Karina Laymen believes illustration is a servant of the creators of art. In the first of a series of articles, the Wanstead House tutor presents a piece of work from her Valentine’s Day greetings card range
Even though the Valentine’s Day celebration has a blurry and dark origin – from the death of two men executed in Rome during the third century to the killing of priests in the Middle Ages – the matter this day brings us now is love.
One of the most supported theories about the birth of this celebration is the pagan festival of Lupercalia during the fourth century, which praised and promoted the fertility of women and the matching of couples. This Roman festival was Christianised during the fifth century by Pope Gelasius, setting the day of the festival on 14 February. In England, as in other parts of Europe, February was considered the mating season of birds, so this month was soon connected to connotations of love.
No matter the origins, nowadays, we celebrate love in a very sweet and explicit way by sending greeting cards to our other halves, married or not, at the beginning of a relationship, in a solid love story or even an expected relationship with someone.
Around the middle of the 17th century, there was a surge in the custom of sending handmade paper cards to lovers or potential lovers to express gratitude, affection or even requests for a relationship. During the 19th century, the production of factory-made cards started to rise.
It is a time where a rose, a gift card or a box of chocolates will translate a deep sentiment of love into a playful gesture towards our significant other, to express our joy and happiness that the gift of love generates inside us. The human desire of joining themselves to a twin soul does not come from a fleshly impulse, but it is a spiritual command engraved in the deepest essence of our configuration: we are born to love, to be loved and to be joined to our ‘other I’; it is part of our intrinsic nature. As the body is part of our nature and we take care of it, the spirit is also part of our nature, and we must cultivate it with the water of love, generosity and kindness.
Let’s cultivate our love for that significant other on this Valentine’s Day with a gesture of kindness to celebrate our joy towards them with the perfect love, which in better words: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (Corinthians 13:4–5, King James Bible)
Creativity surrounds Valentine’s gift cards and the imagery ranges from sweet roses, cute cherubs to humorous cartoons. The fullness of the art of illustration, in this specific festival, will serve the purpose of love at its finest level, recreating endearment, joy, passion and even flirtation and humour, so much needed in a time like this.
To view more or Karina’s work, visit wnstd.com/karina
Karina’s greetings cards will be available at the Flamingo Fair on 12 February from 11am to 4pm at Wanstead Library.
Karina teaches art classes every Friday at Wanstead House from 10am to 12pm. She also runs bespoke illustration courses for small groups. For more information, visit wnstd.com/riae or call 020 8550 2398