Jenkins-Of-Ewelme Web Site

Christmas Cards

Make your own?
For over 14 years now, we have been publishing our own home designed Christmas cards. This started with a desire to experiment with the increasing  bundled software availability of graphics based photo editing and drawing PC applications, together with related low cost scanning and printing equipment. The fact that although certain artistically skilled friends had been doing this manually for years, there was now an opportunity to use the mighty power of the personal computer in an attempt to cloak my lack of drawing/painting abilities! 

This first attempt required a search for a suitable picture to copy as the basis to 'tint' using the recently acquired 'PaintShop Pro' bundled with a new PC package. I found this one in a book in Oxford Library appropriately titled "An Oxfordshire Christmas" and first had to scan it in before any further 'personalization' could be performed.  PaintShop Pro offered the ability to resize and crop, as well as the ability to colour in certain areas on a pixel by pixel basis (perhaps the electronic equivalent of 'painting by numbers'?) Finally, a 'local' text caption was inserted before saving it as a picture file, probably in the .jpg format.

Based on a print  included in  “An Oxfordshire Christmas”   by David Green

This year, creative confidence grew following the acquisition of an early 'digital' camera. Why not take a suitable Christmas 'scene' and use some of the clever digital reformatting features discovered last year in PaintShop Pro?

Ewelme Church, Oxfordshire—based on a digitally enhanced photograph by C.G.Jenkins

I was pretty pleased when Margaret's father, who was quite a good amateur artist, commented 'I didn't realise you could draw Chris'. After about five minutes of pride, I had to own up!

Maybe I did not have so much time available this year to do much more than I did 2000, and used the same copy and tint technique to produce a suitable Christmassy scene to incorporate into the  now reusable card template produced using Microsoft 'Publisher'. Still, as intended, it didn't look at all like a card that one would buy in the shops.

"God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen”

Carol Singers at the Inn. Based on a Victorian engraving by T. Dalziel.  Illustrated in “An Oxfordshire Christmas” and  digitally enhanced  by C.G.Jenkins

This year I thought I'd create a 'water colour' from another photograph. The 15th century Ewelme Church provides that 'medieval' village look, as did the first digitally enhanced card back in 2001. 

The East Window of Ewelme Church Oxfordshire. Digitally enhanced from a photograph by C.G.Jenkins — December 2003

Another tinting of a scanned in book picture this year, although this does seem more like a 'colouring in' job. 

The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow   And what will the robin do then poor thing?...

“The Robin”  from “An Old Fashioned Christmas” by Iris Greder   Digitally enhanced by C.G.Jenkins — December 2004

The next two years  adopted the technique of  scanning in and adjusting some attractive Winter pen and ink drawings, digitally prepared for some subtle tinting. I had lost the bundled PaintShop Pro  when upgrading to a newer PC and operating system, so had to try Adobe PhotoShop instead. I have to say that this package is a bit 'heavyweight, for this kind of work, but better than using the simple 'Paint' provided with the O.S.

“Snow had fallen, Snow on snow,….   In the bleak mid-Winter, Long ago.”

From an original drawing Christmas Tree  by Daphne Ellman Digitally enhanced by C.G.Jenkins — December 2005


From a ‘Village at Christmas’ sketch by unknown artist.  Digitally enhanced and tinted by C.G.Jenkins — December 2006

I found that I just couldn't keep away from creating another Christmas card scene which included Ewelme Church. One of my favourite views of the village is from Rabbit Hill overlooking the archetypal medieval English village scene of church, school and alms houses. Earlier in the year, we had had some snow. So, digitizing into an 'engraving' texture and tinting here and there, there was no need to incorporate any simulated snow at all!



A view over Ewelme from Rabbit Hill.    From a digitally enhanced photograph by C.G.Jenkins — Winter 2007

We had often passed this post-box in the wall on our way to and from Benson. This year, somewhat influenced by previous comments made by Margaret, that there was never enough reds and greens in the cards, we contrived and photographed this scene, and basically used it 'as is'. This seemed to be the best angle from a number of shots. I felt quite proud when my professional artist and illustrator son-in-law Tom, expressed some praise on the finished card. He suggested that this, together with other shot angles ought to be sent off to an on-line gallery, where professional card companies pay a royalty for use of any pictures. I sent them but never heard a thing. Perhaps Tom was just trying to keep in his father-in-law's good books?!

“Post-haste for Christmas!”

 The walled post-box Cottesmore Lane, Ewelme.  Photograph by C & M Jenkins — Winter 2008

After nearly running out of ideas for something a little different to produce, I asked my eldest grandchild to draw me a Christmas picture. Splendid! Perfectly suitable for a home made card. Apart from needing some cropping/resizing, no need for any clever digitizing or tinting. Is this the start of a beautiful friendship with a five year old? See for yourself!


