Caricatures and Christmas Art

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“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” -2 Corinthians 5:21


Caricatures emphasize the most prominent or unique features of a person in a drawing; their looks, personality, and/or lifestyle. Features so prominent that the person is easily recognized by others within seconds.

 At Christmas I played a game with friends that asked an individual to describe each person at the table using one word. Sometimes this can be flattering or hurtful, depending on if the word is beautiful or smart verses complicated, high strung, or indulgent. It’s easily welcomed to be described by something good while ignoring the bad, and unwelcome to be described the other way, even though some of our most prominent features may not be positive.

Although if someone knew you wholly and completely, it wouldn’t be so hurtful to be described by one word, knowing the other parts of you are understood. My husband might describe me as emotional or intense, and even though I would dislike that, I know that he knows I’m also caring and hard working.

It’s amazing to think that God, knowing us wholly and completely, our past and our future screw ups, still wanted to send His Son to pay the price for our sin with His death. Some people will spin this as a reason to love themselves more, because God sees that we are good enough to die for. But the truth is that our most prominent feature compared to God, the one word to describe us, is “sin”.

God saved us through Jesus, not because we are so lovable, but because He is love. But when we accept Christ as our Savior and Lord of our life, our label of sin is replaced with a new label. Now when God sees us the one word to describe us is “Jesus”, His perfect Son, instead of our sin. Meaning that God’s ultimate wrath that will be poured out onto the unrighteous, will no longer include us! Which is a complete miracle

 As Christians we should be working hard with the conviction and power of the Holy Spirit so others will see Jesus as our most prominent feature, not to put on airs, NO!! But to glorify what He has done for us; making our lives a testimony to His grace so that others may repent and be saved too! Most of us fail miserably, including myself, but regardless, God has indeed changed our most prominent feature forever.

Your caricature drawing may still have a big mouth, weird hair, droopy eyes or large teeth, but you are also forgiven, loved, predestined, and because of Jesus, declared righteous by God.

Designing a Caricature

I love my job and my bosses at work. My boss, Jim, turns 50 this month, so the company was throwing a little celebration for him before Christmas break. I have known Jim 10 years, so I volunteered to design him a card on the computer. But as plans got bigger, so did the card . . . and suddenly I was designing an 18″x24″ caricature poster that everyone would sign. This is how it went:


To avoid privacy issues, I will not be including a real life photo of my boss; so use your imagination. Jim is a very good looking man with equally proportioned features. If someone were to describe him in a line up, they would have a difficult time. Tall, thin, medium short brown hair, hazel eyes, Caucasian, and wears glasses to read. I always thought he was a nice mix of Harrison Ford and Aaron Eckhart.

The nature of a caricature drawing is to emphasize the signature features of a person’s face or body so the drawing is recognizable within seconds. If a person has a very even features, this can be difficult. This was my first attempt.


Needless to say, I was VERY rusty.


I used to teach art lessons and loved to show my students the little tricks I’ve learned over the years. It was incredible seeing their minds explode when something they thought was unattainable suddenly became attainable. For this reason, I am showing you my “outtakes”. I am good at art, but I still have to work at it; it’s not magic.

I looked up some caricatures of famous people to remind myself how to do this. Not surprisingly, I always struggled with caricatures and abstract art. My art professor told me they looked too real, so I had to work really hard at those.

My next attempt was a little better. It looked more like him in the eyes. I liked that his face was turned slightly, although all the photos I could find of Jim were straight on. I may have FB stalked his wife for this . . .



I experimented with a harder 3/4 turn. I tried emphasizing his nose, mouth and chin. But I don’t see Jim in this one at all.



Went back to front position and emphasized his “Sad Sam” eyes, nose and chin. Now this definitely looks like Jim.



But since this was for his 50th birthday, I had to add in glasses and make him look a little older for fun. Turned his face just slightly to get a better position of his cheek bones and chin.



