This is the one that started it all. Painted in my media experimentation class, I took a photo, made about 20 copies, and put them in card holders to send to my family and a few friends. I have not missed a year since then.
One of the early efforts. I often use a photo of myself as a model for the figures, and there is a definite resemblance between me and the elf.
Some cards just try to tell a story, this one of Santa on Christmas morning, sharing his overnight adventures with Mrs. Claus. I liked including details, such as the list, the elves taking the sleigh to the barn, and the wedding rings, to fill out the story.
I painted this one at a time when I wasn't sure where my life was headed. I thought it turned out pretty well, except maybe for the reindeer. I've had a bad habit of just winging it for them, and it shows here!
When our son John was born I began painting the annual card in oils, and did my best to portray our new baby boy.
After my son John was born, he figured in may of the paintings, especially in the early years, when I switched almost exclusively to oil paintings.
I've always loved trains, so here John rides with Santa in the "Comet", number 5 since that was his age at the time.
John was a dinosaur lover, and I used one of his toy spinosaurus as a model for this one, a repeat of the theme of an elf showing off his handiwork.
I've always been a huge Beatles fan, and used to draw pictures of them in my younger days. John had become a big fan too. We had seen several tribute bands, the Rain show, and for Christmas we got the Beatles Rock Band video game.
In one of my many career changes over the years, I began work as a Bureau Chief for a small news company, and had Santa reflect that with is own newspaper. This one was done in watercolor.
Another career change brought me to the job of proofreader for the State of California Publishing Office. Here Santa Proofreads his naughty and nice list.
For 2016 Santa is playing Pokemon Go and trying to catch enough reindeer to make his trip. Some of the folks who got this card might have been a bit puzzled, but our family has been playing the game for months, though John has already grown tired of it...
2017, "Quadruple Self-Portrait." Loosely based on Norman Rockwell's Triple Self Portrait, in which he shows himself from the back, looking in a mirror, and painting a self portrait. In this picture, Santa is doing roughly the same, but since it also depicts my own annual efforts to paint Santa, it goes one level further...if that makes any sense at all..
2018, Watercolor, began as Santa playing on his own Model Railroad, which looks just like mine, but then I thought of it more as Santa enjoying the railroad at a home he is visiting, perhaps delivering a new locomotive for the lucky owner.
The second card, about 1985. I had been learning to play guitar, so worked that into the theme of "Troubadour Santa".
My idea here was to put many of my friends names on Santa's list, so as he returns home after a long night, we are assured everyone got covered.
Some of the best times I have had was playing music with friends. Though I was never a great guitar player or singer, I had several friends who were terrific musicians. I was lucky enough to gather them together occasionally and record the results. This card came with the release of our latest "album" under the name Cacophony.
Not much besides Santa and elves. Most of my early cards, like this one, were acrylic paint with colored pencil.
I got a computer - an Apple Macintosh Classic - so Santa is going digital with his database of naughty and nice.
Santa baking Christmas cookies.
A doggie greets Santa. He's the only one up in the house at that time...
Santa's first gift of the night.
I was working as a graphic designer for the Pacific Bell "Smart" Yellow Pages, and also bought my first home, so this card was also a new address announcement.
I had been promoted to manager that year at Digital Graphics ADvantage, the pre-press company producing the Pacific Bell Smart Yellow Pages.
In 1999 Karen and I got married. This card was a celebration of that, but sadly not my best effort. The only time I pictured myself in a card.
Karen and I both played in the DGA/Pacific Bell softball tournament and had a great time.
When Karen and I moved to our new home, we spent a lot of time landscaping, including building a natural rock wall in the backyard. This image is framed by the actual wall.
John had just turned one year old when I painted this one.
2008 when momentous elections were going on. This was a change to watercolor for the first time, one of my favorite media.
For a while, we were big NASCAR fans, so Santa became a driver.
John was a big fan of King Kong, which led to an interest in skyscrapers of all kinds in the world.
After 15 years with DGA/PacificBell/SBC/AT&T I was laid off due to a downsizing and relocation effort for the yellow pages business. (They later outsourced the entire operation.) So I pictured Santa in January looking for something to do with himself, while I faced the same prospects.
We added a new member to our family, as we adopted Creampuff, a Westie/Chihuahua mix who loves to play ball, and has brought a lot of joy to our lives.
This year was all about football - John and I played in several fantasy football leagues, he was playing flag football, and we followed the Seahawks to the Super Bowl. I went for a more "painterly" style this year as well.
John's piano lessons have paid off more and more each year as he has become quite a talented pianist. Our home is now filled daily with beautiful music, which inspired this picture.
The only Christmas card in this collection that is not my own personal greeting. I created this for United Reporting Publishing, where I worked for four years. The company deals with crime and arrest news.
© Ken Kiunke