Illustrating Christmas

I have been illustrating Christmas in two recent paintings. They are not elaborate in style or detail, or even very thought through, but they’re my try at doing some kind of “design”, illustrating the season of Christmas in my own way.

I follow a few illustrators on social media that has been filling my streams with Christmas illustrations these past weeks. Some of them are doing a 12 day of Christmas Designs for cards and such. I guess that is why I’ve been thinking about illustrating quite a lot lately. As a job, as a profession, as something to ponder more… How it is similar to simply painting or drawing – but still so very different.

Illustrating the season of Christmas

As an artist you express what you have
on the inside of your head or your heart. As an illustrator, you try to create some kind of story from the outside, something that will lead the reader into an article or sell as a Christmas card for example…


An illustrator uses creative skills in art and design to communicate a story, message or idea. Illustrators work to commercial briefs to inform, persuade or entertain a client’s intended audience, adjusting the mood and style of images accordingly.

I have totally been admiring those who have the illustrator mindset lately. Some can both draw, paint and then edit in Photoshop to make it “work”, to create a kind of “design”. They are so artistic, and still think about where their art will end up, how it could be used – and how you could sell it as a product. I love that kind of entrepreneurial mindset!

With all this in my head, I decided to paint a bit. But instead of creating another abstract painting or art journal page, I tried drawing out a Santa Lady, on a piece of loose paper.

Christmas painting: Lonely Santa Lady WIP drawing by iHanna

I wanted to illustrate a feeling of Christmas, in a way. I didn’t want to copy any of the (mostly) animal designs I’d seen, but to paint something in my own style. So I used a look I have done many times before in my art journal, and this is what I came up with.

Christmas painting WIP - drawing by iHanna winter 2015

It’s mostly red, since it’s Christmas’ color, but she got pink socks too, and pink cheeks. Once I finished I thought she looked a bit too lonely and sad for a Christmas card… Thought maybe it could work as a greeting from a single girl who doesn’t fancy the holiday much?

God Jul from me to  you says iHanna with a Christmas Illustration

God jul means Merry Christmas in Swedish. The lettering took for eeever, and looks very messy close up, but it was fun lettering with white paint, and the ice blue background of the sign makes me happy.

To not feel so very lonely my second girl got a kitten, that she might be squeezing a bit too hard…

Christmas painting WIP: Santa Crazy Girl

I didn’t want to add a smile to her face this time either. But at least this feels a bit warmer to me. I like the no emotion face, like a doll that you can any project yourself and your feelings on when you play with it.

After two paintings I got derailed from 12 Christmas Designs before Christmas. Not tired of painting, but a bit tired of not feeling free to do anything. Maybe I’m not illustrator material, or maybe this is not my style. I let you know as I continue to experiment…

Christmas painting: Santa Crazy Cat Girl painted by iHanna

Maybe that is not a very designy way to think about it. Christmas cards, to sell, should be both happy and cute at the same time. And appeal to a mass market. I doubt this does that. But I kind of like the finished pieces. What do you think?

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4 Responses to Illustrating Christmas

  1. Kathryn says:

    These are wonderful Hanna. I don’t think she looks lonely and sad, maybe contemplative and longing for the simplicity of Christmas. God jul Hanna! :)

  2. Jenny says:

    I agree. These are so charming!

  3. Helena M says:

    De är så uttrycksfulla! Kanske inte vad” marknaden” eller “normen” efterfrågar men den talar direkt till mig som oxå är singel med en katt som familj… Väldigt fin som sagt!

  4. Meghan says:

    Both these paintings are darling, I am so impressed.

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