Christmas Angel Book

Merry Christmas, everyone.

With love,
The Ward-O-Matic

The Christmas Angel Book

The Christmas Angel Book 2

The Christmas Angel Book 3

The Christmas Angel Book 4

The Christmas Angel Book 5

The Christmas Angel Book 6

The Christmas Angel Book 7

The Christmas Angel Book 8

The Christmas Angel Book 9

The Christmas Angel Book 10

The Christmas Angel Book 11

The Christmas Angel Book by William Dugan. ©1965 Golden Press, Western Publishing Company, Inc.

William (or Bill) Dugan is one of my favorite illustrators, creating some of the more interesting and colorful books for children during the midcentury era. There were certain details that Bill focused on for some of his pieces, like the hair and fabic, that stood out from the usual stuff.

We read this each year for Christmas.


At least you've got the spirit

If you never saw a white Christmas back in the day, you didn't have to fret. The stores always carried some instant snow for you to spray on your windows, right? To make it even more festive, you could also grab some stencils and make some pretty nifty snow decorations up on the windows themselves. Nice. Here's a couple of packs of Christmas stencils from the 50's for you to check out:

Paas Christmas Stencil Kit
All the stencils in this Paas Christmas Stencil Kit are intact and have never been punched out.

Paas Christmas Stencil Kit - back
I think this is the time when you say "How jolly!" Because that's what we say when we see a Santa Claus face. He's a jolly fellow.

Aero Snow Christmas Stencils
All the stencils are still in this one, too, but have been punched out—two with some paint residue. Guess they didn't want to use the fake snow. Love the cool illustration on the cover of this kit. Dig the kids.

Aero Snow Christmas Stencils - back
The ones that have paint on them are the "Merry Christmas" one (they used red AND white) and the angel praying.

And here, you've got a can of Instant Snow:
Instant Snow
I took this photo last year, during the freak massive snow storm that hit Portland around Christmas time. There's a winter wonderland right behind me when I took this shot.

On the back there's a warning:


Contents under pressure. Do not puncture. Do not throw into fire or incinerator. Keep out of the reach of children. Do not allow children or pets to eat snow.

Gotta remember that last one.


Some Seasonal Ephemera

Howdy, kids. Hope you're getting into the Christmas-y mood. I know that there's snow on the ground over half of the country right now (well, I'm pretty sure it is, I think), so that's a good thing, right? Unless you're having to go out in said weather and get stuck in parking lots and long lines at the Post Office. In that case, sorry.

Well, to help you get in the mood, I've been saving these things for you. A couple of booklets, one from 1958, the other from 1954:

KVP Season's Greetings
KVP Season's Greetings: Christmas 1958: a booklet of carols for Christmastime. Illustrator: Hank Kolodziej.

In case you want to know, KVP stands for Kalamazoo Vegetable Parchment Company. You're welcome.

By the way, I did a little research on Hank Kolodziej, and all I could find was this item on Ebay and a mention in this exhibit on automobile ads during the 60's and 70's, called Drawing Power: Motor City Ad Art in the Age of Muscle and Chrome. Awesome. Sounds like my kinda guy.

Here's some of the other spreads in this booklet (there's more in my Flickr):

KVP Season's Greetings 2

KVP Season's Greetings 4

KVP Season's Greetings 5

KVP Season's Greetings 9

KVP Season's Greetings 10

KVP Season's Greetings 11

KVP Season's Greetings 12
The image above is the inside cover, front (on left) and back (on right).

The following is a little book on Christmas Trees, barely 12 pages long. Something I found in a bundle of various ephemeral items at some antique shop. Didn't really know what it was, but once I opened it up and saw all the wonderful drawings, I had to get it. Plus, the text is by T. S. Eliot. I mean, c'mon! Great stuff.

The Cultivation of Christmas Trees
The Cultivation of Christmas Trees, by T. S. Eliot. Typography, binding and decorations by Enrico Arno. ©1954, 1956.

Enrico Arno has a great style here. This book looks pretty interesting. I might have to buy it.

