Tree’s All That

Watercolor & ink of a Christmas tree with decorations arranged in a way that are subtly resembling eyes and a mouth of the tree making a sad facial expression.

Merry Christmas Tree
5″x7″ watercolor & ink

I created this painting in 2016. I wanted to paint a Christmas tree with a sad expression and how it might feel in contrast to such a joyful season, as a joke.

One evening on December 1st of that year in Chicago, I decided I wanted to spend time sketching at a cafe in the Lakeview neighborhood. Ordered a plate of fries and a glass of water for dinner.

A spiral-bound sketchbook of variations of the sketch of the Christmas tree on a table at a diner. There's a glass of water and a basket of fries on the side.

Thumbnail sketches of various ideas

Sketching at restaurants and cafes is super fun for me, especially when I’m sketching my ideas instead of sketching the cafe environment exactly as it is, or sketching the food in front of me. I sketched 3 thumbnail drawings in pencil first. If you haven’t heard of the term, I didn’t actually sketch real-life thumbnails, like the type on your fingers. It’s called a thumbnail sketch because the sketch is small and messy, like thumbnails.

Pencil sketch of a Christmas that was used to create the final watercolor & ink painting later. In this sketch, the tree is also with decorations arranged in a way that are subtly resembling eyes and a mouth of the tree making a sad facial expression.

The pencil sketch that was used to create the final painting

Or maybe it’s just the thumbnails on my fingers that are messy because they cracked in the past when I fell down the stairs at my house, not unlike Rachael Leigh Cook’s character Laney in “She’s All That.” But I really committed to the bit and continued to pick at my cuticles, mostly in high school during Algebra class. Since then, I’ve been fixing them by filing them and painting on vitamins and strengtheners. They’re finally getting better and look almost normal. This took several years. If you need advice on what nail strengthener I used, I’ve got you but you should probably go to the doctor.

After I completed the three sketch variations on my tree idea, I chose one idea and sketched the final pencil sketch underneath the thumbnail sketches. That’s the one transferred onto watercolor paper using a light box underneath the sketch and the watercolor paper.

To make your tree feel better, always place a mirror on the opposite side so that the tree can see how beautiful and loved your tree is.

Happy Holidays!

♥ Tatyana

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