Crafty Christmas 2018

A number of years ago I worked for a giftware company bulk painting folk art items for retail. It was piece work so the more pieces you painted the more money you made. It wasn’t particularly challenging for technique. The pieces had to be simple so they could be mass produced but I did pick up some nifty tricks (floating, double loading, tole patterning) that are fun to revisit every once in awhile. I’m crafty keen about Christmas. I make my own fresh evergreen planters, decorative wreaths, and ornaments.

Ornament creation is a great activity to incorporate some of those folk techniques. I usually use whatever things I have lying around. I work with low viscosity (craft/folk art) paint and I don’t finish varnish. The two ornaments hanging from the lights on either side of the fireplace were made with some old plywood odds and ends. The figures are intended to look as if they’re parachuting down into Christmas.

They’re probably not what you would traditionally think of as ornaments because they’re quite large.

Here’s a closer look at the Jester in a Box whilst hung to provide a better idea of the scale.

I used metallic string to join the two pieces in a fun way.

These ornaments have much more detail than any of the bulk work I did whilst painting giftware.


Looking at the back it’s easier to see just how rough the scrap plywood is (I only sanded the cut sides) but I like that for these pieces. It’s an approach that falls into that homespun handmade feel that I associate with Christmas.

Abstract Study

I don’t create a lot of abstract work but occasionally it’s nice to shake up the old routine. I’ve been feeling a bit in the weeds as I continue to work on the large canvas in my storm series. I decided a bit of a breather was in order. I wanted to do something that had fluidity both in the composition and the process. This oil on canvas was the result. Deciding the title of the painting coincided with the arrival of visitors in my studio space. I asked for input on interpretation and interestingly enough opinions fell strictly along gender lines.  A lively discussion ensued and after the group left I ended up titling the painting “Brendan’s Lament”. It’s a rather obscure title in the vein of “you had to be there”.  We all interpret through our own personal filter so I suppose I could have gone with “Untitled”. “Untitled” though is still very much a title (along the lines of opting not to choose is still making a choice). For me the manipulation/creation of an image is about communication. What you put in, what you leave out, what you say and what you don’t say, are all a part of the message.

Brendan's Lament