Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Empty Coke Bottles

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 14 x 11''
2010 - #185

After completing the study of Empties in 2007, I had the intention to do a much larger and more detailed piece from that same just took a bit longer than anticipated. I've done several Coca-Cola paintings in the past, and the subject matter stills fascinates me. It's that Spencerian Script fonts in combination with the shape of the bottle that I find seductive as a painter.

Coca-Cola has always been in the forefront in promoting it's product and has gone to great lenghts to remain current. It has rightfully earned a place in popular culture and there are certainly many Coca-Cola aficionados and collectors of anything Coke.

With the Holiday Season just around the corner, much of true meaning of Christmas has been lost to good old Saint Nicholas, while the birth of Jesus has taken a back seat. Santa Claus is bound to make a personal appearance in a parade or Shopping Mall near you.

Thomas Nast, the father of American Cartoon was credited for creating the modern image of Santa Claus wearing the red and white suit in 1881. The Coca-Cola Company had a spark of genius when they hired illustrator Haddon Sundblom during the 1930's to incorporate Santa Claus in their advertisements in response to the colder winter months when sales of the soda pop were down. For the next thirty years Sundblom would create the most vivid and iconic images of Santa, thus creating an urban legend that Santa Claus was invented by Coca-Cola. (Click HERE for a sampling.) However, these campaigns had a tremendous effect of popularising Santa Claus as wearing red and white, in contrast to the variety of colours he wore in earlier depictions.

Much can be said about the shopping frenzy and overspending surrounding the Holiday Season. A lot of retailers and businesses rely on the economical impact of Christmas when sales are at their highest. If these imaginative and magical images created by Haddon Sundblom did not exist, it would be interesting to see how it would affect the way we currently celebrate Christmas. The spirit of Christmas is often associated with Santa Claus and instilled by the media into our consciousness at a very early age. Coca-Cola might have boosted their own sales with these campaigns, but their contribution to popular culture may be even greater.

Haddon Sundblom illustration for Coca-Cola

This painting will be included in the Christmas Showcase exhibition at the Fog Forest Gallery in Sackville, NB