“The Snowman Builders” (2017)

(Based on characters from “San Andreas Snowman” by filmmaker and animator, Michael Granberry)

I pulled off one final painting for 2017 and I’m sure happy with it. Michael and I made the decision to stay home for the holidays. And as it turns out, the song is correct: there’s no place like it! After habitually hibernating well into the late mornings under a mountain of fleece and down, we slithered out of bed, stretched our body muscles, and then got to work on exercising the artistic ones.


I have a secret weapon as a painter.

You see, because Michael is a stop-motion animator, the GreenBerry TreeHouse is crammed to the rafters with puppets from his past works, including a number of holiday-themed films. Here’s his short film “San Andreas Snowman,” that inspired my painting.

"The Snowman Builders" by Gary Green - 2017 Acrylic on Canvas
Here was a terrific opportunity for me to paint a still life that didn’t involve produce or carnations, and keep it in the holiday spirit.

These puppets make for great models for color-rich and simplified painting sessions. Look at the shapes of the faces and bodies of the two snowman builders – relatively simple to reproduce and volumize.

I’m amazed at how much emotion Michael is able to convey with simple forms. Look at those happy faces, and then notice they’re composed of nothing more than two brown dots, beige button noses, and a couple of white watermelon-slice smiles. Holiday cheer to last an entire year.

Painting from life is a must, but it don’t limit yourself to the obvious choices. After all, Van Gogh painted his old shoes. Bazille and Manet painted seductive images of dead fish and eels. If the traditional subject matter doesn’t excite you, with a little imagination you can find some delightfully entrancing to set down on your stage instead.

Every second of bringing these kids to life was a treat. Now Michael has a tribute to his art, we have a terrific Christmas keepsake, and I can check “paint from life one last time” off my year-end to-do list.

Your turn.  Grab some old slippers, or a Barbie doll, or maybe even a sock puppet… and go paint!

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