Santa on Vacation… 6/19/2019

I realize I am not posting as frequently as I was, and I offer my apologies! I gotta get back on my game.


Supplies: Daniel Smith watercolor paint, and M Graham titanium white gouache, “Fluid 100% Cotton Watercolor 300Lb Ez-Block, 6X8” , Uniball Deluxe Micro pen, .5mm, black ink  and Uni-Ball Signo 207 Retractable Gel Pen, 0.38mm Ultra-Micro Point, Black.

First I want to mention these supplies. I LOVE THESE PENS. Why doesn’t the whole world sing of the virtues of these pens??? At least, the whole art world… There should be sonnets written about them, plaques in their honor, statues set up… I use them for drawing, writing, watercolor sketching, everything… the ink is archival and waterproof, and the ball point pens don’t skip or wear down for me. The retractable signo 207 ultra micro tip is such a fine tip… I love it! I got a few of these pens free from Office Depot, using some of their rewards points I had accumulated with my purchases. I don’t remember exactly what they were priced at, but I think these Amazon prices are comparable. (Definitely shop around, though… the prices on Amazon change frequently!) I have used the micro deluxe for two years now and am pleased to be adding the ultra micro signo. (The signo comes in several line widths, too, so really I could probably just get that in different sizes, and may do that next time I order.)

The paper is extremely affordable for 100% cotton  IN A BLOCK, and 300 lb to boot. I think it is a great way to try 300lb paper, to see if it is for you. There are more expensive papers I like better, but I’m happy with this for now and will order again. (They have pads, too… I’m not sure a block is necessary with paper this thick. It isn’t going to buckle on me with the amount of water I generally use. But I do enjoy the convenience a block gives, even if it is partly in my head)

Now, on to my art!

I have a swap* due out soon and my assigned partner loves Santa Claus (me, too!) (* But the swap has to be something I make, in BLUE. Blue Santa?? Why not? I started with this Santa at the beach, because we are hosting a Christmas in July event at work and will be having a storytime featuring a guest reader in July (Santa, on Summer vacation!) and we are at the beach, so I have Beach-Santa on the brain. I found a fun reference photo and went for it, using recently acquired paints I hadn’t tried before. Very granulating colors! Perfect for sand, not so perfect for ocean waves or sky… (live and learn!! Gotta use the paints to get to know them!) My Santa looks downright drunk (He isn’t! He’s basking in the warm sun) vs the photo Santa who looks just completely reclined… I’m not sure why, but I’ll figure it out.

My reference:


(I hope I’m allowed to post that here… it says royalty free, and you can download the image for free…)

I started with pencil, unusual for me now, but I wanted to be careful about the size:


Added ink:


Then layers of paint:


Some of that “granulation” is actually damaged paper. I used tape around the edge first, then realized I wanted no border. As I removed the tape, it pulled the surface of the paper off, especially across the top of the water, at the horizon. So. Yeah. Lesson learned, I hope. I thought it was unsalvageable. (Enter, my obsession with youtube!!) Recently I’ve been watching watercolor videos by Marco Bucci. Marco does beautiful urban sketching AND teaches lessons I actually understand! (Whether I retain them or not is another matter) One thing I have been interested to observe is his use of white gouache in nearly every sketch. (Yes, gouache, my old nemesis from two years ago). A little DING went off in my brain… so I tried adding gouache to my blues and repainting the water and sky. Guess what? It kinda worked. Not perfectly, but well enough that I’m happy I had added white gouache to my palette a while back.



In the end, I decided not to send out this one, but to do something a little simpler. And bluer. (since it IS a “blue” swap):


Rather different, I know! The line work was so fun on this thing. You can’t tell, but his buckle, tiny glasses, and also the buttons on his boots are shimmery. I’m going to include a copy of my sunbathing santa, too, if I can print a decent one. Which would you have chosen to send off?

Some of the above Amazon links are affiliate links… purchases made through them help support my blog at no extra cost to you!  So, thank you!

6 thoughts on “Santa on Vacation… 6/19/2019

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