It’s that Most Wonderful Time of the Year where life gets hectic and there are more tasks to fit into every day, albeit many of the additional tasks are fun. Between all the preparations for the festive season, volunteering at school and putting our living rooms back together after they were decorated on top of all the regular, everyday chores, “me time” has been squeezed. This means my To Do list of art projects is growing ever longer while conversely my time in which to accomplish anything grows slimmer. Therefore, when I read about an creative Advent project on Mary Tanana’s Groovity Blog, I thought that might be manageable.
I decided to work on the project using “twinchies”, two inch squares, as I thought the scale would be something I could more easily fit into my schedule while also presenting me with a challenge and an opportunity to practice a variety of techniques. My intention had been to do complete one twinchie per day, in the spirit of Advent, but even that became impossible to work into my schedule so I actually ended up producing them all across two days. I decided to work in a cool colour scheme to create harmony across all the individual pieces and because I wanted to flout the traditional festive colour scheme of bold, rich, warm hues.
#1 was a Santa hat. I used a page from a clothing catalogue to collage the hat shape and then I added the fluff detail with pen.
#2 was a Christmas Tree. I used a card one of my sons was sent which had a nice zig zag pattern on it for the Christmas Tree shape adhered to a square I had coloured with metallic gelato and topped with a star-shaped sequin.
#3 was a Tree Decoration. I kept this one simple with a watercolour painting of a bauble which I then decorated with gel pen.
#4 was a penguin. This was my kids’ favourite, especially my oldest who is obsessed with penguins. The background was watercolour and the penguin was drawn with gel pens.
#5 was a snow creature. I used watercolour for the background and muzzle of the yeti and then outlined the shape using ink pen.
#6 was Christmas Market. Drawing a scene on such a small scale was never going to work – well not for someone like me who cannot get too finicky – so I opted instead to create something that represented a Christmas Market for me and that was hot chocolate, something I have bought to warm me up while perusing stalls filled with festive treats. I used a piece of metallic gift wrap to collage the mug and then used white gel pen to draw the steam.
#7 was Winter Wonderland. I painted the square with watercolour and then used white pen to draw the tree. As you can probably see, I am still on a mission to find a white pen that produces strong pigment.
#8 was Ding Dong. Ding Dong is actually an accurate description of my mental state in the run up to the festive season, especially when I am wrapping gifts – a task that saps the festive spirit out of me – but I think the idea was it would relate to a bell. I kept this one simple with a silhouette bell shape collaged out of a piece of gift wrap (ironically) and with outline and words added with pen.
#9 was Nutcracker. My mother-in-law has a collection of Nutcrackers with which she decorates the house at Christmas. My children, therefore, wanted a Nutcracker of their own so I got them one from a thrift store. I used watercolour to paint a portrait of their Nutcracker. He really does have those creepy teeth by the way.
#10 was Christmas Jumper which I easily accomplished just by cutting out a jumper shape from a catalogue advert for a Christmas jumper and collaging it onto the twinchie.
#11 was Robin Red Breast which presented me with a dilemma: depicting the robin in accurate colours would break from my colour scheme but using blues, purples and pinks would prevent the bird looking like a robin. As you can see, I plumped for authentic colours, using watercolour to do so.
#12 was Angel and boy oh boy did I make a mess with that. I used various papers to construct the Angel through collage and got myself in a gluey mess. Oh dear.
#13 was Pear Tree. I had to paint the partridge in there too in order to properly reflect the lyrics of the carol. I outlined the watercolour shapes with black ink.
#14 was Favourite Christmas Colour. My favourite Christmas colour is actually gold. My tree decorations are all gold – except for the ones where I have lost control and the Pictlings have put hand-made multicoloured decorations on the tree – and I love the warm bling and twinkle of gold lights and ornaments. But that would have gone against my colour scheme. Instead I got to use my actual favourite colour which is purple. I used watercolour for the twinchie’s background and then used a heart shaped stamp and black ink to add an image.
#15 was Stars. Again, I used watercolour for the background and then I used a star shaped stamp and silver ink to create the image.
#16 was Gingerbread House. That would be great fun to draw sometime but would be far too complicated for my fingers on such a small scale so I simplified it and used various bits of scrap gelli prints plus a postage stamp to construct the house, using white gel pen to add little embellishments.
#17 was Frozen which I chose to interpret as a snowflake. As per my above grumble about white pens, I could not get mine to behave so I actually resorted to using correction fluid to “paint” the snowflake shape.
#18 was Festive Food. I thought I would plump for something that was very traditional and British so I painted a Christmas pudding using watercolour and then added detail with gel pen.
#19 was Dala horse. My horse-mad 7 year old had fun helping me look at images of dala horses online and is consequently obsessed with them. The background is watercolour and the horse was drawn with gel pen.
#20 was Three Kings. I had thought about trying to represent the Wise Men through their gifts but decided to pare the design back even further and take the words of the prompt more literally and collage three crowns made out of various bits of paper. My kids could not guess what that twinchie represented so I guess that was a poor decision even though I quite like the design.
#21 was Vintage Toy and since everyone has a treasured teddy bear (don’t they?) that was what I chose. I painted it using watercolour and then added the outline and detail with black ink.
#22 was Wreath. I painted the whole twinchie with a uniform shade of green watercolour and then drew on the leaves and ribbon of the wreath with gel pen.
#23 was free-choice so I decided to construct a stocking out of collaged papers, mostly scraps from the same pieces of paper I had used on other twinchies in the group.
#24 was Santa’s Sack. I again opted to use collage to create the wrapped gifts and the sack, though I added the ribbons with pen.
#25 was “what Christmas means to me”. Since I am not a person of faith, Christmas to me is really about those secular elements of family togetherness, the spirit of giving and celebrating with loved ones, and of tradition. I used tiny letter stamps to create the words “family” and “tradition”, intersecting on the square, and then added a snowflake in the blank space.
I had a lot of fun with this Advent Project and thank Mary Tanana for blogging about it and bringing it to my attention. I wish I had been able to create one per day but sometimes – often – life gets in the way of hobbies. I hope to do a similar project again next year. Maybe even on Inchies!