Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Santa in Art - Or Is It Illustration?

Mr. Claus after Mr. Sundblom
8x8, on panel
I am most inspired by that which surrounds me and right now it's tinsel and peppermint sticks and twinkling lights. Norman Rockwell has always been a personal favorite and, during these holidaze, I'm thinking about some of his contemporaries who painted Santas. Especially Alan Stephens Foster and Haddon H. Sundblom. Foster completed more than thirty Saturday Evening Post covers during the 20s and 30s; Sundblom, of course, created hundreds of Coca-Cola ads and is credited for capturing, visually, the world's most enduring persona of Santa Claus.

I read one time - and I'm paraphrasing here - that illustration is art at work. Without diving too deeply into the hot chocolate debate of art vs. illustration, it is facinating to study these beautifully rendered faces out of their advertising context. The book, Dream of Santa, Haddon Sundblom's Vision, published by Staples & Charles, offers a great history on the evolution of Santa in art.


Kathy Cousart said...

I really like your Mr. Claus. He is friendly with wonderful skin tones and a great smile.
Merry Merry!

Pam Holnback said...

What a happy looking guy! Love the use of complements.

Virginia Floyd said...

This is a beautiful painting! Love the looseness of your strokes and the warm and cool colors in his beard!

Anita Tresslar said...

Very nice painting. I had no idea you were such a Santa expert. A fun post to read.

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

N.C.Wyeth, a stellar artist/illustrator agonized all his life that he was 'only' an illustrator. Sadly. I remember not long ago when Norman Rockwell's talent was sullied when the art world began calling him an illustrator, not an artist.
There's no difference to me.