Drawing Ink and watercolor wash People Sketchbook Pages

Santa’s Name is James

Icky Shrimp Taco and Signed by Santa James
(left) Cactus Taqueria Diners with Xmas decor; (right) Santa Sketch Signed by Santa James

Cathy had the brave idea to sketch at the San Francisco Centre mall. I say “brave” because for some of us, entering an upscale glitzy mall during the holidays requires much girding of the loins. It was fun sketching on BART on the way there, but when I entered the mall I felt like I’d walked into a science fiction movie.

Noise! Shiny stuff! Expensive stuff! Way too much stuff! Escalators winding around and around, floor after floor, up to a huge domed ceiling where Santa and my sketch group were supposed to be. But it turned out there are two domes and I was on the wrong side of the mall.

Finally I made it to the correct dome where movies were projected on the dome ceiling, music was playing and Santa was sitting on a throne in front of a backdrop that said “The Picture Perfect Holiday Made Possible by Microsoft.” When they took your picture with Santa they cropped out the Microsoft bit.

Santa James and I
Santa James and I

After I sketched Santa I went up to get my free photo with him. Isn’t he the most perfect looking Santa? I asked him to sign my sketch and he did, “Santa James.” He maintained that cherubic smile all evening through dozens of crabby children and silly adults getting their picture taken with him. One group of 4 teen girls all talked on their cellphones while their picture was taken.

Albany Life in general Oil Painting Painting Places

Santa and Christmas Sleeping Rough in the Park

Santa version 6, oil on panel, 8x6
Merry Christmas Santa (version 6), oil on panel, 8x6

People are living in the park known as the Albany Bulb again. On a walk we saw more than a dozen homemade shelters, tree houses and tents hidden away in the brush, this one (below) complete with Christmas tree.

Christmas at the Bulb
Christmas at the Albany Bulb

Although I no longer celebrate Christmas with trees and gifts myself, I always like to get out my Santa (at top of post) that was given to me by a wonderful former student who died not long after in a motorcycle crash. The funny, cheery Santa always reminds me of the value of generosity and the transitory nature of life.

I hope Santa finds the homeless families living in the park and makes their Christmas bright. It can’t be much fun camping out in the mud, pouring rain and wind we’ve been having.

And I hope all of you are having a wonderful winter holiday too!