Visual Journal Page 24: Christmas Watches


Thanksgiving 2010 was almost over, which meant black Friday shopping was quickly approaching, and the Christmas season was about to start. As usual, the night of Thanksgiving, my mom, aunt, sister, and I were sitting around the kitchen table, shuffling through coupons, and making our shopping lists. Black Friday shopping is a tradition I hate to love. The night before, I began to regret my choice as I lay in bed, thinking about my 5:15 am alarm and the lines and crowds that would await me. I always consider not going, every year I debate the benefit versus the inconvenience, and every year after a successful day of shopping I vow to do it again.

Nothing feels better than marking off your Christmas shopping to dos before the month of December even begins.

This shopping year I had my eyes peeled for professional attire for Nick. He was currently serving tables at a local restaurant, endlessly searching for a job in a practically dead profession, landscape architecture. Thanks to the economy at the time we graduated, jobs in general were difficult to find, especially in a field where a large portion of experienced employees had already been laid off. Despite the state of the economy and lack of career opportunities, Nick was hopeful a job was waiting for him somewhere, and he wanted to build his professional wardrobe to prepare for the interview we knew was right around the corner.

In addition to shoes, pants, and shirts, I was also on the prowl for a nice watch. I began to peruse the jewelry displays in Macy’s when I came across the perfect watch. It had a relatively plain face, with a cream color, and light embossed Burberry pattern, and the band was a beautiful dark brown leather. I was smitten, it was perfect, and I knew the watch would top off Nick’s interview attire, and seal the deal for his new job. I immediately asked someone if I could take a closer look.I couldn’t believe my luck! It was going to be perfect! However, to my dismay it was a good bit over the ideal price tag I had in my head. I reluctantly gave it back, and continued to browse.

Nothing came close to that watch. I wanted it, and I finally sat down, crunched numbers, and devised ways to get it. I was slowly joined by my mom, sister, and aunt, as they completed their shopping. Together we compiled coupons, looked at deals, and decided I had to get it. The black Friday discount would take off a chunk, and I may never get such a nice watch for this price again. It was decided, and Nick’s big Christmas gift was purchased.

As the clerk began packaging Nick’s watch in a beautiful brown leather box, my eyes began to wander. I needed to pass the time, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to look at the women’s watches, after all sometime in the future I would need a nice watch for myself. Again, my eyes fell on the perfect watch. It had a thin band, wrapped with a black and white version of the Burberry pattern, and it was topped off with a small square face. Out of lack of judgement I asked to try it on. I fell in love, again, with a watch for me. I was supposed to be focusing on my list for others, extra money couldn’t be spent, we were already on a tight budget. I don’t know why I did it to myself, I should’ve left it in the case and walked away. Reluctantly I handed the watch back, took Nick’s watch and headed home.

As Christmas day began to approach my watch was pushed to the back of my memory. I was now focused on the look on Nick’s face when he would open his last gift, find a very nice looking Burberry box, and inside an even better looking watch. The night before Christmas I couldn’t sleep. The anticipation was killing me, I couldn’t wait for Nick to open his presents. After agonizing hours of waiting, dawn finally came. I excitedly shook Nick out of his slumber and downstairs.

Wrapping paper went flying, present after present was opened. Oooohs and aahhhs, you shouldn’t haves, and thank yous filled the room. Finally, we were down to our last two presents, the big ones. I half paid attention as I opened mine, all of my focus was on Nick’s face as he opened his gift. The wrapping paper was torn off, and he half chuckled as he got to the box, not the “this is a fancy box” response I expected. He almost expectantly opened the box to find the watch inside. I was a bit confused, but pleased with how much he loved it. He immediately put it on and had a silly look as he directed my attention to my gift.

I looked down, and to my shock I was holding an identical box to the one that held his watch. I was confused, until I opened it and found my Burberry watch inside. I was shocked, how did he afford it? How did he know? I was suddenly transported from the floor to his lap smothering him in hugs, kisses, and I can’t believe you got its. Apparently my Mom tipped Nick off, he also did some number crunching, decisive purchasing, and we ended up having a Christmas of watches.


  • Visual journal
  • Gesso
  • Paint brush
  • Pencil
  • Blending stump


This page didn’t require many materials, but it took a little bit of planning and attention to detail. I wanted the focus of the page to be on the watches, and decided the best way to do that was to stick to a black and white theme. I referenced a picture I took of our hands in the same position, as I drew the outline of our hands. Once the outline was complete I filled it in with a layer of gesso. Gesso is a great material to use to draw and paint on, because it creates a smooth, white surface, and you can water it down to make it semi-transparent.

Once the gesso dried I added details. I carefully drew our fingernails, knuckle wrinkles, and of course our watches. I wanted to make sure they were replicas of the originals, which is where the photograph came in handy. Once the details were in place, the last step was to add a little bit of shading. I used a blending stump, paper which is compressed into a pencil like form, to blend the outlines in. I lightly scribbled in other areas where additional darkness was needed, and again blended it with my blending stump. If you don’t have a blending stump your finger, a paper towel, or tissue will do the trick. A little bit of shading will go a long way. The slightest bit can create a large amount of depth in an image.

Last but not least I lightly wrote, “Merry, merry Christmas” along Nick’s wrist. I considered going over it in sharpie to help it stand out, but was afraid it would compete with the image. In the end I left it as is, and I’m very glad I did.


Create a page to commemorate a special Christmas gift. It can be something from your childhood or adult life. Challenge yourself to incorporate gesso somewhere in the page. Don’t have any gesso? Go to your local arts and crafts store and pick some up!

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