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Friday, December 15, 2006


The Santa Mask 


I made my first post to Illustration Friday, finally. A behemoth Thank You to Julie for sharing her enthusiasm!

Since Julie first passed the link on to me, I've thought about each of the Illo Friday topics and worked out the images I would do if something else wasn't pressing. Last Friday, when the topic Mask was announced, I was stumped. Then I remembered something that had made me absurdly happy a few days earlier: A couple of guys I used to work with announced impending baby arrivals (congrats again Bud & Erika and Patrick & Jaclyn!). Next Christmas will be the very first for a couple of spankin' new people – and that almost feels as wonderful as spring.

When I think of Christmas, the first thing I think about is my childhood. Sure I looked forward to opening presents, but never as much as my friends did. My mother had an odd need to surprise people, even though she herself hated surprises – so she never gave me what I'd asked for, but rather something similar. She and my father would argue over what to get us sometimes when they thought we couldn't hear them on the other side of the Army commissary where we did our holiday shopping. Once in a while my dad prevailed, and I got something I really wanted (thanks for that chemistry set and microscope!).

But when I was thinking about the new babies, it dawned on me how much fun my dad had at Christmas. He had been a Depression kid, and I think Success for him was giving his kids more than he'd had. Even though I was born in the '50s and not the '20s, I know how that is because I too felt successful when I could give my kid more than I'd had.

That's when I put the Illo Friday assignment, Mask, together with what Christmas is from a parent's eyes: a time we get to put on the Santa mask, and that is real fun!

So I decided to walk away from all the things that were caving in on me, take a little meditation time and get the Daddy's Santa Mask image out of my head and onto a monitor.

Brad modeled for this illustration, and I used Photoshop to digitally approximate a style I used to work in a lot, using real scratchboard. I have to confess, I bitched just a little about how much easier it would have been if I'd had one of my favorite apps, Painter. Then I overheard Brad quietly ordering Painter for my Christmas present! Wow, forget about surprises – I know what's coming and I'm all atingle with anticipation! It's as good as the year I was 8 and found my parents' Christmas present stash in their closet a couple of weeks early!