The Christmas Lawn Display

I was honored to be hired by designer niece Devin to help decorate her front yard this year and bring her holiday vision to life. It made Christmas 2011 a memorable and fun one. I'm already thinking about ideas for her house next year.

Creative Inspiration: Saks 5th Avenue Holiday Windows 2011

I love this video. It goes from the display's being fabricated in the shop to the installer's POV inside the windows to seeing the finished creation as a passerby. I'm not sure what the holiday message is actually. Toucans spinning on an oil well rig this time of year aren't particularly magical or heartwarming, but what do I know? Nevertheless it's creativity inspiring, especially the hand drawn pen and ink design on all the set pieces (and the video creator's choice of montage music).

Sign of Abominable Snowmen: Part Four

The finished sign for the Abominable Snowman footprint. Due to time and budget, it was made really down and dirty, but it's done and fun for this Christmas. I consider it a decent prototype for a improved-on version next year that can then be used annually.

To create it as big as possible from a regular home printer, I made "BEWARE" and "ABOMINABLE SNOWMEN" in Photoshop as two separate legal sized images (8 1/2" x 14"). Once printed out they were spray glued onto a piece of black foamcore. The board was trimmed into a wonky shape and had cartoony notches and grooves cut out with an X-Acto to look like old weathered wood. The black board under the white paper instantly added contrast and shadow.

Next I gave the whole board a wash of watered down, brown craft paint. The grooves and edges had a few more washes added here and there to blend in better. When foamcore is wet on one side it tends to curl as it dries. Easily fixed just wetting the opposite side and it curls back again. The glued on paper naturally wrinkled a bit, but didn't bug me too much. It helped the antiqued look.

The sign post itself is just a 1" wood dowel painted white and mounted on a 12" plywood round base. The candy stripe is red tape. It was topped with a glued on wood finial and round ornament my stash (a change in the design from the original candy cane in the sketch) and painted gold. The base was covered with spray glued on blobs of batting for snow.

Because of recent high winds here, I secured the sign with black zip ties in addition to gluing on the post. Threading the ties through the recessed black grooves helps makes them not too obvious... at first glance at least.

Creative Inspiration: Puppets of the Addams Family

The creature puppets in the Broadway musical of The Addams Family are ingeniously and fantastically low tech.

More about their creator Basil Twist here.

Sign of Abominable Snowmen: Part Three

The making of the giant Abominable Snowman footprint holiday lawn decoration continues.

When we last left off, the foot print was built up with expanding foam. I wanted to keep the blobby disturbed snow look the foam creates but make a bit cleaner without obvious gaps or holes between the blobs. Using what I have at hand, I decided to decoupage it with heavy duty paper towels (Scott brand "Rags in a Box") and a watery thin mix of patching plaster (DAP Presto Patch). Because of the foot's large size I was able to use full sheets of paper towels for most of it, so it went pretty quick.

Once dry I painted it with a thick coat of white latex house paint. Being all white and a shallow depth, the imprint was blown out and hard to see in daylight. It needed a faux shadow line to sell it. I spray painted the recessed areas in a cornflower-ish blue color and then knocked it back with white spray paint softening the blue overall but keeping darker areas along the imprint walls. The contrast let the print stand out and gave it a fun cartoony look.

From here (because I live in Los Angeles and real snow does not seem likely) once on the lawn, I'm going to add tufts of batting and a coat of canned artificial snow along the prop's edges so it looks more like a natural patch of snow on the grass. Next in Part Four... making the "Beware of Abominable Snowmen" sign post.

Creative Inspriration: Ring Out Solstice Bells

I know I posted this great animated Jethro Tull video last December, but consider it a blog equivalent to a favorite ornament you hang on the tree every Christmas.

Little Mermaid Sketches

I'm working on another poster illustration for Singapore's I-theater newest production, Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid. The first sketch was just getting an initial idea on paper. The show will have a unique take being re-imagined with an Asian aesthetic. The approved second sketch plays off that idea. The final art will also include the treasure and coral reef from the first.

Sign of Abominable Snowmen: Part Two

The basic construction of the Abominable Snowman footprint for the lawn is really super simple (and as usual cheap). I drew out it's shape on an old scrap piece of foam board which was a decent monster size (about 3 1/2 feet long x 2 feet wide). Hard to see the pencil lines in this picture but they're there.

Then I outlined it with layers of canned spray foam (left over from Halloween projects) to build up what will be snow. And yes, in my world... Abominable Snowmen only have four toes.

Once hardened, I cut away the visible foam board edges and carved some of the overly blobby spray foam in the imprint shaping it better.

From here I'll finish it up with plaster and paint and move on to the "Beware" sign. Details on that in Part Three soon. I've been hit with a cold the past few days, so all my projects right now are slow to finish.

Sign of Abominable Snowmen: Part One

It was bound to happen eventually. Christmas decorating this year is going over the top like Halloween. Here's a sketch of a fun prop I'm working on now that was actually niece Devin's idea!

More on this in Part Two soon.