Friday, December 11, 2015

Gingerbread Star Wars and Pacific Place Santa

12/11/15 watercolor, inks, colored pencils (At left is "A New Hope"; at right is "The Empire Strikes Back")

For the past three Christmas seasons, the Friday sketchers have made a tradition of sketching the Gingerbread Village exhibit at the Seattle Sheraton. Last year, though, everyone felt that it was too crowded to sketch comfortably, so we decided to skip it this year as a group event.

That’s when I found out that the theme this year is Star Wars! As an original Star Wars fan (back when there was only one trilogy, so it was easy to see each film 20 or more times), how could I skip it? There was only one solution: Get there as early as possible to beat the crowds!

The sun not yet up as I waited for the bus, I arrived at the Sheraton a little after 8 a.m. and spent some leisurely time looking at the elaborate candy-and-cookie displays before the mobs arrived. Each gingerbread sculpture depicted one of the six films in the two Star Wars trilogies. Although I considered sketching Revenge of the Sith, which had the simplest design, I decided to sketch the sculptures of my two personal favorites – A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. (In my opinion, it was all downhill after the first trilogy, beginning with the Jar-Jar Binks debacle.)

12/11/15 brush pen, colored pencils
The amazing details the artists and designers put into their candy creations are always impressive and sometimes humorous. For example, in The Empire Strikes Back, while it’s easy to spot the main drama of Vader and Luke and an excessively colorful Cloud City, you might miss Darth Santa driving a team of Imperial Walkers (both of which had Rudolph-like noses)!

Around the time I was finishing up, the crowds started to build, and by 10 a huge group of small children arrived, filled with loud enthusiasm. It was time to move on, although not before stepping back to sketch a line of people viewing the exhibit.

12/11/15 ink, colored pencil
An adjunct personal tradition of mine is to follow up the Gingerbread Village visit with a short walk to Pacific Place to sketch Santa. Last year after having lunch with Nilda, I missed Santa, who went on a lunch break, so I had a long wait. Today my timing was better, and I found my favorite spot a floor above Santa. During the half-hour or so that I sketched, I witnessed at least three small children, one at a time, being left on Santa’s lap to howl in terror. Meanwhile, their moms and the photographer are left to cajole and coax a smile out of the kids, who want nothing to do with the whole traumatic incident. As I sketched this scene (a composite of several kids and parents), I decided that the true hero was not Santa but the photographer, who worked hard trying to get those kids to smile. (Usually the kids just screamed more loudly and frantically.)

I stopped for a sandwich at Il Fornaio, which has plenty of open seating on the main floor of Pacific Place. As much as I detest shopping malls during the holidays (and all year, for that matter), I actually enjoy being in Pacific Place and downtown Seattle in general at Christmastime. Being downtown brings back childhood memories of shopping with my mom and seeing the fanciful window displays at (now long gone) Frederick & Nelson and the Bon Marche. Of course, Pacific Place wasn’t around when I was a kid, but it’s still a pleasant place to sketch people and enjoy the festive decorations.
12/11/15 ink, colored pencils

12/11/15 ink, colored pencil
12/11/15 ink, colored pencil

With about 20 minutes before my bus was due, I wanted to find one more thing to sketch. As I walked out of Pacific Place, the “one more thing” stood just outside the door, playing an accordion. I later learned that the accordionist was Tristan Kline, a young man “playing off my student loans, one tune at a time,” according to his sign and business card. Just after I finished sketching him, he took off his hat and replaced it with a chicken mask! (My timing was off on that one!)
12/11/15 ink, colored pencil
"A New Hope," designed by 4D Architects and Sheraton chef Jay Sardeson

"The Empire Strikes Back," designed by
 MBAKS & Gelotte Hommas and Jay Sardeson
"Revenge of the Sith," designed by CallisonRTL &
Hargis and chef Lee Baldyga

Wish I could have sketched him with the chicken mask!


  1. You had quite a busy day of sketching, Tina! Your story about the kids in Santa's lap made me smile...that scenario is so common. It is surprising that more of us don't need therapy. lol Good group of sketches.

    1. I was thinking the same thing myself, Joan. . . maybe there's a support group by kids terrorized by Santa! ;-)

  2. Great post and sketches! Looking forward to seeing it myself!

    1. Have fun, Kate! It's my favorite Gingerbread Village yet!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...