pencils to inks, then adding tones) because I’m so used to working digitally now and relying on being able to undo things or make non-destructive changes. It’s also pretty cool to be able to look back at all the previous cards and remember the event or activity that inspired them, and to see how I changed their appearances based on how they were aging. It’s also neat to have the timeline of my skills improving, which can be pretty obvious with a whole year of “training” in between each one.