Christmas, 2008

all illustrations, sound, copyright Kevin Sprouls

You Better Watch Out, You Better not Cry, You Better not Pout, I’m Tellin’ You why…

Because if you don’t get with the Program, the Big Guy might just leave you something flinty and black in your stocking! It actually did happen to someone I know. So please, throughout the year, be mindful of all the good things you are capable of doing, support all those you encounter, and give up those piggy ways!

He’s coming to town, and SOON! All the good boys and girls know that they simply must be in bed (and preferably asleep) in order to receive a visit from the Bearded Man of the Hearth. It would be terrible to imagine what would happen if they were not!

The Raven League, front cover illustration for Penguin Books, 2006.

I’m not suggesting anything sinister, of course, but you can’t be too careful. Best not to take chances. Early Christmas Morning (Blessed time!), isn’t it delicious to discover that the tree has been surrounded by glittering prizes, reminding us of the Reason for the Season! The birth of One so great is a Gift, indeed.

1986, Wall Street Journal

I used to wake up, as a young lad, at around 5:00 am on Christmas morning. One memorable occasion found me tearing apart wrappings, and exploring the various treasures they concealed. That Christmas, one of my brothers had decided to give me a nifty lighter fluid-fired handwarmer. Naturally, I had to try it out. I had this chrome wonder going strong when I smelled something good coming from the kitchen. I thought, “strange to have the oven on at this time of night…”, and went off to investigate. Sure enough, someone had forgotten to turn off the oven! I then performed the act I am domestically so well known for today: I switched it off. Around this time, my Dad came downstairs to see what was going on. It was still well before dawn. After safely depositing the now red-hot handwarmer in the bathtub, he sent me back to bed. Because of my fastidiousness over proper oven protocol, we sat down to Christmas Dinner about three hours late that day!

Christmas card design, 1988. B&W Photostat affixed to Mie-Tints paper, with inserted color print of tree illustration, complete with rubber stamp impression. What a production!

I also used the stamp impression above to adorn the cover of a small booklet accompanying a print I produced illustrating the Dickens short story, “A Child’s Dream of a Star”.

A somewhat unusual style of work for me, mainly colored pencil over watercolor, ca. 1987.

That story is a favorite of mine, very atmospheric, tragic, tender and otherworldly. Quintessentially Dickens. And, speaking of old-fashioned Christmases, here is an image of just such a one, produced in the 90’s for the Home Insurance Company:

When my daughter was studying music at the Conservatoire de Quebec, many miles from home, I endeavored to make her a recording of one of her favorite authors’ books. In our family that year, we decided that we were tired of the crass commercialism of Christmas. We resolved to give only personally- handmade gifts to each other— big mistake! But, it was, for all the effort, worthwhile in retrospect. I spent a pretty good month of afternoons leading up to Christmas reading aloud to her through the microphone into pro-tools. As my wise Wife predicted, she greeted the gift with tears on Christmas morning!

Click below for an audio exerpt…


I’ll have to close, as I’m being swept up, myself, in the maelstrom of the Season! I leave you all with a parting image:

another rare image of mine, acrylic on panel, ca. 1987.

Finally, I’ll say that, in my humble opinion, the Spirit of Christmas will never die on the face of this good earth, until, at least, the following pictorial concept is realized…


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