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"Doc" Johnson's Flying Santa from Family Christmas OnlineTM

For nearly 70 years, Pharmacist Leonard Brynolf Johnson's hand-painted outdoor Christmas decorations delighted families all over North America. They led to the success of America's First Christmas Store. Many of the old decorations are still around.

Recently a reader asked me if we had plans for this piece, which shows Santa in an airplane. No, we didn't. But the notion of someone trying to carry on "Doc" Johnson's tradition was intriguing.

Using a bit of computer magic, I was able to reduce the original photograph into an outline drawing that could be projected onto a 4'x6' (or larger) piece of plywood to give the reader something to color in. I would strongly suggest making the propellor out of a separate piece of wood with a sort of "stem" on it and fastening it to the nose of the plane.

If you have access to a video projector, you can simply put the line drawing up on your computer and project it onto your wood. If you have access to an overhead projector, you can print the line drawing off on a sheet of projector film.

Once you have the line drawing projected onto your plywood, you trace it with a Magic Marker.

If you don't have a projector, you can use the graph version - I have the picture marked off into squares. Divide your plywood up into squares and copy each square by hand from the drawing.

Once you have your outline, use the page with the colors as a guideline for coloring in the large areas, like a color by number. You don't have to use the same colors. Also, the colors on the color guide page are a bit garish, but it gives you an idea where Johnson used more than one color to give a bit of an accent or 3D look to the piece. You can take this and the photo to the paint store and buy a sample size of each color you need.

Paint right over the Magic Marker; you don't want it to show through. The hard part will be painting the detail on Santa's face. Also, you can paint in the toys, especially the doll's face. For that you'll have to refer to the photograph. I'm sorry I don't have a higher resolution version of that.

I'd consider adding a coat of clear satin acrylic spray over any parts you hand-paint.

Click on the following graphics to download the resources you need.

Click for a full-page line-art graphic. Click for a full-page color guide.
Click for the line art with a grid. Click for the photograph. Sorry I don't have a high-resolution version.

For More Projects

Click to go to the Project-A-Plan page.For more classic outdoor Christmas decoration projects, check out the Popular Mechanic's Project-A-Plan Christmas projects.

For more information about "Doc" Johnson's many unique Christmas displays, click here..

If you've been reading our pages, you know that we have big things planned, and a lot on our plate, so keep checking back. And contact us with any questions or suggestions you have in the meantime.

Paul and Shelia Race


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