Follow my Blog by Email

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Growth Charts: Hand Painted Christmas Gifts


Inspiration for this project first came from my daughter, Emily, who months ago asked if I could make a growth chart for her little girl; something that could be easily moved when necessary. This request triggered  memories of a growth chart we had for our children years ago that was not so movable. It was the white painted wood door jam of a 1950's kitchen in our home in Durango, Colorado. This growth chart was not restricted to family members. Anyone and everyone who wanted to be measured would stand up to that doorway and stretch as tall as they could; I would take my ruler and pencil to mark their place on that wall with their name and the date they were measured. It was so much fun for everyone to compare who was taller than who and track the progression of our children and their friends as they grew. Our tallest entry came from a good friend and co-worker of my husband's. His name was Jack and he measured in at 6 feet, 9 3/4 inches. Jack was a tall man. The kids squealed in delight when they saw his mark.


I never realized how special that growth chart would be until the day the movers came and everything we owned was loaded up into a large moving truck. The only personal item remaining in that empty house was the immovable growth chart, a small memorial to the many years of growing and changing that took place in our little house. I cried.

And now I fast forward to today and the creation of growth charts for my granddaughters that will never have to be left behind. I painted them on a pre-treated canvas fabric with acrylic paint.( My kind next door neighbor, Susan, hemmed in the edges for me.) They turned out to be quite the Christmas project. Each one took longer than I had planned but in the end, they were wrapped and ready under the Christmas trees waiting for their unveiling.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Santa Claus Nativity Paintings: Completed



Wise Men Still Seek Him I
11 x 14", Oil on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson (c) 2011
Wise Men Still Seek Him, II
11 x 14", Oil on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson (c) 2011
Wise Men Still Seek Him, II
11 x 14", Oil on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson (c) 2011




Wise Men Still Seek Him I, II, and III
11x14", Oil on canvas
The Series Completed
Rita Salazar Dickerson (c) 2011 



Creating a series of three Santa Claus paintings, a project that started in September and ended in December, has been interesting, challenging and extremely enjoyable. Each painting was designed specifically for the client with their special interests in mind. 

In Santa #1, it was the figurine  at the window with Santa kneeling in prayer in front of the nativity.

In Santa #2, with Santa still kneeling, I added three Nutcrackers on the radio, a Hess fire truck on the floor by Santa's bag, and the famous leg lamp from the movie, A Christmas Story, at the window. 

In Santa #3, the window was replaced by a fireplace with personalized stockings hanging above the hearth, Gund teddy bears on the mantel, and multiple clocks added on the walls. Instead of a nativity, a vintage Lionel train and a large baby Jesus replaced it beneath the tree. 
Adding these personal touches to each painting and varying some of the colors kept things interesting and original. 

Each time a painting leaves my studio(especially the ones that are given as gifts), I try to imagine where it will go and how it is received. I look forward to hearing the stories on these three.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Santa Claus Nativity Painting: Decorating the Christmas Tree

Santa Claus Nativity Painting
11x14", Oil on canvas
6th Session


At times it really felt like I was actually decorating a live little Christmas tree with lights and ornaments that flowed from my brush.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Santa Claus Nativity Painting: Saint Nicholas


Santa Claus Nativity Painting
11x14", Oil on canvas
5th Session

Painting Saint Nicholas was more fun than I had imagined it would be. Since red is my favorite color I thoroughly enjoyed the experience!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Santa Claus Nativity Painting: Painting In Miniature

Wise Men Still Seek Him
11x14", Oil on canvas
2nd Session
Wise Men Still Seek Him
11x14", Oil on canvas
3rd and 4th Session
I underestimated how challenging it would be to paint everything in miniature. Painting baby Jesus half the size of my little pinkie's finger nail was so much harder than I had imagined. To keep myself from giving in to sudden urges to run stark raving mad into the street, I decided to take a more positive approach and play a Christmas movie. Sometimes just having something light and comical in the background keeps me slightly distracted and entertained. My first choice, A Christmas Story. Ralphie makes me laugh.
Having actual figurines from my parents' nativity helped me match colors and set the tone.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Santa Claus Nativity Painting: Pencil Sketch to Canvas

