Santa’s Wild Ride
The painting above was inspired by SCBWI’s December illustration prompt. I decided to feature characters I’d developed years ago for a children’s book. My first thought was to have the farm animals taking over Santa’s sleigh…perhaps hopping aboard while he was preoccupied with chimneys and stockings. I imagined them driving off on their own, scrambling to figure out how to command 8 flying reindeer. Then I thought: what if they ambushed Santa as he passed through the barnyard? It was the cow’s idea, of course. She wanted a late night joy-ride on Christmas Eve. Life on the farm just wasn’t adventurous enough for her! The sheep went along with her plan but soon discovered their distaste for heights and speed. Needless to say, they’ll all be on the naughty list for next year. Never prank Santa Claus.
A few watercolor tips connected with this piece:
- Snow isn’t really white. Leave the white paper only for highlights. Build up blues and purples for the shadows in snow.
- I used bits of masking tape to mask off the stars. Rubber cement and traditional watercolor masking fluid also work well. White crayon is a 4th option. Crayon creates a wax-resist that won’t allow color to penetrate the paper’s surface (similar to Easter egg dyeing techniques). Once masked, you can paint large areas without fear of losing the white paper. Simply remove masking tape, cement, or fluid when finished with the painting.
- I like Uni-ball Vision fine point pens for tiny details like houses in the background or the soft edges of smoke. For bold lines, I use a brush dipped in ink. Note: ink is the quickest way to ruin a brush. Wash brush immediately with soap and water (working all the ink residue out of bristles) to keep your brush in good shape. Waterproof ink will not wash out once dried.
Not sure whether I’ll post again before the New Year. So, in case I don’t, I’ll say now: “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!”
If you visit this illustration on the SCBWI page, you can make up a caption for Santa and add it to the comments section! To see the SCBWI page, click here.