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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.















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