The Santa Claus Nativity Painting
Preliminary Pencil Sketch on Paper, 11x14


Christmas started early for me this year. I was approached mid-summer by a potential client who asked if I would consider painting not just one, but three special paintings that he wanted to give as Christmas gifts. The common theme he envisioned for each painting would be the same, Santa Claus kneeling, praying, at the foot of a nativity. Beyond that, each 11x14 painting would be customized for the recipient with images that recognized or paid tribute to their special interests. I was intrigued and readily accepted the challenge. I must admit I have never imagined painting the likeness of Santa Claus and here I was, planning to paint three of him!

The Santa Claus Nativity Painting
Tracing the Sketch, 11x14


The requested personalized image for this first painting was a cloth sculpture sitting on a table at a window in the living room with the traditional cookies and milk waiting. After I received approval of the11x14  pencil sketch, I traced my drawing with a pencil, then followed the pencil lines with an oil pastel on the back side of the tracing paper.


The Santa Claus Nativity Painting
oil pastel transferred onto canvas


I then aligned the 11x14 tracing paper on top of the same size stretched canvas and gently rubbed over the pastel drawing lines. The pastel rubbed off onto the canvas under the pressure of my thumb nail. 
The Santa Claus Nativity Painting
oil on canvas, 11x14
1st Painting Session
The first painting session began with a fairly detailed depiction of the scene painted with a thin layer of transparent oxide red. My inspiration for the nativity came from childhood memories of my family's set. Not long after I started this project I was able to visit my parent's home, rummage around in their basement (with my mom's help) and find the few pieces that have survived years and years of use. I painted the clock that is hanging in my own living room; it seemed to fit the mood. As for Santa's pose, I used the statue of The Thinker by Rodin as my model for the general pose though The Thinker is sitting instead of down on one knee. This pose was also a specific request from my client.

The next session, adding color.















Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Little Girl Portrait II: Gracie and the Balloon/6th Session, The Completed Portrait

Gracie
oil on canvas, 11x14
6th Session
I had so much fun painting yesterday afternoon and into the night, I could hardly stand it! It is exciting when I imagine what  the completed painting will look like and then have it actually turn out the way I was hoping. Since this is not always the case, I like to enjoy these moments when I can!

I decided that the green grass in the background was not necessary and in fact detracted from Gracie and the overall composition. Once that was replaced with blue sky, I painted in the balloon and then as a final treat, added the bubbles, entertaining additions to an already light and airy composition.

Now, the time has come to let the painting "rest" a few days before I look it over one last time with fresh eyes and make any additional changes. Since Gracie is a Christmas gift, she will need time to dry before delivery and framing.

It has been such a pleasure painting both of Gracie's portraits.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Little Girl Portrait II: Gracie and the Balloon/5th Session

Gracie
oil on canvas, 11x14
5th Session


The pale pink of Gracie's dress works well with the light blue sky. They compliment each other in a way that enhances her features and adds a softness to her presence. The day I photographed Gracie, the weather, lighting and her pink dress all worked so well together. Gracie was a painting waiting to happen.

 





Thursday, December 1, 2011

Little Girl Portrait II: Gracie and the Balloon/4th Session

Gracie
oil on canvas, 11x14
4th Session
Painting little arms and hands kept me busy last night. Since I am painting wet into wet paint, there was no turning back; it was midnight when I finally felt I was at a stopping point. Of course by then I wished I could have painted all night (which I have done sometimes) but I made myself stop with the reminder that tomorrow is another day and if there is something to correct (which there usually is) it can be corrected later. And so for now, here are Gracie's arms and hands. Her dress is next.