Santa Taking a Cookie Break Christmas Eve

I am going to share some art out of order, which isn’t my usual approach. But I thought it would make more sense to jump right to this drawing of Santa since we’re so close to Christmas, even though it skips the line a bit. I had taken somewhat of a break recently from drawing – not really by design, life just gets busy sometimes. I decided to get back into the swing of things, I would take another shot at recording my outline and planning phases for the YouTube channel. My previous attempt at covering the entire process was not great quality, but this one turned out much better I think. I’m definitely not a video expert, and I’ve found the video capture and editing process to have a fairly steep learning curve. Anyhow, that new one was a positive experience, and I’ll share it here pretty soon.

As I was working on that project, I had a special request from my family. Everyone thought it would be a fun idea to draw something holiday related, possibly of Santa Claus. I’m very rarely able to create and share something that’s timely and actually aligns with a specific event. But this time, it seemed like a fun thing to try that actually might be relevant! So, after finishing the other project, I got into this one immediately. In terms of design, I had in mind a sort of exhausted Santa taking a break from his delivery job to eat some cookies. I knew I wanted Santa to be relaxed and sitting, and to include possibly a fireplace and Christmas tree.

I’ve discussed many times my struggles with drawing from imagination. Some people have a natural aptitude for it, but I am definitely not one of those people. I’m at my best drawing from photos or other static images, and when I need to create something fresh, my brain just doesn’t want to help me out much. One of the most recent examples of me trying something like this was a drawing I did of Anna and Elsa from Frozen (once again by request from the kiddos). In situations like this, my usual method is first to start Googling the characters, whether it be Frozen or Santa himself, to get an idea of their usual get-up. You would think I could remember what clothes Santa wears, but he surprisingly has variation in terms where the white fur is, buckles, and so on. Next, I Google (or search on Unsplash) for people in somewhat similar positions. This is really important to judge proportions, shadow locations, and clothing folds.

In this case, I spent a lot of time on the first screen full of Google Image results just for “Santa Claus.” My drawing ended up being a hybrid of a few Santa clothing configurations. I did the same thing in Googling “Fireplace” and “Christmas Tree.” On Unsplash, I referenced a photo by Matheus Ferrero (user @matheusferrero) of an old man sitting on the ground. Thinking in a purely mechanical way, it might be a stretch to call this “drawing from imagination.” Really it’s just sort of a hybrid of my usual method, with some additional creative juice for flavor. My wife I don’t think agrees with me on this, so maybe it is a matter up for debate.

Let’s see how this Santa drawing turned out:

Despite my hand-wringing about how creative this actually is, I am really happy with how it turned out! It’s no masterpiece, or even probably one of my most technically sound drawings. But I feel like I nailed the scene I was originally hoping for. I wanted to see tired Santa taking a well-earned break, and think it comes through in the artwork. Santa is indeed chilling out and seems to be enjoying the cookie well enough. That’s definitely a win in my book, and it always feels good to accomplish the art mission. Some other things that worked well; the color selection for the tree was solid, and the reds I picked seemed to work as well. I think the cookies look like cookies (more or less) and the same is probably true for the milk.

There were some misses though. I think I got lazy on the background, which is so often a deficiency for my artwork. The presents are similarly not well developed. Although Santa himself overall seems good, I went a little too heavy on the graphite pencil. And the boots are pretty bad…definitely should have spent more time there. I also sort of forgot to add any shadows or ground markings near the glass of milk, so the milk and cookies almost look like they’re floating. I’m sure there are other issues or areas for improvement that I haven’t even noticed. But I’m not going to spend time dwelling on what didn’t work, since overall I feel good about this one.

I captured this process on video too, which I’ll embed below. If you like this one, feel free to pop into YouTube and drop me a like…not trying to sound like a stereotypical video-sharer on that platform or anything. It does help though I think (both in terms of algorithms and for me to know what people enjoy). Unfortunately, this particular video had some focus issues. But at least I did better on the lighting.

As a bonus, I also wanted to share a really quick doodle from this morning. My kids and I have gotten into the habit on the last couple of weekends of drawing on Saturday morning. I almost never draw from live subjects, but while they were hard at work with their cool imaginative artwork, I decided to try to draw them. It doesn’t exactly look like them, but there is a passing resemblance there. I think I made my youngest look older than she is, but that’s okay. Eventually, ,I should make an effort to try more live drawings. It’s a good way to grow as an artist I think – be adventurous, try something new and difficult!

Well, that’s all for now. I should have that other post I mentioned at the top pretty soon, covering more in depth on the measurement, outline, and earlier stages of drawing. Hopefully I’m not away from this website for almost two months again this time!

7 comments

  • Nice one !!

    As far as I know every master artist I’ve read about creates from some form of reference. To pluck images out of your head without any reference at all is a whole other skillset 🙂

    Happy Christmas to you and yours Jon, keep safe.

    • Hey Steve! Thank you man, I appreciate that. I definitely don’t have that skillset! It’s so weird, because I’ve always thought of myself as having a decent imagination, but apparently not when it comes to this hobby.

      Hope you have a great holiday season/Christmas/New years, etc as well!

      • I think you can still have a decent imagination but not be able to get it down on paper in art form.

        That’s where written works are easier (or would be for me) to pluck out of that imagination.

        Not sure if you’ve seen The Mandalorian series, or the Dinotopia artwork? Both are examples of where the writing and artwork have developed at the same time, one bouncing ideas off another and most importantly, going through many iterations before settling on the one we actually get to see. And also in both, life references were used.

        Have a good one Jon, see you next year 🙂

      • That’s a good point, it’s certainly not a given that the pencil will cooperate with what goes on in someone’s head. I should make practicing that my New Year’s resolution maybe – it’s certainly something I’ve wanted to work on for a couple of years now.

        I haven’t, but I keep hearing good things about the Mandalorian. I’ll have to check out Dinotopia as well! I’ve always been a big fan of dinosaurs.

        You too man, see you in 2021!

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  • In terms of design, I had in mind a sort of exhausted Santa taking a break from his delivery job to eat some cookies.

    • I do appreciate you checking out the site…but I don’t typically allow links in comments unless it’s a blogger I’ve interacted with a bit. I’ve removed your link but left the comment text as is.

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