"The Original Drifting Saints"  Story



The story of how these delightful Classic Keepsakes came about started in 1988 and it was in 1989 that I began giving them to folks outside of my family circle and also when I began to sell them.
I was lounging on our local beach with my son one hot August afternoon looking through the most recent edition of "Leisure Arts".  I was a subscriber to their annual "hard-cover" books that covered everything about embroidery, cross-stitch, and wonderful gifts of the season along with amazing recipes to go with them.  I loved these publications and looked forward to them every year.  So full of ideas that sparked my creativity!
As I flipped through the pages I took note of a cute gift idea.  It was a hand painted mug with a cellophane bag full of mulled spices and a stick of cinnamon centered in the middle of it.  On the top portion of the cinnamon stick was a painted caricature of a Santa Claus.  
I looked at that and wondered how I could make these as gifts but with my own little flair.  I allowed my mind to wander off on its creative path and then my eye landed on a driftwood stick in the sand.  It was a small driftwood piece that had been sanded smooth by the water and the beach stones over time.  I picked it up and thought, oh, I could paint a Santa face on this and turn it into an ornament! What a unique gift that would be!  That's how it started.  One small idea.
I refined the idea even further to wider and larger pieces of driftwood and changed from a whimsical face into a more traditional looking St. Nicholas.
Because they were from driftwood, I thought about where this wood may have come from and what it's journey was and then the idea was solidified.  These wonderful art works would be called "Drifting Saints".  I think about the driftwoods journey every time I paint them and just like the Saints of old, they are on a journey to spread love and the good news!
In the beginning I was relying on some victorian pictures of St. Nicholas. Now I allow the wood to show me what it's expression is.  I can see it, just as when we look at any surface we can train our eyes to see shapes and faces in them, this is what I do with the driftwood. They were well received and I had orders for them as far away as England!  They have been shipped to Australia, England, Germany and the West Coast and those are just the ones that I know of.
I sold them for only a few years as I just couldn't keep up with the demand and still maintain my day career, single motherhood and the myriad of other responsibilities I tagged myself too, so I , stopped selling them at shows and only made them on commission, which were many when November and December came around.
 
When I retired from my career in 2009 and began to fully immerse myself back into the arts, I began painting them for shows again after some coaxing from friends.  It was just a few here and there at first and at almost every show, someone would come up to me and tell me that they still have the one they bought twenty years prior and now want to purchase one as a gift for someone else. So, now, all these years later, they're ready for a new generation.  However, this time around,  I have changed the name from "Drifting Saints"  to "The Original Drifting Saints" because there have been (and still are) many who are painting Santa's on driftwood to look like the ones that I have painted.  At least I can claim them as mine this way!

The medium I use is golden acrylics as a base paint and the white titanium for the beards.  The entire face however, is painted with Windsor Newton watercolors as I love the translucent finish that watercolor gives.  I finish each one with a coat of varnish to keep the integrity of the watercolor (although it does change the color somewhat) and also to seal it against any harsh weather.  It should be sprayed every few years if it is to be used as an outside ornament.

I hope your enjoy yours!

Patti

Check out our facebook page too.