September's guest design brief is by Ellen Sklar Abbott, fellow Card Gnome artist and accomplished illustrator. Influenced by the art of Homer, Hopper and Charles Burchfield, Ellen has studied at the Art Institute of Chicago as well as private art academy. Ellen has also worked in film and publishing. 

notable, holiday occurs each year on the last Sunday in September (this year on the 25th) for mothers of sons or daughters who are fallen war heroes. Called Gold Star Mother’s Day, it was designated a holiday by presidential proclamation in 1918. The holiday originated as a club for mothers who lost children in war and today is open to any mother. The custom of hanging a gold-starred banner in a window commemorates each lost child who fought in battle during war. The banner consists of a single gold star in the center of a white or linen colored background surrounded by a dark red border that signifies the color of blood. A blue star represents each living son or daughter hero.

The banner colors also bring to mind autumn with rich gold and red leaves of aspen, oaks and maples. Crisp autumn days mean bright blue skies, leaves swirling in the wind, the smell of wood fires and apple pie. Autumn spices are cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg, and sage. Use all your senses when thinking of great card ideas, it will help form a picture in your mind.

When designing for Gold Star Mother’s Day here’s a few ideas to begin with—of course your ideas may be far more contemporary! Nostalgia: Picture an old tea stained linen towel with hand stitching, calligraphy with ink blots in black on parchment as if written with a quill pen that splattered. Deep red or burgundy, marine blue, and rich gold reminds me of an old quilt or an old flag. A wood cook stove, home cooked meals. Comfort, roots, bonding, and a mother’s love for children are themes to consider.

Listening to music helps get me in the frame of mind when I am sketching out ideas. Since this holiday began in 1918 perhaps early folk or blues will help you visualize. I do a lot of free sketching or scribbling to help get the juices flowing. The idea is to use what ever method gets you in the right frame of mind to come up with a great card for this special holiday.

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