Hard to believe it’s that time again. Thanksgiving will be here in less than a week and then it’ll be Christmas.
I just completed “Three French Hens,” my seventh illustration for the Twelve Days of Christmas series. My medium was watercolor pencil, and a Faber Castel fine line pen to outline all of the images.
In keeping with the overall whimsical theme, I depicted three rather disturbed French hens around a dinner table at a nice restaurant. The waiter lifts the lid of the main dish only to be stunned by the sight of a roasted chicken on a platter. His reaction is mild compared to that of the three hens. The one sitting closest to him faints backwards after the reveal, while the other hen on the opposing side clucks at the waiter in outrage. The third one seated in the middle is so overcome with emotion that she leaps up in the air to physically pass her “compliments” to the chef.
The biggest struggle? Working with a lot of color. I forgot what a pain it was. It took me longer to determine the actual colors to use then it did to apply them to the work.
All in all, the struggle was well worth it and I am proud to have another completed work for my series. Only five more days to go!
Okay so it’s already May! Time is flying! My birthday is just around the corner, and it occurred to me that it won’t be long before the arrival of Christmas. Yeesh! I shudder at the thought.
This prompted me to start generating some ideas for my on-going “Twelve Days of Christmas” project. I started working on my sketch a couple of days ago for “Partridge In A Pear Tree.” Back in 2010, I created an earlier version in watercolor pencil and used it for Christmas cards to send to friends and family. The final product turned out fairly well, however months later after completing some of the other pieces in the “Twelve Days” collection, this partridge now seems so serious by comparison.
This time, I want to make the new one brighter and a little more animated so here is the latest sketch below. I love him! He has just finished eating a pear that was hovering above him and is leaning back, full belly and all, feeling extremely satisfied. When I create the final, the leaves will be even larger and overlapping, thus eliminating any white space. I am considering the use of oil pastels to make the colors pop. No surprise, I will probably struggle with the decision of what colors to use for the partridge. There’s a good chance that I won’t stick to the same palette in the sketch or even the original partridge drawing for that matter.
Honestly if you were to ask me what my least favorite holiday would be, it would be Christmas. Yes, this is a pretty bizarre declaration considering I have long accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Trust me, I am glad He was born and really it’s not the season that I dislike, but the nonsensical Bozo-fication that tends to come along with it.
I kid you not, I literally cringe upon the first sighting of a Christmas tree because I sense the level of overwhelm that is to come. First, let’s kick-start the holiday with the perceived absence of Thanksgiving altogether and then launch right into Black Friday where long lines and sparring matches take place over a limited number of sale items on display at retail stores. Then there are the flurry of Christmas activities that seem to take place all at the same time forcing you to split yourself up like an atom. Oh, and can someone please pass the Pepto Bismol so I can stomach these nauseating jewelry commercials that come on at least every ten minutes? I stream my TV shows online and I still can’t escape that stuff!!
In spite of all of this, I fight really hard to keep it all in perspective. I do like to participate in charitable activities because that is what Christmas is all about – sharing and giving and doing acts of kindness for someone else. It represents Jesus to the fullest. I am also grateful for the opportunity to spend quality time with friends and family.
Recently I’ve turned to my art as therapy to help me get through the Christmas season. I chose a candy cane inspired by a widely circulated email that told the story of the candy cane’s origin. So the story goes that the candy cane was created by a Christian candy maker from Indiana who wanted to use the candy to witness about Jesus Christ. He used a lot of symbolism such as the hook shape of the candy cane representing The Good Shepherd, or if turned upside down, the “J” for Jesus. Because the candy cane appeared plain to the candy maker, he added the three small red stripes to represent the scourging of Jesus whereby we are healed. Then he added one large stripe for the blood shed by Christ on the Cross, thus giving us eternal life.
I checked the validity of this story through Snopes.com and Snopes stated that this story is not true. I still liked the idea behind all of this and felt no less inspired to create my own candy cane.
So here it is. It’s a fairly simple drawing. The mediums that I used were the Ink-tense water soluble pencils and my beloved Faber-Castell brush pen for the black outlines. I added the text alternating between the white and red to read, “By His stripes we are healed.”
One other thought that came to me as I was creating this was that like the candy cane, Jesus IS sweet. I would invite you to try Him. Psalm 34:8 says, “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” Personally I don’t think you will be disappointed.
Here is the finished product! As I had mentioned in my earlier post, I felt led to do the background in purple. The hardest part was trying to figure out the color of the angels’ bodies. My initial intent was to leave them in white but the piece looked unfinished. I did the detailing on the white wings in a medium gray watercolor pencil which gives the piece a lot of texture.
These colors were no accident. I believe God gave these to me and they make perfect sense considering the two upcoming seasons – Christmas and Advent.
Purple/Advent: One of purple’s symbolic meanings is royalty and is often used for the season of Advent. Advent meaning “coming” or “arrival”, not only celebrates the anticipation of Christ’s First Coming, but also the anticipation of Christ’s Second Coming as King. This year Advent begins in late November (27) and ends the day before Christmas.
White and Gold/ Christmas: White and gold is associated with the season of Christmas. Gold represents God’s glory and divine nature and white is the color of purity and righteousness.
By the way, the commercial/retail industry would have you believe that the start of the Christmas Season is the day after Thanksgiving. Christmas Day, however, is considered to be the start of the Christmas season lasting twelve days until January 5, hence “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”