The Cultivation of Christmas Trees 2
The note in the corner says: "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year - Ward Taylor 1956." Now, what are the odds that a guy named "Ward" actually gave this as a gift over 50 years ago? And that another Ward found it? Boggles the mind.

The Cultivation of Christmas Trees 3

The Cultivation of Christmas Trees 4

The Cultivation of Christmas Trees 5

The Cultivation of Christmas Trees 6

New Holiday avatar
Oh, and one more thing. Thought I'd get into the spirit of things by creating a new icon for Flickr & Twitter. 'Tis the Season! Here's to a great and wonderful Christmas Season, guys.


Free Shipping ends tomorrow!

A gentle reminder that the Early Bird Special: FREE SHIPPING over at The Ward-O-Matic Shop ends at the end of the day TOMORROW! That's Sunday, December 6th.

If this'll make it easier for you to decide on whether or not you'd like to order a print, I doodle something different on each and every shipping invoice that's included with the shipment. Here's one example (actual doodle on an actual invoice, scanned for your pleasure):


The character varies, but always done with a smile.

It gets better, too. I also draw something special on the front (and back!) of each envelope I mail out. Done with marker on study cardboard mailer, I never sketch anything out first, just start drawin'! The character on the front is almost the same, called "The Dreamer", he (or she) conjures up the addressee's name and address for each envelope. (Sorry, didn't get a scan or photo for this post. Maybe next time.) On the back, something unique to every single buyer. Here are two examples:

Mailer drawings

I've had people tell me that they save the envelopes, which totally makes me happy.

Now, don't you want to buy a print today? Of course you do.

Merry Christmas!


Electronic Games Mag: December 1982

Electronic Games magazine: Dec. 1982
To start off December, how's about a magazine from my childhood: Electronic Games, 1982. Yes, this is the actual magazine—I've kept it ever since. Awww, yeah. I was a gamer, circa 1982. Nothing but Atari, Activision, Colecovision, Intellivision, coin-ops, arcades, etc. for me, thankyouverymuch.

And for the record, I'd rather keep the term "retro" for anything older than 1980.

Also related: if you're ever in Portland, and you dig old arcade games from that early gaming era, you should stop by Ground Kontrol, at 511 NW Couch Street. It's a bar/establishment where you can play pretty much of all those classic arcade games. The original ones, of course. While working in Old Town during the summer, I would take a lunch break by going in to play a couple rounds of Tempest. Oh man, good memories playing that game. One of my favorites of all time. Didn't make it to the red levels, though. Next time.


Early Bird Special: Free Shipping all week at The Ward-O-Matic Shop

Well now, the Christmas rush is upon us and to start it off right, I'm offering an Early Bird Special at The Ward-O-Matic Shop all this week! What's the special? Well, FREE SHIPPING - how's that? This includes international orders, so all you Etsy shoppers from across the way should definitely hit me up on this offer while it lasts! In fact, the Special will end this Sunday, December 6th. Woo HOO!

To remind you guys what's for sale in the Shop, here's a few of my best sellers (click on image to go to each item's respective page at Etsy):

Speaking In Color
Speaking In Color

Calico Elly

Looks Like Rain



And let's not forget the B-Boy Series:

Top Rock 2

Freeze 1


All this and MORE! at The Ward-O-Matic Shop!

(End hucksterism.)


Where I talk about getting older

I used to not like having my birthday so close to Thanksgiving. It took away from all the attention that was supposed to be spent on me. (When you're a kid, it's supposed to always be about you, right?) It was even worse when my birthday would actually land on the holiday itself. "Here comes our Turkey Birthday Boy!" or something similar would be blurted out by family members at our annual family Thanksgiving get-together. It was quaint, I had to admit.

After a while, I got used to my birthday being where it was. And now, I actually enjoy it. It's comforting to know that we'll have a family reunion of sorts each year, within close proximity to my birthday. It works out alright. On top of all the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and all the usual holiday feast-havings, there'll be a nice, big birthday cake for all to enjoy by the end of it. See? It works out for everyone, doesn't it? You can thank my parents for that, guys. We get to have cake as well as pumpkin pie for dessert! What a deal!