I got it drawn out in pencil and filled in with watercolor paint on watercolor paper. It’s important to think about adding movement to the drawing for caricatures. Position the person doing something that reveals something about their life or personality.


STEP 2: Add Props and Outline

I love, love, love black ink and watercolor. I have ever since my early twenties. It just works, especially for animated artwork. I outlined Jim and gave texture (like his five-o-clock shadow) using a fine tip black Sharpie pen.

I added the scissors and the paper dolls with a name for each person in our department. This is to symbolize: 1) Jim’s silliness, 2) how we are all connected by him, even though we are all in different locations, and finally 3) that Jim is shaping us into the employees we need to be to run this company efficiently and effectively.


STEP 3: Add birthday symbolism

Then I added a party hat with “50” on it to represent the occasion.


STEP 4: Add color and movement

Next I added birthday balloons in the background to give the painting more movement and color. I also needed a set place for everyone to sign. I spaced the balloons in a floating diagonal behind him to fill empty space, set a color backdrop for the paper dolls, and to add to the birthday theme.


STEP 5: Everyone signs it

I finished this on one of the desks at work, and when it was dry, everyone came around to sign it and add their “old man” jokes and birthday wishes with the same fine tip Sharpie pen for cohesiveness.

For privacy reasons, I won’t show the final pic with signatures; but trust me, it was really cool to see the writing all over the balloons. I wasn’t there when this was presented, but I’ve been told that he loved it. And we love Jim!

I don’t normally do these drawings anymore, given my carpal tunnel. My hand hurt for a week after this drawing. 😦 But it was fun pulling out some of the old skills for someone special.


Christmas Gift Art

In 2009-2010, Nate and I lived in Santee, South Carolina for just over 5 months. We were living on a wildlife refuge in an old RV we had fixed up. In exchange for a place to park with utilities, we each had to volunteer for 30-40 hours a week on the refuge.

I used most of my time painting a large mural in the visitor’s center, but we also needed money. So 5 days a week I would also work at a New York style deli called Craig’s Place. There I met Betty & Craig, the former owners of the deli. They became like parents to me; a total blessing when living in a place where you don’t know anyone.

Betty always sends us a tin of her amazing homemade goodies, so this year I wanted to send them something a little special. Their last name begins with an H, so I found a 3D “H” canvas with hooks for their wall.


The American Goldfinch is the state bird of Washington (where Betty is from) and Iowa (where I’m from), the Eastern Bluebird is the state bird of New York (where Craig is from), and the Carolina Wren is the state bird of South Carolina where we all met.


I hope they like it! I first painted the background using 3 different colors of green, white, and little dark brown. I then painted the birds, next the branches under them, then the rest of the foliage and berries to fill the empty space. Last, I sealed it with poly which looks really professional in person, but makes a glare in photos, unfortunately.


When that was finished and mailed off, I started the next gift for my sister. She lives in Connecticut, where Nate and I lived on a different wildlife refuge for 5 months after South Carolina. Chandra asked for an abstract painting of a hummingbird for Christmas. I experimented using a black canvas they are now selling at Michaels in different sizes.

This was a huge mistake, not to be repeated. Are you listening? Do NOT by the black canvases for fine art. Maybe for a poster or something. So that idea was scrapped and did I what I knew how to do . . . realism.

I chose the ruby throated hummingbird on a white rectangular canvas. Sometimes a simple subject can be made more dramatic given its placement on the canvas. Here you can imagine the hummingbird in flight, given the empty space beneath it.


Due to my level of comfort and size, this project took 2-3 hours for completion verses the 11-12 hours it took me to finish Jim’s caricature.


Merry Christmas, Chandra. I hope you love this!


And Merry Christmas to all of you! I hope you had a great time blessing all the people you love with your gifts, acts of service, and quality time.


6 thoughts on “Caricatures and Christmas Art

  1. Rich and I remember you from your visit to Santee. What a beautiful gift you have given to those you love and I am sure they are much appreciated!!!


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