Christmas Picture

From an original coloured pen drawing  by Maisie Croft age 5½ Winter 2009

Maisie, now quite busy with other things, was eventually persuaded that I was getting pretty desperate for another Christmas picture that she had promised  for a couple of weeks. After some immediate furious drawing on the kitchen table, presented me with a long thin masterpiece, which also included a snowman in front of Santa's reindeer. Trouble was that the card itself was of narrower dimensions, so snowman had to be 'melted' away. Perhaps Maisie could produce a few more like this, and send them to the card picture gallery. Compared to my lack of royalty income, she could probably make a fortune!

Santa’s Sleigh

From an original coloured pencil sketch   by Maisie Croft age 6½ Winter 2010

Now we've got another of our dear grandchildren involved, where Tilly (Matilda), also provided us with a prolific choice of artwork, together with Maisie's clever beaded creation.

Christmas Tree  From an original coloured pencil sketch  by Matilda Croft age 4¾  Winter 2011

Snowman From an original coloured pencil sketch by Matilda Croft age 4¾  Winter 2011


Merry Christmas From an original coloured pencil sketch by Maisie Croft age 7½ Winter 2011

Persuading two busy children to sit down quietly and draw a nice Christmassy picture during a December visit, is easier said than done!! Also, perhaps the provided gel pens are not the best medium to draw with either. But we are grateful that we can continue to extend our Christmas card picture gallery for another year.


Birth of a Snowman From an original coloured gel pen sketch by Maisie Croft age 8½ Winter 2012

Christmas Blizzard From an original coloured pencil sketch by Matilda Croft age 5¾  Winter 2012

Now, some friends are starting to ask where we get our cards printed, "'cos little Johnny did a lovely Xmas picture this year, and we'd also like to send it out as a Christmas card". Perhaps I should take out a Google advert and offer to convert children's pictures into cards? Maybe by this time next year we could be miyounairs? Well maybe, but why not try it for yourself either with your own scanned in picture or photograph or one drawn by your children/grandchildren? Once you've done the first one, you'll never have to buy another Xmas card again! Most office type word processing or publishing packages offer templates to produce cards of various sorts, and it's quite easy to 'insert' your own picture. A lot of software to do this is FREE, either bundled with a new PC, or can be download from the internet. Try OpenOffice3 for a complete package of office type programs. The GIMP is also a versatile image editing program.  Unfortunately, once you've done your first, there will be a certain personal or family pressure to do the same the next year....and the next.....!! We look forward to receiving yours next year?

So, what exciting illustration will be included next year? You're just going to have to wait until December 2013 to find out!

You've been very patient.

Christmas is here From an original coloured gel pen sketch by Maisie Croft age 9 Winter 2013

A change of tack this year. Having spent the past year commissioning our garden astronomical observatory, including beginning  to accumulate some deep sky images, one such picture showed a group of bright stars  felt to be possibly suitable for a Christmas card this year for a change.

Stars in the East at Christmastide The nebulous Pleiades cluster (M45)   'The Seven Sisters'. 300 sec. guided image from the Ewelme Observatory - Winter 2014

We continue the astronomical thread with an image of a total eclipse of the moon this year. However, to ensure it is also fitting for Christmas, we also include another night sky image of sleigh and reindeer!

Santa visits the Man in the Moon but finds him Totally Eclipsed! Lunar Eclipse 28/9/15. Image from Ewelme Observatory. Collage by C. G. Jenkins Winter 2015

This year we again feature the Moon, always around during Midwinter in one form or another.

Santa finds the Moon a little depressed, so reels him up a case of Moonshine Waxing crescent Moon mage from Ewelme Observatory. Graphics by Tom Croft Winter 2016

This was the year I had to say farewell to Margaret, my lifelong love, friend and companion.
To continue the astronomical theme adopted for a few previous years, I chose a favourite image of mine felt possibly to be appropriate.

"Margaret was the light of my life. Like the perpetual return of a comet whose luminance brightens during its journey through the heavens, so too will my happy memories of our long life together never fade." C.G.J.

Image of Comet 'Lovejoy' captured from the Ewelme Observatory. Winter 2017

Perhaps the first year without ones lifelong companion is the hardest? But even having now moved away to Oxford from our family house in Ewelme, does not lesson the ability of times and places to remind me of the happiest moments together.

" ...I'll be looking at the Moon, but I'll be seeing you"

Waxing Gibbous Moon rising over the West Wing.

Well that's a wrap!
In my final attempts  to bring all my affairs to a controlled archived state, I find myself at another year end where
 I would send greetings to my friends and family. Recently this has taken astronomical bias to reflect my personal ativities during the year.
his also invoved printing writting and posting. This I am unable to do due to failing sight and physical abilities.
So, here is my Xmas card to you, which you may be seeing having pressed a link.

Whatever is this colourful 'splosh' you may ask?
It is a 'Deep Sky Image' of the Chrismas Tree Gallaxiy.
It has been obtained by using facilities offered by an organisation offering
 controlled access to a a number of high tech telescoprs in varioud locations throughout theearth.
I have been a member for a number of years, but due to the winding up of the affairs of Project New life
none of the accumulated shutter time was never used.

We shall see later how this was dome. links to be inserted.......