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DIY holiday cards revive tradition with flair and piece of your heart

Artist and instructor Evelyn Acosta-Cone and her Wednesday art class in Marble Falls work on watercolor Christmas cards in preparation for the 2019 holiday season. Staff photos by Suzanne Freeman

A Marble Falls art class is reviving the dying art of sending — and making — holiday cards.

“I used to buy them, and I haven’t been sending them as much as I used to,” said class member Wendy Wayson of Cottonwood Shores. “This year, everybody’s getting a card!”

Wayson is one of several women taking a painting class from artist Evelyn Acosta-Cone, who has been making her own holiday cards for about 10 years. Her Christmas creations always include a holiday poem written by husband Dan Cone. The Marble Falls couple’s tradition inspired the rest of the class to join in.

“This has encouraged me to get back into mailing Christmas cards,” said Brendita Via Señor Lester, who has been in the painting class about a year. “Over the years, I’ve noticed I’m getting fewer and fewer Christmas cards, sadly. This has put me in the Christmas spirit and gotten me back into the swing of things.”

You don’t have to be part of an art class, or even consider yourself an artist, to paint your own holiday cards, Acosta-Cone said.

“It’s simple and it’s personal,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be perfect or the most beautiful card in the world. It’s a gift of your time, and time is the most precious thing we have.”


Everything you need is inexpensive and easy to find. Acosta-Cone suggests getting the best watercolor paper you can find as the only real splurge. Other items you need are:

  • graphite paper (be sure it’s wax-free)
  • water colors (tubes are best)
  • an image (free from the internet)
  • paper plate for mixing colors
  • brushes, which should include a flat for background, a size 12 round and a 6 for large areas, and a 2 for detail)
  • water in bowls and a spray bottle
  • a roll of paper towels to clean brushes


Type “free Christmas clip art” into a search engine on your computer and take your pick of any number of free images. Print your choice on an 8½-by-11-inch sheet of paper. Via Señor Lester decided on an elaborate angel, which she will start once she has finished the orange poppies she is working on.


Using wax-free graphite paper and a stylus, pencil, or any sharp, pointy object, trace the image onto the watercolor paper. It’s important that you buy wax-free paper so you can erase and your colors don’t run. Be sure to trace lightly so that the lines don’t show through the paint when you’re done.


Choose a few basic colors you want to use and make a color key on a piece of the watercolor paper. In this example, Acosta-Cone decided she needed two types of yellow, one for the candle and one for the angel’s hair, so she put that on her key. Colors are mixed on a paper plate as you need them.


Dipping your brushes in water and color, you can paint your picture, starting with the bigger areas first and saving details for last. Test your paint on scraps of watercolor paper before committing them to your artwork. When you’re done, be sure to sign it with either watercolors or a fine permanent pen.


On a separate piece of paper, write out what message you want imposed on the picture — if anything — and what you would like to have printed inside.


Your image will be shrunk to fit on the card size of your choice. Acosta-Cone prefers invitation size cards, which are 6 inches by 4 inches. Many choose 5-by-7-inch cards. The printer will help you decide on card stock, font, and word placement. Ask to see a proof before the cards are printed and decide in advance how many you need. Acosta-Cone sends about 85 cards a year to family and friends around the world.

“Sending something you created is the difference between sending someone an email and writing them a letter,” Acosta-Cone said. “The difference is that this is something you took the time to think about and decide what to do and how you’re going to do it. It’s a precious gift.”

Acosta-Cone teaches all levels, beginner to expert, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday in Marble Falls. Anyone interested in joining the group can give her a call at 360-333-1884.

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