“Merry Fucking Christmas”
Oil on multiple panels and one canvas.
Closed: 8’ x 6’ Open: 8’ x 12’
Like many people, I have a lot thoughts and feelings about Christmas. When I was a child I was very “into“ the decorating and music of Christmas. And I did my first paintings as Christmas gifts when I was in 5th and 6th grade. Arguably, I discovered the innermost secrets and joy of painting because of Christmas.
One day, in January 2009, I woke with a clear vision for the middle panel of this painting. I envisioned a fat naked Santa with a fake beard in hand sitting atop a squashed pile of opened Christmas presents in front of a wall with snowflake wallpaper. The image came all at once. I immediately made a small study in oil and several drawings.
I put out the word to my friends that I was looking for a real Santa, someone who did Santa gigs for money. I wanted someone old and fat and jolly and who had the whole Santa costume. To my delight there was a Santa working in Seattle who works as an artists model the rest of the year. Unfortunately, he was not able to model directly “from life” for me for reasons I don’t recall so I took photos of him both in and out of his Santa suit.
I ended up having another friend sit for me for the painting. It was important that each part of the painting be created from its own kind of source material.
Sometime after I started the painting, I realized that I could express more of my ideas about Christmas by adding side panels that close forming a large cabinet. My first idea was to make the cabinet like a Christmas gift that one opens to see what is inside. So I decided to paint the outside of the cabinet as fake wrapping paper.
I decided to let my 11-year-old son participate by selecting a wrapping paper of his choice. He picked the Santa head paper and so I began painting roughly 800 Santa heads. Sam (my son) was leaving childhood. I wanted him to enter my studio process in all of its crazy ups and downs. Among other things he watched me struggle with every aspect of each panel. In an effort to make things more like machine-made wrapping paper, we made a stencil of the Santa head and hand stenciled them on to the cabinet. Even with that aid, it still took over a week to paint all the heads.
Once the cabinet (gift) is open there are effectively two side panels flanking the central image. I decided to make a pair of black and white paintings of my Santa in different aspects of his life. The left panel was created from a childhood photo that he supplied for me. The other panel is a photo I shot of him dressed for work as a Santa. And so, both of these paintings are drawn from photos, one was very old and shot by someone else. The other one was shot by myself and was new. Both have a timeless quality aided by the restricted pallet. The middle canvas is a full color painting and the most “real“ in some senses.
Oil on canvas and panel
11’ x 9’ closed, 11’ x 18’
“Excess in Balance”
Oil on canvas and panels
7’ x 5’ closed, 7’ x 10’ open
Oil on panels
4’ x 4’ closed, 4’ x 8’ open
Oil on several panels
10’ x 21’
Adam and Eve
4’ x 4’ closed, 4’ x 8’ open