This year, my birthday was two days before Thanksgiving and it was fantastic. A perfect day to celebrate being born. Starting with a cinnamon bun topped with a trick candle (nice try, Andrea), my day got better as I spent several hours in various bookstores and antique malls, getting the tips of my fingers dirty by digging through old books and magazines, finding some wonderful old ephemeral treasures. Case in point, this incredible Fortune Magazine from July 1952:

Fortune: July 1952

Jerome Snyder has be my new favorite illustrator. Just look at the shapes and colors he uses for this piece. Simply wonderful.

Later on, we had pancakes for dinner ("pancakes for dinner, you say?" yes—pancakes for dinner, I say) at the month-old Slappy Cakes on Belmont Street, which turned out to be such a fun experience we're thinking of going here for every one of our family member's birthday, even more so.

To end the already fantastic day on a high note, we had passes to see a sneak preview of Fantastic Mr. Fox. It was pitch-perfect. I have so many good things to say about this film, I'll have to put it all in an official review here on the blog later on. Such a great film, and everyone in the family enjoyed it immensely. Ava wanted to see the movie again immediately afterwards, which is a high compliment, I should say. Go see it. Seriously, I'm not cussin' with you.

So, having a birthday so close to a holiday where you ponder over what you're thankful for isn't half bad, really. If anything, it enhances my own birthday experience, maybe even merging it with the holiday in a way. I'm thankful to be alive, to experience a birthday yet one more year. And am thankful to be able to celebrate my birthday with my family, who laugh and grow with me, day in and day out. For without my family, my life would be empty and souless, like the puppets of Mr. Fox, once the lights are turned off by the end of the day. Andrea, Ava, and Ezra: all three of you give me that determinable spark in my heart, that sparkle in my eye. Thank you for making my birthday oh so fantastic.


New Print up in Etsy: Speaking In Color

Speaking In Color
I'm happy to report that there's a new print up in The Ward-O-Matic Shop!

Called Speaking In Color, it features this wonderful little girl (possibly, maybe inspired by Ava?) spreading happiness to the world through her gifted tongue, speaking out against the dull and drab out there. Hooray! I guess you can call her The Color Ambassador. She'd like that.

Buy Speaking In Color as a 8.5x11 inch print, or as a 5x7 inch print.



I was recently interviewed on Alex Mathers' excellent Ape On The Moon site recently about my sketches and where my favorite place is to sketch. This prompted me to make a new Flickrset called, appropriately enough, Sketches.

sketches in church 1

Most of the drawings that you see featured on this set are done while I was sitting around, doodling, or just working on some ideas for myself. Playing around. Observing. Exploring. Nothing devoted to any particular job. Sketches done for work is an entirely different thing. Even though some of the drawings might look similar in style, drawing for an employer has a direct reason for being: money. However, I try to instill that same sense of wonder and exploration while sketching for work. I'll probably scan some work sketches for another Flickrset in the near future.

In the meantime, take a gander at some drawings done while in church. I know, so horrible of me to do such a thing while in a house of God. But really, it's a lot of fun. And it's a no-brainer, too. Think about it: you've got a vast variety of subjects who are not going to move much for about 30 minutes. Even though it's the back of their heads, it's still a great exercise. And I find that I actually listen better when I do draw during the service, believe it or not. Like a mental stamp, I can look at a particular section of a drawing and know what was being said by the pastor. It's hard to explain, but I think you'd understand if you're an artist. Haven't you ever had the TV on while working on a painting? The following day, you might look at the right arm of your subject in the painting and realize to yourself, "hey, I was watching Laverne & Shirley when I painted that". I do it all the time. Not sure what you'd call this, but "memory stamping" sounds about right.

sketches in church 2

sketches in church 3

sketches in church 4

Anyway, here's a couple of other sketches from some of my sketchbooks throughout the years. Enjoy:

andrea sketch

sketches 1

sketches 5

sketches 7

post-it saxtons

sketches 3

sketchbook swooning 2

There are three approaches I take to sketching:

1. From observing what's around me.
2. From photographs, magazines, tv, etc.
3. Off the top of my head, freestyling.

All of it is part of who I am as an artist, looking at what I see around me and hopefully creating something different in the process. Plus, it's a lot of fun.